As I explained the in THIS blog 10 days ago; the period of time between the end of football season and the NFL Draft as just about the best time of the year for me. In my first blog; I broke down 9 prospects who might well be on the Ravens’ radar. Those prospects were…..
CB’s Sean Smith (Utah), Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest), D.J. Moore (Vanderbilt), Vontae Davis (Illinois)
LB Clint Sintim (Virginia)
WR’s Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina), Kenny Britt (Rutgers), Percy Harvin (Florida)
But, with many of you calling WNST this week and asking “who should I be watching closely at the Combine?” I figured I’d offer a few more names that have been rumored as possible Ravens targets…..
Clay Matthews (LB, USC): If ever a man had the right lineage to be selected in the NFL Draft; it would certainly be Clay Matthews. Matthews’ father (Clay Jr.) was a 4-time Pro Bowler and former 1st round pick of the Browns. His uncle (Bruce Matthews) is the Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman who played his entire career for the Oilers/Titans franchise. Even his grandfather (Clay Sr.) played 4 seasons for the 49ers. Matthews is a BEAST of a man. He’s not QUITE as fast as Sintim; but was quick enough to make USC’s defense one of the fastest we’ve seen in college football in recent years. Matthews was strong in Senior Bowl practice; and succeeded when he was moved to a stand-up role with the Trojans.
Darius Butler (CB, UConn): Once again, Butler is a Corner who is known for being undersized yet making plays. Butler is coming off a knee injury; and has much to prove between now and April to show teams he is healthy. If the Ravens are interested in drafting a player who can start immediately (especially with the release of Chris McAlister); this could be a red flag. Butler was used on offense by the Huskies as well; but would be unlikely to have a similar role in the NFL.
Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State): Pettigrew is an interesting case. A lot of scouts think he is the type of freakish talent that he will go in the first half of the first round. However, Vernon Davis was MORE of a “freak” athletically; and hasn’t really lived up to his Top 10 selection. Pettigrew also has some demons. He was arrested in early ’08 and charged with assaulting a police officer. He missed 3 games in ’08 due to an ankle injury. The Ravens will be forced to make a tough decision with Todd Heap; and if Pettigrew slides; they may be in a position to make the leap.
Derrick Williams (WR, Penn State): Williams is not the particularly tall receiver many think the Ravens are interested in. BUT, he will likely dazzle scouts with his lightning fast speed at the Combine and at his Pro Day; and has the capabilities to return kicks as well. He is considered by most to be a 2nd round pick right now; but not likely to slide to the Ravens’ spot in the 2nd round. If his stock rises, the Ravens could be in a position to grab him in the first round or trade up in the 2nd round to get the all-around weapon. Williams just so happens to be from Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt.
Larry English (LB/DE, Northern Illinois): English’s stock rose exponentially during Senior Bowl week; and he might well be off the board more than an hour before the Ravens go to the podium. But the 2-time MAC MVP will have to continue to prove himself; as the level of competition he faced in college will continue to be questioned. English played DE at the college level; but scouts tend to believe he could play OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Having never lived outside the state of Illinois; the Bears seem like a perfect fit.
Chase Coffman (TE, Missouri): Coffman was clearly one of Chase Daniel’s more reliable targets at Missouri; but doesn’t have the size to compare to Pettigrew. His hands are good, but he’s not any faster than the bigger Pettigrew. Coffman’s participation at the Combine may be limited due to the surgery he had a few weeks ago for a broken foot. This could hurt any chances of becoming a 1st round pick; but the Ravens would be in a good position should he be available in Round 2.
I’ll have more for you as we continue to move towards the Draft.