Every year at the White House the President welcomes Championship teams from college and the pros as a gratitude for their accomplishment. Now in 2013 those champions are the Baltimore Ravens, who four months later were greeted by President Barack Obama. It was a glorious afternoon with not a cloud in the sky. But plenty of shades of purple, as the team entered the South …Continue Reading →
The Ravens rookies got their first look at NFL workouts this weekend. As a Rookie it’s essential to get established with a new system and to be able to learn how the NFL game is so much different from college. The team’s second round draft pick Arthur Brown is said to be Ray Lewis “replacement” which the future hall of fame linebacker held down for 17 seasons. Brown is no Lewis, but he has skills that can grow, and is working in that direction. During his last season at Kansas State, he led the team, posting 100 tackles (65 solo) to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors and multiple first-team All-American accolades. In addition, Brown was selected as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by its league coaches en route to an 11-2 overall record and Big 12 Championship title. He also became the first KSU player since Josh Buhl (2003) to record 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons. When he was asked about being Lewis’s replacement he replied, “Honestly, I think the No. 1 thing is learning my role as a linebacker and just attempting and providing what I do to fulfill that role – learning from the guys who are here and learning from the coaches.” Brown, who is wearing #59, has stayed humble and looks to be a key part of the defense in the 2013 campaign. Since these are rookies, they will just need to continue to learn and improve each day, before the veterans arrive soon.
One of the players who says he will make an impact is small school standout Brandon Williams who played at Missouri Southern State. The franchise is aware of what they’re getting because of some solid scouting; the Lions defender is being regarded as the best NCAA Division II defensive lineman since Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer, John Randle. The 335 lb Williams said, “I’ve definitely got a huge chip on my shoulder coming from D-II, and it’s just that much more of a challenge for me. I’m ready for the challenge, I’m up for the challenge, and just to get out here and show everybody that, ‘Hey, I’m D-II, but I can still play. I’m here. I’m in a Baltimore jersey right now playing with all you guys – D-I’s, wherever you’re from – and I’m going to play as hard as you, play better than you, and I’m here to stay.” No matter what school a player comes from if they are capable of playing at the NFL level, and able to adjust to teams system – they will get the chance. That’s exactly what Williams stressed, “Hey, I’m D II, but I can still play. I’m still here.” That shows commitment and he is ready to make the best of his opportunity.
Now that rookies have received their first taste of minicamp, they won’t see action again until the OTA’s, which is at the end of this month, it was a productive weekend for most of the new comers. Now, they are poised to prove that they belong here; and can make a name for themselves.
Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens were able to be successful in the 2013 NFL draft, receiving an A, for the overall draft. The Ravens were aggressive using their first four picks at the defensive side of the ball. S Matt Elam, LB Arthur Brown, DT Brandon Williams and DE John Simon, all have a chance contribute. There’s value throughout here, too, with FB Kyle Juszczyk, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore and WR Aaron Mellette all interesting choices. The Ravens continue to make adjustments as a team as find ways to draft the best available player. Eric DeCosta said “That’s a good question. I’ve thought about that, because for a long time we didn’t draft any small school guys, or a very, very few. In the last couple years we have drafted more. I think one of the reasons is because we rally draft best available player. Honestly, I know it sounds crazy, but just about every single one of these picks was highest-rated guy on the list, and coincidentally, some of these guys were small school guys. What I will say is that I think scouting, in general, has gotten better across the league. It has forced us to adapt. We’ve had to increase the pool of players. Where we would probably have always just drafted Pac-10, Big 10 and SEC guys, we have looked at these smaller school guys, because players will come as we’ve seen, from every area, every division, every part of the country. We’ve challenged our scouts to get more information, and to investigate every possible player to give us an advantage. I think our scouts have done a good job of doing that.” Honestly is does not matter what school a player is from if they can play at the NFL level and fit into a system at that level, then that is a player a team wants to draft. The team certainly stressed it as a need to add faster players and cover the entire field. The Ravens took hard-hitting safety Matt Elam from the University of Florida in the first round, adding a player with strong coverage skills who can also come up and defend the run. “The thing that I think we all like about Matt is his speed,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
Elam will likely get paired with veteran free-agent signing Michael Huff as the two starting safeties. Huff is a quick defensive back who is versatile which he play corner as well. Huff and Elam will take over for veterans Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, who started for the last two seasons. “One of the positions we really needed was safety,” Newsome told Elam over the phone just after making the pick. “We got Michael Huff, and we’ll probably have two of the most athletic safeties in the game by putting you back there with him.” The Ravens followed up the Elam pick by drafting Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown Southern Missouri State defensive tackle Brandon Williams and Ohio State linebacker John Simon. All three players are known for their athleticism, and specifically their ability to run. Brown is slightly undersized at 6-foot-0, 242 pounds, but he ran a 4.68 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His size dropped him down draft boards. “You want to be as fast as possible,” Harbaugh said. “You want to be sideline-to-sideline. You want to cover ground.” Adding Simon in the fourth round was another part of the effort to strengthen the defense with more speed. When discussing Simon after the draft, Harbaugh pointed to the outside linebacker’s energy, leadership and speed. “He’s a 255-pound man that runs a 4.6. This guy can really run.” The draft continued an overhaul of the defensive lineup this offseason, which started soon after the Ravens won the Super Bowl. To replace them, Newsome brought in versatile, athletic players like Chris Canty and Marcus Spears He also signed one of the top pass rushers in the game in Elvis Dumervil and added Huff. All of the new additions brought an element of versatility and speed, and that was just the beginning of the transition. The draft gives the fans another way to appreciate what Ozzie Newsome and what the organization has done with its winning tradition.