Overview: The Ravens were a play here or there from winning the AFC title for the first time since 2000, but this is a key draft for them because of an aging core and some free-agency losses. The Ravens got some key contributions from their 2011 draft class, with WR Torrey Smith becoming a big-play threat and DE Pernell McPhee and CB Jimmy Smith showing promise. The Ravens have eight draft picks, including two compensatory selections. One of the compensatory picks is in Round Four — a fortunate turn for Baltimore, which traded its original selection to Buffalo for WR Lee Evans.
Need No. 1: Offensive line
The Ravens have needs throughout the offensive line. Guard might be the biggest area of concern after OLG Ben Grubbs' departure, but Baltimore's depth throughout the line is shaky. Also, C Matt Birk is nearing the end of his career, and OLT Bryant McKinnie is in the last year of his contract. Five years ago, the Ravens drafted Grubbs in Round One and selected Pro Bowl ORG Marshal Yanda in Round Three; oh, for a draft like that one for the Ravens.
Need No. 2: Wide receiver
Smith's solid play gave the offense a big-time lift last season, and he could become the Ravens' go-to target in time. Veteran Anquan Boldin is a solid starter in his own right, so the Ravens are set at the outside WR spots for 2012. However, the Ravens' wideout depth is not a strength. Evans, who struggled a season ago, was released, and there is no clear-cut favorite for the No. 3 WR spot.
Need No. 3: Safety
FS Ed Reed is on the back end of a Hall of Fame-caliber career, and ideally, the Ravens would groom a center fielder to step in to replace him. This draft is not deep at safety, and the Ravens usually don't reach to fill needs, so it will be interesting to see whether they add to this position. They lost safeties Haruki Nakamura (Panthers) and Tom Zbikowski (Colts) in free agency; both had proven they could contribute on defense and special teams, but each left for other opportunities.