Breaking News:

Keep up with So Much Sports on Twitter @SoMuchSports

Don’t stop now: Ravens still have some needs to address

While the Ravens have focused on keeping their own players this free agency period, their only non-rookie addition to the team has been fullback Vonta Leach up until this point; they still have a few areas they need to address before the season starts.

By keeping Chris Carr the Ravens cornerback unit seems to be in pretty good shape. Last year the secondary was an issue but Lardarius Webb back to 100 percent after trying to come back from an injury last season, Domonique Foxworth re-joining the team after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, and Jimmy Smith being added through the draft, it’s pretty much a new unit.

Sure there are still questions whether or not Webb and Foxworth can still play at a very high level after suffering ACL injurys, and whether or not Smith can make an immediate impact as a rookie, but that’s what Carr fixes. With Carr the Ravens know they have at least one player who can come in and play at a starting caliber level right away. The rest will be answered when the season starts.

Now the focus has to go to the offensive line, pass rush, receiving corp., and in the backfield.

It seems like the Ravens have a lot of needs but really they just need a few pieces in a few different spots like every team, including the Green Bay Packers, need in order to win the next Super Bowl.

Matt Roth is a proven pass rusher in the AFC North.

Defensively the Ravens need to address the pass rush, or lack there of.

Terrell Suggs was the only real threat to get to the quarterback last season. While second-round pick Sergio Kindle is doing well, both coming back from his injury and rushing the passer, the team needs more than two guys to do the job. Take a lesson from the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants, those teams won Super Bowls because they had a bunch of guys that would come in and draw the offensive line’s attention. Former Raven Antwan Barnes could be a solid option to come back because he knows the system and was an impact pass rusher with the Chargers last season. Matt Roth, from the Cleveland Browns, is another option and is a proven pass rusher in the AFC North.

Offensively the offensive line could still use some help. Last season the offensive line was an issue for the Ravens. While they resigned Marshal Yanda and will be moving him back to right guard, a position he is much more effective at, right tackle is still an area the Ravens should address.

The Ravens really like third-round rookie Jah Reid, and he has been said to be playing very well in training camp, but that does not mean he’s really ready to take on the LaMarr Woodley’s of the world. Reid is a good run blocker and should help the running game improve in 2011, but he is still pretty raw as a pass blocker.

The market for right tackle is dwindling but Sean Locklear is an established veteran that would be a perfect holdover for Reid while also being an effective player that could help the Ravens win a Super Bowl. Locklear has been with the Seattle Seahawks since 2004 and has been one of their most reliable linemen for them.

Elsewhere on offense the team has to get more weapons. One more receiver would do wonders for the Ravens. Last offseason the Ravens made a trade to bring in Anquan Boldin and in the draft they used their second round draft pick to bring in Torrey Smith, and tall, speedy receiver from Maryland. But after the Ravens cut Derrick Mason they were left with another rookie, Tandon Doss, third-year receiver James Hardy, second-year pro David Reed, and fourth-year pro Marcus Smith.

Of those four receivers only Reed has established himself as a guy who could make a decent catch when he needs. Doss likely still needs a year or two before he can step into a significant role while Smith and Hardy have both significantly underachieved in their careers. So far in training camp Hardy has not looked good, dropping passes almost every time he’s been thrown at.

The Ravens don't have a proven receiver like Malcolm Floyd. He could add a new dimension to the Ravens offense.

A veteran could really benefit that young group, and a veteran that would give the Ravens more than Mason would. Mason is a good receiver but the Ravens know what they have with him, a sure-handed route-runner that will only pick up short-yardage catches, virtually the same thing Boldin does.

Obviously Malcolm Floyd would be a solid fit for the Ravens, having played for Cam Cameron in San Diego. At 6-foot-5, 225-pounds there aren’t any receivers on the Ravens similar. He’s a big, physical receiver that has the ability to get down the field. Another option could be Legedu Naanee for pretty much the same reasons, he didn’t play for Cameron but his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame isn’t like anything the Ravens have.

Floyd has recorded over 700 yards the last two seasons. In 2009 Floyd played in all 16 games and caught 45 yards for 776 yards. Last year Floyd missed five games with injury but still managed to catch 37 passes for 717 yards and a career-high six touchdowns. Naanee has a limited role with the Chargers and injuries limited him to only 10 games but from 23 receptions he yard 371 yards for a career-high 16.1 yards per catch average.

In today’s world of the NFL, teams are going toward two and even three running back systems more and more. A second running back is another weapon the Ravens should be looking to add soon. With Willis McGahee having been cut, and Le’Ron McClain on his way out the door, The Ravens need a power running back to partner with the small, speedy Ray Rice, who is a very explosive running back but has not been able to grind out yards late in games.

Ricky Williams could certainly be an option. While his role was diminished last year with Ronnie Brown staying healthy the entire year, he’s still a strong running back with good athleticism, even at 34-years-old. Williams is well on the wrong side of 30, which is historically the age running backs take a major drop in production. While he doesn’t have the speed or burst he used to, for a short contract not worth too much the Ravens can’t lose. If he doesn’t produce, it’s not like they would be paying him much, but if he can grind out a few yards in a limited role, he would be a hit.

He's not a featured back but Laurene Maroney has the size and strength to be a very effective role player for a team's running game.

Another option could be Laurence Maroney. Weapons chargers in January may have killed his value and his career but that could also mean he’ll be an incredible cheap. Maroney has been a bust considering he was a first round draft pick in 2006 but he may thrive in the right system and the right role. Maroney clearly isn’t a featured back, his stint in New England proved that, and while he was horrible in Denver, averaging only 2.1 yards per carry, Denver’s offensive line didn’t exactly help. But one thing Maroney has proven is that he can grind out some yards and get some touchdowns against a stacked defense. Excluding his 2008 and 2010 seasons, where he only played in a combined seven games and barely got the ball, Maroney has 21 touchdowns in three seasons (2006, 2007, and 2009) while averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

The Ravens clearly have moves left to make, but with such a bad cap situation they have to get good value on player but enough talent from their additions that they can help get the Ravens the Lombardi Trophy.

The following two tabs change content below.

Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

Comments are closed.