Defense first and foremost for Ravens in NFL draft

April 27, 2013|By Matt Vensel

The 2013 NFL draft is over, and looking back at what the Ravens have accomplished this weekend, it is fairly obvious that they wanted to focus on defense after slowly rebuilding the offense over the past few offseasons.

As I wrote in this space earlier this weekend, I like the selection of Florida strong safety Matt Elam and Kansas State inside linebacker Arthur Brown. Both are capable of starting as rookies. I still don’t know much about big Southern Missouri State nose tackle Brandon Williams, but he figures to have a meaningful role this year, too.

On Saturday, the third and final day of the draft, the Ravens used three of their seven draft picks on defense, making it six of 10 picks overall, including their first four. They picked one player at every defensive position.

John Simon, who played defensive end at Ohio State, projects as an outside linebacker in Baltimore's scheme. He is already getting compared to Jarret Johnson, another try-hard fourth-round pick. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Simon had nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss in 2012. He adds even more depth to a stacked group of outside backers led by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, a sixth-round draft pick, tore his ACL in the BCS national championship game, hurting his draft stock and putting his 2013 season in jeopardy. The Ravens, who with 10 picks had the luxury to draft Lewis-Moore and redshirt him for a year, say that anything they get from him in 2013 will be a bonus. He is a versatile player who could help in 2014.

I didn't know anything about California cornerback Marc Anthony, but I was relieved to learn that the Ravens didn't draft this Marc Anthony. I have also since learned that Anthony started for three seasons at Cal, and while he doesn’t have great speed, he has size, experience and is capable of playing both man and zone coverage, making him worth a flyer in the seventh round.

The Ravens could have newcomers starting at as many as seven of 11 defensive positions. A few of these youngsters probably won’t start, but they'll push vets for roster spots, roles and playing time, making offseason workouts and training camp pretty interesting.

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