This is the 8th part in a series where I have attempted to introduce you to the players you might want to know before the Ravens begin drafting on Saturday. Just 5 days away, I am going to try to introduce you to 10 more players every day this week who could become Baltimore Ravens over the weekend. Here is Part 7 of the series, which also includes links to the 6 previous. Here are the players we have introduced you to over the recent weeks…..
CB’s Sean Smith (Utah), Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest), D.J. Moore (Vanderbilt), Vontae Davis (Illinois), Darius Butler (UConn), Jairus Byrd (Oregon), Kevin Barnes (Maryland), Greg Toler (St. Paul’s), Sherrod Martin (Troy)
WR’s Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina), Kenny Britt (Rutgers), Percy Harvin (Florida), Derrick Williams (Penn State), Kevin Ogletree (Virginia), Deon Butler (Penn State), Louis Murphy (Florida), Mike Thomas (Arizona), Brandon Tate (North Carolina), Brian Robiskie (Ohio State), Patrick Turner (USC), Brian Hartline (Ohio State), Johnny Knox (Abilene Christian)
LB’s Clint Sintim (Virginia), Clay Matthews (USC), Larry English (Northern Illinois), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), Darry Beckwith (LSU), Brian Cushing (USC), Rey Maualuga (USC), Moise Fokou (Maryland), Scott McKillop (Pitt)
TE’s Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State), Chase Coffman (Missouri), Travis Beckum (Wisconsin), Jared Cook (South Carolina), Dan Gronkowski (Maryland), Shawn Nelson (Southern Mississippi), Richard Quinn (North Carolina)
K Graham Gano (Florida State)
DE Aaron Maybin (Penn State), Lawrence Sidbury (Richmond), Robert Ayers (Tennessee), Jovan Belcher (Maine), Jarron Gilbert (San Jose State)
DT Jeremy Navarre (Maryland)
OT Eben Britton (Arizona), Andre Smith (Alabama), T.J. Lang (Eastern Michigan), Phil Loadholt (Oklahoma)
C Edwin Williams (Maryland), Alex Mack (Cal), Max Unger (Oregon)
S Louis Delmas (Western Michigan), Troy Nolan (Arizona State), Patrick Chung (Oregon), Rashad Johnson (Alabama)
QB’s Brian Hoyer (Michigan State), Pat White (West Virginia), Mike Teel (Rutgers)
FB Tony Fiammetta (Syracuse)
RB’s Beanie Wells (Ohio State), Andre Brown (NC State)
Here are 10 more players to watch for Monday. Thanks to NFLDraftScout.com for Combine/Pro Numbers, thanks to ESPN.com for College stats, and thanks to Youtube for highlight videos…..
Tiquan Underwood (WR, Rutgers)
Going into the season, Underwood was considered a player who had early to mid-round talent. But he struggled in his senior season, catching 40 balls for 494 yards and 5 TD’s. However, Underwood is a player with big play potential; and had 65 catches for 1,100 yards and 7 TD’s just a season earlier. Underwood is projected to go in the late rounds of the Draft, which could end up making him a steal. He possesses a nice mix of size and speed, measuring in at 6’2″, 185 pounds and posting a 4.31 time in his 40 at the Combine. He was clearly overshadowed by teammate Kenny Britt, and his biggest knock is that he is not particularly reliable over the middle.
Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss)
Maybe the most interesting prospect in the entire Draft, Oher’s story could seriously be a book. And it is. Michael Lewis’ book “The Blind Side” is about Oher, who most analysts think will be gone in the first 15 picks of the Draft, but would be a seemingly no-brainer for the Ravens to snap up should he fall. Oher’s background is tragic: his father had almost no role in his upbringing, and was murdered when Oher was in High School. Oher’s mother was a crack addict, and the young man was forced to bounce around foster homes and 11 schools in 9 years before eventually settling in with a family from the Briarcrest Christian Academy in Memphis. Oher didn’t play football at Briarcrest until his junior year because his grades were too poor to make him eligible. Everyone started to notice him once he started playing….and he really hasn’t stopped since then. He played 4 years in college, including 10 starts his freshman season. He’s 6’5 and 309 pounds; and he did 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench at the Combine.
Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)
He’s not quite the sure thing Top 10 pick that Michael Crabtree is; but Maclin is largely considered to be a player who will be gone before the Ravens hit the podium. But there are a few red flags-namely the fact that he only played 2 seasons of college football-and he’s one of the guys that the Ravens would absolutely POUNCE on should he drop on the board. Maclin caught 102 balls for 1,260 yards and 13 TD’s for the Tigers last season; and added 2 return TD’s. Other red flags include a left knee injury he suffered during the Combine (not believed to be serious), and the fact that he will turn just 21 in May. He’s 6’0″, 198 pounds; and clocked in at 4.45 at the Combine for his 40. In 8 games last season, Maclin had catches of at least 30 yards.
