By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen
BK: Brett, the NFL Combine is always a fun time of year for draft nerds like ourselves, and this year was no different. With the Baltimore Ravens picking in the middle of the draft this season, more fans are wondering just what needs the team will seek to address. Following the NFL Combine, which players did the most to improve their draft stock? Could any of these players be on the Ravens’ radar?
BD: After watching every minute of the Combine (yeah, I am that guy), I gained a better understanding of who the prospects are athletically. But just because a player had a good combine, that does not make them a good player (let’s call this the Mike Mamula effect). Several prospects certainly helped their cause, but only to have teams (and draft nerds like myself) go back and do more research on their college production.
The real winner of the Combine is clearly Jerick McKinnon of Georgia Southern; the do it all player (who played QB, RB, WR and DB in college), that projects to be a RB in the NFL. He displayed NFL speed (4.41 40 yard dash), strength (32 reps on the 225lbs bench press) and athleticism (41” vertical), in the few hours in the spotlight in front of every team. The Wall Street Journal even analyzed his performance (seen HERE), stating he surpassed every other prospect with his dominate Combine performance.
He is a late round pick, because he did not play against top competition and lack of experience as a true RB, but teams (including the Ravens) will do their due diligence on his game tape. Other players that helped their stock during the Combine include: Towson RB Terrance West (who ran a solid 4.54 40 yard dash at 225lbs.), LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks (who both ran in the 4.3s in the 40 yard dash), and Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (who showed great athleticism in all the drills).
With that being said, people such as ourselves, will try to predict the Ravens draft board. Looking a couple months down the road (and we are still early in the process), I want your take on who the Ravens should select. Right now, if you were Ozzie Newsome, knowing the approximate rounds for most prospects, who would you select with your first three picks in the upcoming draft?
BK: The Ravens are one of the best franchises in the National Football League, and the sentiment, “In Ozzie We Trust” will be echoed whenever the team makes their selections in New York City. The Ravens’ 2013 Draft did not yield a lot of immediate production, and the team will be looking to those mid-round picks (ILB Arthur Brown, OLB John Simon, and FB Kyle Juszczyk) to make a major leap in their sophomore seasons. In the meantime, this is how I see the early rounds going for the Baltimore Ravens:
The more I am around Brett, the more I get the feeling that his BFF is on his way to Baltimore. It’s hard to ignore the obvious: Clinton-Dix ranks between the 15th-20th best prospect, Alabama pedigree, pair with Matt Elam for the foreseeable future. Many draft experts compare Clinton-Dix to Seahawks S Earl Thomas, which is all I need to here. Get this guy to Baltimore ASAP.
Second Round (pick 48) G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
The Ravens have an affinity with the SEC, and an interior lineman like Jackson gives them an immediate starter who has proved himself against some difficult defensive lines. At 6’3″ and over 330 lbs, Jackson has great size, and would allow for the Ravens to move forward with Kelechi Osemele as their right tackle. With Eugene Monroe just a franchise tag away from being the team’s left tackle, an offensive line of Monroe-Jackson-Jansen-Yanda-Osemele has the talent that the unit lacked last season.
Third Round (pick 79) DE Kareem Martin, UNC
Martin is another player who stood out at the Combine last weekend. Measuring in at 6’6″ and 270 lbs, Martin ran an impressive 4.72 40- yard dash, as well as a vertical leap of over 35 inches. Baltimore would be an ideal place for Martin to further develop as an every-down defensive end, and help to ease the pain of losing DT Art Jones on pass-rushing situations. Much like mid-round selections, I don’t see Martin putting up big numbers in his first year, but could be a dangerous player in the coming years.