By Chris Schisler (@footballman58)
Question 1 comes from Orioles Rob (@SupermanRob2914): If the Ravens part ways with Ray Rice who is a possible draft replacement?
Rob, this is a very good question. First off let me say I doubt the Ravens part ways with Ray Rice. The Ravens have stood behind players in the past and it makes little business sense to let go of Rice. Rice however will be suspended. The Ravens will get some cap space back from the games Rice is serving his suspension. The reason that this is such a great question is that the Ravens may look for a replacement for Rice anyway. The Ravens veteran rusher is coming off his worst statistical season. With running backs it is always better to find a replacement sooner than later, as the position’s shelf life is so short. It is also good to have several backs with different skill sets to make a running back by committee situation.
Bernard Pierce is still young and has a promising career in front of him and it would seem like the bulk of the workload would fall to him. Here are three to be rookie rushers the Ravens may want to put in their backfield.
1.) Charles Simms, WVU: Simms was one of the few bright spots on the Mountaineer offense. He has great vision and is a natural runner. Simms was the sparkplug that West Virginia so desperately needed. This is a flat out playmaker.
2.) Bishop Sankey, Washington: Sankey averaged 5.8 yards per carry last season. Sankey is a physical runner who gets yards after contact. Sankey reminds me of a more shifty Marshawn Lynch.
3.) Terrance West, Towson: The Ravens drafting Terrance West would be such a beautiful moment. West walked on to the local Towson Tigers football program. Given nothing, Terrance West earned his place in college football. West is a hard runner and has an intriguing combination of speed and size. He is a very patient runner. It is hard not to be a fan of this local running back.
Question 2 comes from Dave S (@BaltimoreDaveS): What do you see the Ravens doing in the first round?
Dave, I think we have to get Joe Flacco a dominant pass catching machine of a player. This is the offense’s off season, there is little question of that. The selection is dependent on who is on the board. If Mike Evans is available it is hard to imagine the Ravens passing on him. If Evans is not on the board two players that would make sense would be Eric Ebron and Odell Beckham Jr. Eric Ebron is a freakishly gifted athlete and as a tight end is a matchup nightmare for any defense. Beckham Jr. is a speedy play maker with all the physical tools you look for in a wide receiver.
Question 3 comes from Regan Yant (@ReganFP). By the way everyone should check out Regan’s awesome site fakepigskin.com
Regan asks: Which player helped their draft stock at the combine?
Regan, I will give you three players, because I’m in a good mood.
1.) Devante Adams, WR Fresno St: Adams has a lot of competition in this year’s draft class. The combine is where Adams knew he needed to make a statement. Adams had a 38.5 inch vertical jump which was the third best among receiver prospects. NFL decision makers will be ecxited about what he can do in the red zone with a jumping ability like that.
2.) Taylor Lewan OT Michigan: Lewan ran the fastest 40 of any offensive lineman in this year’s combine. He also did well in the drills. There was some concern about Taylor Lewan because he is still a little raw as a tackle. I think the NFL saw what it needed to see from Lewan. He has too much physical talent to pass up on the opportunity to draft him.
3.) Michael Sam Pass Rusher Missouri: Going into the combine the biggest story was Michael Sam on his path to being the first openly gay football player. In uncharted territory the media was obsessed with this story. In his time at the podium Michael Sam was asked question after question about his orientation. Sam was poised and calm and answered the questions with a smile. It became very clear that the league did not care that he was gay but the media was desperate to make it an issue. Any notion that drafting Michael Sam would cause problems was put to rest as he came off as a very likable and focused young man. The way he handled himself was a huge thing for his draft stock in my opinion.
Regan also asks: What player hurt their draft stock at the combine?
Without a doubt this is Cyrus Kuandijo. The Alabama offensive tackle has been reported to fail multiple team physicals. His 40 time was horrible and his bench press numbers were uninspiring. This is the worst possible combine for the offensive tackle that many believed to be a first round draft pick.
@BBlack_9 asks: What free agent center do you think the Ravens will target?
I think if Alex Mack hits the open market the Ravens would want to go get him. Not only would the Ravens be getting a good player at a much needed position but they would steal him from their divisional rival the Cleveland Browns. Evan Dietrich-Smith would be the other option if he does not resign in Green Bay.
Robert Ellingsworth (@BY1959) asks: Does the raise in salary cap keep the Ravens from having to use the franchise tag, would they use it on Arthur Jones?
The cap raise of 5% helps, but it does not eliminate the franchise tag as an option. I do not think the Ravens would tag Arthur Jones. Jones is an expensive luxury when you have a lot of talent on the defensive line with or without him. I still believe the Ravens are reserving the franchise tag for Dennis Pitta, if they cannot agree to a long term contract. This whole WR/ TE dispute has complicated the matter. The Ravens best bet is signing Pitta to a long term deal before March 3rd.