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The 15-7-0 is Italian. It’s Pronounced FRA-GEE-LAY.

Posted on 26 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Jerome Simpson is HOLY CRAP THAT TOUCHDOWN WAS SO AMAZING I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FINISH THIS SENTENCE.

The ESPY Awards are an annual event put on by ESPN that you’ve never watched from start to finish despite the fact that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” promotes them for about 6 months.

And since you likely won’t be watching next July, I’ll prevent the suspense. Jerome Simpson’s TD catch for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday wins SOMETHING.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtaDy_Y9kNI

As our own Brian Billick said on FOX, “you don’t get style points in the NFL but that oughtta be worth eight.”

Or more.

Oh, and don’t look now but Cincy is playing great football just before they welcome the Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. I don’t want to talk about that right now though. Perhaps never.

2. You just can’t help but be thrilled for Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions.

As someone who roots for a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997, I know a thing or two about what it must have felt like for fans in the Music City to watch their team clinch a Wild Card spot in the final moments of their win over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTwsmzTk7Lc

The Bolts were finally eliminated from the playoffs, which you would assume will lead to Norv Turner’s firing. They may or may not have already interviewed Bill Cowher for Turner’s job, and Jon Gruden may or may not be next.

In the meantime, if you’re going to lose at least do it with amazing hair like SD DE Antonio Garay…

3. Kellen Moore and Boise State deserved much better than blowing out an Arizona State team that didn’t bother to try before Christmas in Las Vegas.

It was the final win of a record-setting career for the Broncos quarterback, it was just really unfortunate it happened in this venue instead of in a BCS bowl, as America would have enjoyed watching them play a team that actually gave a s**t…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIXqNJhQPww

The win came as rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in hiring BSU coach Chris Petersen. In a related story, I am interested in being hired by Saturday Night Live.

Petersen obviously is not interested in replacing Joe Paterno in State College. And if you were living as large as this dude is, why would you take ANY job?

4. Cam Newton totally Cam Newton’ed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday.

In the Carolina Panthers’ win over the Bucs Saturday, Newton broke National Football League records for rookie passing yards (Peyton Manning) and quarterback rushing touchdowns (Steve Grogan). He did it in pretty spectacular fashion…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trebqz6prYE

Things couldn’t be worse for the Bucs. Head coach Raheem Morris apparently “sent home” DE Brian Price after getting a 15 yard personal foul call and the team’s freefall continued on toward what looks more and more likely to be Morris’ ultimate firing.

I kinda feel bad for them. Perhaps I should offer some of my mom (the great Karen Clark)’s holiday stuffed shells…

Kick rocks, ham.

5. I don’t know if David Akers’ record for the most field goals in a single season should be considered “significant”, but he owns it either way.

Akers broke the record with FIVE field goals in the San Francisco 49ers’ win over the Seattle Seahawks, moving the Niners a step closer to clinching the Number 2 seed in the NFC.

The Seahawks’ slim postseason hopes may have disappeared, but Marshawn Lynch HAS THE GREATEST PAIR OF KICKS I HAVE EVER SEEN…

Perhaps Foster the People has a follow up ready?

But as amazing as they are, perhaps Under Armour & Brandon Jennings did one better with their “Rudolph” inspired kicks…

Okay…synthetic fur? I HAVE to get back into the shoe game.

6. You might have survived the insanity to get the Air Jordan XI Concords, but USC fans still got a better Christmas gift than you.

Matt Barkley returning to Southern California is confusing because we know he would have been a potential Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, but we also know what could be ahead. Heisman Trophy, Pac 12 & BCS Championship hopes and bevies of hot chicks.

I mean, the guy can play Jason Mraz on the guitar. He must be dodging panties every day he walks around Los Angeles. Tough life there…

Of course, he’s also been filmed doing this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9083xMhGG4

7. I’ll ask for the 8th time. Can everyone please stop telling me about the New England Patriots’ defense?

With the Pats trailing the Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime Saturday, Facebook and Twitter were alive in Charm City with hopes of the Ravens still having a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC.

I however looked at my executive producer Ryan Chell and said “when Tom Brady decides to start playing I think they’ll be fine.”

They were. The Pats charged back from the halftime deficit to beat the Fins and are now a win away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. Apparently none of that is enough for owner Robert Kraft to get a high five…

Also, this looks like a good holiday film/way to make sure you don’t struggle in the red zone…

Of note for Miami, Reggie Bush remarkably ran for 100+ yards AGAIN in the defeat and we learned this weekend his mom does not want him to get back together with Kim Kardashian. That’s fine, I think Catalina Otalvaro would be a better catch anyway…

(Continued on Page 2)

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Aaron-Rodgers-Sacked

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Unlike Everyone Else, The 15-7-0 Remains Undefeated

Posted on 19 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I just looked away for a second. How many more touchdowns did Drew Brees throw for while I was gone?

It was five during the New Orleans Saints’ win over the Minnesota Vikings and it was clinical. Have a look…

Two of them went to wide receiver Lance Moore, who REALLY wants to be a part of next season’s “Dancing With The Stars”…

I like it. I also like Darren Sproles. In this country we enjoy the success of very small people in football and very large people in football. I did a study about that last night. I asked myself.

By the way, Brees’ performance came a week after doing Sesame Street. Can we now send Joe Flacco there this week?

As far as the Vikes go, it will all be over in about two weeks. That’s all I can say.

2. The Seattle Seahawks have the look of a “team you don’t want to face in January.

The good news (for NFC teams) is that it would take a miracle for them to get in, even after their win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Sunday. They’re two games out of both Wild Card spots with just two games to go.

Bears WR Johnny Knox suffered a horrific injury in the loss that I’ll only post again because I know he’s okay…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haOJjEb0AMk

Holy hell.

Marshawn Lynch ran for two TD’s. Could’ve used a second TD last week when I was still alive in my fantasy football playoffs, but that’s okay pal. You probably didn’t know.

