Ravens Draft Class, BSL Roundtable
After a full week plus to really digest, and study the Ravens recent draft class, Baltimore Sports and Life members Chris Stoner, Mike Randall, and Shawn Brubaker, discuss their thoughts on some of the picks, and the future for these guys as we begin turning our attention toward the 2015 season.
Discuss your thoughts on these topics, and more, on our message board.
1. The first round pick is always the most anticipated, and thus carries the highest expectations. What are your overall thoughts on Breshad Perriman, and the Ravens choice to make him their first round pick?
Chris Stoner – Diversity among your WR’s appeals to me, so I’m pleased by the addition of Perriman to the Ravens receiving corps. Clearly it is important for WR’s to be able to catch, and run precise routes. Obviously there has been question about Perriman’s concentration level with his drops, and his routes have been questioned as well. That said, the Ravens obtained a player at #26 overall that had the ceiling capable of being a Top 15 pick. Speed can not be taught, and I’m one that believes speed is not under rated. I wanted Torrey back under the right price, but understood he had to leave. The Ravens have obtained a player in Perriman that will have Smith’s ability to get deep, at a fraction of the cost. That is ideal. By having the threat of a player that can go over the top on the field, things are opened up underneath. I’m excited to see what he will be capable of in his rookie year in Trestman’s offense.
Mike Randall – I wasn’t high on him prior to the draft. I feel like the 4.27 40-time is what put him on the radar. He has bad hands, which is the first thing a receiver should possess. I don’t buy the cop out that his drops are “concentration drops” and that his hands aren’t a problem. Drops, are drops, are drops. The end result is the same. I would have rather seen the Ravens trade back, and have an extra pick in the second or third round to grab Jaelen Strong with. I would love to be proven wrong by Perriman having a breakout rookie season.
Shawn Brubaker – I was critical of the Perriman pick in the moment. His 4.25 speed doesn’t translate to film, his hands are spotty and his routes are raw. Yet, I see the upside here. Perriman is still fast, and he’s willing to fight for the ball. Don’t downplay his drops: Concentration drops are hard to grow out of, as Hakeem Nicks can attest to. Still, I expect some big plays out of Perriman, even if I don’t think he’ll ever grow into a special player.
2. After Perriman, the Ravens selected tight end Maxx Williams, and later selected their second TE, Nick Boyle. Do you believe that picking two TEs tells us all we need know about the future of Dennis Pitta with the club? Williams looks like a plug and play, and Boyle appears to be a role player as they took him in the fifth round. Not really a throw away, roll the dice type seventh round pick.
CS – I went into the draft liking most of the Ravens existing offensive players individually, but thinking it was not a group to fear / love collectively. With Perriman, and Williams added; it’s a much more attractive offense. I like Gilmore, I didn’t want to be in position to have to depend on him to produce. Williams provides depth and another safety valve target for Flacco.
I think the Ravens will give Pitta every chance to get back on the field. I think after his two surgeries, there is little confidence that he will be able to stay healthy.
No real problem with taking Boyle, and I’m very pleased that one of the roster’s glaring issues has been positively addressed with the Williams addition.
MR – I think the Ravens needed to proceed as if Pitta would not be available going forward. Better to have a backup plan than not. If Pitta is able to play, it should come as a bonus for the team. I’m pretty excited about the skill set Maxx Williams brings to the Ravens. Boyle looks like a role player, a stout blocker, but that 5.0+ 40-time doesn’t scream playmaker.
SB – I love the Williams pick. His effort stands out every time he takes the field, both in terms of blocking and receiving. Williams has some of the softest hands in this draft, regardless of position, though admittedly his routes are not super sharp. His issues with blocking are overblown: Williams is almost always in the right position, and his technique is sound. He isn’t strong enough to be a true drive blocker, but few tight ends are. He is still a plus blocker.
