Ravens Making the Grade


Less than 24 hours after the last pick was made, Football pundits around the web have been evaluating each team's selections. Though it is often difficult to gauge the success of a draft class so early, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has typically received high marks for his Draft maneuvers, and this year was no different. See what sportswriters and analysts have been saying about the Ravens.

"The Ravens] traded up to grab OT [Michael Oher, who can play either side. Some questions about Oher's consistency and footwork but Ravens do excellent work with their linemen," wrote Larry Weisman of USA Today."DE Paul Kruger is a high-motor pass-rusher who seems made for the "organized chaos" of the Ravens' scheme. Should get mileage out of CB Lardarius Webb on returns and eventually in a secondary with some vintage corners."

Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. also liked the Oher pick, noting that Kruger should be able to play right away, and in his coverage of the Draft on Sunday, compared Lardarius Webb to Colts safety Bob Sanders:

"First-round selection Michael Oher gives this team great flexibility on the offensive line because he can play right or left tackle for the Ravens. Second-round pick Paul Kruger has the ability to play immediately in this league and may push for ample playing time. Lardarius Webb is a little light at around 180 pounds, but with the help of an experienced safety to support him, he can definitely play cornerback in this league. I love the fifth-round selection of inside linebacker Jason Phillips. He's going to fit in very well with this talented group of linebackers."

***ESPN’s* Todd McShay** didn't offer letter-based grades, but did offer analysis on the Ravens' decision to trade up:

"I was a little surprised to see the Ravens move up to No. 23 overall to take OT Michael Oher, but whether you agree with the move or not there is no denying they got one of the most physically gifted tackles in this year's class. If Baltimore can motivate Oher to play to his potential he should become the long-term answer opposite Jared Gaither. There is not much flash in the rest of the draft, but Kruger is a good fit given his versatility and CB Lardarius Webb and his elite speed were good pickups in the third round. The only real concerns about this group are questions about Oher's work ethic and Webb's past off-the-field issues."

Jason Cole believes the Ravens got a great bargain with the selection of Michael Oher:

"The Ravens are one of the best teams at finding falling talent in the first round and did just that this year. Oher is a lot closer to the likes of Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith and Jason Smith than his status as the No. 23 overall pick indicates. Oher will likely push Jared Gaither to right tackle or take over at right tackle to give the Ravens an excellent young tackle combination. Kruger is an interesting player who seems destined to be an outside linebacker in Baltimore's 3-4 system and could replace departed Bart Scott. Kruger was miscast as a defensive end in college but should make a nice transition in the NFL. Meanwhile, it's going to be interesting to see how long the 178-pound Webb lasts with his physical style"* *

Pete Prisco praised the selection of Paul Kruger, saying he will fit the Ravens' system nicely. Although he questioned the decision to pass on a receiver, he called the sixth-round selection of Cedric Peerman a nice pick:

"They always seem to land good players. Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta are good at what they do."

John Czarnecki also viewed the Oher selection as smart, and made a noteworthy comparison to the Ravens' second-round pick:

"GM Ozzie Newsome made a bold move to trade up and select Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher at No. 23. Oher was rated in the top 12 on most teams' draft boards and was considered the smartest player at his position.

Utah's Paul Kruger reminds me of Jared Allen, a high-motor pass rusher who seems to fit Baltimore's defensive scheme. Texas Christian University inside linebacker Jason Phillips will be given a shot to replace the departed Bart Scott."

NBCSports.com capped off their draft grades by giving Baltimore one of the highest marks of any team:

"GM Ozzie Newsome is one of the best, year after year. This was another year he went for talent over obvious needs, smartly moving up grab Michael Oher. He was a fantastic value who is a worthy heir to Jonathan Ogden for the next decade. Second-round DE Paul Kruger was another good value at an aging positing for the Ravens. Second-day picks like ILB Jason Phillips and RB Cedric Peerman were good examples of taking talent over need."

Michael Lombardi, a former NFL player personnel leader who now writed for the National Football Post, was thoroughly impressed with the Ravens' Draft:

"One of my favorite drafts. The Ravens solved their need at right tackle, get a future left tackle in Michael Oher and add a very good corner in Lardarius Webb in the third. They added good players in each round. Watch out for Cedric Peerman from Virginia, their pick in the sixth."

And finally, ESPN SportsNation, comprised of the voters of ESPN.com, gave the Ravens a solid B for their 2009 draft.

But for every analyst who grades a Draft class, another reiterates how it takes three years to truly gauge the success of that class. Given the success of Ravens draft picks before, it isn't hard to imagine the grades being accurate a few years down the line.

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