Next year I’ll send you a letter in advance.

3. I’m sure someone won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl but I was much too busy staring at the awesome logo to notice.

When the University of Maryland was sentenced accepted to Boise a few years ago they played in something known as the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. Other than Da’Rel Scott absolutely going off in a win over Colin Kaepernick and Nevada, it was rather lame.

And while “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl” might sound a bit goofier than “Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl”, only one bowl game includes chives in the logo…

4. Pat Angerer doesn’t just have a great name, he’s also a hell of a football player.

12 tackles and then both an interception and a forced fumble in the 4th quarter for the LB as the Indianapolis Colts FINALLY got in the win column against the Tennessee Titans. But the highlight of the day belonged to RB Donald Brown for THIS TD run…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQzRaONUXLo

Dan Orlovsky is absolutely NOT a good quarterback, but I have no reason to think he isn’t a good guy. I guess for that reason I’m happy he didn’t have go winless again. Of course his success was part of the reason Randy Edsall was able to get to College Park so maybe I should immediately take that back.

5. With Todd Haley gone, I feel as though I can actually be happy for the Kansas City Chiefs with their win over the Green Bay Packers.

Romeo Crennel may have clinched the permanent KC job as Tamba Hali crushed Aaron Rodgers to help the Chiefs hand the Packers their first loss in A YEAR. It was enough to make the Chiefs get all Gatorade bath-ey…

…the Packers looked vulnerable, but they also played with a VERY banged up O-Line. Unlike here in Charm City, perhaps this team could actually lose a loss before making a playoff run.

6. The Maryland Terrapins actually got some good news Friday. I hesitate in writing this because I’m afraid bad news will come before this gets posted.

I’m not even referring to the news that OC Gary Crowton had been “reassigned” within the athletic department. I’m taking about the fact that Kenny Tate and others were given an extra year of eligibility.

Speaking of the Terps, I saw something amazing Saturday. You knew we’d get to the Tim Tebow sketch on Saturday Night Live eventually, but I’m going to go to it here. Mostly because I noticed that former Terp Lance Ball had his name in the background. How freaking awesome is that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul2dhNaQgxM

Good for Lance.

7. Todd Bowles will forever be able to describe himself as a winning National Football League head coach.

Which is nice, because I’m not certain Bowles is going to be on any short lists to get gigs in the future. That being said, his Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills Sunday so he’ll always have that going for him.

Reggie Bush ran for over 200 yards in the Phins’ win, but was penalized for doing what ANYONE ELSE WOULD HAVE DONE after scoring a TD when it was snowing…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if3WsLDvzAU

200 yards for Reggie Bush. Do we live in some sort of alternate universe???

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Terps DL Vellano Named AP All-American

Posted on 14 December 2011 by WNST Staff

Monroe, Vellano Earn More Postseason Accolades

Vellano a second-team AP All-American; Monroe secures spots on two more freshman All-America teams

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Defensive linemen Andre Monroe and Joe Vellano continue to rack up postseason honors.

Vellano was voted a second team All-American by the Associated Presson Wednesday. The junior, who leads the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in tackles by a defensive lineman (7.8 per game), earned a spot on the second team of the Walter Camp All-America squad last week.

Monroe was chosen a second team freshman All-American by two outlets – Phil Steele Publications (on Wednesday) and Yahoo! Sports (on Friday).

Monroe was placed on the College Football News (CFN) Freshman All-America team last week.

He played in just nine games (four starts) due to injury, but ranks second in the FBS in sacks among freshmen (0.56 pg). The Upper Marlboro, Md., product leads the ACC in tackles for loss (0.83 pg) by a freshman and is also sixth overall in the league in sacks per game.

A two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice (second team in 2010; first team in 2011), Vellano posted 94 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries this season. He had a career-high 20 tackles vs. Georgia Tech (Oct. 8).

– Terps –

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edsall

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Edsall Must Change On Field And Off In Maryland Future

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

As Drew Forrester has said here at WNST.net, Randy Edsall is going to be the football coach at the University of Maryland in 2012.

The #FIREEDSALL trend on Twitter is certainly alive and John Feinstein absolutely shredded the coach this week in the Washington Post, but neither will have an effect on his job status.

Despite a 2-10 record in Edsall’s first season with the Terrapins, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has every intention to stick with the man he hired after firing 10 year head coach and Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen nearly a year ago.

He’ll be doing that for a few reasons.

The first of those reasons is because no one is fairly considering how significant a role injuries played in the team’s downfall. The team was decimated by injuries throughout the season, forcing defensive coordinator Todd Bradford to turn to a number of redshirt and even true freshmen throughout the season. Competing for an ACC Championship was a tough task to begin with, but nearly impossible as injuries mounted.

It of course doesn’t forgive the nature of how the team finished with just one win over an opponent at the FBS level (their season opening Labor Day victory over a depleted Miami squad), but it has to be considered.

Another of the reasons why Edsall will return is well known. Maryland is in a LOT of financial trouble at the moment. The athletic department is on the verge of cutting eight varsity teams due to financial issues and has admitted that the football program must generate more money to sustain the 17 programs that will remain. With Edsall only one year into a six year deal worth $12 million, Maryland does not have the financial ability to get out from under such a costly deal.

The notion that Under Armour CEO/Maryland alum Kevin Plank could pony up the $10 million necessary to buy out Edsall is preposterous. Plank has become one of the most successful businessmen on the face of the planet buy making good decisions. Giving away $10 million wouldn’t qualify as such a thing.

(Just to inject here. There have been some rumors that Edsall would be a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars opening after the team fired Jack Del Rio. I think we can move on from those rumors about as quickly as they appeared.)

But money and injuries are not the only reasons why Randy Edsall will remain as the school’s football coach. The more significant reason why Edsall will not be let go by the school is because coaches who receive six year deals just aren’t dismissed after one season.

