At Yahoo Sports, Evan Silva has ranked each team in the NFL on their rosters heading into the draft. He rated the Ravens at No. 12, based on the strength of their defense.
Noting that the defense lost only lineman Arthur Jones and safety James Ihedigbo, Silva writes: “There is potential for the Ravens to field one of the NFL's deepest defenses. They stop the run, rush the passer and play effective man coverage.” Still, they could stand to find help in the draft for the secondary.
The assessment of the defense makes up for how Silva feels about the Ravens personnel on offense, which he says would rate in the bottom third of the league. He seems doubtful about the melding of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s philosophy and the players at his disposal.
“Whether their personnel matches Kubiak's style of play remains to be seen,” Silva says. “[Joe] Flacco isn't a bootleg quarterback as Kubiak historically prefers, and both [Ray] Rice and Bernard Pierce are coming off terribly disappointing seasons” at running back.
The highest-ranking AFC North team, as should be expected, is the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 7. Silva says that the arrival of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson should bode well for the Bengals, given how he is “a proven talent maximizer who believes in a run foundation complemented by vertical shot plays.” That could mean a big season for running back Giovani Bernard and less reliance on quarterback Andy Dalton’s arm.
On defense, the concern for the Bengals is the free-agency loss of defensive end Michael Johnson and a secondary featuring over-30s. “The Bengals may need a home-run draft to avoid a fairly sizable regression on defense.”
As for the rest of the division, Silva puts the Pittsburgh Steelers 16th and the Cleveland Browns 25th.
He says the Steelers offense is “trending up” with a solid line, reliable runner in Le’Veon Bell and an expected full healthy season from tight end Heath Miller. Look for Ike Taylor, old for an NFL cornerback at 34, to be supplanted as a starter by Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick.
The Browns, Silva writes, could make a leap on offense, and they are the team “best-suited” to draft Johnny Manziel. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s experience with another mobile, playmaking quarterback in Washington, Robert Griffin III, would apply to Manziel. On defense, Cleveland should pick a cornerback early in the draft, but the unit is overall a strong one.
Silva's top three teams in the NFL are the usual suspects: Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers.