Ravens' draft strategy

The Baltimore Ravens are in the mix of fine tuning their strategic process prior to selecting their first pick in this year's NFL draft. Of course, as we all know, the Ravens will select their first choice with the 29th selection.

The Ravens are not worrying whether or not if any quality players will be around when their selection time becomes near, because in the past they have found an number of Pro Bowl players, for example, several Pro Bowlers and a Defensive Player of the Year. The ones I am speaking of are clearly at the top of their game in Todd Heap and Ed Reed.
Therefore, the Ravens are clearly not in the rebuilding mode but as the owner of the Oakland Raiders always says, "we are reloading." The Ravens are not changing too much of the complexity of the team. The only key losses so far are offensive linemen, Tony Pashos (FA-Jacksonville), Edwin Mulitalo (FA-Detroit) and of course, defensive standout Adalius Thomas (FA-New England).
No matter what the status of future hall of fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden's possible retirement, the Ravens should be able to land a couple of top offensive linemen with their first two picks. There is speculation that Ogden will stick around for one more year and another chance at a Super Bowl run. However, that still remains to be seen or either heard from GM Ozzie Newsome.
Not only the need for offensive line help, new offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel will be in search of a new backup quarterback behind Steve McNair and Kyle Boller, running back and possibly another deep-threat receiver. Who knows if the Ravens will try their hand during draft day in proposing a possible trade of starting wide-out Derrick Mason? Mason has been unhappy with the play calling last season and with the promising player performances from Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, Mason could become expendable.
Now looking on the other side of the line, the Ravens definitely need help in the secondary as well as beefing up the linebacking corps. Adalius Thomas left some very big shoes to fill but with the right scheme, defensive coordinator Rex Ryan should be able to retain as one of the top five defenses for the 2007 season.
Sean A. Stinnett is a staff writer for Football.com covering the Baltimore Ravens. He is also the producer of Sports Night with Michael Popovec from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Monday – Friday on Sports Talk 1570AM WNST Radio in Towson/Baltimore.

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