2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Ravens make defense a priority in NFL draft

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-04-27 19:12

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Not long after the confetti settled on the turf at the Superdome, the world champion Baltimore Ravens realized their defense was in need of a major overhaul.

The unit was ranked an uncharacteristic 17th in 2012, and much improvement was needed if the Ravens were to have a shot at successfully defending their Super Bowl title.

For that reason, general manager Ozzie Newsome did not panic after Ray Lewis retired and free agents Ed Reed, Cary Williams, Darnell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and Ed Reed departed. Instead, Newsome launched a makeover that featured the signing of Elvis Dumervil, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and Michael Huff.

The focus on defense continued in earnest at the NFL draft.

The Ravens' first four picks in were defensive players, and six of Baltimore's 10 selections will be playing on a defense trying to regain a reputation for greatness.

``We feel very, very good about what we've added to our football team for the 2013 season,'' Newsome said.

After taking safety Matt Elam, linebacker Arthur Brown and nose tackle Brandon Williams during the first two days of the draft, the Ravens launched a busy Saturday afternoon by taking Ohio State defensive end John Simon with the 129th overall pick.

``We talked about getting stronger up the middle, and we did that early with our first three picks,'' Newsome said. ``Today we were able to come back and pick up some tough guys who love the game.''

Newsome addressed some of the team's shortcomings on offense, although those four picks - two linemen, a wide receiver and a fullback - came at No. 130 overall or later.

Still, coach John Harbaugh believes the team is far better now than it was three days earlier.

``It's good to see the draft shake out,'' Harbaugh said. ``It's one thing to have draft picks and prospects, it's another thing to have Ravens, players on your depth chart. Our depth chart is a lot deeper, a lot stronger right now. We've got competition at most spots.''

Simon had nine sacks in 2012 and was a two-time team captain with the Buckeyes. Although he's a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, 257 pounds, Simon was still good enough to be named All-Big Ten in his last two seasons.

Asked if he's a good fit for Baltimore, Simon replied, ``They're a tough, hard-nosed team and I feel that's how I play the game, so I'm really excited to part of the organization.''

Next came a compensatory pick at No. 130, and at that juncture Newsome shuffled the script by selecting Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk. The 6-1, 248-pounder won't immediately challenge Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach for the starting job, but if called upon to serve as an escort to running back Ray Rice, Juszczyk won't back down.

``I'm a confident blocker. Physicality has always been one of strongest traits,'' he said. ``I'm not going to shy away from hitting someone in the mouth.''

Juszczyk caught 125 passes for 1,576 yards and scored 22 touchdowns a tight end/H-back for the Crimson and contributed heavily to special teams. He has the same agent as former Ravens center Matt Birk, a Harvard grad who retired shortly after Baltimore won the Super Bowl in February.

Newsome's stayed on the offensive in the fifth round, selecting Wisconsin offensive lineman Ricky Wagner at No. 168 overall. The 6-6, 308-pounder played right and left tackle for the Badgers, but could get time at guard for Baltimore.

``If that's what they need, I'll definitely step up,'' Wagner said.

In the sixth round, Newsome took a chance on Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore at No. 200 overall. The 6-4, 300-pounder tore the ACL in his right knee in the national championship game against Alabama - the same knee he injured as a junior - and won't be ready to play in September.

``He's a guy we're going to bring along in rehab,'' Newsome said. ``If he plays in 2013, that's a plus.''

As the sixth round wore on, Lewis-Moore had all but abandoned hope of being drafted and had left to make a sandwich when he got the call from Newsome.

``I was just watching to see where my teammates go,'' he said. ``It's crazy to be part of this organization.''

Three picks later, Baltimore took offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, who played at Colorado State-Pueblo. The 6-foot-3, 317-pounder played tackle in college, but he's projected to be an interior lineman at the pro level.

He will likely compete against second-year veteran Gino Gradkowski for the starting center job in the wake of Birk's retirement.

In the seventh round, Newsome took Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette, who caught 18 touchdown passes in 2012 for the small college school. Baltimore's final pick, at No. 247 overall, was cornerback Marc Anthony, who played at Cal.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Josh ScobeeSep 1 11:43a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), DT Sen'Derrick Marks (shoulder), PK Josh Scobee (quadriceps) and OT Zane Beadles (undisclosed) are practicing Monday, Sept. 1.

Larry DonnellSep 1 11:43a

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell is the starting tight end on the team's unofficial depth chart. TE Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson are second- and third-string, respectively.

Quintin DempsSep 1 11:23a

New York Giants SS Quintin Demps is the lead kick returner, while WR Preston Parker is the lead punt returner.