When Anderson hired Edsall away from the University of Connecticut, he absolutely did not tell him “if you leave the Huskies, you’ll have one year to make things work in College Park.”

Had Anderson done such a thing, Edsall’s response would have been something along the lines of “I would never leave UConn. UConn is my dream job.”

It’s safe to say that when hiring Edsall, Anderson made it clear the former Connecticut coach would be able to build his program as necessary, despite the success the team celebrated (nine wins including a Military Bowl victory, ACC Rookie of the Year in QB Danny O’Brien) the season before his arrival.

As Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant pointed out this week, there were reasons to believe Edsall’s reputation in Storrs exceeded his actual accomplishments. During an appearance on “The Reality Check” Wednesday on AM1570 WNST.net, Jacobs referred to something he had written in January just after Edsall’s departure from the area…

There was something unnervingly self-serving in Randy Edsall’s words in the month leading up to his BCS Bowl spanking. As he talked about all the milestones the program has reached since the days of working out of the trailers, Edsall wondered if there were any more notches in the belt he could cut at UConn.

The answer to Edsall’s question about notches in the belt, of course, was there were plenty left. And we’re not talking pie-in-the-sky national title. For starters, how about an outright Big East championship? Or how about getting to a BCS Bowl game where you aren’t automatically penciled in as a hopeless underdog the moment you qualify for it.”

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HZKJXHRJJBCKAIS.20111126232935

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The 15-7-0 Is Feeling Rather Presidential This Week

Posted on 28 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. The Towson University football team didn’t play a game this weekend, but somehow it will likely go down as the greatest of their lives.

The scene at the Towson Center Saturday afternoon rivals some of the most incredible I’ve seen in Charm City sports history, but sports had very little to do with it.

The most special moment of the visit from President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama (Michelle’s brother Craig Robinson is the head coach of the Oregon State team that crushed the Tigers Saturday afternoon) came at halftime.

Athletic Director Mike Waddell introduced Head Coach Rob Ambrose & the CAA Champion football team, who were enjoying a week off as they prepared for their FCS playoff showdown with Lehigh next Saturday at Unitas Stadium. The President walked out to greet the team, then posed for a picture to the absolute delight of the young men.

It was the type of moment that induces chills. Wow.

2. I’m really jealous of the Cincinnati Bengals for having AJ Green on their roster.

Oh, and Jermaine Gresham too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFByq1hpVGE

They duo (and Cincy QB Andy Dalton) were vital in the Bengals’ come from behind win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday in a game that judging by the attendance no one in the Queen City knew was happening…

Can’t help but notice a few empty seats in the background there, gang. This is a team fighting for AT LEAST an AFC Wild Card spot, not completely out of the AFC North race. This is the best you can do? Maybe “Los Angeles Bengals” has a nice ring?

Since we’re here, here’s a picture of Colt McCoy Tebowing…

3. Rob Gronkowski is not the only reason the Patriots are good, but something tells me there’s a correlation between 11 TD catches and a 6’6″ frame.

To be fair, the way New England was playing Sunday it’s possible a 4’6″ receiver could have caught a TD from Tom Brady Sunday at The Linc…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwO47-nf1lM

Vince Young threw for 400 yards in the defeat, basically because he had no choice but to throw the football every time the Philadelphia Eagles had the ball.

That SHOULD put the final nail in Philly’s “Dream Team” coffin. Andy Reid’s has been sitting open for awhile now outside the City of Brotherly Love. Will it be nailed down as well? We’ll see.

4. Robert Griffin III’s injury might be just enough to default the Heisman Trophy back to Andrew Luck somehow.

The other candidate in the mix (and perhaps the frontrunner) is Alabama RB Trent Richardson, but we’ll get back to him.

After an incredible performance a week earlier against Oklahoma, the Baylor QB might have been one more spectacular performance away from locking up the chance to hear his name called in New York in two weeks. Unfortunately, RG3 was taken out of the game in the second half (probably for a concussion) and had to watch the second of the Bears’ win over Texas Tech from the Cowboys Stadium sideline…

So…Stanford QB Andrew Luck (the preordained winner of the Heisman before the season) was back in the picture with the chance to lock the thing up. Luck was good but not great in the Cardinal’s win over Notre Dame and left the thing up for grabs again.

As I searched YouTube for a recap video of Luck’s final game at Stanford Stadium I believe a Fighting Irish fan summed it up well by channeling M*A*S*H…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F34petB_Jzs

I don’t even know what that means!

The (regular) season is over for Richardson so he won’t have another chance to make a statement. Luck’s Cardinal don’t get another chance either since Oregon won the Pac-12 North. Baylor will play host to Texas next week in Waco, but Griffin’s status is up in the air due to his injury.

If none play again, I think I’d vote Luck. Someone will yell at me for that. Go ahead.

5. Houston is a Conference USA Championship Game win over Southern Miss away from playing in a BCS Bowl.

Fourth on the list (of three) candidates to win the Heisman is Cougars QB Case Keenum, who shredded Tulsa Friday in a manner similar to the way he’s shredded everyone else he’s played this season.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9CQLabkEvw

If the Cougars top the Golden Eagles in next week’s C-USA title game, they’ll become the first ever team from the conference to make a BCS bowl. Teams from the WAC and Mountain West have played BCS buster, but never C-USA.

Someone will call the occasion “historic”. Those people won’t really know what the word historic means.

6. Another reason why I like Tim Tebow? Sabermetricians would hate him.

He effing did it again, huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFg9ekH-5dI

You know what’s the ONLY THING IN THE WORLD that could make us not spend the entire week talking about the Denver Broncos’ QB? How about a picture of San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak peeing on the sidelines at Qualcomm Stadium?

Thanks CBS!

7. Mark Sanchez also really pissed off a lot of haters Sunday.

The New York Jets’ QB threw for four TD’s, including a game winner to Santonio Holmes in their win over the Buffalo Bills…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJtRuC19Ab8

We’ll of course remember the game as the time Bills WR Stevie Johnson insisted on making a complete ass out of himself…

…again.

