With Combine in Rear View Mirror, Draft Season Heads to School

March 10, 2011 | Glenn Clark

We’re over ten days removed from the National Football League’s annual Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis.

I apologize for the delay in updates, a trip to Sarasota for Orioles Spring Training is to blame.

Now draft season heads back to campus, as schools host Pro Timing Days for their NFL Draft hopefuls.

The Baltimore Ravens brought a significant contingent of personnel folks to the premiere event during Draft season, including General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Head Coach John Harbaugh. The group was very active over the weekend with meetings and workouts.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 4, 5 & 6-Previews of players ahead of the Combine

The Baltimore Ravens made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects to keep an eye on as we move from the Combine to Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Cameron Heyward (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inKtdfodCak[/youtube]

Remember when former Buckeyes LB James Laurinaitis was headed towards the 2009 NFL Draft and his name couldn’t come up without a mention of his father Joe Laurinaitis (the former WWF star “Road Warrior Animal”)?

Be prepared for the same now with Cameron Heyward-the son of former New Orleans Saints RB Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.

Much like Lauriniatis, Heyward heads toward the Draft as a marquee prospect.

Heyward measured in at 6’5″, 294 pounds in Indy. The only disappointing part of his weekend was that an offseason elbow surgery prevented him from being able to lift, where he would have been expected to show off great upper body strength.

Heyward probably won’t be able to lift between now and the Draft, which could allow him to slip to late in the first round or completely out of the first round altogether. He did take time however to show reporters assembled in Indianapolis that he was fully capable of bending his arm at the elbow and had a full range of motion in his arm.

The most impressive part of Heyward’s trip to Indy was his session with the media. Heyward was very impressive in talking to reporters, thinking back on a life growing up around the NFL.

The question for the Ravens will be whether or not Heyward can consistently pressure quarterbacks. He tallied just four sacks during his senior year in Columbus, 15 sacks overall during four seasons at OSU.

The Ravens NEED a rush end, we all know that. But they need a rush end who they can count on to truly generate…well…a rush. There’s certainly a chance Heyward could be that player.

WR Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfn3oxSbJ6A[/youtube]

Shorts just joined Thyrl Nelson Monday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST. If you missed it, I suggest you check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

Shorts found immediate superstardom in Charm City over Combine weekend, as the Ravens didn’t hide from their interest in him. Shorts in fact confirmed to WNST.net that he had met with the team’s entire coaching staff and Newsome.

Shorts is smart to bring up the name Pierre Garcon every time he speaks, as the fellow former Purple Raiders receiver has found immediate success with the Colts.

For as much attention as was paid to Shorts during Combine weekend, his 40 time and measurements hurt. He was listed as 6’2″ during college, but measured in at 6’0″. For a speed receiver, his 4.53 time in the forty was disappointing.

Shorts finished his college career with 4,615 yards receiving, which is nothing to sneeze at. He of course posted those numbers at a Division III school, although Mt. Union was one of the premiere programs at the D3 level.

He’s not going to be a Thursday night pick…or a Friday night pick. And Shorts is certainly not “the answer” for the Ravens in terms of upgrading their WR corps. But he could become a solid complementary piece in Cam Cameron’s offense, and could certainly be an option in the team’s return game.

RB Dion Lewis (Pitt)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1wwCS_BBVI[/youtube]

Has there been a more confusing early NFL Draft entry in recent years than Lewis?

Lewis is not a prototypical every down back. He’s much closer to a Ray Rice type of undersized back who will have to be involved in the passing game to really make an impact at the next level.

Of course, that’s an overly fair comparison. No one in the NFL thinks Dion Lewis is the next Ray Rice right now, which is why he could still be an intriguing option late in the Draft.

Lewis (5’7″, 193 pounds) played for just two seasons with the Panthers before departing for the NFL. His (redshirt) freshman season was incredible, as his 1,799 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per carry average made fans in Western Pennsylvania forget about LeSean McCoy, who had been drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

But his production in his sophomore season didn’t quite reach the same level, as he ran for just 1,061 yards and his average fell to 4.8 yards per carry.

Certainly part of the reason McCoy left school is because of the way running backs are now used in the NFL. There is a common thought that teams are looking for backs with more “tread left on the tires”, as the average shelf life for a back is much shorter than it once was.

Lewis would NOT be a “replacement” for Willis McGahee should the Ravens cut tie with the veteran as expected. But the Ravens could be looking to add multiple pieces to their backfield. As the Draft gets later, Lewis could be an option.

CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHTTKwmI_Uk[/youtube]

You’re thinking to yourself…”I know that name!”

You do. Van Dyke became one of the more recognizable names of Draft season when he posted a blazing 4.28 forty yard dash at the Combine, making him the fastest man in Indianapolis.

On top of his speed, scouts clearly like Van Dyke’s size. The former Hurricanes DB measured in at 6’1″, 176 pounds in Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, speed and size alone do not make a player a legitimate NFL prospect. Van Dyke collected three interceptions during his career in Coral Gables, but struggled underneath and in zone situations, only really showing true ability in deep man coverages.

If he wasn’t 6’1″ and blazing fast, Van Dyke wouldn’t be a prospect AT ALL. Because of his size and speed, a team is going to be willing to take a late round chance on his as a developmental prospect.

The Ravens have questions in their secondary; as Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents. On top of that, Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury.

