The Ravens were already the team to beat in the AFC North entering the draft thanks to the trade for wide receiver Anquan Boldin and the turbulent offseason in Pittsburgh. Then they infused youth, talent and some good old-fashioned nastiness into an aging but still strong defense, and added a pair of pass-catching rookie tight ends to the offensive mix. GM Ozzie Newsome has again set the Ravens up to be serious Super Bowl contenders.
The Ravens' draft haul is impressive considering they traded away their first-rounder to acquire a trio of picks. It is extra impressive considering they were still able to pick up two defenders — Kindle and Cody — who were rated as first-round talents on many teams' draft boards.
Kindle shined at Texas, where he racked up 16 sacks in four years. He is explosive, athletic and versatile, and has the prerequisite swagger needed to play alongside Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. "I'm getting Rookie of the Year," Kindle proclaimed Saturday. Plus he has one of the coolest names in the draft, which should count for something.
Kindle is a perfect fit for the Ravens' defense as an edge rusher. He won't start this season — he will in the future — but he'll help the Ravens' anemic pass rush immediately.
Injuries (a bad right knee) and idiocy (a DUI and once driving into a building while texting) caused Kindle's stock to drop. But "Sergio is a hungry guy," as Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said Saturday.
DeCosta probably could have said the same for Cody, the team's other second-round pick.
Cody has "slimmed" down to 354 pounds, but at one point during his college career, the nose tackle overturned the scales at 400 pounds. Still, it's hard to argue with his production. During his final two years at Alabama, the Crimson Tide didn't allow a 100-yard rusher. Opposing running backs will be lucky to pound out 50 yards against the Ravens' 700-pound tag-team duo of Haloti and Cody.
Later in the draft, after Newsome had committed grand larceny twice, he continued to make great value picks.
With back-to-back picks, he landed two potential successors to Todd Heap. Both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta were among the top five prospects at the tight end position. You have to figure at least one will pan out.
Wideout David Reed will have a big impact on special teams and could be a productive slot receiver down the road. Arthur Jones has durability issues, but he has the skills to work his way into the defensive line rotation. Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood is a longshot to ever play for the Ravens, but he's the first player from Barbados to be drafted into the NFL — a fun factoid.
ESPN's draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Ravens' class an "A," saying "Baltimore traded down and still loaded up on talent all over the place." SI's Peter King said he "loved what Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta did."
These two NFL insiders might be jumping the gun with their premature evaluations of the Ravens' draft class. But three years from now, I doubt they'll regret it.