By Sal Capaccio
During our marathon draft coverage this week, a caller said to me on the air, "the difference between teams like the (Super Bowl champion) Ravens and teams like the Bills isn't the offensive line, it's the quarterback."
But when it comes to the current Super Bowl champs, it goes well beyond that. Each and every year, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome simply finds talent - and the right guys for his team.
This year was no different. Newsome nailed the draft. Again.
Baltimore lost long-time elite players Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. And even before Reed left for Houston and Lewis retired, safety and linebacker were already a need for the Ravens because of the age of those players, Lewis' injury history, and the fact they lost S Bernard Pollard and LB Dannell Ellerbe as well this offseason.
What does Newsome do? With the very last pick of the first round, he grabs a hard-hitting, play-making safety in Matt Elam (Florida) who can step right in and help. How's that for value AND talent in one stroke of the pen?
Then Newsome moves up in round two and takes a linebacker many believed should have been selected in the first-round, Arthur Brown (Kansas State). A lot of Bills fans really wanted Brown when the team selected another linebacker, Kiko Alonso (Oregon) ten picks earlier.
Brown is the perfect Ravens pick and player. He fits the mold of everything they do and how they play on defense. He would have been a great fit for almost any team, but with the Ravens hybrid defense, they'll most likely find a way to have him on the field for all three downs and make an immediate impact from day one. Again, value collides with need perfectly. And Newsome finds it.
The rest of the draft looked much the same for Newsome. Good football players and in the few places a Super Bowl winner can actually have a need, including two defensive front-seven players who'll help the rotation of a team that was surprisingly 20th against the run last year in the regular-season.
Also FB Kyle Juszczyk (Harvard), a fan-favorite who can definitely add to the Ravens offense's versatility and creativity because he can play a tradition fullback role or even line up as an H-back.
The Ravens have Joe Flacco at QB and Ray Rice at RB to go along with a very good defense. Of course all some of the bigger reasons they are the Super Bowl champions. But the biggest reason is a Hall of Famer who doesn't even suit up anymore. GM Ozzie Newsome is the best in the business when it comes to finding talent and value together in the draft. And he proved it once again this year.
By Sal Capaccio
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