One of the virtues of being in the thirties when it comes to draft day is that hey, you’re there for a reason. You’ve got shit figured out. Take it easy. Now’s the time to start making long-term investments that’ll pay off in a year or two, rather than hurrying sandbags into a collapsing levee.
So I’m going to talk about my Ravens.
1st round: Ben Grubbs, right guard, Auburn. One of the most liked linemen coming into the draft. The combine is full of those non-specific but enthusiastic notes that, were this baseball, would make Billy Beane tip over a lat press machine. “Explodes off the line” … “non-stop motor” … “mauler with a mean streak.”
On the other hand, it’s tough to quote impressive figures about a guard, so I understand the ambiguity. So here’s one impressive stat: Ben Grubbs never missed a game in college. This speaks of good health and, more importantly (on a team which still starts Jamal “Probation” Lewis and Ray “Obstruction of Justice” Lewis), good behavior.
3rd round: Yamon Figurs, wide receiver, Kansas State. The Ravens probably didn’t draft Figurs to catch passes, which is no doubt making the Texans pull their hair out. Say what you will about his hands – Figurs posted the fastest speed at the combine this year, and he ran back more than five fields’ worth of punts, twice for touchdowns. Pair him up with the like of B.J. Sams and the Ravens could once again have a punt return unit that puts points on the board.
3rd round: Marshall Yanda, offensive tackle, Iowa. Yanda comes to the NFL from the Dantooine system, joining Tully Banta-Cain in the ranks of Mandalorian bounty hunters turned pro players. The Ravens keep using draft picks to keep their stables full of offensive linemen. I think this is a smart move. Gambling on a rookie QB, RB or WR in the draft can sink your team under the weight of the salary cap (Ryan Leaf? Ricky Williams?). But an offensive lineman already has most of the qualifications he needs right out of college – namely, 300 pounds of mass and a willingness to knock people down.
4th round: Le’Ron McClain, fullback, Alabama. Combining the best aspects of the Scarlet Pimpernel and Bruce Willis’ character from Die Hard, McClain’s part of the family of big, slow fullbacks you can count on for 2-3 yards a carry. He probably has more utility as a blocker than a rusher.
4th round: Antwan Barnes, outside linebacker, Florida International. He’s got plenty of school records to his name (200+ tackles; 23 sacks). The combine notes that he “needs to control his emotions.” Maybe I should go to the combine next spring and submit to their amateur psychoanalysis; it’s bound to be cheaper than real therapy.
5th round: Troy Smith, quarterback, the Ohio State University. Air McNair gets older every day. Kyle Boller has gone from being the Quarterback of the Future, fresh young hope of the franchise, to the Quarterback of the Future, laughably outdated engineering draft for a hovercar. Under the mature tutelage of McNair, Smith could grow into a useful arm for the Ravens. Or not. He’s a fifth-round draft pick. Who cares. He should be happy someone wants him.
(In all seriousness, it is a shame that an Ohio State QB with a better than 60% completion rating – think about it; over four years in college that’s pretty good – has to wait until the second day to get a job, and then it’s to a team that doesn’t really need him)
6th round: Prescott Burgess, inside linebacker, Michigan. I have nothing to say about the guy, except he benched nearly 20 reps of 225 lbs at the combine and that Ozzie Newsome likes him. On those recommendations alone I’d invite the man over for dinner.
What’s the big picture? Offensive line, special teams, offensive line, offensive line, offensive line, quarterback, offensive line. Again, it’s never a bad call to fill your O-line on draft day – especially if you want to renew your commitment to running, as the Ravens really ought to.