Mel Kiper Jr. gives Ravens' draft an A: 'Everything fell right'

As far as ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is concerned, the Ravens' draft was above reproach.

The Ravens drafted 10 players, a rookie class headlined by a pair of All-American defensive players: first-round safety Matt Elam (Florida) and second-round linebacker Arthur Brown (Kansas State).


"I thought it was a grade A draft," Kiper, a Jarrettsville resident, said during a conference call. "I gave them an A-minus because I had to take a little off being the homer that I am for Baltimore. I had to drop it from an A to an A-minus. Seriously, I think they did a great job. I don't think anybody could argue with that. Everything fell right."

The Ravens opted not to draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, going with Elam instead. Te'o went to the San Diego Chargers in the second round, and the Ravens traded three picks to the Seattle Seahawks to land Brown in the second round.


"The passing on Te'o, I questioned that, but that was before they got Arthur Brown," Kiper said. "Once they got Arthur Brown, I'm OK with that."

In the third round, the Ravens drafted Missouri Southern All-American defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

"I thought was one of the best non-[Football Bowl Subdivision] players in this draft," Kiper said. "He had a great Senior Bowl week. He was a dominant presence at the small-college level, which has to happen. If you're not at the major college level, you need to dominate the lower level of competition, which he did."

Kiper praised gritty fourth-round outside linebacker John Simon's motor. Simon was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season with a career-high nine sacks for Ohio State.


For pass-catching fourth-round Harvard fullback Kyle Juszcyzk, Kiper said: "Just a heck of a receiving entity who proved at the Senior Bowl that he can block."

Kiper said fifth-round offensive tackle Ricky Wagner "had a high grade going in. I don't think he's a left tackle. I think he's a right tackle or a guard."

And Kiper opined that sixth-round Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore would have probably been a third-round pick if not for tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"They can redshirt Kapron Lewis-Moore," Kiper said.

He thought the Ravens got Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette at the right spot in the seventh round, as well as seventh-round California cornerback Marc Anthony.

"I would say eight players have a future with the Ravens," Kiper said. "I wouldn't be surprised if all of these guys make the team at some point. This was a great draft. For a Super Bowl champion to do what they did late in free agency, to do what they did on draft day you will never hear more talk about what they lost outside of Ray Lewis because of his leadership.

"Plus, the Ravens had a bad defense anyway. It was the 17th-ranked defense. The defense had a lot of issues in a number of games. Now, they get free-agent acquisitions. I think they did a great job of building back this team to be right in contention again. Elvis Dumervil fell in their laps, surprisingly. They augmented everything with a heck of a draft."

Here's my quick-hit take on the picks:

First round - Matt Elam, S, 5-10, 210, Florida

The All-American defensive back and younger brother of NFL safety Abram Elam should provide toughness and range to a secondary that lost Ed Reed to the Houston Texans and cut Bernard Pollard. He's expected to immediately compete for a starting job at strong safety, but will also cross-train at free safety.

Second round - Arthur Brown, LB, 6-0, 241, Kansas State

Brown has drawn comparisons to a young Ray Lewis because of his lack of ideal size, speed and emotional, relentless style of play. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year figures to immediately start at one of the inside linebacker spots in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme.

Third round - Brandon Williams, DT, 6-1, 335, Missouri Southern

Anchor style nose guard and Division II All-American who bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times at the NFL scouting combine. Athletic for his size and can do a handstand and walk, performed well at Senior Bowl and will challenge Terrence Cody for nose guard playing time.

Fourth round - John Simon, OLB, 6-1, 257, Ohio State

Gritty, hard-nosed Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year had career-high nine sacks last season. Should compete for a situational pass rusher role at rush linebacker behind former Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Fourth round - Kyle Juszczyk, FB, 6-1, 248, Harvard

Excelled at Senior Bowl and took a dozen visits, including Ravens, after starring in Ivy League as pass-catching fullback. Ravens figure to utilize him at fullback, tight end and H-back and expected to eventually replace Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach.

Fifth round - Ricky Wagner, OT, 6-6, 308, Wisconsin

All-Big Ten Conference tackle has played left tackle for past two seasons after playing right tackle. Former prep basketball player isn't an elite athlete, but could also get a look at guard.

Sixth round - Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, 6-4, 298, Notre Dame

Accomplished player tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in national championship game loss to Alabama. Figures to be a medical redshirt as a rookie, essentially, since he just had surgery three months ago.

Sixth round - Ryan Jensen, C, 6-3, 317, Colorado State-Pueblo

Plays with a nasty streak and is quick (5.28 40-yard dash) and strong (Bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times). Drew interest from multiple NFL teams, including the New England Patriots, and is set to back up Gino Gradkowski at center after primarily playing tackle in college.

Seventh round - Aaron Mellette, WR, 6-2, 217, Elon

Imposing small-school standout could provide red-zone threat immediately. Mellette caught 11 passes with one touchdown against Vanderbilt and played in the Senior Bowl.

Seventh round - Marc Anthony, CB, 5-11, 196, California

Productive and tough, but faces uphill climb to make the 53-man roster and will need to beat out Asa Jackson and Chris Johnson to do so. Could be a quick special teams contributor if he makes the cut.