News broke early this morning about Baltimore Ravens All-Purpose OLBDE Terrell Suggs partially tearing an Achilles tendon during a workout session. This is a huge blow for the Ravens as most likely, they will be without their 2011 Defensive Player of the Year for most of next season.
Suggs is the Ravens All-Time career leader with 82 12 sacks. Rushing the passer is Suggs specialty, but its his versatility that the Ravens will miss most. His versatility is one of the reasons Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome drafted Alabama OLBDE Courtney Upshaw this past draft in the first place. The goal was to put Suggs and Upshaw opposite each other on pass rushing third down situations. At the very least, the Ravens would have had the opportunity to work matchups by moving Suggs all around as DE or OLB. Or better yet, how about Baltimores ability to deploy three defensive ends with Suggs, Upshaw, Paul Kruger, and DT Haloti Ngata on third-and-long situations.
T-Sizzle has lined up at OLB and DE for the Ravens for years. He's spent so much time playing both positions that when the Ravens placed the Franchise tag on him in 2008, - with the lower designation number as a linebacker - Suggs filed a grievance for not receiving the higher tag as defensive end where he logged more snaps. Suggs ultimately struck a deal with the Ravens, reported to camp and had the grievance withdrawn.
Timing is Everything
The Ravens recently drafted Upshaw (6'2 272 lbs) who is considered a tweener like Suggs (6'3 260 lbs). Is Upshaw an end or linebacker? Newsome traded out of the first round, specifically targeting Upshaw early in the second round with the 35th overall pick. Supposedly, Upshaw fell on draft boards due to poor workouts. Ummm, I would suggest watching tape of Upshaw playing in actual football games. He's a one man wrecking ball that I personally witnessed as Alabama destroyed Michigan State during the 2011 Capital One Bowl, 49-7. Scouts and coaches loved his no-nonsense relentless play during the week of practices leading up to this years Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Obviously, Newsome loved Upshaw more than most.
Since joining the Ravens in 1996, Newsome has drafted 15 Pro Bowlers with the Ravens first overall pick, starting with OT Jonathan Ogden. Of Newsomes 17 first round draft choices, they have a combined 51 Pro Bowls.
When the Ravens had to draft late in the first round, Newsome has nailed those picks too. How about Todd Heap (31), Ray Lewis (26), and Ed Reed 24th overall for examples?
Newsome may have wanted to draft a compliment to Suggs by selecting Upshaw, but if the Ravens 2012 top pick makes the Pro Bowl as a rookie, it will prove without a shadow of doubt that Newsomes timing and drafting skills are second to none.