Mohamed Massaquoi (WR, Georgia)
This could strike at the argument of “Are players better because of the QB’s that throw the ball to them; or are QB’s better because of the weapons they have to throw the ball to?” Matthew Stafford is believed to be destined for the #1 overall pick, but his #1 target could be available in the 2nd or 3rd round. Massaquoi has been a playmaker during his time with the Bulldogs, averaging nearly 14 yards per catch over his 4 years. Massaquoi’s senior season was his most successful, as he hauled in 58 catches for 920 yards and 8 TD’s. Massaquoi has decent size (6’2″, 210 pounds), but his 4.60 40 at the Combine was disappointing. A few teams without 1st round picks (Cowboys, Bears, etc.) might try to make Massaquoi their guy to get a possible starting receiver in Round 2.
Ramses Barden (WR, Cal Poly)
If you look up “Draft sleeper” in the dictionary, apparently you will see a picture of Barden there. Barden has absolutely TREMENDOUS size (6’6″, 229 pounds), and yet still puts up pretty good speed (4.55 in the 40 at the Combine). His numbers in college are staggering (206 catches, 4,203 yards, 50 TD’s), and 5 times last season he put up 100 or more yards receiving. Barden worked out at USC’s Pro Day; and apparently put on quite a show for a group of interest coaches and scouts. He is believed to be anywhere from a 2nd to 4th round pick, and his biggest red flag is clearly the level of competition he played against.
Shonn Greene (RB, Iowa)
If Shonn Greene was a one year wonder, it was a hell of a year. After posting just 378 yards and 2 TD’s in his first 2 seasons, Greene absolutely BROKE OUT in his junior campaign, toting the rock 307 times for 1,850 yards and 20 TD’s. Greene missed the entire 2007 season working at a furniture store, and will be 24 before the NFL season gets underway. Greene’s numbers alone might make him a 1st round pick, but he has a number of red flags. First, he’s not known as a great blocker. Second, he’s never shown the ability to do much of anything coming out of the backfield. And third, his size (5’11”, 227 pounds) and speed (4.62 40) aren’t what you’d typically like to see from a feature back. The Ravens may or may not be in the market for a back this weekend, but Greene could be the type of solid ball carrier the team needs to match Ray Rice’s scampering abilities.
Connor Barwin (OLB, Cincinnati)
Connor Barwin is VERY interesting. He played OLB/DE during his senior campaign, after playing Tight End previously for the Bearcats. He also played basketball during his first two seasons, and I cannot confirm or deny reports of his success on the debate team. Barwin is a physical specimen, checking in at 6’4″, 256 pounds; and posted a 4.59 time in the 40. After posting nearly 700 yards receiving and 5 TD’s in his first 3 seasons; Barwin went on to post 10 sacks during his senior campaign. Barwin’s all-around ability has been compared to Patriots LB Mike Vrabel, who often slides in and plays offensively. The Ravens could use a player like Barwin (who is likely a late 1st day/early 2nd day pick) in their complex defensive schemes, and Cam Cameron could certainly find ways to get a guy like him involved on the other side of the football. Eric DeCosta told the Carroll County Times that Barwin is “intelligent”, “fast”, and “a good athlete.”
Javon Ringer (RB, Michigan State)
A right knee injury prevented Ringer from taking part in the Senior Bowl, and reminded many scouts of an injury history Ringer has. He tore his ACL during his senior season in high school, missed 4 games in ’06 with a torn MCL, and was reportedly not always 100% last season. But Ringer certainly put up numbers when he was with the Spartans, to the tune of 4,398 yards rushing and 34 TD’s during his career. Ringer is just 5’9″, 205 pounds, and posted a 4.55 40. He’s drawn comparisions to former Raven Chester Taylor; but might be too similar to Ray Rice (although likely not quite as capable in the open field) for the Ravens to jump at him. Ringer is projected to go somewhere in the mid-round area of the Draft; so he could be a low risk-high reward type player.
Michael Johnson (DE, Georgia Tech)
Another puzzling prospect, Johnson came into the season believed to be in the mix to be a Top 5 pick. There are still some Draft analysts who claim Johnson is a Top 10 talent, while the majority seem to believe he will be a 2nd round pick. And this is coming off a season where he accomplished All-ACC and All-American success. Johnson is a monster; 6’7″, 266 pounds, 4.69 40, and 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench at the Combine. He posted 9 sacks and returned an INT for a TD during his senior season with the Yellow Jackets, but analysts were hoping for more. But the attention he garnered must be considered; and the Ravens might view him as the type of player worth trading up a few spots for should he be around in the middle of the 2nd round.
Mike Mickens (CB, Cincinnati)
If the Ravens are interested in a CB, Mickens could be the type of player available after teams gobble up the top Corners in early rounds. Mickens was one of the best Corners in the country, but a knee injury midway through the season has left him fighting to show what he can do during Draft season. He’s 6’0″, 186 pounds and was clocked at 4.53 in the 40. He tallied 10 interceptions over the last 2 seasons, including 3 which he returned for TD’s. He’s probably a late 2nd or 3rd round pick; but he has been rising during Draft season thanks to a strong performance at Cincinnati’s Pro Day (he missed the Combine due to injury). We still don’t really know if the Ravens are looking for a Corner in the Draft, but Mickens could be very intriguing should he slip.
I’ll have 10 more names for you tomorrow.