Only minutes after my post about the Ravens off season gains and losses and wondering what the Ravens would do at MLB, comes the breaking news that the Ravens have indeed signed the veteran MLB to a 4 year deal.
Smith was dumped by the Jaguars last off season and as Ozzie Newsome has proven time and time again, he made the shrewd move to pick up the team leader on a 1 year deal for almost $1 million. For a team that saw the loss of the legendary #52, Smith came in and didn’t skip a beat. He led the team in tackles, proved to be an asset in pass coverage, and gave the middle of the linebacking crew a stable presence.
His four year deal is worth $16.1 million and though Smith is 32 he should still have a few good years left in him. I think this is a fantastic signing and the Ravens seem to be systematically bringing back the most important players (LT Eugene Monroe, WR Jacoby Jones, and TE Dennis Pitta) on the field in and effort to regain the title of AFC North Champion and to get back to the playoffs.
On a side note, could this be the best birthday present ever? Smith turned 32 today and gets to unwrap a multi-million dollar contract. Happy birthday to him!
Here is a list of players the Ravens have met with at the combine. It is no secret that the Ravens are looking to add to the WR group and that the Offensive Line needs some help. But some other positions they are looking at might be a bit more telling. I will provide the list of names, positions, post a link to their combine numbers, and potential round of the draft they might go. We will now look at the small number of Tight Ends the Ravens met with.
TE: Eric Ebron : 6’4” 250lbs; he has that protoypical TE build. Freakish athleticism and an amazing receiver who makes special catches. The knock…is a complete ghost in anything resembling blocking. Could be a play maker but not so much a redzone threat.
TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz : 6’5” 265lbs; not the same athlete as Ebron, but is more of a dual threat with soft, reliable hands and also a blocker. Work ethic is questioned and has been known just to rely on his size which obviously won’t work as well in the NFL.
TE: Troy Niklas : 6’6” 270lbs; is a converted DE who only played two years as a TE, still learning. Decent athlete with good hands, a decent blocker, but doesn’t have great speed. Has a lot of upside.
The Ravens thought they had something special when they drafted Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta right after each other a few years ago. They thought Dickson had the potential to be the next Shannon Sharpe, and Pitta would be the next Todd Heap. While Dickson is a gifted athlete, his blocking skills and receiving skills leave a lot to be desired. You may be able to excuse his poor blocking if his hands were a lot better.
Pitta on the other hand emerged as an extremely reliable playmaker and go to guy on third downs. Unfortunately just like Todd Heap, he’s been banged up. If he can stay healthy he can put up some monster receiving numbers. He also isn’t known to be a great blocker.
The Ravens want to get a play making receiver, whether that is at WR or TE, they don’t seem to care. They definitely could use a TE that can block if they want to go to a one back set, but they could also use some insurance in case Pitta just can’t beat that injury bug. Whether or not they can get a deal done with Pitta will factor in heavily on whom they pick.