As for Boyle, his roster status depends on two things: Dennis Pitta and Boyle’s special teams ability. If Pitta isn’t able to play, Boyle pretty much has a roster spot locked up, as he looks and plays the part of a decent third tight end who almost exclusively plays in the red zone. If Pitta is good to go, though, Boyle will need to impress on special teams, like all Ravens rookies.
3. The Ravens waited until the end of round four to pick a cornerback, Tray Walker. CB was one of the higher positions of need with questions marks surrounding depth at the position, Lardarius Webb’s ability at this point, and whether or not Jimmy Smith can put it all together for a full season. Were you shocked that Ravens didn’t address this need earlier, and your thoughts on Walker?
CS – Walker has some interesting tools, but looks to be a developmental prospect. You hope he can be part of the immediate rotation, and contribute in Nickle and Dime packages. I think Webb improved down the stretch last year as he shook off the rust, and that Smith is one of the league’s better CB’s. I do think another veteran CB should be a priority. I like the idea of pursuing Philadelphia’s Brandon Boykin as our BSL colleague Rob Shields has suggested.
MR – I’m not necessarily shocked. The Ravens have always been the type to draft the best player available, or the guys highest on their board regardless of need. I believe the top corners were off the board when Perriman was picked, and Maxx Williams will turn out to be a better pick than any of the second or third round CBs. Walker brings some good size (6’2”), and he looks good in press coverage. Could be great value down the road.
SB – Considering who the Ravens got, I’m not shocked they elected to wait. All three of their top picks were among the best values available, even Perriman, who I’m down on. I know next to nothing about Tray Walker. Haven’t watched him yet. The Ravens are hit or miss on drafting cornerbacks, with Lardarius Webb being an immediate hit, Jimmy Smith taking some time and guys like David Pittman and Chykie Brown never really amounting to anything. Which will Walker be?
4. Pernell McPhee, Rick Wager, and what appears to be John Urschel are some middle round draft picks that have been major contributors in recent drafts. A lot of credit goes to the team for finding these diamonds in the rough. Are there any middle round selections in this year’s draft that you see emerging as a starter, and a major contributor down the road?
CS – From the 4th round selections on, I’m most interested in Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens have already stated several times they see the McPhee comparison. Let’s hope he develops on a similar track.
MR – A lot of people are calling Za’Darius Smith the sleeper pick of the Ravens draft. But I’m going to go with their sixth rounder, Darren Waller. A 6’6” WR that ran a 4.46 40, and came from the same school that developed Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. He doesn’t have any glaring deficiencies, which means he can be molded into a star one day. Fingers crossed.
SB – The most intriguing mid-to-late round pick is Darren Waller, for sure. His size and jump-ball ability could make him an immediate contributor, at least on the Ravens’ hands team.
The most likely major contributor is Carl Davis, who is a perfect fit for the Ravens. The combination of playing in Baltimore and falling into the third round should keep Davis motivated. He flashed dominance at Iowa. With added motivation, expect more of that in Baltimore.
5. Looking ahead to the summer, with the new additions, what positional battles intrigue you the most during the upcoming camps?
CS – Relating this question back to the draft, I’m interested in seeing how things shake out with Taliaferro and Buck Allen. Both are 1 cut runners. Taliaferro has the year under his belt. Who gets to be the the ‘Thunder’ to Forsett’s ‘Lightning?
MR – I’ll be most interested in the tight end group this summer. Will Dennis Pitta return healthy, and be able to contribute? Will Maxx Williams live up to the hype as the best TE in the draft? Has Crockett Gillmore developed into a starting caliber TE as he begins his second year? I think any of the top three TEs on the roster can contend for a starting spot. Two of Nick Boyle, Phillip Supernaw, and possibly Pitta will be left out.
SB – Cornerback. The top two are locked in with Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, but after that, it’s a mess. I like Rashaan Melvin a lot, but there is no denying he was toasted repeatedly against the New England Patriots in the playoffs. Asa Jackson can’t stay healthy and struggled in his first action last year. Anthony Levine keeps plays in front of him and that’s about it. He struggled with the ball in the air and wasn’t going to make any big plays. Tray Walker has serious level of competition issues.