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When the NFL seasons get ready to start up, every fan is optimistic of their team’s chances.  They have very good reason as well:

Every team starts with a clean slate [ 0-0 ] and the strength of schedule can not be properly measured by using last year’s results.  You will have several team schedules that will look difficult when they play a certain playoff team from a year ago.  And this former playoff team will have a down year.  Parity is rampant in the NFL, more than any sport.

For many years, at least 5 teams who were in the playoffs in the year before failed to return the following season.  That breeds optimism for fans of down-on-their-luck teams.  Even the Lions returned to the postseason recently!

The NFL Draft annually has people in all of sports media argue how every team picked all of the right players and will compete in the coming seasons.  They also differ with each other on how other teams may have did poorly.

Many experts have blasted the Buffalo Bills for not only picking a quarterback  high in this QB dearth of a draft, but also because they didn’t pick the highest rated QB (Geno Smith) or the one their new coach had in college (Ryan Nassib). Some have come to the Bills defense a short while after the initial criticism and “poor grades” they received.  It remains to be seen whether EJ Manuel will be an effective quarterback in a Bills uniform, and we can’t know that right now.

The Ravens look like geniuses right now with their picks.  Since this is a Baltimore-area blog, then I’m saying that yes, they are geniuses.  There has been an interesting trend with the Ravens that I’ve personally been noticing for several years:

The best drafted defense players on the Ravens have very plain & short names.

Now in a draft where the Ravens must attempt to fill the void of both of their Hall of Fame-esque defensive players who left after the season,  with their 1st two picks the Ravens draft a safety and a middle linebacker.

Matt Elam and Arthur Brown.  No Manti Te’o, no John Cyprien, no Barkevious Mingo (Browns drafted him), no Tyrann Mathieu (the “Honey Badger”)… and that’s just on defense!

Photo: Ravens rookie players were assigned their jersey numbers yesterday. (Don't worry! No one claimed #52 or #20.) Find out what numbers the rookies will wear this season here: http://oak.ctx.ly/r/4no8

Also, playing on names being a big intangible factor, this could be a big reason why Joe Flacco has been so successful.  First off, he’s a quarterback and he’s “Joe”.   That, along with his uncommon last name & being cast away from Pittsburgh brought along Johnny Unitas comparisons, is why I knew from day 1 that we had a winning QB.  That’s all there was to it.  Name me winning quarterbacks named Joe (rather than Joseph appearing on their player cards, they would say “Joe”).  Joe Montana is one… so is Joe Theismann… and don’t forget Joe Namath.

Photo: Lots of fans have cried that we've cut so many players this offseason because of Flacco's $120.6 million contract. Let's put this to rest since it ISN'T TRUE. (Real dollars aren't salary cap dollars.)Here's an explanation to clarify things: http://oak.ctx.ly/r/5nss (SHARE this with Ravens Nation)

How many winning players, quarterback or not, can you think of with the name “Kyle”?  Yes, Boller just had to go.  ”Joey” doesn’t cut it however, which is why the Lions made a big mistake in the 2002 draft.

Yes I know it sounds very naive to judge a player’s future success solely on their name; but once again, this is now post-draft where all opinions are “facts” that fans can use to justify how great their team will be next year.

I saw all of the good line backing talent being gobbled up in the draft and started to worry about the Ravens’ selection.  I actually stopped watching the draft the moment Te’o was drafted by the Chargers in the 2nd round (like 3 spots lower than I thought he would be in my last blog, look for yourself).  So when I found out that the Ravens drafted Arthur Brown, I had no idea who he was.

Apparently he is very instinctive and has many great linebacker qualities that teams covet.  The only problem is that he’s 5’10 and two hundred something pounds.  This part doesn’t concern me as Ray Lewis weighed about the same and maybe an inch taller.  There is talk about his arm length where the height issue does not matter much.  (Scouting teams are very high-maintenance when it comes to players’ sizes, just ask Russell Wilson, who was a 3rd round pick last year in part due to his 5’11 stature.)

I see the Ravens’ draft was a great success (either I’m a homer for saying so or it is legitimately true) and we should be great in the upcoming season.  The biggest knock on their draft was in the receiver position.

After Boldin was traded to the 49ers, the Ravens were left with a big hole for the 2nd starting wide receiver (apparently).  Where our team suddenly, over the last two years, had a strength in wide receiver talent (something that never seemed apparent in the team’s total history), now observers see it as “Torrey Smith and everyone else.”  They forget how much Jacoby Jones shined in the playoffs and that we have 2 good tight ends.  The Ravens did finally pick a wide receiver in the 7th round, but who knows if he’ll accomplish anything.  (To be fair, our former starting corner back Cary Williams was a 7th round pick a few years ago)

Since we now have entered May, I’ll try to forgo football talk as long as I can until about August.

The Orioles had just finished up April with a 16-11 record.  That places them a half game behind the Yankees and 2.5 behind the Red Sox.  Tonight, they will be facing the Mariners for the last game of their current series, which is tied at a game a piece.  Yes, the same Mariners whom we had made a (fantastic) trade with years ago and we’re still reaping off the success of the related players.

We should have an easy win with Chen pitching tonight, who has been lights out lately and compiling a great ERA in the early season.

Enjoy the weekend and go O’s!