Speed is key to Ravens' vision of future

Speed is key to Ravens' vision of future
April 30, 2013, 2:45 pm
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One thing the Ravens were definitely looking for in the draft was speed-- and they made no secret of that. 

"Yes, you want to be as fast as possible," coach John Harbaugh said in the post-draft news conference Saturday night. "You want to be sideline-to-sideline. You want to cover ground. Speed is important."

When the Ravens were at their best, especially on defense over the years, could field a very fast group of players. It was one of Ray Lewis' strengths during his glory days. He could be everywhere on the field. So could other guys. 

As the defense aged a bit in recent years, that slipped a bit. It's one reason the Ravens might have been pushing so hard to change the looks of things on defense -- and offense. 

"We want a big, fast, physical, tough, smart, disciplined football team," Harbaugh said. "That’s what we want to be. So, that fast part of it is really important. These guys are fast."

Harbaugh talked about how several of the players they took in the draft could run. The coach said that DE/OLB John Simon is 255 pounds but runs a 4.6 in the 40. Fullback/tight end Kyle Juszczyk also is fast, along with lineman Ricky Wagner and wide receiver Aaron Mellette -- who ran in the mid-4.4s. 

"Big and fast is something we like," Harbaugh said. 

The Ravens have changed their look, which is a bit unusual for a Super Bowl champion. Most stand pat as much as possible, but GM Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh and their staffs clearly wanted to change some stuff. 

This is a team that's gotten younger, faster and stronger. The big question is going to be how much the Ravens will be expecting the younger guys to step in right now or will they sign some veteran free agents to play while the rookies learn. Either way, the team's look has changed and will remain that way for the next several seasons.