Dan Marino was asked about what he thought of Sanchez Sunday, but he was too busy checking out Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge’s boobs to respond…

And here’s my cue to post another VS picture of Aldridge…

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Baltimore Native and Maryland All-American, Keith Booth, Joins Loyola University Maryland Women’s Basketball Staff

Posted on 17 October 2011 by WNST Staff

Former University of Maryland All-American and NBA World Champion Keith Booth has been named an assistant women’s basketball coach, Greyhounds Head Coach Joe Logan announced today.

“We are ecstatic to have Keith Booth join our Loyola women’s basketball program and excited that he is able to return home to Baltimore to continue his coaching career,” said Logan.

Booth, a Baltimore native, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach with the men’s basketball team at the University of Maryland under Head Coach Gary Williams.

In his time at Maryland from 2004-2011, the Terrapins won no fewer than 19 games and reached the NCAA Tournament three times. Booth assisted with the daily operations of the men’s basketball program, including recruiting, advance scouting, player development and game preparation.

“Keith brings with him a unique perspective, which I am looking forward to and I know our whole program will benefit from,” Logan said.

As a player at the University of Maryland, Booth led the Terrapins to four NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Sweet Sixteen appearances, and in 1994 began Maryland’s streak of 11 consecutive NCAA berths that ran from 1994 to 2004. Current Loyola head men’s basketball coach, Jimmy Patsos, was an assistant coach at Maryland and helped in the recruiting of Booth.

In his senior season at Maryland, Booth led the Terps in scoring (19.5 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and steals (2.0 spg) and is still Maryland’s all-time leader in free throws made (576). Booth finished his impressive career at Maryland among the Terps’ all-time leaders in scoring (9th, 1,776 points), rebounding (6th, 916 points), steals (5th, 193) and is one of 15 players to have his jersey honored above the Terps’ home court at Comcast Center.

In October 2008, Booth was inducted into the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2010, Booth represented Maryland as one of the ACC Basketball Legends honored at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Booth played his high school basketball locally at Dunbar High School and was considered one of the major recruiting windfalls for Williams and the Terps in the mid-1990s.

As a senior at Dunbar, Booth was a Parade and McDonald’s All-American selection. He also led his team to the Maryland Class “A” State Championship. Booth was named Player of the Year in Baltimore City and the state of Maryland by the Baltimore Sun.

After a stellar career at Maryland, playing alongside Joe Smith, Rodney Elliott, Johnny Rhodes and others, Booth was an AP All-America Third Team selection as a senior in 1997. Booth left Maryland with a host of accolades including All-ACC honors four times, earning first-team honors as a senior, third team as a junior, and honorable mention designation during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Booth’s teams appeared in two NCAA Sweet Sixteens, finishing his sophomore season as ACC regular season co-champions and ranked No. 10 in the country in the final AP poll. That year (1994-95) the Terps compiled a 26-8 record, including a perfect 16-0 record at Cole Field House. Booth finished his Terrapin career with averages of 14.1 points per game and 7.3 rebounds.

After his playing years at Maryland, Booth was a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in 1997, taken as the 28th selection overall. Booth was a member of the 1998 Chicago Bulls NBA World Championship team led by Michael Jordan.

“Keith’s accomplishments speak for themselves,” said Logan. “He has won at every level and we are looking forward to him developing our players into winners both on and off the court.”

Booth joined “The Reality Check” with Glenn Clark Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. You can hear the interview in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

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In Memoriam of my dear friend Papa Joe Chevalier

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In Memoriam of my dear friend Papa Joe Chevalier

Posted on 05 June 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

In a former life, I used to be “Nasty” Nestor Aparicio. And even though I don’t talk about it much or brag on as I probably should, I was a nationally-syndicated sports talk host on 425 radio stations across the United States back at the turn of the century. And every night when I was done my four hours of laughs and conversations, I handed the baton to a far better man than I named “Papa” Joe Chevalier.

Chevalier died yesterday at the age of 62 in Las Vegas from the complications of a stroke he suffered in March.

Papa Joe was a simple man. He’d always come booming into the offices about 90 minutes before his show and always with a hearty laugh and always penning his opening monologue and script on a legal notepad and rehearsing it on those who would hear him. Sometimes, I’d run into the bathroom to take a leak at the 5:40 break and he’d forever be trying out some one-liner on me or engaging me in sports talk – even if it was calling the Ravens “jailbirds” or digging some fun at something Baltimore-related.

Papa Joe Chevalier was old school – and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. He KNEW sports. He KNEW gambling. He KNEW the mentality of big business in sports and where the money came from. He was no fraud when it came to sports knowledge. He was the real deal!

Because I broadcast the majority of my shows from the second story bedroom at my house on Springhouse Circle in White Marsh, I didn’t get to see Papa Joe every day. But I heard his show every day because my station here at WNST-AM 1570 in Baltimore carried his show even before I ever met him or knew him. And the really sad part is that because we always crossed shifts, I never really got to go out for a beer after work in Chicago with him other than at work functions, when he truly held court with the staff of young producers. Everyone in that building liked Papa Joe.

He would always send me outta the studio when his shift would begin with a standard phrase: “I love ya, kid!”

And I think he did, too, even when I was on the backend of a few “Bite Me Wednesday” segments, which was his “airing of the grievances” and beefs.

My unique “broadcast from Baltimore” contract language created a scenario for him that opened the door for him to do shows back in his adopted Las Vegas. So my negotiating and hardcore “I’m not leaving Baltimore” stance with management at SNR bought him some leeway that he loved.  And it seemed like he was in Vegas every weekend so I never got to go to Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park with him but that would’ve been a real hoot.

