Rumors Fuel Draft Season’s Late Push

April 09, 2009 | Glenn Clark

Posturing, lying, bluffing, and more have all become part of the last month of Draft season. While teams continue to bring in players for interviews and workouts, dominoes are beginning to fall amongst teams who already have an idea of what they want to do in the first round of the Draft.

A domino fell for the Ravens when they re-signed Samari Rolle. With Rolle, Fabian Washington, Domonique Foxworth, and Chris Carr all under contract; it appears as though the Ravens will almost certainly not go with a Cornerback in the first round. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the team wouldn’t consider a Corner at some point in the Draft.

This is the 6th part in my series profiling players who are or may be targets for the Ravens heading towards the Draft on April 25. Here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. These are the players I have broken down thus far….

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)
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)
LB’s Clint Sintim (Virginia), Clay Matthews (USC), Larry English (Northern Illinois), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), Darry Beckwith (LSU), Brian Cushing (USC)
TE’s Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State), Chase Coffman (Missouri), Travis Beckum (Wisconsin), Jared Cook (South Carolina), Dan Gronkowski (Maryland)
K Graham Gano (Florida State)
DE Aaron Maybin (Penn State), Lawrence Sidbury (Richmond), Robert Ayers (Tennessee)
OT Eben Britton (Arizona), Andre Smith (Alabama)
C Edwin Williams (Maryland), Alex Mack (Cal)
S Louis Delmas (Western Michigan)
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)

Considering the moves the Ravens have made thus far in the offseason, I think it is time to re-access their biggest areas of need….

1-WR (Still no number 1 target, and no interest in Torry Holt from everything we have heard thus far. With so many potential Round 1 Wide Receivers on the board, it is hard to imagine the Ravens aren’t looking to go Receiver in Round 1.)
2-DE/OLB (Still dealing with the issue of Terrell Suggs’ uncertain future, and with Trevor Pryce no younger; the Ravens truly need to consider their depth and the future of their pass rush.)
3-K (Steven Hauschka is not the only answer. Someone else will get into this picture).
4-ILB (The team did not acquire anyone to replace Bart Scott in the lineup, and if Tavares Gooden is to be the man the team must address their depth behind him).
5-FB/RB (I believe the Lorenzo Neal issue is more significant than we are making it out to be. If Neal really isn’t going to be back; Le’Ron McClain almost has to be considered the team’s best option at FB. Given John Harbaugh’s shaky relationship with Willis McGahee; I get the feeling Harbaugh would like to have a different option at Running Back).
6-OT (The team was interested in Orlando Pace, but did not sign him. They are either A-concerned about Willie Anderson or B-feeling the need to add depth anyway)
7-C (Matt Birk addressed the need for a starting center; but the team must still be thinking about trying to get younger at the position)
8-TE (L.J. Smith provides depth at Tight End; but he and Todd Heap are not the future at the position.)
9-S (Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, and Haruki Nakamura make up a nice group; but the Ravens won’t shy away from looking for another bruising Safety in the Draft.)
10-QB (It appears as though Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, and Todd Bouman will make up the QB depth chart this year, but the Ravens had 3 QB’s in Camp last year and needed more. An insurance policy at QB-likely an undrafted QB-would probably help the team sleep better.)

That being said, here are 10 more players the Ravens either are of may be interested in; and names you should get to know before April 25. Numbers courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com; information on Ravens’ interest taken from CarrollCountyTimes.com and my own discussions with agents, scouts, and players.

Rey Maualuga (LB, USC)-The guy was so quick and so talented during his career as a Trojan that many analysts believed he was destined to be a Top 10 pick. And while being picked somewhere between 11 and 20 seems more likely, the Ravens could still be a factor with Maualuga, and some mock drafts have even speculated that he will fall to the Ravens at 26. The Dolphins have certainly visited with him, and they pick at 25. The Oklahoma native (who also lived in Hawaii and has a Samoan background with a military family) is a tremendous character. He had an outstanding senior season (80 tackles, 2 picks) that lead him to being named All-American and winning the Bednarik Award. He also gained a number of YouTube clicks thanks to these antics with ESPN’s Erin Andrews while USC was busy pasting Penn State in the Rose Bowl. He appears destined to be quite possibly the best Inside Linebacker in the Draft; and his intensity would likely fit in well with the Ravens’ current crop of Linebackers. The only red flag is a hamstring injury he is working back from; but he appears to be fully healthy.

Moise Fokou (LB, Maryland)-Fokou’s journey from Cameroon to Frostburg State to the NFL is an unlikely tale; but Fokou appears to be on the brink of accomplishing just that feat. Fokou will likely be a late round pick (and could slide out of the Draft altogether), but will have opportunities to hear his name called. Fokou plays at 6’1″, 233 and ran a 4.65 40 at the Combine. According to The Sun’s Ken Murray and NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Fokou is most likely to play at weak-side linebacker and on special teams. Fokou tallied 75 tackles and 5 sacks in his senior campaign; and coul dbe an interesting option for the Ravens considering his ties to the area (both Maryland and Frostburg, as well as his high school career at Bullis School in Potomac); and would probably fit John Harbaugh’s special teams mindset. Fokou is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Friday morning on the Comcast Morning Show.

