This is my second update in a 3 month long process of introducing you to the players who are possible Baltimore Ravens targets in April’s NFL Draft. If you missed last week’s profiles , make sure you get there now to find about some of the players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Mobile. The players I profiled last week were:
QB Daryll Clark (Penn State)
WR Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green)
TE’s Andrew Quarless (Penn State), Richard Dickson (LSU)
DE Greg Hardy (Ole Miss)
LB Ross Pospisil (Navy)
S’s Kam Chancellor (Virginia Tech), T.J. Ward (Oregon)
CB’s Devin Ross (Arizona), Brian Jackson (Oklahoma)
Of this group, Barnes appeared to be the player who helped himself the most according to scouts and analysts in attendance. I’ll tell you about other players who impressed in Orlando in my next update.
In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about players to keep an eye on at the Senior Bowl this week-considered the premiere college all-star event of the year. A reminder that the game-and daily practices from both the north and south teams will be aired live on NFL Network.
Also, with the Ravens making no moves this week, my offseason priority list won’t change.
Here are ten players to keep your eyes on (amongst the many other stars of the game) this week in Alabama. Thanks as always to CBS Sports for help on numbers, and to Wikipedia for help on the details.
TE Jimmy Graham (Miami)
Odd picture for a NFL Draft profile, huh? If you’re wondering why that name sounded familiar, now you have your answer. Graham exhausted has basketball eligibility, but decided to give football a try for a year. It was a good decision, as he became a reliable target for the Hurricanes on the field. Graham caught just 17 balls for 213 yards-but 5 of them were TD’s. His size is his greatest asset-he’s 6’8″ and 260 pounds. But he has tons of red flags-mostly based around the fact that he has only played a year of football. But the success of other TE’s in the NFL after switching from hoops (Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates are the most obvious examples) should help Graham succeed in finding work.
WR Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati)
There are some aspects about Mardy Gilyard that remind me of Ravens pick Lardarius Webb a year ago. Gilyard wasn’t quite mature enough to be a great college player when he first reached the level-and he ended up failing out of school at Cincinnati. There’s an even more troubling story that when Ron Zook came to recruit Gilyard to Florida-the receiver didn’t even bother to show up for their meeting. After failing out, Gilyard was forced to work odd jobs to pay back tuition money to UC before Brian Kelly would put him back on scholarship. The move worked out for all parties involved, as Gilyard went on to record 4,500 career all-purpose yards and 29 TD’s over his final 3 seasons.
Gilyard is dangerous not only as a receiver, but he’s very dangerous as a return man as well. His size is his issue….he’s just 6’0″ and 185 pounds or so. That’s bigger than Derrick Mason, but it certainly isn’t big enough to be viewed as a gamebreaking threat in the NFL. BUT-Gilyard was CERTAINLY a gamebreaker in leading the Bearcats to 2 Big East titles, and there are smaller WR’s who are having great success at the next level. He’s considered a mid-round guy right now, but I bet his stock rises.
DE Brandon Graham (Michigan)
No one is really sure if Graham is capable of being an every down DE at the NFL level-or if he’s good enough in pass coverage to play OLB every down. But we do know this much-Brandon Graham was a HELL of a pass rusher for the Wolverines. He finished his career with 138 tackles, 28 sacks-10 each in his junior and senior campaigns. He’s big (6’1″, 263 pounds or so), but he struggled with conditioning early in his Big Ten career and might be forced to change body size again depending on what role a NFL coordinator envisions him filling. As a pretty solid 1st round guy, it was somewhat of a surprise to see him commit to the Senior Bowl-but with Michigan failing to get bowl eligible-this will be the first time he’s played any sort of football since before Thanksgiving.
CB Trevard Lindley (Kentucky)
When Trevard Lindley came back to Lexington for his senior season, he had to think he was on his way to being a first round pick. Unfortunately, a high ankle sprain sidelined him about midway through the season-causing him to miss 4 games. After 10 interceptions through the first 3 and a half seasons of his career, Lindley wouldn’t record another (although his only INT of the season-back in Week 1 against Miami Ohio WAS returned for a TD). Lindley is listed anywhere from 5’11″ to 6’1″; and those two inches will make a MAJOR difference in where he ends up being selected. The Ravens may well decide they don’t need to go corner in the first rounds with Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb already in the mix, and Lindley might end up being a nice option in the later rounds.
