Baltimore Sun reporters grade the Ravens' 2013 NFL draft
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Aaron Wilson( April 27, 2013 )
The Ravens were disciplined in not deviating from their stated goal: upgrading the middle of their defense. With their first three picks, they seem to have accomplished that. First-round safety Matt Elam is a punishing tackler with superior cover skills compared to the departed Bernard Pollard. Second-round linebacker Arthur Brown is a speedy three-down type who makes big plays despite a lack of size. Third-round nose guard Brandon Williams (pictured) dominated the Division II level, but was throwing around blockers at the Senior Bowl and is stout at 6-1, 335 pounds and strong (bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times). And fourth-round outside linebacker John Simon, who plays with aggressiveness and toughness reminiscent of former Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, also fit the mold of what the Ravens are looking for in the front seven. There was a definite theme to the Ravens' draft -- adding speed and toughness to the defense.
Best pick: By picking Brown out of Kansas State, the Ravens have essentially replaced two players: Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Brown could provide the tackling and range that Lewis did in his younger years and he can be an asset as a blitzer and in pass coverage, which were Ellerbe's strengths. Obviously, there will be a transition to a higher level of football and Brown is undersized, but the Big 12 is a physical conference and Brown had no durability issues or problems grappling with bigger players. Ideally, the Ravens will keep blockers off of Brown.
Missed opportunity: There wasn't anything really glaring other than not getting a pure left tackle starting candidate, but that wasn't necessarily realistic given where they were picking and how the draft unfolded. Here are a few picks that could have fallen differently for the Ravens: In the fourth round directly above the Ravens picking John Simon, ultra-productive Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and could have been a nice fit as a potential starter. In the fifth round, the 49ers picked Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial with the 157th overall pick. If Dial had made it to the Ravens, they would have likely picked him. The Ravens wound up with Wisconsin offensive tackle Ricky Wagner with the final pick of the fifth round, which is still a solid pick for where they got him.