The Tigers may be Martinez-less for a day or two: Victor Martinez sustained cut on right thumb, received stitches, day to day. — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 9, 2013 The culprit: Victor Martinez is day-to-day after cutting his right thumb on a bat rack. He received eight stitches. — James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) April 9, 2013…
The Ravens will be on the clock early again on Friday night, scheduled to pick fifth in the second round, at No. 36 overall. After taking Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Ravens could turn to the defense in the second round, and there is a lot of defensive talent still on the board.
Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said on Thursday night that the Ravens expect to get a first-round talent with their second pick.
"We love the top 36 players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So we're going to get an outstanding player. ... We're very, very confident that at 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round type talent."
So who might that be? Here, in alphabetical order, are a few candidates that could be in play when the Ravens are on the clock:
CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
The Ravens couldn't trade up for Jalen Ramsey, so they remain in the market for cornerback help. Alexander has shutdown capabilities though there are concerns about his height (5-10) matching up with elite receivers on the outside. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta predicted a run on cornerbacks between picks 25 and 40, and Alexander figures in that equation.
OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State
An early entry to the draft, Correa had 12 sacks as a sophomore at Boise State and then seven this past season. Correa (6-3, 243) has played defensive end and linebacker but is considered best suited as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.
CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Kendall is about to become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted, and he could find his way back to his hometown Ravens. A knee injury early last season knocked Fuller out of the first round, but he's a first-round talent when healthy and would be a nice fit for the Ravens.
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
Wait a minute, he's still around? Yes, Jack had been mentioned as a Ravens first-round pick in many mock drafts, but concerns about his knee -- which he exacerbated by mentioning the possibility of microfracture surgery -- sent him tumbling down draft boards. Still, he's a potential top-10 talent who is still available.
DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
Spence is the type of edge rusher the Ravens have said they covet. He had eight sacks as a sophomore at Ohio State. But off-the-field issues remain his biggest question mark; he was booted from Ohio State because of failed drug tests and tried to boost his draft stock by transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last year.
There is a significant contrast in the quality of teams the Nationals have faced thus far this season through 21 games and the caliber of clubs they are about to see on their upcoming 10-game road trip. It's a major scheduling quirk and as of Friday morning, the Nats are standing right on the middle of it.
Behind them is the second-easiest schedule in baseball to this point based on opponents win percentage. And up ahead are three teams that finished among the four best records in baseball last season. The worst team they will play coming up on this road swing based on their 2015 regular season record is the Kansas City Royals. They led the American League with 95 wins and later won the World Series.
The trip begins in St. Louis against a Cardinals team that led baseball with 100 wins last season. And the journey closes with the Chicago Cubs, a 97-win team that reached the NL Championship Series.
It's an unusually difficult road trip, to say the least.
“It’s one of the tougher trips I think I’ve probably ever been on," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.
"There are three or four times on the schedule where you say, 'Hey this is going to be a heck of a road trip,'" manager Dusty Baker said. "It's going to be a test."
The Cardinals and Cubs boast the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball right now. The Cards have a +48 run differential and the Cubs - who have the best record in baseball at 16-5 - are +74.
The Cubs and Royals rank in the top 10 in MLB in team ERA, the Cubs are second only to the Nats in baseball in the category. The Royals have the seventh-best bullpen ERA and everyone knows they can play defense.
All three teams will present challenges and, if you ask some members of the Nats, that could be a good thing.
"This is going to be a test to see -- a barometer to see how good we are right now," Baker said. "We're not full-forces yet, we haven't been and we've done pretty well, because Ben Revere, one of our igniters, is getting ready… but it's going to be exciting."
"You enjoy the challenge," Zimmerman added. "I think you get to see what we’re really made of. Go out and play three really, really good teams and I think the guys in here are excited for it.”
The Nationals are going to learn a lot about themselves over the next 10 days, that's for sure.
Everyone knows that if the Redskins are going to make progress they are going to need to improve their defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last year. They took a big step towards doing that when they signed All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman last week. That gave them some flexibility to go after the other side of the ball in the first round on Thursday, when they took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick in the draft.
“There’s arguments there – you could take defense, but, you know, like I said before we took the best player,” Gruden told the media shortly after the Doctson pick was made. “We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman. We gave them [the defense] a first-round pick, so they should be happy [laughter]. It’s about building a football team and taking the best players to help us and we thought Josh was a perfect fit.”
We’ll never know if the Redskins would have used that first-round pick on a cornerback or on another defensive position if the Panthers had not rescinded the franchise tag on Norman, leading to a whirlwind 48 hours that ended with him signing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins. If you believe Gruden, it made the decision to go with an offensive weapon was made easier by the move.
“It played into it a little bit, getting Josh Norman the other day,” he said. “Obviously it helped with the defensive back depth. I don’t know if it would’ve matter, really, because like I said before we’re going to take the best player on the board and he was clearly up there. We’re happy to get him.”
Still, the needs on defense remain. Gruden is confident that they can be addressed later in the draft. The draft is said to be particularly deep along the defensive line, which is near the top of their needs list.
“Yeah, you look into all that – depth of other positions on defense,” he said. “It is a good draft for that. We’ll address other positions obviously later, I don’t know which ones yet, we’ll see who’s available. But, it is a very deep draft at a lot of positions for that matter. We feel like we can still add to this roster and get some quality players – second, third, fourth, fifth rounds.”
That last part is something that many fans tend to forget. There are six more rounds and there are plenty of good players left on the board. The first-round pick is very important but the rest of the draft is where Scot McCloughan earns his money and his reputation. Fans should wait until the whole picture is painted before evaluating it.