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Monday, April 30, 2012
2012 Baltimore Ravens draft analysis

By Jamison Hensley

Let's break down the Baltimore Ravens' 2012 draft:

FIRST-ROUND SPOTLIGHT: The Ravens traded out of the first round, but they still got a first-round talent in Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. He will set the edge on run defense like Jarret Johnson, who went to San Diego in free agency, and he will team with Terrell Suggs as Baltimore's edge pass rushers (Upshaw had 15.5 sacks in the past two seasons). He has a high motor and lots of motivation after falling into the second round. “Once we get back to football," Upshaw said, "it's going to be me just wanting to go out there and prove someone should've taken me.”

IN HINDSIGHT: In addition to outside linebacker, the Ravens' biggest need was left guard. Baltimore should've thought about trading up from its second pick in the second round to get Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu or Georgia's Cordy Glenn, who were selected 40th and 41st overall. The price would've been a third-round pick, which the Ravens used on Temple running back Bernard Pierce.

BEST VALUE: C-G Gino Gradkowski, Delaware. He received a third-round grade by some teams and slipped into the early part of the fourth round. Smart and athletic, Gradkowski is expected to be groomed as the successor to Matt Birk, who turns 36 before the start of training camp. The last time the Ravens used a fourth-round pick on a center was Jason Brown in 2005.

TOP LATE-ROUND PICKUP: WR Tommy Streeter, Miami. This was a no-brainer for the Ravens to take a flier on Streeter in the sixth round. Some thought he could go as early as the second round, but his inexperience (a one-year producer) and inconsistent hands scared off teams. The Ravens needed another deep threat for Joe Flacco, and Streeter's size (6 feet 5) and speed (he reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds) is definitely intriguing.

SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THIS DRAFT: Paul Kruger. He's waited to find his spot in the starting lineup since he was selected by the Ravens in the second round three years ago. It looked like he would finally get his opportunity when Johnson signed with the Chargers in free agency. But he's no longer a favorite for that outside linebacker job since the Ravens drafted Upshaw.