Aaron Wilson answers Insiders questions

Aaron Wilson gives us answers to all the questions collected on the Ravens Insiders' forum over the last few days.

Question: Thanks for taking the questions Aaron, has there been any buzz around the Ravens organization about Matt Jones? Also, more generally, who seems to be the players that the FO has been interested in?

Answer: Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones is a raw, intriguing prospect who has outstanding size-speed ratio with 4.3 speed. Ideally, this is a perimeter wide receiver or H-back who could overwhelm secondaries with his athleticism. Short-term, however, he has a lot to learn about the game. Some football team will be so enamored of his skill set that they will draft him much earlier than he's projected. I think with the proper tutelage he could emerge as a viable NFL prospect. Thus far, the Ravens have been fairly quiet about which prospects they like other than the obvious: Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Jammal Brown, Khalif Barnes, etc..
It's a little early for the draft and we'll know more about their thoughts after the Ravens' press conference in mid April.

Question: Any chance that Hartwell will stay a Raven?

Answer: Three words: No, absolutely no. Ed Hartwell told me he has no intentions of returning to Baltimore because he wants to be out of Ray Lewis' shadow, plus he said in the shift to a 4-3, the Ravens would need only one mike linebacker: Ray Lewis. Hartwell had a "great" visit with the Seattle Seahawks and this could be his ultimate destination. Hartwell may have overrated his value on the open market and slightly misplayed the situation. There was virtually no price that would have matched his free agent value and the Ravens' idea of where he fit in ideally. It's just business. Sometimes, economics dictates these situations.

Question: Thanks again for your time Aaron. Where does Peter Boulware stand with respect to his future with the organization?

There has to be at least some concern that he will struggle to regain his previous form, if he even sees the field at all for a considerable amount of time. Reports of Ozzie Newsome investigating trade possibilities just fuels speculation that the team isn't confident in his chances to be a contributor this year, if ever.

What is the contingency plan the Ravens would employ should Boulware be unavailable, ineffective, or traded, and what could they expect in return for Boulware at this stage in his career; a 3rd-4th rounder?

Answer: Peter Boulware is a respected four-time Pro Bowl selection who has fallen on hard times with the injury bug. If healthy, he's a starter. If he can't recover, he has little value to the team and his career is up in the air. Presently, the organization is optimistic about his return and at least competing to be the strongside linebacker with Adalius Thomas or act as a situational pass rusher. A trade doesn't really work because of his $6 million salary and recent injury history. It's either make it work with him with a restructure, cut him, or bite the bullet and pay him and hope he can return to his Pro Bowl form. It's a fluid situation obviously.

Question: Aaron, have you seen Musa Smith, is he off crutches, walking, etc.? Originally the Ravens said he would be back for mini-camp. Is that still true?

Answer: I haven't seen Musa Smith in about six weeks. He was on crutches then. I think he could still be back by minicamp. That's the expectation. It was a fairly clean break with no ligament damage. He was fortunate it wasn't a compound fracture.

Question: Well I have many questions: Who are the Ravens looking to pick up with their first pick (1st round or 2nd) will they go with the usual Best Player Approach or are they biased towards specific positions and which ones?  While the team has a remarkable 1st unit on paper we are sorely lacking in depth in many positions such as DEs, OLBs, nickel back and OT, are they aware of this lack of depth and is that why they suggest they might trade down? Have you heard anyone in the organization mentioning any DT names for our first round pick ? Or how about a LB to succeed RLewis ? Thanks for your time, I ll keep my other questions for next week.

Answer: An offensive tackle like Jammal Brown or Khalif Barnes would fit in well. They are still best player but need of a long-term solution on the offensive and defensive line are paramount issues. They need depth and this is a deep draft, that's why Ozzie Newsome is an advocate of trading down. The Ravens have been to Oklahoma and Nebraska's Pro Days. Both feature a lot of linemen and linebackers worth consideration.

Question: How aggressive will Rex Ryan's D be with Samari Rolle opposite Chris McAlister? How much of the 46 can we expect to see?

Answer: Extremely aggressive. Cornerbacks of this caliber allow coordinators to employ attacking blitz packages. Expect a lot of the 46. As Rex Ryan said, the 46 popularized by his father, Buddy Ryan, just became a reality.

Question: Any thoughts on how the Ravens are thinking long-term with the renewal of Reed , Heap, and J. Lewis' contracts? I would think with the surplus of running backs on the trade block that they would approach those contracts in the above priority and potentially franchise Jamal if there isn't enough money to do three long-term deals.

Answer: It's my understanding that they have laid the most groundwork at this point with Jamal Lewis' agent. Reed and Heap are major priorities, and I doubt they will have to let go of any of these Pro Bowl selections. Keep in mind that safety salaries tend to be lower and they would have to make an exception for Reed. It won't be inexpensive to retain any of these players, but I'm sure they'll make it work somehow. Don't rule out the franchise tag if things get ugly.