Ben TateSep 1 10:52a

Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate is expected to stay on the field on third downs, according to head coach Mike Pettine. This is good news for his PPR [ More ]

Charles BrownSep 1 10:43a

New York Giants OT Charles Brown (shoulder) and OT James Brewer (back) returned to practice Monday, Sept. 1.

Ahmad DixonSep 1 10:22a

The Dallas Cowboys released SS Ahmad Dixon.

Lonnie PryorSep 1 09:52a

The Buffalo Bills signed free-agent FB Lonnie Pryor (Buccaneers) and OG D.J. Morrell (Rams) to the practice squad.

Tony HillsSep 1 09:32a

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent LB David Hinds (Titans), TE Jacob Maxwell (Lions), CB Lowell Rose (Chargers) and WR Tommy Streeter (Buccaneers) to the practice squad. C Sam Brenner, [ More ]

Emil IgwenaguSep 1 03:53a

In addition to the previously announced signings of TE Michael Egnew and RB George Winn, the Detroit Lions inked OG Rodney Austin, FB Emil Igwenagu, S Nate Ness, WR [ More ]

Chase FordSep 1 03:42a

Nine players were signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players joining the squad include RB Joe Banyard, WR Kain Colter, DT Isame Faciane, TE [ More ]

D.J. SmithSep 1 03:33a

The Carolina Panthers brought 10 players onto their practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players signed were CB Carrington Byndom, LB Adarius Glanton, WR Tavarres King, SS Robert Lester, [ More ]

Trevin WadeSep 1 03:22a

The New Orleans Saints signed six players to their practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Signees include WR Brandon Coleman, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Seantavius Jones, OT Tavon Rooks, [ More ]

Champ BaileySep 1 02:52a

Although the New York Jets are in need of cornerbacks, they are unlikely to pursue free-agent CB Champ Bailey, who was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, [ More ]

Dee MillinerSep 1 01:02a

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls and FS Antonio Allen could start at cornerback Week 1 because of the injury to CB Dee Milliner (ankle).

Jeromey ClarySep 1 12:23a

San Diego Chargers OG Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) underwent hip surgery around a week ago, and his status for the 2014 season is uncertain, according to sources. Clary has [ More ]

Ryan SuccopSep 1 12:12a

Free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) is receiving significant interest from the Tennessee Titans and could sign with them as early as Monday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Kenjon BarnerSep 1 12:02a

Philadelphia Eagles RB Kenjon Barner (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Vincent BrownSep 1 12:02a

San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Brown (calf) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

DeMarcus Van DykeAug 31 11:52p

Kansas City Chiefs CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Jake StoneburnerAug 31 11:32p

Green Bay Packers TE Jake Stoneburner (undisclosed) and OT Aaron Adams (knee) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after they were waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

M.D. JenningsAug 31 11:22p

Chicago Bears FS M.D. Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Steve VallosAug 31 10:33p

The Tennessee Titans released C Steve Vallos Sunday, Aug. 31.

Damian WilliamsAug 31 10:22p

The Miami Dolphins released WR Damian Williams Sunday, Aug. 31.

Mike ThomasAug 31 10:12p

The Houston Texans released WR Mike Thomas Sunday, Aug. 31.

Duke IhenachoAug 31 09:53p

The Washington Redskins have claimed SS Duke Ihenacho off waivers from the Denver Broncos.

Brandon HarrisAug 31 09:53p

The Tennessee Titans have claimed WR T.J. Graham off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, WR Kris Durham from the Detroit Lions and CB Brandon Harris from the Houston Texans.

Garrett GilkeyAug 31 09:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed OG Garrett Gilkey off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

MarQueis GrayAug 31 09:32p

The Minnesota Vikings have claimed TE MarQueis Gray off waivers from the Cleveland Browns and OT Michael X. Harris from the San Diego Chargers.

Brandian RossAug 31 09:22p

The Miami Dolphins have claimed CB Brandian Ross off waivers from the Oakland Raiders.

Mickey ShulerAug 31 09:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed TE Mickey Shuler off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

Damaris JohnsonAug 31 09:12p

The Houston Texans have claimed OT Jeff Adams off waivers from the Tennessee Titans, WR Damaris Johnson from the Philadelphia Eagles and CB Darryl Morris from the San Francisco 49ers.

LaRon ByrdAug 31 09:02p

The Cleveland Browns have claimed WR LaRon Byrd off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys, OT Caylin Hauptmann from the Seattle Seahawks and RB Glenn Winston from the San Francisco 49ers.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group