Joe Hortiz: Longer draft could benefit Ravens
Defensive backs worked out Tuesday at the NFL combine, and the Ravens were keeping a close eye on the free safeties. The Ravens would like to add a free safety, while moving Matt Elam to strong safety next season. James Ihedigbo, who started next to Elam at safety last season, is expected to leave during free agency.
Free safeties the Ravens could possible target in the second round include Terrence Brooks of Florida St. and Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois. However, the Ravens feel good about their secondary overall, especially if they can re-sign free agent cornerback Corey Graham, who led the team with four interceptions in 2013.
Cornerback has become one of the Ravens’ strengths, with Jimmy Smith blossoming into the player they expected when he was a first-round pick in 2011. Smith is coming off his best season, and at 6-foot-2, he has the size and wingspan that most teams now covet at cornerback. Veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb played well last season in his first year following major knee surgery. However, it often takes players more than a year to recover fully from a knee injury. It would not be surprising to see Webb play with even more confidence next season, with no worries about his knee.
If Brooks or Ward is available in the second round or later, the Ravens may grab either. But adding a safety is a lower priority for the Ravens than strengthening the offensive line, or adding a playmaking receiver.