OG Mike Iupati (Idaho)
Iupati is a classic case of a player who can change his entire Draft status based on his performance in Mobile. Iupati clearly has both the size and ability to be an O-Lineman at the NFL level, but with his 6’5″, 330 pound frame-NFL teams will want him to play Tackle. He’ll need to show this week that playing Guard at the college level won’t limit his ability to play outside. Also, having played in the WAC-Iupati needs to prove that he can play against big time talent; which he’ll have the chance to do against players like Brandon Graham. The American Samoa native climbed a great deal during his college career-going from a freshman who couldn’t play due to academic troubles to a player who has been compared favorably to former Boise State OT and current Denver Broncos stud Ryan Clady. A 2008 shoulder surgery would be the only other real red flag for this beast.
OT Vladimir Ducasse (UMass)
If you haven’t already, you’ll be hearing a LOT about Vladimir Ducasse this week. Ducasse was born in Port-au-Prince, and his family was affected by the earthquake in Haiti. He is now working to try to help out the cause….
Ducasse is in a slightly different position than Iupati, as he played OT for the Minutemen, but is now expected to play Guard at the next level. He clearly has the size (6’5″, 330 pounds) and mean streak to play in the NFL-but playing in the CAA only gave him a small taste of the talent level he’ll be going up against starting in the fall. The Ravens won’t have to go far to get a scouting report on Ducasse, as RB/ST Matt Lawrence can partly thank Ducasse for allowing him to post over 1,500 yards rushing two seasons ago at Massachusetts. And for a team that puts almost as much emphasis on character as they do football ability, Ducasse was described by a former coach as “particularly special.”
QB Sean Canfield (Oregon State)
For an organization that likes tall quarterbacks (see Flacco, Joe), Sean Canfield (6’4″) would be a nice addition. He’ll likely be off the board before the Ravens consider taking a QB, but if he were to slip he might be a great choice. His senior season in Corvallis was very impressive-as he went 303-446 for over 3,000 yards and 21 TD’s. The biggest red flag on Canfield’s resume is a shoulder surgery following his sophomore season that forced him to miss most of his junior campaign. But he certainly has both a strong arm and a great deal of poise-and that should help him transition to the next level.
S Myron Rolle (Florida State)
Yes, besides beings a Rhodes Scholar, Myron Rolle is also a football player! Of course, he wasn’t a football player in 2009-he took the year off to study at Oxford. But he had put together a pretty solid 3 seasons before that in Tallahassee; making 207 tackles, forcing a fumble and recording 1 interception. He has great size for a safety at 6’2″, 223 pounds; but he has to prove himself as a hard hitter during the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The Ravens already have a tie to Myron, as he is the cousin of CB Samari Rolle. His time off will make it particularly important to perform during Draft season.
K Leigh Tiffin (Alabama)
There’s a few things that are guarantees in life. Death. Taxes. And the Ravens bringing in a rookie from Alabama. I know John Harbaugh teased Matt Stover’s name during his weekly press conference last week, but I believe it’s a fairly safe bet that the team will choose to bring in a rookie or young kicker to compete with Billy Cundiff during Training Camp instead of going the route of another veteran. Tiffin has a strong leg, which helped him connect on 5/7 FG attempts from 50+ yards during his Crimson Tide career. But he was far from perfect otherwise, hitting just 42/66 tries between 30 and 50 yards. He also missed 6 XP’s over the last 3 seasons, including one during the Tide’s BCS National Championship Game win over Texas. Tiffin is rated as the #1 kicker available this year by multiple services-including NFLDraftScout.com-but would likely only end up in Charm City if they can get him as an UFA following the Draft.
CB Javier Arenas (Alabama)
As a CB alone, Javier Arenas would not likely be a candidate to hear his name called on Friday or Saturday night of Draft weekend. He’s shown talent-including 6 interceptions during his last 2 seasons in Tuscaloosa; but his 5’9″ frame would really hurt his draft stock. However, Arenas’ unbelievable ability as a return man should make sure he doesn’t stay on the board until Saturday, as he was absolutely EXPLOSIVE-returning a SEC record 7 punts for TD’s during his career. Had Arenas been in last year’s Draft, he probably would have tried to talk up the fact that he is the cousin of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas. Clearly he won’t be doing that now. Arenas has a knack to perform in big games-grabbing an interception in Alabama’s win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and adding two more in the title game win over the Longhorns.
I’ll be back with another update this week….