Replacing Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe won’t be easy.
At this point, saying that the Ravens’ defense — a formerly fierce unit that’s long been the team’s foundation — has been gutted is an insult to things that are gutted. Fish are especially perturbed, if they’re still living.
By now you’re surely familiar with the lengthy list of starters who have moved on. But to review: Ray Lewis retired, while Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and most recently Ed Reed have moved on. Toss in Anquan Boldin on the other side of the ball, and that’s seven starters gone due to the league’s crunchiest cap situation. The holes, they’re everywhere.
Of course the pain associated with that exodus is much easier to bear because it’s the price paid for a championship. Sure, but with both of their starting middle linebackers and safeties from that championship year now gone, the Ravens’ 2013 season could show us yet again that repeating as champions in the NFL is, well, difficult. In the 19 years the salary cap has been in existence, only two teams have successfully defended their title.
To avoid a collapse in the face of those free agency losses, multiple voids need to be filled, with the draft playing a major role in that process. After receiving four compensatory picks and a sixth-round pick from the 49ers in exchange for Boldin, general manager Ozzie Newsome has 12 picks to work with in his search for both high-end prospects who can start immediately, and youthful depth.
But where will he start? what position should be prioritized? And does he prefer a tuck or no tuck by the housekeeping staff when staying at a hotel? In our latest draft preview (35 more days!!!) I talked to Bruce Raffel, the editor of Baltimore Beat Down, and asked him those questions and more. Well, not the bed sheet one, but if you have information in that regard, please do tell.
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