With Joe Flacco going into what could be his last season as the Ravens' franchise quarterback, the team might use a high draft pick on the sport's most important position for the first time in a decade.
The Ravens' 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 27 ended a five-game losing streak against their AFC North rival. But the Ravens have not fared well in Cincinnati. The Bengals have won 13 of 20 meetings against the Ravens on their home field, including four straight at Paul Brown Stadium. The series has been hotly contested with seven of the past eight games decided by eight points or fewer.
To make up ground in the AFC North as well as the conference, the Ravens need to have a quality draft because they might not have enough salary cap room to bring in high-profile free agents. The team's draft record has been disappointing since the late 2000s when the Ravens selected players who made an immediate impact, like guards Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda in 2007 and quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice in 2008.
Cam Newton brings an added dimension to the quarterback position. There have been signal-callers — like Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton and Steve McNair — who ran out of necessity, and others, like Seattle's Russell Wilson, who took it further with some designed runs. But Newton is a threat as both a passer and runner, and unlike the others, he just doesn't give a damn who he has to fly over to win the championship.
Russell Wilson is soaring into that next stratosphere, where the pertinent question is not whether or not he¿s elite, which is now undeniable, but whether his astonishing proficiency will be sustainable.
It seems to be fitting for the Super Bowl champion to be possibly still involved in a cheating scandal because this has been a year of turmoil for the NFL, whose image has been tarnished and integrity challenged.