Ray Lewis became a household name due to his charismatic style and leadership of the Baltimore Ravens defense that has come to define both his career and the opening era of the NFL club. As of Jan. 8, 2013 he maintains that his latest celebratory “dance,” something that has become a trademark to his style over the years, was not meant as an insult to the Colts.
His run is not yet over as he helped to inspire the Ravens to a 24-9 victory over potential NFL Rookie of the Year, Andrew Luck, and the Indianapolis Colts this weekend in the AFC Wild Card game. The victory that sparked the dance mentioned above.
As the veteran defender looks in search of one last NFL title to close the book on his storied career, the Ravens have to now start planning just how they will replace the 17-year-veteran.
The 2013 NFL Draft seems the most likely of places where they will be looking to find a worthy replacement for the departing No. 52, and here are a few that could make sense as new Ravens in the near future.
1. Manti Te’o – Notre Dame
Notre Dame defensive leader Manti Te’o will be devastated that his team could not stand up to the challenge of Alabama in the BCS National Title game. His skills are well suited for the NFL and his frame is almost an exact replica of Lewis’.
However, it is not likely that the Ravens will have a pick early enough in the draft to be able to make a play for Te’o and could be forced to either trade up to get him in the top ten or settle for a second option.
2. Shayne Skov – Stanford
Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov is more likely to be selected in the late first round of the early second round and would be a more suitable player that the Ravens have the chances of taking in the draft.
The defender is extremely physical and already is accustomed to a 3-4 style defense in the style of the Ravens current defensive set. Equally adept at both shutting down the run but also tracking the passing game across the middle, Skov could be the ideal replacement.
3. Nico Johnson – Alabama
Like Skov, Nico Johnson is another late first round to early second round pick that would be in the ideal position for the Ravens to select without having to trade up for. However, Johnson lacks the physical impact of Skov and could struggle in a 3-4 defense. But, without Lewis the Ravens could potentially move to a more traditional 4-3 defensive set which would see Johnson be able to play more to his strengths.
4. Kevin Reddick – North Carolina
Kevin Reddick would be the ideal middle to late second round pick for the Ravens if they opted to fill another void with their first round pick. Although he is the smallest of the four mentioned, Reddick’s speed is his greatest selling point and he has the height and frame to pack on additional muscle once he is in the NFL.
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