As the scouting combine approaches, the Ravens face their biggest "makeover" challenge at both inside and outside linebacker. This ought to be an interesting draft for the Ravens as they face the possible free agency loss of not only OLB Paul Kruger and ILB Dannell Ellerbe, but also the increasing age of OLB Terrell Suggs. Of course, future HOF-er Ray Lewis is already gone by virtue of retirement.
Suggs will not undergo surgery to repair torn biceps…
The good news is Suggs will forego surgery to repair his torn biceps, an injury he suffered with all the way through the AFC playoffs and the Super Bowl.
“After getting a second opinion on his torn right biceps, Suggs is planning on rehabbing the injury rather than having it surgically repaired, according to sources familiar with the situation,” wrote Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun.
Suggs missed just one game after initially suffering the injury and also rested in the regular-season finale to give his body some extra time to heal for the playoffs. Other than those two games, Suggs played through the pain wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm to provide some protection.
Suggs finished the regular season with 22 tackles and two sacks, but he stepped up his play in the postseason and registered 21 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
He acknowledged leading up to the Super Bowl that he wasn’t completely healthy and that the injury had hindered his productivity to some extent.
Suggs also missed the first six weeks of the season because of a torn Achilles tendon. With a full offseason to recover, Suggs hopes to return to form in 2013. When asked before the Super Bowl where he ranks among the top pass rushers in the NFL, Suggs just smiled and responded, “Ask me next year when I’m healthy.”
Even if Suggs can return to form, there are still concerns about the Ravens need to develop young linebackers for the near future and the longer picture.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. examined players in the 2013 draft whom the Ravens could target to develop as future linebackers in their 3-4 system…
“There's not much to summarize about what these guys are capable of, but given how long they played, the Ravens can draft believing they may actually upgrade at those positions, as much as that sounds like sacrilege,” Kiper wrote. “It's not a shot at the players, just the reality of what you'd expect from them in 2013 versus a good young player at each spot.
One popular option mentioned as a replacement to Lewis is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who has potential to slip to the end of the first round. The Ravens are scheduled for the 32nd pick in Round 1—but of course that could change if Ozzie makes a deal or three.
“Manti Te'o really could be around late in the first if things break right for Baltimore,” Kiper wrote. “I don't expect it, but it could happen. [LSU linebacker] Kevin Minter might be an even better fit.”
Kiper currently has the Ravens taking Minter with the No. 32 pick, but there is expected to be some significant shuffling of the mock drafts after the combine next week.
The challenge for the Ravens to develop a young linebacker is exacerbated by the unfortunate "bust" of Sergio Kindle, the high draft pick from Texas in 2010. Nothing seemed to go right for Kindle from the moment he was drafted in the first round. And now the Ravens have even more pressure to get one right at LB.