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BLOGGER ON BLOGGER

Talking Ravens with Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus

By Matt Vensel

The Baltimore Sun

7:00 AM EDT, April 30, 2013

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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 blogger Gordon McGuiness, who writes about the Ravens for Pro Football Focus and also contributes to Russell Street Report and the Purple Reign Show.

MV: What are your thoughts on the team’s 2013 draft class, specifically Matt Elam and Arthur Brown?

GM: I liked the drafting of Brown. The inside linebacker position was weak enough during last season with Ray Lewis' play finally taking a downturn, and when you factor in Dannell Ellerbe's departure, too, it was essential for them to upgrade. They signed Rolando McClain but you have to question if he can stay out of trouble long enough to see the field and, even if he does, I don't think he's more than a two-down linebacker. Elam is as hard-hitting a safety prospect I can remember seeing and, while that's something to keep an eye on given today's more safety-conscious NFL, was something they needed to replace when Bernard Pollard left. One thing I had pointed out to me by someone at Pro Football Focus who has seen more of Elam than me was that he was surprised by how many tackles he missed.

MV: The Ravens have said that Kelechi Osemele could start at left tackle. What are your thoughts on that potential position switch, and most importantly, would Osemele be able to play well there?

GM: I definitely think Osemele is capable of playing left tackle. He was solid enough on the right side last year and played the position in college. But I'd personally leave him at guard. You look back at the Super Bowl and he was truly dominant, handling [49rs defensive end] Justin Smith with ease throughout the game. Leave him there and you have him paired with Yanda to form a formidable interior line for years.

MV: After trading away Anquan Boldin, the Ravens waited until the seventh round of the draft to address the position with Aaron Mellette. Barring a cheap free-agent signing, which young receiver do you think will be the best option to be their third receiver, specifically working out of the slot?

GM: I'm actually not as down on Tandon Doss as everyone else. He dropped two passes in 2012, but he also averaged over 16 yards per catch. That being said I also liked what I saw out of Deonte Thompson in the preseason and in the little time he saw the field during the season. In terms of the slot, I think we're going to see even more of tight end Dennis Pitta from there in 2013 and beyond. That makes the most sense to me given how good he looked from the slot in the postseason (particularly in the red zone) and because you don't lose much from him not being lined up at tight end (his blocking certainly doesn't scare anyone).

MV: We haven’t chatted since the Ravens signed Pro Bowl pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, but I know that you weren’t as big of a fan as the signing as others. Can you explain your stance for our readers?

GM: Ha ha! My stance on Dumervil did get me a fair amount of backlash earlier in the offseason. To clarify, I don't think he's a bad player and he was the best available option as an edge rusher. However, for me he's just too inconsistent as a pass rusher and not good enough against the run. As a pass rusher he has averaged six games per season, since we began grading in 2008, where he has two total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries) or less and, for me, that's just not good enough for the contract he received.

MV: The Ravens said they wanted to improve the middle of their defense and get better against the run. With the signings of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Michael Huff, along with their 10-player draft class, is there reason to believe that the Baltimore defense will be much better at stopping the run?

GM: I absolutely love what the Ravens have done to address their run defense in 2013. Canty and Spears add to the depth at defensive end, which allows them, if reports are to be believed, to move Haloti Ngata inside more. And that in turn, along with the drafting of the nose tackle, Brandon Williams, will at worst limit Terrence Cody's snap count. Defensively that was one of the biggest areas I felt they needed to improve, with Cody just being pushed around far too much for a guy his size and not doing enough to occupy blocks.

If you are a blogger who is interested in participating in this feature, email me at matt.vensel@baltsun.com.