- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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Over the next month, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering. The Ravens are up next.
Baltimore had a very strong -- and sometimes dominating -- 2006 season, but a lot has changed with its roster since then. The Ravens also are an aging team that lacks a lot of depth. They were fortunate with injuries in 2006 and will need similar luck this year. That being said, the Ravens have a flat-out nasty defense that keeps them in just about every game. The Ravens have a veteran winner at quarterback, some offensive weapons and strong special teams. They are not going away easily, and if it were not for a simply awful playoff performance at home against the Colts, this team very well could have been hoisting the trophy in Miami instead of Indianapolis.
The Ravens have yet to sign a prominent free agent from another team, but did trade for RB Willis McGahee, who was disgruntled in Buffalo. McGahee should be an excellent fit in Baltimore. McGahee is a more dynamic and explosive runner than his predecessor, Jamal Lewis. While McGahee has taken quite a pounding over the past few seasons and is becoming more and more of a durability concern, he still has fresher legs than Lewis. Baltimore needed more production from this position and it looks to have found it with McGahee. The Ravens were also wise to re-sign Musa Smith. When Smith is healthy -- which is rare -- he could provide a fine backup to McGahee and help lighten his load.
Baltimore has had its share of key losses recently in free agency, but none was bigger than OLB Adalius Thomas. Former starting RT Tony Pashos isn't a household name to most fans, but he is a big, nasty run blocker who is coming into his own. Lewis is nowhere near the player he once was, and although it cost the Ravens some draft picks, they are now stronger at running back with McGahee instead of Lewis. The Falcons made FB Ovie Mughelli the highest-paid fullback in history. He will be missed without question in Baltimore's downhill rushing attack. DT Aubrayo Franklin is sure to see more playing time with his new team, San Francisco, than he did in his backup/rotational role with the Ravens. The depth he provided was valuable to the Ravens' great defense. G Edwin Mulitalo was also let go and will be difficult to replace.
Baltimore now has a substantial list of positions that need attention, but most of them will have to be addressed in the draft. Starting CB Samari Rolle began to show his age and had a poor 2006 season. He is no longer starting material and the Ravens don't have a player on their roster to replace him with. The Ravens also need offensive line help with the loss of Pashos, Mulitalo and the possible retirement of star LT Jonathan Ogden. They will replace Thomas with Dan Cody and Jarret Johnson, whom they re-signed, but their linebacker depth is minimal. Adding a young quarterback and fullback in the middle rounds also makes a lot of sense.
Scouts Inc. puts the Ravens on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answering.