Two days and six rounds of the 2012 NFL draft remain, but the Ravens didnt improve in relation to their closest and fiercest rivals during Thursdays first round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up the best offensive guard in this years class, Stanfords David DeCastro; it was a big surprise that he was still around for the 24th pick, and the Steelers took advantage.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals a surprise 2011 playoff team that the Ravens struggled to sweep added a pair of immediate starters in guard Kevin Zeitler, a player the Ravens like, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick a name you will hear given Ravens quarterback Joe Flaccos familiar struggles against Cincinnati.
Even the Cleveland Browns, perennial AFC North doormats, took a bold stab at improving, overhauling their offense with a new running back, Trent Richardson, and a new quarterback. Brandon Weeden. Whether those players actually make a difference remains to be seen, but the Browns werent competing with the Ravens the old way, having lost nine in a row, so why not try a new direction?
Bottom line, five of the first 27 players selected Thursday night went to the Ravens divisional rivals, and also, the New England Patriots, who defeated the Ravens in the AFC title game three months ago, moved boldly to add defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Donta Hightower, a pair of coveted front-seven defenders, bolstering their biggest weakness.
While everyone around them improved, the Ravens added no one, electing to trade out of the bottom of the first round. It was a calculated move, of course, and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome explained his thinking quite adroitly late Thursday night, pointing out that the Ravens added an extra pick by trading down and still believe theyll land an elite player with Fridays third pick.
They might even package some of their second-, third- and fourth-round picks (they now have five overall) to move up and grab a second name player early Friday.
But whatever they do, they'll be playing catch-up in relation to their rivals after Thursdays opening round.