By Tom E. Curran
Always good. Never great. It's been more than a decade since the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. It's been their bad luck to be in a conference with the Steelers, Patriots and Colts because - if they were hanging in the NFC - there's little doubt they'd have gone to the final game more about three times since that 2000 emasculation of the Giants. But it's always something with Baltimore - usually, a lack of outside explosiveness on offense or a lack of consistency at corner. With three picks in 2011, they tried to address those spots. In the first round, the Ravens went after Colorado corner Jimmy Smith. He's only 6-2, 211 pounds and runs a 4.4. Smith is one of those players whose draft stock fell over character concerns. He had a positive drug test in 2007 and got pinched twice for being a minor in possession of alcohol while at Colorado. If that's the extent of his missteps, you'd have to figure his character isn't much of a concern. He may be as good a pure cover man as anyone in the draft. Next, they took Torrey Smith from Maryland. He's 6-1, 204 and is a flier. He's also got outstanding character and work ethic. The downside is that he's not a polished route-runner and receiver. And the downside to that is that - no matter how fast you are or how hard you work - if you're not where you're supposed to be ready to catch, you're not much help to your quarterback. Skipping over third round tackle Jah Reid from Central Florida (6-2, 327), let's look at Tandon Doss, a fourth-rounder who may be an absolute steal. He had sports hernia issues that required surgery and missed working at the Combine as a result. And he's not a burner. But he's 6-2, 200 and he has a knack for getting open and short-area quickness. One other really outstanding choice Baltimore made was Pernell McPhee from Mississippi State. A 6-3, 278-pound defensive end who has great pass-rush potential and could bulk up some and become a 3-4 defensive end on first and second-down for the Ravens. Another great character guy who works hard. SUMMARY: The Ravens have rolled together a string of really good drafts and this one could be one of their best. They were able to hit need areas and get great value at the spots as well - Jimmy Smith, Doss and McPhee being the prime examples of that.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.
Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.
“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”
Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.
Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).
The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.
PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around.
At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.
"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.
"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."
The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face.
The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.
"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."