By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 12, 2014
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome was at it again during the 2014 NFL Draft. There's a reason why Newsome is one of the league's most respected executives. Let's take a look at the Ravens' picks, assessing grades for each, to see just how impressive the class is for Baltimore on paper.
An all-around linebacker who can play on every down with the ability to stuff the run near the line of scrimmage, drop back into coverage, blitz with effectiveness and run sidelined to sideline. C.J. Mosley was arguably a top 10 talent. A troubling injury history and a perhaps unfair stigma attached to Alabama players lowered his stock. If he can stay healthy, he could be one of the biggest steals of the first round.
The Ravens needed an influx of youth along their defensive line in this draft. That's exactly what they got in Florida State's Timmy Jernigan, who some analyst pegged as a Day 1 talent. A disruptive lineman like Jernigan next to a dominant force like Haloti Ngata on the same defensive line could become a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.
The Ravens have been missing a rangy center fielder ever since Ed Reed's play began to decline. Florida State's Terrence Brooks has the speed to be exactly what Baltimore needs. Considering a safety prospect like Deone Buccannon heard his name called during the first round, the Ravens found great value with Brooks in the third round.
This was probably a reach. Gilmore has intriguing size, but doesn't possess great athleticism and needs to get stronger to block inline at the next level. Ozzie Newsome, a former tight end, knows how to evaluate the position, though. Perhaps he knows something we don't.
If it weren't for an ankle injury, Virginia defensive tackle Brent Urban would have potentially heard his name during the draft's second round. Urban, with Jernigan, will give the Ravens some much needed youth along the defensive line. And he offers tremendous value on Day 3.
The Ravens nabbed a big, powerful runner in Lorenzo Taliaferro in the fourth round. They may have reached in doing so -- at least according to often flawed pre-draft rankings -- but if it weren't for Taliaferro's small-school label, he could have been drafted even higher.
John Urschel is a quick, sound technician who has the intelligence to catch on quickly in the NFL. He probably needs to get stronger, though.
Some consider Ball State's Keith Wenning the best quarterback of this year's draft class that nobody was talking about. If that's the case, the Ravens may have gotten a steal and a solid backup for Joe Flacco.
The Ravens needed a slot receiver and may have found one in Wake Forest's Michael Companaro. The ACC product has impressive short-area quickness and more-than-adequate speed. If he can refine his route running and limit concentration lapses, he might not only make the team, but contribute in Baltimore.
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