That Sporting News Radio circle of people in Chicago was really a wonderful team of  great sports fans in retrospect. It was truly like a WKRP family of people, most of whom I really, really LIKED. I would start naming names but because they’ll all wind up reading this it I want to be careful not to leave anyone out. But there are at least a dozen people whom I keep in very regular contact with because I liked them so much and those memories are so dear to me as I learned a lot about the big corporate world during that period of my life when big money and agents were trying to “make Nasty Nestor a star.”

Chevalier, however, didn’t really care whether he was a “star” or not. He was a quirky old bird, indeed.

Our programming leader Matt Nahigian would implore “Papa” Joe to simply say his name before and after every break – a very typical, simple radio request that allegedly helped Arbitron ratings and “brand familiarity” but Chevalier wanted no part of it.

“I do the damned show every night,” he would squeal. “They all know who the hell I am!”

And who was he? A throwback – a real old-timer from Pittsburgh whose Steelers’ swagger didn’t play so great with me during those years because the Ravens won the Super Bowl on Jan. 28, 2001 when I was sitting in the national sports talk chair and I really had the upper hand on him every time during that fragile period in the Baltimore-Pittsburgh wars of two centuries. Anytime the Pirates and Orioles would come up he’d start pretending to blow the whistle of Omar Moreno’s wife to drive me nuts. And he’d routinely play “We Are Family” and send it as a “shout out” to me on national radio.

And while most of my angst against Pittsburgh and all people from Pittsburgh is legendary, I can honestly say his ribbing never bothered me because it was part of the beauty of our friendship.

We bet a dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa on the radio every time the Ravens and Steelers played and he lost a LOT. And he never, ever paid up! And for that I’m really, really sad! I would’ve loved a three-hour dinner talking sports with Joe over some sloppy steaks and red wine and we probably would’ve slipped upstairs for a café and a nightcap of ice cream and whiskey amidst conversations of Clemente and the Robinsons, Unitas and Bradshaw. And that would’ve been one helluva sports conversation, he and I — especially if we had added a few drinks and some microphones.

I found out he died late Saturday night from my pal Bernard Bokenyi on Facebook via this Las Vegas newspaper obit and writing about him makes me feel good and brings a smile to my face. Just thinking about the fuss we’re all making over him would make him bristle.

He was a really neat old guy and I never spent a moment with him that I didn’t enjoy. And his audience was immense, loyal and loved his charm. He created a fan “Bill of Rights” during the baseball strike of 1994 and had people all over the country send in baseball cards that he destroyed.

He was a man of the people and he was truly the same dude in real life as he was on the radio. Full of loveable bluster and an unending source of sports information!

In a media world fraught with frauds, phonies, liars, cowards and fools he was a man who had knowledge, integrity, an incredible sense of humor and we had a mutual respect that was unusually genuine.

I really LIKED Papa Joe. And he really liked me. It was a cool relationship and one that I probably didn’t cultivate or appreciate quite enough.

I hadn’t talked to him in a few years but I loved that old man. And I’m going to miss him and his soft voice. He was a really good man!

Comments Off on In Memoriam of my dear friend Papa Joe Chevalier

edmundgates

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

As the NFL’s labor situation finally appears to be approaching closure, we’re just hours away from the start of the 2011 NFL Draft (8pm NFL Network & ESPN).

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), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
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), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
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), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State), Greg Little (UNC)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh), Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State), Mike Pouncey (Florida)
CZane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), Corey Liuget (Illinois)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga), Justin Rogers (Richmond)
K-Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

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 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8910-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Parts 11 & 12-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) 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 final prospects we have yet to profile during Draft season.

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

DE Cam Jordan (Cal)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOx7bqKP4m0[/youtube]

Fewer and fewer folks believe the former Golden Bears pass rusher will be on the board when the Ravens pick at 26. If he were to somehow slip, you’d assume GM Ozzie Newsome and company would be quick to grab him.

Jordan (6’4″, 287 pounds) has good speed (4.74 40) and had solid productivity (17 total sacks) during his career in Berkeley. It’s very clear why he’s viewed as a Top 20 pick.

Conversation about Jordan almost has to include a nod to his father (Steve Jordan), who was a six time Pro Bowl TE for the Minnesota Vikings during his own very solid 13 year NFL career.

I mocked Jordan to the San Diego Chargers in our Morning Reaction First Round Draft this week. I just don’t see him getting to 26. But if he somehow did, I would have to assume he would be donning purple.

RB Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64ohYkArJfU[/youtube]

Which do you think Jones has been asked about more during Draft season: jumping backwards out of a pool or playing football on red turf?

Both are pretty cool.

Jones (6’0″, 196 pounds) has TREMENDOUS speed (4.35 40) and was unbelievably productive during his college career in Cheney. He finished with 3,858 yards of total offense and 36 total TD’s over the last two seasons with the Eagles. He capped his career by helping EWU defeat Delaware in the FCS title game.

Jones is one of a number of backs who decided to leave school a season early this year despite not being guaranteed an early selection in the Draft. Those backs have clearly seen a pattern in the NFL where teams get more and more concerned with the number of carries a player brings with him to his pro career.

That being said, teams are always apt to add additional runners-with significant carries coming for 3-5 backs per team anymore. The Ravens have an interesting situation in their own backfield; as they will be looking to complement Ray Rice. Willis McGahee is expected to be released, Le’Ron McClain is a free agent and is a question mark to return at best.

The Ravens might need more size/bulk than what Jones has to offer, but his unique combination of decent size and amazing speed might be hard to pass up on as he’s available late Friday night and into Saturday.

WR Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian)

edmundgates

The comparisons to Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox will be inevitable for Gates, especially after posting a 4.31 40-which was actually .03 quicker than his fellow former Wildcats receiver at the Combine. The knock on Knox (see what I did there?) has been his hands, and that will certainly be a question mark for Gates as well.

Gates had a sparkling senior season to wrap his career, grabbing 66 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 TD’s. It is a bit easier to dominate the Lone Star Conference than it is to dominate the SEC however.

Gates could be an intriguing option for a Ravens team desperately seeking a “home run” threat. He’s not huge (6’0″, 192 pounds); but his size certainly gives him potential “stretch the field” ability. They don’t have that in starters Anquan Boldin or Derrick Mason; and didn’t get it from free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh or Donte’ Stallworth a season ago.

Like Jones, Gates is likely a late Friday/early Saturday selection. Should the Ravens not go receiver early, they’d definitely be the type of team that could be in the market for a player the former ACU star.

CB Curtis Brown (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUr4wswq9us[/youtube]

While former Longhorns teammate Aaron Williams has received much more attention, plenty of teams have shown interest in Brown.

It makes sense, as there’s plenty about Brown to like. He has above average size (6’0″, 185 pounds) and solid speed (4.51 40). Despite finishing his career in Austin with just two interceptions, he managed to return one for a 77 yard touchdown.

Brown already has a tie to Charm City, as his uncle Hosea Taylor played DE for the Baltimore Colts in1981 & 1983 after a career at the University of Houston.

The Ravens don’t know the extent of their troubles at CB just yet. With this week’s developments in Minnesota, only Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are guaranteed to reach free agency under 2010 CBA rules. Josh Wilson could gain free agency under new CBA rules, but that scenario appears less and less likely. That would leave Wilson, Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb as the team’s top 3 corners with Cary Williams still behind them.

Many folks believe the Ravens will try to select Colorado’s Jimmy Smith in the first round of the Draft. If they don’t do that, it is widely believed the team will pick a corner at some point in the Draft despite the depth they appear to have. Brown is probably a Friday night selection, and could certainly be an intriguing one for the Ravens.

OT James Carpenter (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp8wSEAEMP4[/youtube]

Well…we all know Newsome is SOMEHOW going to continue the Tuscaloosa to Baltimore pipeline, right?

The Ravens would certainly do well to add a player like Carpenter on Friday night, as they have major O-Line issues they’re dealing with. OT Jared Gaither is no guarantee to return-although the CBA issue could still have some effect on that.

Should Gaither depart, new O-Line coach Andy Moeller may decide to keep G/T Marshal Yanda at RT and Chris Chester at RG. The team got average to slightly above average production from that group a season ago.

The team would seem more likely to look for an upgrade at RT, which Carpenter could provide despite not being a first round caliber tackle.

Carpenter is a monster (6’4″, 321 pounds) who helped lead the way for a Heisman Trophy winner (RB Mark Ingram) and an undefeated QB (Greg McElroy) in 2009. He played two solid seasons for the Crimson Tide at LT after transferring from Coffeyville Community College.

All of the good ones come from Coffeyville, don’t they?

QB T.J. Yates (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_B8HCfUqv4[/youtube]

Yes, I think the Ravens are going to take a quarterback at some point during the Draft.

Yes, I think backup QB Marc Bulger will leave town during the offseason. (Heck, some folks are already talking about him as if he already played for the Arizona Cardinals.)

That being said, I don’t think the Ravens will be drafting a QB early during the weekend. I think they’ll look for a veteran backup and will instead draft a QB who can compete for a potential 3rd QB role behind Joe Flacco.

Yates (6’3″, 219 pounds) had an up and down career for the Tar Heels, but left Chapel Hill on a very high note. He threw for 3,418 yards and 19 TD’s as a senior with just nine interceptions mixed in.

He won’t be a Thursday or Friday selection, but he could certainly be a player for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

There is a bit of a problem when it comes to Yates however.

On his bio, his hometown is listed as Marietta, Georgia. That’s all well and good. But then there’s an additional issue, courtesy of the UNC official site…

“Favorite NFL team is the Indianapolis Colts…Followed the Indianapolis Colts as a kid because he grew up in Indianapolis”

It’s just not going to work.

DE Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuBr52sVC5A[/youtube]

Breaking news. The Ravens are interested in pass rush help.

McPhee was not a pass rush monster during his career in Starkville (just seven sacks over two seasons after transferring from Itawamba Community College), but he was still effective.

He has good size (6’3″, 278 pounds) but his mobility has limited him (4.91 40).

He’s not Trevor Pryce, but he might be a nice complement to Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding along the D-Line. He appears to be another late Friday/early Saturday selection; meaning he could be an option should the Ravens go elsewhere in the first two rounds.

He’s not “the answer”, but the former Bulldogs rusher could certainly be part of “the equation” in upgrading the pass rush this offseason.

CB Davon House (New Mexico State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9g1Ff0odmc[/youtube]

Totally off the radar until reports said he visited Owings Mills, the former NMSU corner now appears a more and more likely candidate to be selected by the Ravens.

House (6’1″, 200 pounds) matches his good size with solid speed (4.44 40) and was incredibly productive during his time with the Aggies. He finished his career in Las Cruces with 202 tackles, 11 interceptions (three returned for TD’s) and a forced fumble.

House could go anywhere from early Friday to mid-Saturday. Should the Ravens not select a corner like Smith in the first round, they could potentially add House later on in the weekend.

Did you miss House earlier this month with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST? Hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

TE Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6UwzaYPCq8[/youtube]

Every time I noticed Rudolph connected to the Ravens at 26, it was followed by the following statement.

“The Ravens are going to have to draft an heir apparent to Todd Heap at some point.”

I’m guessing the folks who wrote that didn’t pay much attention to the team’s Draft just a season ago.

The Ravens finished the 2010 season with four Tight Ends on the active roster (Heap, 2010 picks Ed Dickson & Dennis Pitta and 2009 pick Davon Drew). Drew still doesn’t appear to have much of a long-term role with the team, but the team certainly has high expectations for Dickson and Pitta.

Rudolph’s senior numbers are not at all impressive (28 catches, 328 yards, three TD’s), but he missed the final six games of the season due to a hamstring injury. Of course, that’s just another red flag teams will have to consider before selecting him.

He’s not likely to be an explosive offensive threat at the NFL level, but he certainly appears to be a solid NFL prospect at 6’6″, 259 pounds-even with a 4.83 40.

He’s going to go late Thursday or early Friday. I just doubt he’ll be getting introduced at 1 Winning Drive anytime soon.

P Travis Baltz (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oW9How9TAY[/youtube]

Two things.

1-The Ravens clearly aren’t interested in a punter. The extension they gave Sam Koch proves just how happy they are in their former Draft pick.

2-There is little to no chance the former Terrapins punter ends up getting picked, but he’s very likely to get picked up and be given a look.

Baltz finished his career in College Park with 224 punts for 9,224 yards-averaging 41.2 yards per boot. He also spent his senior season as the Terps’ kicker, making 14 of 18 field goals and 53 of 54 extra points.

Baltz’s first goal will be to get a Training Camp invite from….someone. It will be difficult for him to make it to an active roster, but reaching one goal first will help in his pursuit.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off on Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

justinrogers

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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

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), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
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), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
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), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TEWill Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh)
CZane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

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 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) 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-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

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

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlprPUyKL8M[/youtube]

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)

justinrogers

If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11”, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36hhdBm9QU[/youtube]

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

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

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCO9L3kFDrg[/youtube]

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

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

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwr7WlO77E[/youtube]

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPDvs5vvAM[/youtube]

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

kemarscarlett

Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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stevan

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Like Florence & The Machine said, “The Pro Days are over.”

Well maybe those weren’t the exact lyrics from Florence Welch and company, but the statement remains true.

Draft season has officially shifted from Pro Days to private visits 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), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
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), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)
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), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TEWill Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
CZane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia)
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), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah)

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 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) 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-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

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

DE Christian Ballard (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgvSsE5tLI[/youtube]

Ballard is one of a number of Defensive Ends that has wandered over to Owings Mills during Draft season.

The Ravens are clearly in need of a rush end, and have looked at a number of players who could fit the role. Ballard (6’4″, 283 pounds) managed to tally eight combined sacks over his junior and senior campaigns with the Hawkeyes despite playing part of that time on the interior of the line.

Ballard has shown good speed during Draft season, trimming his 40 time from 4.75 at the Combine to 4.70 at his Pro Day in Iowa City. He’s not a first round pick, but he is a player the Ravens could consider as early as the second round.

They may have addressed rush end before that. Ballard’s teammate Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and a number of other players are all higher on the board. The Ravens have a GLARING need at the position. If they don’t address it in the first, don’t be surprised if they address it with Ballard.

OT James Brewer (Indiana)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X01sxTrZZY[/youtube]

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Ravens have hosted Brewer at 1 Winning Drive, but we do know that the team paid special interest to Brewer’s Pro Day in Bloomington.

The Ravens have an issue along their O-Line. OT Jared Gaither is an unrestricted free agent and there are just a few question marks surrounding him. OT Michael Oher may or may not have a future at LT. G/T Marshal Yanda probably needs to return to being a Guard only.

The team will have to make some decisions.

Brewer (6’6″, 323 pounds) could help in that decision making process. He’s not a first round talent, but he looks like someone who is going to be able to play fairly early on if selected late Friday or early Saturday.

There is a SMALL issue with Brewer…he’s from Indianapolis. If he roots for the Colts, that could be trouble.

But otherwise, he has to be a legitimate option to help new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Stevan Ridley (LSU)

stevan

Unlike Ravens RB Ray Rice, Ridley’s game is much about power than speed (his 4.65 40 time at the Combine was better than either of his runs at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge). That could be a recipe to get him to Charm City, as the team may well lose both RB Willis McGahee (expected to be released) and FB Le’Ron McClain (Unrestricted Free Agent) this offseason.

Ridley might not be massive, but he packs 225 pounds in a 5’11” frame. He has the look of a third down/red zone weapon at the next level, which is part of what the Ravens will be looking for in their backfield this offseason.

Ridley had just one big season with the Tigers before declaring for the Draft a year early. After rushing for just 272 yards and four TD’s combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he exploded for 1,147 yards and 15 TD’s as a junior. Clearly part of the reason for leaving early was to save some “tread” on his tires.

The Ravens paid special attention to Ridley at the Combine, where they learned more about why he was voted a team captain as a junior. He’s not a Thursday night pick and probably not a Friday night pick either. As the Draft wares into Saturday, he’ll look more and more appealing to the Ravens-who need to give Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron a change of pace option in the backfield.

CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DwCYgqHWk[/youtube]

Just to recap the Ravens’ CB situation this offseason-Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents; Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. Lardarius Webb is the only corner that saw the field last season that remains fully under contract.

Clearly new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will need SOMETHING in his defensive backfield, be it returning players or newcomers.

Marsh is an intriguing option who has already visited General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company in Owings Mills. He was very much under the radar screen playing for the Aggies, but his 6’1″, 197 pound size and 4.42 speed have been undeniable during Draft season.

Marsh initially garnered attention for his matchup abilities against Boise State receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He received a Senior Bowl invite but missed the week due to a hamstring injury.

Marsh could come off the board as early as Friday night. If the Ravens don’t select a cornerback in Round 1, he could be a legitimate option after that point.

DE Ricky Elmore (Arizona)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtE9qFonW7s[/youtube]

The Ravens have shown equal interest in Elmore and fellow former ‘Zona DE Brooks Reed, as both have shown an ability to get after Pac 10 quarterbacks.

Elmore tallied 21 combined sacks between his junior and senior seasons, finishing his Wildcats career with 25 sacks overall. During Draft season he’s been training with Clay Matthews Sr. (whose son is a pretty good pass rusher himself) in an attempt to even further improve his ability to get after QB’s.

Elmore is a physical beast, measuring in at 6’5″, 255 pounds. He’s not blazing fast (4.88 40 at the Combine), but he’s deceptively quick for his size.