Question: Assuming the Ravens trade down in the draft, would that be a surefire flag saying that the Ravens are going to draft an Olineman in round 1? What do you think the Ravens draft board will look like come draft day? 1. OL 2. WR? or something else?

Answer: I don't think it's a clear indicator, but they have already said they want offensive linemen and acknowledged how many good ones are available. Don't be surprised if whomever their first pick winds up being that he operates out of a three-point stance and weighs over 300 pounds. Wide receiver is no longer the priority that it was prior to Derrick Mason's acquisition.

Question: Thank you for answering our questions: What do you think will happen with Chester Taylor? Is there a chance that he will get a serious offer from the Browns? Would the Ravens be able to/want to match?

Answer: I doubt he gets an offer. I think he's going to return. His agent said the Browns have yet to make an offer, no indication that they're going to. Stay tuned on William Green's status. If he's out, maybe Cleveland will change its stance. The Ravens would likely match any reasonable backup running back offer.

Question:  What do you think the ravens will do at quarterback. Their has not been really any talk of their present quarterback position that was thin all last year and with Kordell in all likely-hood leaving even thinner this year. What if any is the front office doing to address this glaring need and how high would it rank their priorities. Also how confident is the FO in Boller leading them into the season.

Answer: I think the third quarterback will likely be a rookie. Brian Billick usually likes to work with a young prospect for the third spot. They're confident to a point in Kyle Boller. All their eggs are in his basket. If it doesn't work, they will have to re-think the entire situation.

Question: Aaron, last year we had 5 Tight Ends including Trent Smith who was on the IR. Who can we expect to stay? I think Heap (obviously), Jones and Wilcox will stay, but what about Dinkins and Smith? Will we keep all of them because some seem to be good on Special Teams? Thanks

Answer: Smith is likely to go to training camp, but it's unclear if he'll make the team. Heap, Jones and Wilcox are locks. Dinkins and Smith can compete. Give Dinkins the edge presently. They are inclined toward carrying extra tight ends because of special teams ability.

Question: O
ur run stopping ability mediocre. Who out there would in FA or draft would address this need and what would it cost us to address this need. Also how confident are you in Demps and how much confidence do you feel the FO has in Demps.

Answer: Tony Williams could help, but I doubt they go after a defensive lineman in free agency at this point. It would cost millions of dollars, perhaps a $3 million bonus or more to sign someone decent. I think Demps is solid, good enough, you don't need a Pro Bowl selection at every secondary spot. They like him enough to not replace him. There will come a year where they won't feel that way, but it doesn't seem to be this year.

Question: I have heard that Hollis Thomas wants a trade outta Philly. Have the Ravens been in contact with the Eagles about a trade? Are they even interested in Thomas? Also, do you see the Ravens trading their 1st pick to acquire extra 3rd and 2nd round picks?

Answer: I don't think they are inclined to make a trade for Hollis Thomas, although he's a good player. They are likely to trade back, but remember other organizations will try the same thing. It's not exactly a novel concept.

Question: Given that the Ravens pursued Keydrick Vincent as their "starting RG", does this indicate that the Ravens are looking for OG in the draft as projects, or does that title just simply indicate that if the season started today, he'd be the starter? Also, if Cooper Carlisle signs with the Ravens, is there any chance Ethan Brooks may still be brought back? What condition is Dale Carter in at this point? Barring Deion Sanders returning, what kind've chances do you see for the Ravens being satisfied with him at nickel? What chances do you foresee Derek Abney of making the roster, either as a return man or even a WR for that matter?

Answer: Keydrick Vincent is the starter. Another offensive guard, other than for depth is unlikely. Cooper Carlisle is the primary backup and the need for Ethan Brooks' return is obsolete. Dale Carter by all accounts has recovered and is doing well considering he had a blood clot in his lungs, is 35 years old and has a history of substance abuse problems. There are safer investments. Derek Abney is a long shot. He lost a lot of ground to B.J. Sams last year and the injury only aggravated his shaky status. He's healthy, but that's beside point. He may not have a niche. Tough kid, has some skills, but he's undersized and this might not be the right team for him. It happens. He was a seventh-round pick. Most don't make it.

Question: Thank for you answers last week. I look forward to your reply to the following: I heard Ozzie is looking to trade out of the first round. We could pickup two more picks in the first day. That makes sense, however, are there any players that if they slid to 22, Ozzie would change his mind and take the player? I am thinking of a player like Thomas Davis from Georgia.
Also, what is the possibility that we will trade a draft pick for a vet WR? Sort of what we did last year with KJ.  Also, I get this funny feeling that the longer Travis Taylor lingers in free agency the better the chance is he could be back at a discount price. Any truth to that?  Finally, what is your take on Keydrick Vincent? I wanted DeMulling but trust our FO on this one. Some have said Vincent was a steal for the deal we made for him. Once again, Thanks for your time Aaron. I really enjoy your show with Bruce on Saturdays.

