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Top Questions For Each Pick of 2013

Posted Apr 28, 2013

Here are the biggest questions for all 10 of the Ravens draft picks.

The draft is now behind the Ravens.

And it's time for the class of 2013 Ravens to get to work.

The rookies will begin minicamp next weekend, but before they hit the practice field here's a top question for all 10 of the team's draft picks.

First Round, S Matt Elam (No. 32): Can he immediately step in for Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard to bring an intimidating presence to the secondary?

The Ravens had to replace both starting safeties this offseason, and Elam is being asked to step in for a future Hall of Famer with Reed gone. The first-round draft pick was known as a heavy hitter in his college career, and he's a sure tackler who can come up to play the run at the line of scrimmage. With Pollard gone, the Ravens will look to Elam to become that enforcer in the secondary. They also like his coverage skills and ability as a playmaker, which was Reed's forte. He will likely get paired with veteran Michael Huff, who is known as more of a free safety that can play in the back end. Elam was the prospect the Ravens wanted in the first round, and he's hoping to come in and earn a starting job right out of training camp.

Second Round, ILB Arthur Brown (No. 56): How does he handle the pressure of trying to step into Ray Lewis' old spot on the defense?

Brown has similarities to the man he's looking to step in for, future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Both linebackers are known for their impressive sideline-to-sideline speed, but fell down draft boards mostly over concern about their small stature. Brown is somewhat undersized as a middle linebacker, but he had the speed to cover tight ends, running backs and slot receivers coming over the middle of the field. This is the first time in franchise history that the Ravens have an opening at middle linebacker, and the spotlight will be on Brown from the time he arrives in Baltimore. Handling that pressure and expectations will be critical for him to settle in and succeed during his rookie season.

Third Round, DT Brandon Williams (No. 94): How does he handle the jump from the small school college level?

Williams has the size and athleticism to thrive in the NFL, but the jump to the AFC North from Missouri Southern State is steep. He dominated in college, but now he's going to be facing guys his own size, and won't be able to rely solely on his physical gifts to force his way into the backfield and disrupt running plays. Williams will join Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and DeAngelo Tyson in a rotation and competition in the interior of the defensive line. He'll be able to learn from the veterans, who could help him made the adjustment to the professional level.

Fourth Round, LB John Simon (No. 129): What role does he play at a crowded outside linebacker position?

Simon will get thrown into the mix at outside linebacker along with Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Albert McClellan and Pernell McPhee. He was a strong pass rusher in college, so he could compete for snaps as a situational pass rusher. Simon can also defend the run well and has drawn comparisons to former Raven Jarret Johnson, who was known as a strong side run stuffer. Simon has his work cut out for him to get on the field, but he could carve out a role on special teams and eventually earn some more defensive snaps.

Fourth Round, FB Kyle Juszczyk (No. 130): What does his arrival mean for Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach?

Juszczyk is a versatile fullback with good hands who also played tight end and halfback in college. Juszczyk is a much different player than Leach, who is a true lead run blocker. Leach has made the Pro Bowl in his two years in Baltimore, but teams rarely carry two fullbacks on the 53-man roster. Leach is reportedly slated to count $4.33 million against the salary cap, which could put him in jeopardy if the Ravens want to slash salary and just keep Juszczyk at a much cheaper cost. Drafting Juszczyk may not have much of an impact on Leach's status, as Juszczyk's ability as a pass catcher and blocker could allow the Ravens to essentially keep him as the team's third tight end.  General Manger Ozzie Newsome said that the Ravens are open to the idea of keeping both players.

Fifth Round, OL Ricky Wagner (No. 168): How versatile is he at moving around the line?

The Wisconsin lineman was a two-year starter at left tackle and he played right tackle before that. He has only played tackle in his career, but the Ravens may slide him inside and try him at guard. He could compete for a starting job at left guard, and the Ravens also like the fact that he's able to play both sides of the line. The Ravens line is a question mark heading into the season, so Wagner has the opportunity to emerge if he stands out during training camp.

Sixth Round, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (No. 200): How quickly is he able to recover from ACL surgery?

The Notre Dame defensive end tore his ACL in the National Championship game, which put his entire 2013 season in jeopardy. He said that he should be able to return by September, but the Ravens won't rush him back and Newsome said that anything they get out of him this season is a bonus. Making a full recovery is most important for Lewis-Moore, and then he will have the opportunity to learn behind veterans like Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears.

Sixth Round, C Ryan Jensen (No. 203): How does he handle the move to center?

The Ravens knew they had to add another center to the roster this offseason, and they went the small school route to pick up a converted tackle late in the draft. Jensen played left tackle at Colorado State-Pueblo, but the Ravens liked the potential they saw in him as a center when he worked out at his pro day. He will challenge Gino Gradkowski for a starting job.

Seventh Round, WR Aaron Mellette (No. 238): Can he emerge in a wide-open position battle at wide receiver?

Mellette was a highly productive player in college, racking up 97 catches for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. He also led the Football Championship Subdivision in 2011 with 113 receptions for 1,639 yards. He'll now join Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter and Tori Gurley in a competition to replace departed veteran Anquan Boldin. Jones and Doss have the edge in the competition, but the battle between Mellette, Thompson, Reed, Streeter, Williams and Gurley should be one of the most-watched during training camp.

Seventh Round, CB Marc Anthony (No. 247): What is he able to bring to the table in terms of special teams? 

The Ravens are also open to adding cornerbacks, and Anthony fits the mold. At 5-foot-11, 196 pounds, he has ideal size that makes him a quality pick late in the draft. His way onto the roster will initially be through special teams, so he'll have to show the coaching staff during training camp that he's able to excel as a special teamer.

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