As I mentioned with Ballard, the Ravens have to be desperate for rush help on the edge. If they select an end Thursday (or early Friday), they’ll likely want him to be someone who also has the ability to stand up in a 3-4 defense.

If they don’t go DE early, Elmore could be a better option later into the Draft (likely Saturday). Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company will have to determine how quickly Elmore could make an impact.

S Will Hill (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQK0xhpkE4Y&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Hill’s size (6’1″, 202 pounds) and decent speed (4.64 40) as well as his overall football ability (four interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville) should make him a solid Free Safety prospect.

Yet despite the Ravens showing interest in Hill at the Combine, he’s viewed as a borderline possibility to get picked anywhere in the Draft.

Hill’s issues are more off the field than they are on the field. He had some problems with his Twitter account-as well documented by the website “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

Hill later claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the damage was certainly done-and Hill didn’t exactly win everyone over with his comments about the incident at the Combine.

There are clear question marks off the field, which are clouding the ability he could have on the field. The Ravens appear to be in the safety market this offseason, as SS Dawan Landry is an unrestricted free agent and FS Ed Reed is…well…not getting any younger or healthier. Reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura give them options to plug in, but they’ll certainly look for depth.

Should the Ravens not select a safety at all early in the Draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could take a chance on a player like Hill late in the Draft. After taking risks on DT Terrence Cody and LB Sergio Kindle early in the Draft last season, they might not be as quick to take a chance on a player with a red flag in this year’s Draft.

CB Chris Culliver (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jFfXPtIMlk[/youtube]

As I mentioned with Marsh, the Ravens have secondary issues this offseason. They’ll need to address them SOMEHOW, and Culliver could be part of that.

Culliver is a 6’0″, 199 pound corner who tallied four sacks and three interceptions during his Gamecocks career. (All three picks came in 2008.) He’s coming off a torn pec that caused him to miss the final six games of his 2010 campaign.

Of all of the corners on the Ravens’ active roster in 2010, only Williams (6’1″) is as big as Culliver. None have the blazing speed (4.36 40 at the Combine…which he stood on instead of running at his Pro Day in Columbia) that Culliver has.

Culliver paid a visit to Owings Mills during Draft season to meet with Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company. They likely wanted to see how fluid he was in coverage, as he played just one season at corner in the SEC after converting from safety.

The other nice option with Culliver is his potential involvement in the return game. Culliver finished his SC career with a school record 2,476 return yards. The Ravens got solid production from Webb and WR David Reed/RB Jalen Parmele in the PR and KR roles respectively last season, but they certainly didn’t do so much that they have to be considered locks to return in the roles. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t be disappointed to add another return man if the Ravens were to use a late Friday or early Saturday selection on Culliver.

G Will Rackley (Lehigh)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXM8yMXOHM[/youtube]

The Ravens have certainly had no trouble using a pick in the top half of the Draft on interior linemen before.

G Ben Grubbs (1st round), C/G Chris Chester (2nd round), G/T Marshal Yanda (3rd round) and St. Louis Rams C Jason Brown (4th round) have all been players the Ravens have selected early, and they’ve received mostly good results from the selections.

The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring need amongst their interior linemen, but there are certainly issues to be addressed.

While Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to return Yanda to Guard, he’s an restricted free agent that could depart in the offseason. Even if he stays, the Ravens could be faced with a need to have him stay at RT should the team not re-sign Gaither or not Draft/Sign a better option at the position. After getting a second round tender, Chester (also a restricted free agent) is expected to return, but the team would prefer to have him play a utility role along the line instead of being penciled in at RG.

Rackley could be the type of player who could step in and play RG immediately. The 6’3″, 309 pound lineman turned a number of heads during East West Shrine Game week, showing he was quite capable of playing against big time opposition despite his FCS background.

Rackley was a four year starter for the Mountain Hawks, dominating Patriot League opposition. Clearly the AFC North (and the likes of DT’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Casey Hampton) will offer more significant opposition. Rackley is expected to be a Friday night pick, which could certainly be a legitimate place for the Ravens to jump up and grab him.

CB Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jksB_vrsM[/youtube]

Similar to Curtis Marsh, Skrine is going to be looking to overcome a lower level of competition to make a name for himself as a National Football League corner. But Skrine (who played in the Southern Conference) has many more questions about competition to overcome than Marsh-who played his ball in the WAC.

Skrine (5’10”, 186 pounds) has great speed (4.37 40 at the Combine-but rumored to have actually been as fast as 4.29) and finished his Mocs career with five interceptions.

The Ravens both attended Skrine’s Pro Day and hosted him in Owings Mills in March.

The biggest question surrounding Skrine is whether or not he can play press coverage against NFL receivers, many of whom will have a slight to significant height advantage.

If the Ravens feel like he could be, it would make him a solid option late Friday or early Saturday.

LB Justin Houston (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR0L2RVId90[/youtube]

Houston appears to be a true standup OLB instead of a down DE, which could help as the Ravens try to find pass rush help.

At 6’3″, 270 pounds; Houston was considered “undersized” to play along the D-Line for the Bulldogs, so he was moved to the outside. He responded to the move by producing 10 sacks in 2010; finishing his career in Athens with 19 sacks total.

Houston’s size and solid speed (he trimmed his 40 time down to 4.57 at his Pro Day) make him a borderline first round pick. The Ravens are obviously in the market for pass rush help (more specifically someone to team with LB Terrell Suggs), and they have hosted Houston in Owings Mills during Draft season.

The only obvious red flag with Houston is a 2009 suspension by UGA coach Mark Richt for an unspecified violation of team rules.

While the team seems unlikely to trade out of the 26th spot this year, Houston could be the type of available player that would make them feel like they could. Should Houston be available in the 30-40 range, the Ravens would likely feel as though they got #26 value after trading back.

-G

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