Answer: Ozzie Newsome is a major advocate of trading down. He's not alone among talent evaluators in this idea, though. I don't think that Thomas Davis is going to be the pick. I doubt they trade for a wideout. I think they want to see what shakes loose after June 1 and where they sit post-draft. Travis Taylor is now a Viking. The Ravens never attempted to retain him and that speaks volumes about what a glaring disappointment he was as the 10th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Vincent was a good signing. Good athlete, very good size, a bargain price.

Question: Quick question: If the Ravens had the number 1 pick who do you believe they would chose?

Answer: Nebraska offensive tackle Jamaal Brown if he's still there.

Question: Hey Aaron,  Assuming the Ravens sign him, can Carlisle play center? Because, right now the Ravens don't really have anyone on the roster to back up Flynn. I'd find it hard believe that they'd count on a rookie to play that spot if anything were to happen to Flynn for an extended amount of time, so if they don't think Carlisle (or even Rimpf) can play center, do you expect them to sign another veteran to back up Flynn later in the off-season? Also, none of the current outside linebackers on the roster are very good in pass coverage (AD's worked hard to make himself okay at this, but nothing more), and that's an area that you need at least one of your 4-3 OLB's to excel in. How do you expect the Ravens to address this? Sign another vet who's better at pass coverage? Draft one early? Move Bart Scott to outside linebacker? Thanks for your answers.

Answer: Cooper Carlisle hasn't ever played center in the NFL. Brian Rimpf could possibly be groomed to play center, or someone could be drafted. Bart Scott is pretty good in pass coverage, as is T.J. Slaughter, who will likely be re-signed. Bart Scott played safety for a while at Southern Illinois.

Question: I hope I am wrong but I am skeptical about Musa's return to full speed for the season opener. Do you think the ravens will bring back Jamel White and keep Chester Taylor or do they draft a rb? Also, do you see the Ravens keeping Kordell or do they draft a Mcpherson or Jason Campbell as a third string?

Answer: I think Jamel White's return is a strong possibility. Chester Taylor is a restricted free agent and no one has made a formal offer yet. I think they will go with a rookie for clipboard quarterback.

Question: What's Boulware's future with the Ravens like? And Do you know if Boulware will negotiate or not?

Answer: I think he wouldn't like a paycut obviously. He needs to get healthy and stay healthy to have a long-term future in Baltimore. That said, he deserves some respect for his work in the organization over the years. I wouldn't be so fast to push him out the door.

Question: Do you happen to know what Clarence Moore is up to so far this off-season? Is he at the complex lifting, studying, etc... Or his he home chilling?

Answer: I've heard he's working hard and gaining some much needed upper body strength.

Question: Other than a trainer, has JLew had any visitors from the Ravens organization? Physically, and psychologically, how's he faring?

Answer: I'm not privy to Jamal Lewis' visitor list. That's between him and the prison. From the prison officials I've spoken to and his lawyer, Jamal wants to do his time quietly. I'm sure his family, which mostly lives in Atlanta, and a few teammates have visited. It's jail, I'm sure it's not pleasant, but this is supposedly a safe, modern facility with decent exercise facilities.

Question: Aaron, It seems obvious that we currently need some depth at Linebacker. There are a number of veteran LBs (3-6 years experience) that are available that could step in immediately if we have an injury. Examples would be Tommy Polley, Cedrick Hodge, Zeke, Moreno........Hodge got suspended for substance abuse issues last year at the beginning of the season, but kept his nose clean for the rest of the year, and is a great athlete. I think he could be had at a bargain price due to the SA issues. Any scuttlebutt re: picking up one of these guys????? or someone similar?
will we resign TJ Slaughter?

Answer: T.J. Slaughter is the likely solution to the depth problem and could be a potential starter on the weakside.

Question: Does the front office have interest at all in Donovan Darius?

Answer: Not at his price. It's really unnecessary to dabble in this. He'll be back with the Jaguars.

Question: Who do you foresee the Ravens getting in FA to fill their #2 WR position. Plaxico Burress is sitting out there and I get the feeling we are snooping around with no one really knowing. Don't you think that Plax is more of a solution to our #2 WR because of his big-play ability (20 YPC last year)? Hilliard and Streets are redundant pieces who won't command double teams deep down the field.

Answer: They might look at Hilliard. Haven't heard a word about Streets. Remember, neither is much of a deep threat. Burress is unlikely considering he doesn't want to play with Kyle Boller and would cost a lot of money. Maybe on a one-year basis this could work, but I really doubt it. Drew Rosenhaus, his new agent, is a resourceful negotiator. I'm sure he'll create some kind of market for this mercurial former Steeler.

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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