It was an absolute honor and a privilege to be a part of the Baltimore Gameday Uncensored crew all season long for the Baltimore Ravens on 105.7 The Fan. I had the wonderful opportunity to watch a fantastic season turned in by the Ravens despite all the major setbacks this team faced along the way. The Ray Rice fiasco, inconsistent play at QB from Joe Flacco, decimating injuries to the secondary, all the while playing in the toughest division in the NFL. Nevertheless the Ravens were able to sneak into the playoffs and make some significant noise. They beat down the rival Steelers on the road. Joe Flacco stood toe-to-toe with Tom Brady on the road and nearly beat him AGAIN. Since the Ravens have been eliminated I find myself defending the season they had. Of course we are all disappointed it came to an end in Foxboro. I contend that they have every reason to hold their heads up high, even though I thought the coaching staff was out foxed against the Patriots, overall it was a masterful coached season by John Harbaugh and crew all things considered. Aside from having the time of my life, I also learned a lot by watching and analyzing every snap of Raven games. I have put together a list of five players coming out in the NFL Draft that I believe will be difference makers from day one in a Raven uniform. Those who have heard the Travis Thomas Experience on 105.7 The Fan know I am a huge College Football lover. I have watched all of these players I have listed with my own eyes and have the upmost confidence they will fill the needs and make an impact for the Ravens.
5. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia 6’1/ 226 LBS.
Anybody who watched any University of Georgia games this season knows why I included this dynamic young player on the list. Justin Forsett had an outstanding season, but nobody can convince me he has an NFL body that’s built to last. I would argue that Forsett could potentially be even more dangerous as a complementary back, lighting to Gurley’s thunder. If you through in Lorenzo Taliaferro for depth and as a short yardage back, all of the sudden the Ravens have the most deadly and versatile running games in the league. Gurley dealt with injuries and a bogus suspension so his numbers were a bit skewed this past season. He averaged 7.4 yards in 2014 for 911 yards with nine touchdowns. He also made 12 receptions for 57 yards. However there is no denying Gurley is a great combination of speed and power. Now Gurley tore an ACL on the final game in his collegiate career so you have to be mindful of that of course. However I think that’s why his stock may drop and in turn it would be a steal for Ozzie and the War Room. Plus Gurley has the mentality and swagger to play like a Raven. My NFL contacts say their character reports on Gurley are solid. They say he’s a great kid who loves football and works really hard.
4. Landon Collins Safety Alabama 6’0/ 222 LBS.
Don’t be surprised that 3 out of the five picks on this list come from the secondary. The Ravens obviously need help in that department. With a relentless, ruthless pass rush the secondary becomes even more important for this franchise. Personally I felt as though injuries are what really hurt the Ravens on the back end of the defense. With that being said, if they get healthy and add a few pieces, this defense could return to the dominant, glory days of old. Alabama Safety Landon Collins would bring that patented physicality back to the Ravens secondary. Any receiver who comes across the middle of the field will get to know Collins quickly and he will make them regret catching that football. Collins is at his best when he makes plays against the run and shutting down intermediate route-runners. All that mess the Patriots were pulling on the Matt Elam in the playoffs would have been stopped with Collins at Safety.
3. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota 6’4/ 250 LBS.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s over for Dennis Pitta. He’s to injury prone and bad hips are probably the hardest injury other than an achilles to overcome in sports. Owen Daniels played well in backup duty but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking he’s an elite Tight End. Not to mention Daniels isn’t getting any younger. Maxx Williams is the best tight end in this draft class. Williams lacks the numbers of past tight ends that became first-round selections, but Minnesota had a great running game and rarely passed the ball. When he was targeted, he made plays as a sure-handed receiver and a beast in the open field. I watched a game in November where Minnesota almost beat the National Champion Buckeyes at home in the snow. Williams had a few big plays that really stood out in my mind. He looks like an NFL Tight End and would fit perfectly in this offense. Joe Flacco you are welcome.
2. Marcus Peters, CB, Washington 6’0/ 198 LBS.
Let me start by saying that I believe before he got hurt Jimmy Smith was playing like an elite Cornerback in the NFL. So my next two picks are both defensive backs and should come in to camp as the third corner behind Smith and Lardarius Webb. However, I believe both could emerge as the starter alongside Jimmy Smith eventually. In my opinion Lardarius Webb has never returned to his pre-injury form. In Marcus Peters, they would be getting a physical, aggressive and athletic corner with shutdown ability. His scouting reports claim he can play both man to man and zone. Buyers beware; he has some character issues coming in. He was dismissed from the Washington football program before season’s end due to friction between Peters and his coaching staff. Ozzie and the War Room will need to do their due diligence before making this selection.
1. Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State 6’3/ 183 LBS.
If the stars align this would be the pick for the Ravens. I believe this kid can become special in this system. With Jimmy Smith on the other side who is a big physical Corner and Trae Waynes who is a big physical Corner in his own right, watch out! When you watch Seattle Seahawks games you see Corners and Safeties pressing and challenging Wide Receivers on every snap. That allows the pass rush time to get to the Quarterback and big plays soon follow. Waynes played on a great defense at Michigan State and understands what it’s like to compete and win at a high level. He uses his body and length to gain inside leverage and keep outside receivers from getting comfortable vertically. Waynes is a tough-minded competitor and plays with a physical style. He’s also not afraid to come up and hit somebody in run support. With his frame I believe he can get bigger, faster, and stronger with the Ravens Strength and Conditioning program. Scouts compare him to standout Bears Corner Kyle Fuller.
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