The Baltimore sports scene is blessed with a bunch of talented bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. Each week, I hope to chat with one of them in a regular feature called Blogger on Blogger. This week, I exchanged emails with Chris Worthington, who blogs about the Ravens for Baltimore Sports and Life.
MV: The Ravens made a splash Sunday, agreeing to terms with Elvis Dumervil. Your thoughts on the move?
CW: My initial thought is that this is a very good signing for the Ravens. The defense has notoriously struggled to get to the quarterback the past few seasons, and Dumervil should provide help in that regard. It also eases the pain of losing Paul Kruger in free agency. Finally, I think that it's yet another sign that the Ravens will use more 4-3 fronts next season, as both Chris Canty and Dumervil are 4-3 guys.
MV: Overall, do you like the direction the Ravens are heading on defense after an up-and-down 2012 season? Outside of the Dumervil deal, it seems the plan is to get younger on that side of the ball.
CW: I do think the Ravens are moving in the right direction on defense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were, of course, icons in Baltimore and the stalwart players on a defense that had a historically great run in the 2000s. However, all good things come to an end. It was easy to see that they didn't play very well last season, which was also the story for the defense as a whole. The return of Lardarius Webb in the secondary and some greatly improved depth along the defensive line should pay huge dividends in 2013.
MV: Which offseason departure will sting the Ravens most in 2013?
CW: At this point, I'd have to say losing Anquan Boldin will sting the most. Financially it was a good move, but it still hurts the receiving corps. Boldin has great hands and is outstanding at going up and fighting for the ball. He's a really physical guy and a better route runner than Torrey Smith. Hopefully Dennis Pitta can step up and sort of fill the void left by Boldin, but at this point our offense is clearly worse off without him.
MV: With the NFL draft looming in a few weeks, what do you feel the Ravens should do with their first couple of draft picks, especially since they will be picking at the end of each of those rounds?
CW: I've always been a fan of taking the best player available. Shoring up some of our needs in free agency makes this philosophy easier to follow. If we hadn't addressed the defense at all in free agency, then we might have been forced to draft for need. That said, there is a lot of depth at safety this year, and if one of the good safeties also happens to be the best player on the board at the end of the first round, then that seems like a perfect match.
MV: Do you think drafting an inside linebacker in the first round makes sense? I’m of the opinion that in today’s NFL, it would have to be a special player at that position, but I would love to hear a good counterargument.
CW: I'm not going to put up much of a fight; I don't disagree with you. I suppose it depends on the particular linebacker and how great the need for an inside linebacker is. It's clearly one area of need for the Ravens this year, but I don't see any reason to reach for one. The Ravens are historically good at grooming under-the-radar guys on defense, especially at linebacker. Ellerbe and McClain and Bart Scott were all undrafted. Adalius Thomas was the 186th pick in the draft. Even Kruger has managed to become something of a household name, and he was a late second-round pick. So I don't see any reason to panic if the Ravens don't address the need for an inside linebacker in the first few rounds.
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