With the rush of free agency in the rear view mirror it is time to focus in on the NFL Draft, specifically on team needs. In this article we look at the Baltimore Ravens draft needs for 2016 as we approach the April 28th 1st round from Chicago. The cupboards are looking pretty bare for the Ravens right now, and they need some serious upgrades if they want to compete next year. To look at the current roster there seems to be more problems than answers. Whether it is age, ability or injury, the Ravens look worse than they have for a while and a very good draft is needed here to turn it around.
Biggest Need: Offensive Line
The Ravens have no bigger need right now than on the offensive line. The huge loss of Kelechi Osemele has created a giant hole than needs to be filled immediately. His natural position is guard, but he finished the season at left tackle. This shows how thin the Ravens O line depth is. With Flacco suffering a devastating knee injury, offensive line play will be key to his return, and if the Ravens don’t upgrade fast, he will be out again before he can even set his feet. Flacco needs to know that when he returns he is safe, because he will inevitably take longer in the pocket at first. The Ravens need to show that they have his well-being in mind by investing in the offensive line early and often.
Other Needs: Wide Receiver, Outside Linebacker, Cornerback
Keeping this list to just three was tough, however these seem the most pressing needs. With the first two, there is young promise, however the current veteran presence is beginning to show age. Wide Receiver is nearly as bad a problem as the O line. The best receiver on the team is Steve Smith Sr and he is 36 years old and coming off an Achilles tear. The recent signing of Mike Wallace and the slow development of Breshad Perriman show a need for a premier receiver as soon as possible. With Wallace they hope he can recover his form when with the rival Steelers, or at least become a viable deep threat. Perriman is different, the big bodied pass catcher can be seen as the future in Baltimore, however his slow development is troubling for a team in need of difference makers. Outside Linebacker needs to get younger and soon, Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs were the starters last year. Both battled injuries and are beginning to show their age. Dumervil and Suggs are into their 11th and 13th season respectively, and with the latter ending the year on injured reserve, the Ravens might soon be looking to move on. With no replacements standing out, drafting someone is a must. Finally cornerback is area of need for the Ravens due to their inability to win close games last year. With players like Antonio Brown and A.J Green in the AFC North, the Ravens need someone who can lock down those receivers to make those close games winnable. They have viable starters in Ladarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, however both are better when alongside a true number 1 cornerback. With an early pick and some truly difference making cornerbacks in the draft, unless the Ravens fall in love will a lineman, look to them to maybe go corner.