Draft Season Moves to Pro Days…..

March 10, 2009 | Glenn Clark

In two previous blog entries, I’ve profiled 15 prospects that might be of interest to Ravens fans. Those 15 can be seen here and here. The players I’ve profiled thus far are….

CB’s Sean Smith (Utah), Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest), D.J. Moore (Vanderbilt), Vontae Davis (Illinois), Darius Butler (UConn),
LB’s Clint Sintim (Virginia), Clay Matthews (USC), Larry English (Northern Illinois),
WR’s Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina), Kenny Britt (Rutgers), Percy Harvin (Florida), Derrick Williams (Penn State)
TE’s Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State), Chase Coffman (Missouri)

Since I have no life and LOVE tracking the path to the Draft, here’s another batch of prospects to track during Pro Timing Days in the next few weeks (including Maryland’s Pro Timing Day Wednesday in College Park)……

James Laurinaitis (LB, Ohio State): I’ll admit it. I selfishly want to see the Ravens draft James Laurinaitis just because it would probably lead to us seeing more of his father (Wrestling legend Road Warrior Animal) hanging around M&T Bank Stadium. But more than that; Laurinaitis can play. He was originally in the Top 20 of many mock drafts; but has slipped as far as the 2nd round in mock drafts recently. What Laurinaitis lacks in speed (4.78 40 at the Combine), he certainly makes up in brute strength. The Ravens will need an additional middle linebacker to replace Bart Scott; and most consider Laurinaitis to be the best inside linebacker in the Draft who didn’t play at USC.

Graham Gano (K, Florida State): This will ABSOLUTELY be the first year I am interested in kickers going into the Draft; but Gano could be intriguing. If the Ravens are more concerned about a strong leg than short consistency; Gano has the boot. Gano was 4/6 from beyond 50 yards during his senior campaign in Tallahassee; and reportedly hit kicks from 60 yards and beyond during practice for a skills challenge in Tampa around the Super Bowl. He would also give the Ravens a lift in kickoffs; and even punted in college (although the Ravens currently have that position filled). With few teams still looking for kickers, Gano could be a value that slides into the 6th or 7th round; but if the Ravens don’t bring back Matt Stover or sign a free agent kicker, they might be forced to persue him earlier.

Aaron Maybin (DE, Penn State): It seems less and less likely that the Mt. Hebron product will be available when the Ravens pick at 26; but he’s an interesting case nonetheless. With Trevor Pryce’s future still in the air; the Ravens could still be interested in a rush end. Maybin is young (he will be turning 21 only a few weeks before the Draft); but anyone with 12 sacks and 19 TFL’s has to be considered an impact player in the Draft. It will be interesting to see how his Combine interviews went; and if he proved himself to be mature enough to validate his likely Top 15 status. Maybin has reportedly spent time talking to former Penn State/NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington to prepare him for his own NFL future, which hopefully has benefitted him when talking to NFL scouts and general managers.

Victor “Macho” Harris (CB, Virginia Tech): With the Ravens addressing the CB position in free agency already by signing Domonique Foxworth, there is a prevailing thought that the team will not go after a first round Corner. But the CB position is still considered one that the Ravens are looking to upgrade at the Draft; with Samari Rolle likely to be gone and Corey Ivy also departed. The 2nd round could be where “Macho” Harris ends up, and the Ravens could be ready to bite. Harris has an average size (5’11″, 198 pounds); but is slipping due to a not-so-impressive 40 at the Combine (4.68). Harris is absolutely a playmaker; even producing on the offensive side of the ball during his time in Blacksburg. If Harris slides out of the 2nd round, the Ravens would be smart to consider moving up in the 3rd round for his value.

Jairus Byrd (CB, Oregon): Byrd is another CB who will be outside the group of first round picks. With so many CB prospects in the first and early 2nd round; it will be interesting to see if the 2nd tier of prospects slides out of the 2nd round completely. Byrd is the son of former Chargers great (and current Bears assistant) Gill Byrd; and had a solid career (17 interceptions) before leaving Eugene a year early. Byrd is a bit shorter than Harris (5’10″); but is also a bit quicker (believed to be in the mid-to upper 4.5′s; he did not run in Indianapolis). He’s also considered a solid tackler; and some think he might be destined for a move to safety.

Kevin Ogletree (WR, Virginia): With the Ravens having failed to add a Receiver yet in free agency; and with their top receivers currently on the roster not locked up long-term; the Ravens could well be in the market for multiple receivers in the Draft. Ogletree is the type of mid-round prospect that could be an interesting prospect for the Ravens. He’s more size than speed at 6’2″; but he has pretty solid hands and leaping ability. He had a year of eligibility left after a knee injury forced him to miss the 2007 season; but he decided to leave Charlottesville having already graduated. Ogletree made some nice leaping grabs for the Cavaliers (including a TD against the Terps in double coverage); and scouts seem to like him even if he isn’t the type of first round prospect to drool over.

Darry Beckwith (LB, LSU): Beckwith was solid but not particulary spectacular during his career at LSU; and has a knee injury and not-as-impressive 40 time (4.75) that will keep him from being the first round pick some thought he had the chance to be. But with the Ravens still looking for depth at inside linebacker; they could find value with Beckwith; depending on where he falls on the board. Beckwith is not as much of a punishing hitter; but has an ability to drop into coverage with quicker players. While LSU’s defense was considered a disappointment for much of last season, Beckwith was a key contributor to the national championship team in 2007.

Eben Britton (OT, Arizona): The question here is how much the Ravens desire an offensive tackle. I believe the team will draft a tackle at some point (they have been interested in free agents such as Marvel Smith-and clearly Willie Anderson is not going to get younger this season); but the first round might be too early; even if Britton is sitting there. Britton is a big man (6’6″; 309); actually taller than those considered amongst the top 4 OT prospects in the Draft. Some scouts say the big man lacked sheer aggressiveness and got away with overwhelming opponents with his size; which might not work at the next level. It is unlikely Britton slips out of the first round.

Travis Beckum (TE, Wisconsin): A likely mid-round pick; Beckum is considered to be more of a pass-catching Tight End than a blocking Tight End. Beckum improved his stock at the Combine; showing up with 25 more pounds of bulk; and doing more bench press reps than any other player at his position in Indianapolis. His 2008 season ended early due to a broken leg; which is clearly a red flag for teams going into the Draft. Beckum is creditted with solid hands; but was not as much of a goal line option in Madison as you would want a 6’4″ big body to be. The Sun’s Jamison Hensley recently wrote that the Ravens are likely still considering free agent options at tight end; but the market is thin; and the Draft will likely be a better option.

Edwin Williams (C, Maryland): Although the Ravens addressed the need at center by signing free agent Matt Birk; you would think they will look to build the position with some depth due to Birk’s age. Williams was a very solid performer throughout his career in College Park; and built a reputation as one of the team’s leaders and best personalities as well (If you go to WNSTV; you can see a humorous video of the big man telling me about eating habits at summer picnics). Williams is not considered one of the top prospects at the center position; but the Ravens probably won’t look to add a center early in the Draft. Williams is considered a late round pick; and that is likely more of where the Ravens might be interested in adding a center. Williams is also an area native; and played High School ball at DeMatha.

I’ll be out at Maryland’s Pro Day Wednesday; and will have more for you as we continue to work towards the Draft.

-G

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