Brandon Tate (WR, North Carolina)-In an interview with Drew Forrester and Mark Mussina on WNST Thursday morning, Tate said he met with the Ravens last week. Tate’s stock was sky high early in his senior season, with many scouts considering him as good a prospect as his teammate-projected first round pick Hakeem Nicks. But Tate suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee after just 5 games, and his season came to a disappointing end. In working back from his knee injuries, Tate has not posted official times in anything; as he was unable to run the 40 at the Combine. But Tate showed tremendous talent during his Tar Heel career (8 TD receptions and a new NCAA record for return yards); and has a pretty solid 6’0″, 183 pound frame. The Ravens could take a chance on a player like Tate in the 3rd round, but his overall ability might mean he’s off the board before then.

Jovan Belcher (LB, Maine)-Belcher is scheduled to meet with the Ravens in the next week; and he will attempt to tell them that he can help their pass rush. Belcher played OLB early on in his career as a Black Bear; before moving to DE in his junior and senior campaigns. Belcher is expected to move back outside at the next level; and told the Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson he “love(s) to rush the passer and run around on special teams.” The 6’2″, 243 pound rusher tallied 93 tackles and 7 and 1/2 sacks last year, winning CAA player of the year. His level of competition will be a flag against him; but the Ravens have had success finding players at Maine before. Does the name Mike Flynn mean anything to you? Belcher isn’t a lock to be drafted at all; but could go even in the 6th round, where the Ravens’ final pick in the Draft currently sits.

Brian Robiskie (WR, Ohio State)-Robiskie currently sits just behind the initial crop of wide receivers (Crabtree, Maclin, Heyward-Bey, Harvin, Nicks, Britt); but is projected as a 2nd round pick by almost every analyst. Robiskie has the pedigree of an NFL player, he is the son of veteran coaching assistant and former Raider Terry Robiskie. Robiskie possesses both size (6’3″, 209 pounds) and speed (4.46 40 at the Combine); but put up some disappointing numbers during his senior season (42 catches, 535 yards, 8 TD’s). Robiskie’s career numbers as a Buckeye are strong (127 catches, 1,866 yards, 24 TD’s); but he has never shown himself to be a serious #1 target threat. Still, scouts will be intrigued by his size and abililty, and may well be gone before the Ravens make their 2nd selection.

T.J. Lang (OT, Eastern Michigan)-The Ravens decided the former Eastern Michigan Eagle was at least worth a private look, and he might be worth even more. Lang was NOT invited to the Combine, but is still projecting to be a mid-round pick. His performance at the “Texas vs. The Nation” all-star game certainly helped his stock; as he worked out at all Offensive Line positions, relevant because some scouts think he will eventually be a Guard at the pro level. Lang checks in at 6’4″ and 316 pounds; and finished his college career with 36 consecutive starts. The Chargers, Packers, and Cowboys are all also believed to be interested in Lang.

Shawn Nelson (TE, Southern Mississippi)-His senior season numbers don’t exactly bowl you over (53 catches, 557 yards, 3 TD’s); but his consistency over his 4 years at Southern Miss might. Nelson never caught fewer than 33 balls in a season; and averaged just over 500 yards in all 4 seasons, adding an average of 4 TD’s per season as well. Nelson’s size certainly has scouts interested; as he brings a 6’5″, 240 pound frame matched with a 4.52 40 speed. He’s projected as an early round pick; but ranked behind Tight Ends like Brandon Pettigrew, Chase Coffman, and Jared Cook.

Patrick Turner (WR, USC)-The biggest question mark about Turner must be the fact that while he was annually expected to become a superstar under Pete Carroll; he never really had a “breakout” season. His senior season was his most successfully statistically, catching 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 TD’s. Turner’s exceptional size (6’5″, 223 pounds) combined with his seemingly fair speed (4.65 40), makes him a serious contender to contribute at the next level, but he is only projected to be a mid-round pick. Should the Ravens be looking for 2 receivers; Turner could make a great compliment to an early round pick.

Troy Nolan (S, Arizona State)-10 career interceptions, 4 career TD’s. If nothing else; Nolan certainly knew how to find the football when he was on the field for the Sun Devils. At 6’1″, 206; Nolan posted a 4.63 in the 40 at the Combine; then dropped his time to 4.58 at Pro Day in Tempe. Nolan (a free safety) also put up 64 tackles in each of the last two seasons. But despite every positive quality Nolan has; he’s projected only to be a late round pick. Nolan is the type of player who you get the feeling is going to make a team very happy with a late round investment.

Patrick Chung (S, Oregon)-Quite possibly the Top Strong Safety prospect in the Draft; Chung appears to be a 2nd round pick as of right now. He’s 5’11″, 212 pounds; and posted a 4.49 time in the 40. Chung was a 4 year contributor for the Ducks; with his sophomore year being his most successful (4 INT), and this year he added another pretty solid soon (2 sacks, INT).

-G

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