Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Baltimore Ravens [full archive here].
Season Recap: If it weren’t for a Billy Cundiff missed field goal or a Lee Evans dropped touchdown pass, the Baltimore Ravens likely would have beaten the New England Patriots and clinched a spot in the Super Bowl. The Ravens need to stop coming up short and do whatever it takes to give Ray Lewis one more shot at another Super Bowl ring.
1. Center: Both Matt Birk and Andre Gurode are free agents. The Ravens need to find an upgrade over both aging players. Peter Konz and Ben Jones are the two best centers and the draft and should be in play for the Ravens in the first two rounds.
2. Inside Linebacker: There’s no doubting Ray Lewis as an exceptional player, but at 36, there’s no telling how much time he has left. Starting ILB Jameel McClain and reserve Brendon Ayanbadejo are both free agents. Ideally, now is the time to find a replacement for Lewis. Dont’a Hightower, from Alabama, is an option in round one. If Baltimore decides to pass on Hightower, Vontaze Burfict would be a good selection in the middle rounds. Burfict’s known character issues and poor combine performance will push him down the draft, but if anyone can shape this guy up, it’s Ray Lewis.
3. Offensive Tackle: The Ravens have a hole at whichever tackle position Oher doesn’t play. There is no question Oher can be an effective starting Right Tackle, but he still hasn’t proven enough to lock down the left side. Ozzie Newsome needs to figure out the plans for Oher, and then make moves accordingly.
4. Wide Receiver: Torrey Smith played very well during his rookie season, but the Ravens need to continue adding weapons for Flacco. Anquan Boldin is still a starter, but seems to be regressing a bit. Reuben Randle and Stephen Hill are options in the first two rounds. The Ravens could target a Laurent Robinson or Brandon Lloyd in free agency.
5. Offensive Guard: The Ravens must resign Pro-Bowl LG Ben Grubbs. Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs are one of the top guard tandems in the league. Losing Grubbs would push OG higher on the need-list for the Ravens, but I think Grubbs returns to Baltimore.