When faced with several options, the Ravens made the right move

May 10, 2014|Mike Preston

The Ravens were stuck in no man's land when they selected Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley with the No. 17 overall pick.

But they made the best of the situation.

Mosley was a great linebacker last season and one of the top players in college football. But, unfortunately, there is a stigma that comes with Alabama defensive players these days.

A few of the Crimson Tide players taken early in recent drafts haven't lived up to high expectations. There have been quite a few — Rolando McClain, Kareem Jackson, Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick. The Ravens even have a short list in Terrence Cody and Courtney Upshaw.

There would be major concerns coming from this corner, too, except that the Ravens did exactly what they should have done. There was no other place to go, so they took the highest-rated player on their draft board. It was a logical decision.

It was Mosley. They stayed with the defensive theme in the second and third rounds, adding Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the No. 48 overall pick, and then Seminoles safety Terrence Brooks at No. 79.

Now if this selection were a reach or the Ravens had given up a draft pick or two to select Mosley, then it might have been time to scream, kick the cat and sell the house.

The concern and, in some cases, disappointment is understandable because the Ravens had two glaring needs as far finding an offensive lineman and a free safety. But if they had players at those positions rated close to Mosley they would have selected one of them, right?

Of course they would have. But they didn't, so the Ravens made the right choice. The process actually started at the NFL scouting combine in February when the Ravens lost the coin flip to Dallas, giving the Cowboys the No. 16 pick, and the Ravens were forced to go one later.

If the Ravens had won the toss, they would have picked Notre Dame offensive tackle-guard Zack Martin in the first round and we would all still be celebrating, no one more than Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco who was sacked 48 times last season.

Instead, Dallas picked Martin. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said there was conversation with other teams about the Ravens trading back, but the Ravens never got the big deal they wanted.

Despite all the rumors and speculation you hear around draft time, I believe Newsome. Just about everyone involved with the draft has admitted this one is deep, so if Newsome had gotten a substantial offer, he would have taken it.

Instead, he ended up with Mosley. To put Mosley in the same classification as the other Alabama players is unfair.

There is speculation that defensive players at Alabama are products of the system. Well, so were quarterbacks at the University of Miami and linebackers at Penn State at one time.

When you have great players, they tend to make others around them better. We've seen that here in Baltimore with eventual Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. When others left, like Ed Hartwell and Duane Starks, they didn't play as well.

It's not the fault of the players but the evaluators.

Before this season started, Mosley was one of the top 10 college football players in the country. He could have played for any team or any program, but his stock dropped because of questions about his health.

But watch him play and you see a complete linebacker. He is strong enough to take on lead blockers and fullbacks, and he is relentless in pursuit. He is a complete player, one who can cover and won't come off the field in passing situations.

He is quiet and leads by example. When he appeared at The Castle on Friday with his parents you could see why Alabama coach Nick Saban and the Ravens like him. He comes from a good family and is well-disciplined.

There will be no problems with motivation. There will be no weight issues. You don't have to worry about him missing curfew or not being in shape to play on Sunday afternoons.

The concerns about his health are legitimate, but the Ravens have checked him out thoroughly. First-round picks don't fall through the cracks.

Everything appears to have been in order for the Ravens to select Mosley. Would most of us have preferred Martin? Yes, because he was what the Ravens needed.

But Mosley is expected to start this season. He'll learn the game from a veteran like Daryl Smith, and once Smith retires, which could be soon, the Ravens might have a good, fast tandem in Mosley and second-year linebacker Arthur Brown.

That could be a promising future. As for the present, the Ravens made the best out of a good situation.

Mosley was a good choice.



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