Van Dyke is NOT a player the Ravens could take at the top of the Draft and plug in to play next season. But he could be allowed to progress behind veteran corners in Chuck Pagano’s defense.

DE Dontay Moch (Nevada)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PT3GoRCKY8[/youtube]

What we know is that Moch is FAST.

How fast?

He posted a 4.44 time in the forty at the Combine, easily the fastest amongst D-Linemen and Linebackers. What’s crazier is that Moch had previously recorded a 4.20 forty time at a Pro Timing Day in Reno as a junior.

The question for scouts now is whether or not Moch can match his speed with defensive skill.

Moch is a 6’1″, 248 pound end who many folks believe will have to be converted to an OLB at the next level. That would obviously limit his value to a team like the Ravens, who are in desperate need of D-End help.

Moch definitely showed an ability to get to the QB during his four seasons with the Wolf Pack, collecting 29 sacks during his career. He’s also intelligent, composing a NFL Draft diary during the process for the website SB Nation Arizona (he’s a Chandler, Arizona native).

If the Ravens feel he can team with LB Terrell Suggs and provide pressure from the edge, he could very well be a Friday night choice.

QB Jake Locker (Washington)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZchE4x7zlE[/youtube]

If there was any thought process that somehow Jake Locker could slip far enough in the Draft that he could end up being an option for the Ravens, it’s certainly gone now.

While there are still questions about his throwing accuracy, Locker’s 4.52 time in the 40 yard dash and overall Combine performance confirmed that he’ll be a 2nd round pick at worst. That’s far too early for the Ravens to consider a quarterback with an established starter in Joe Flacco.

Locker will not be the Top 10 pick we once thought he would be, but the former Huskies QB seems more and more likely to be picked 25th by his hometown Seattle Seahawks.

Wherever he ends up, he’ll bring 53 TD passes as a Pac 10 quarterback and a solid 6’3″, 231 pound frame.

But unless something were to happen to Flacco between now and the end of April, he won’t be bringing those attributes to Baltimore.

C Rodney Hudson (Florida State)

rodneyhudson

The bad news? Hudson was a guard (and actually played some tackle as well) in Tallahassee, and was a bit undersized even for a very talented ACC Offensive Lineman.

The good news? Hudson is expected to play center at the NFL level, reported to the Combine ten pounds heavier than when he played in the Senior Bowl and would have at least a season (fingers crossed for good health) to study under veteran Matt Birk.

Hudson checked in at 6’2″, 299 pounds in Indianapolis, and the only downside for the Ravens is that he’s continuously risen on Draft boards.

He won’t be taken before Mike Pouncey, but he might not last long enough for the Ravens to get him with the 59th pick in the draft.

Most scouts think Hudson could play immediately. If the Ravens can call his name in New York, they might have the benefit of not having to find out.

LB Colin McCarthy (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wB-pouJkVw[/youtube]

Looking to the Canes for defensive help wouldn’t be something new for the Ravens organization.

At times, their success has reached a historic level (see Ray Lewis & Ed Reed). At other times, the jury is still out (see Tavares Gooden).

Interesting to mention the names of Gooden and Lewis, as both play a role in why McCarthy might be a legitimate choice for the Ravens.

Gooden is part of a trio (Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain are the others) who have failed to solidify the WILL backer spot next to Lewis in the team’s 3-4 scheme. And as Harbaugh pointed out in a town hall conference call with fans this week, the team is aware that they have to start considering a long term replacement for Lewis at the MIKE backer spot.

McCarthy could be an option for either role…or perhaps both.

McCarthy is a 6’1″, 238 pound linebacker with decent speed who was a tackle machine (120 in his senior season, 297 for his career) during his time playing for Randy Shannon at “The U.”

On top of being a solid football player, he’s also a smart kid. If you missed his interview with Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, I would encourage you to check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net.

He’s going to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the Draft. It might very well end up that he finds his way to Baltimore.

QB Greg McElroy (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQPVv4pafN8[/youtube]

Despite the fact it was a 43 he posted on the Wonderlic and not a 48, we know that McElroy is intelligent.

We also know that he’s a winner-which helped him win a BCS Championship as a junior with the Crimson Tide.

He also posted fairly impressive numbers in Tuscaloosa, throwing for 5,495 yards and 17 TD’s combined between his junior and senior seasons.

McElroy might not be a future franchise quarterback and will likely stay on the board well into Saturday. That’s exactly where the Ravens might be looking for a quarterback to play behind Flacco with Marc Bulger’s future in question.

He’s got pretty good size, measuring in at 6’2″, 220 pounds at the Combine. We know that Newsome LOVES to draft players from Alabama.

I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone if McElroy ended up in purple and black.

LB Martez Wilson (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kX-cfzjjw[/youtube]

As we mentioned with McCarthy, the Ravens are definitely in the market for ILB help.

Wilson is considered by most scouts (including our own Brian Billick) to be the best inside backer available this year. He posted an impressive 4.49 time in the forty at the Combine, making him the fastest backer in the Draft.

Wilson measured in at 6’4″, 250 pounds in Indy; and had an impressive 111 tackles during his final season with the Illini.

The Ravens are going to need ILB help in this Draft. The question will be whether or not they will want to address it as early as will be necessary to walk away with Wilson. He’s going to have a chance to go as early as late in the first round (the Ravens pick 26th) or early in the second round.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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