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Eisenberg: Defense? Check. Offense? Stay tuned.

Posted Apr 28, 2013

The Ravens aren’t done yet. They’re far from done, in fact.

The Ravens went into the draft with questions on both sides of the ball. They came out having answered most questions … about their defense.

That's what happens when you invest your first four picks on one unit, as the Ravens did, selecting a safety, linebacker, defensive tackle and another linebacker before finally picking an offensive player late in the fourth round.

They went on to select three more offensive players in Saturday's latter rounds, adding depth along the line and at wide receiver. In the end, their 2013 draft class was almost evenly balanced – six picks for the defense, four for the offense.

But their late rush of offensive selections didn't provide answers to several key questions about that unit. Who is going to protect quarterback Joe Flacco's blind side? And who, other than Torrey Smith, is going to give Flacco a viable downfield target?

The simple answer to both of those questions is the Ravens don't know yet. That's going to bother some fans and analysts, the perfectionists who expect teams to tie up all loose ends in March and April, via free agency and the draft.

But remember, the start of the 2013 regular season is still more than four months away.

The Ravens aren't done yet. They're far from done, in fact.

"Up until we get this 53-man squad together before we have to get ready to play Denver (in September's season opener), this is going to be a very fluid situation," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said after the draft Saturday evening.

Addressing the left tackle situation in particular, he pointed out that the Ravens have twice filled that need shortly before the season started, with Willie Anderson in 2008 and Bryant McKinnie in 2011. I'm sure they could do so again, and in fact, I expect them to do so.

Yes, several viable candidates are already on the roster. Michael Oher played left tackle through the 2012 regular season, and the Ravens believe Kelechi Osemele has the right stuff to play there.

But Oher was more effective at right tackle during the playoff run, and Osemele recently conceded that he would rather play left guard, where he also flourished in the playoffs.

My opinion is the Ravens should stick with Oher at right tackle, Osemele at left guard and TBD (to be determined) at left tackle. That's the most effective starting five.

The obvious choice to fill the unknown spot is McKinnie, who played so well during the Super Bowl run and is now an unrestricted free agent. But the Ravens clearly are hesitant to bring him back. I understand the reluctance. Head Coach John Harbaugh wants workout warriors who play with passion. McKinnie is a nice guy with a lot of other interests.

But he's also a huge guy with nimble feet, and as he showed in the playoffs, still up to handling the blind side.

The Ravens are wisely going to wait out the market for his services, which isn't exactly on boil. But if they don't bring him back, they should get someone like him.

As for the downfield threat, we're talking about replacing Anquan Boldin, Flacco's favorite target in the playoffs, who was traded to San Francisco. After not addressing the need in free agency, they also didn't address it with a high draft pick.

What they're saying, in effect, is they like the receivers already on hand and envision replacing Boldin by giving Jacoby Jones a larger role and getting more production from a pool that includes Tandon Doss, David Reed, Deonte Thompson and others.

Maybe that will work, but I see it as the biggest gamble in their blueprint for 2013. Jones is a playmaker, just ask the Broncos, but his hands weren't always sure in 2012. And none of the others are going to scare opposing defenses until they show they can consistently make plays.

If the Ravens end up wanting to add someone, they're going to have a harder time at that position, where most of the proven talent is already taken.

But with months to go before a snap that counts, they have time. And stuff happens.

"I don't turn down any good players. I just don't. We find a way to get them," Newsome said.

Stay tuned.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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