It's time to open Part Two of our weekend Baltimore Ravens mailbag:
@jamisonhensley: The weakest spot on the team last season was obviously cornerback. It was a combination of injuries and bad play. Typically, the only way teams can improve that position right away is by spending a lot of money in free agency or using a top-15 pick on one. The Ravens are in a tough position this offseason because they don't have much salary-cap space and they select No. 26 in the draft. Unless Washington's Marcus Peters scares off teams with his character issues, a top cornerback isn't going to be available when the Ravens are on the clock. You also get the sense from Ravens officials that they're not going to be able to address this position by how much they're downplaying the need at cornerback. Since the season ended, coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome both said the Ravens will be improved at cornerback if Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson are all healthy. So, no one should expect a major overhaul at cornerback. Melvin Gordon because he fits the Ravens' zone-blocking system and he already has ties with running backs coach Thomas Hammock, who used to coach Gordon at Wisconsin. Gurley is probably best suited for a power running team, although you could project him in a stretch zone one based on his vision and burst. That said, I believe Gurley is going to be a great back in the NFL.
@jamisonhensley How is the team REALLY gonna address the corner situation?— Joe Evans (@averagejoseph) February 25, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The Ravens aren't going to pay Smith as a No. 1 receiver, and owner Steve Bisciotti made that very clear at the "State of the Ravens" press conference. The team doesn't have that type of cap space this year, and the Ravens wouldn't give that type of money to Smith if they did. It goes back to Newsome's mantra of "Right player, right price." The Ravens will pay market value for a franchise quarterback and a Pro Bowl player. You can't do that for a No. 2 receiver, even though he is liked by everyone in the organization. Smith has always had a strong presence in the community, and he developed as a leader this past year. If Smith signs elsewhere -- Kansas City, perhaps? -- the Ravens will miss his ability to go deep and his presence in the locker room.
@jamisonhensley Are the Ravens willing to pay Torrey Smith as a No.1 receiver? And if he hits FA will he be missed more off the field?— Stephen Nolan (@Aka_Young_Gun) February 25, 2015
@jamisonhensley: We'll find out this season. The Ravens aren't going to be able to re-sign Pernell McPhee, and Upshaw becomes the "next man up" in this scenario. Upshaw has delivered the most memorable quarterback hit last season, when he crushed Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2. But Upshaw hasn't developed into that consistent pass-rusher that the team envisioned when it selected Upshaw in the second round (35th overall player selected) in 2012. He had 16.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Alabama, and he has a total of three sacks in three NFL seasons. The knock on Upshaw has been his weight. But, considering this is a contract year for Upshaw (just like it was for McPhee in 2014), the Ravens should get the best out of him this season.
@jamisonhensley Do you think Courtney Upshaw can become a relatively productive pass-rusher in the ravens dime package?(with mcphee gone)— orignal bro/man (@cutchie93) February 25, 2015
@jamisonhensley: I believe the odds are against the Ravens re-signing Taylor to be their backup quarterback. The Ravens had talks with Brandon Weeden last offseason, a sign that they wanted to upgrade the No. 2 quarterback spot. If Taylor doesn't return, the Ravens are going to add a quarterback but it likely won't be through the draft. The Ravens drafted Keith Wenning in the sixth round last year, and they'll want to sign a veteran to compete with him. For the Ravens' sake, let's hope they'll get someone better than the likes of Curtis Painter and Caleb Hanie.
@jamisonhensley Ravens have needs at CB, WR, & DL.What are the chances they retain Tyrod Taylor? If not what are the chances they draft QB?— Justin Parziale (@justinparziale1) February 25, 2015