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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

The annual NFL Scouting Combine is underway at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. WNST.net will be live in Indy this weekend to provide coverage of the Combine.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest from the place our friend Merton likes to call “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” There will also be nearly day long coverage of the events in Indy throughout the weekend on NFL Network.

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)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
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)
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)
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)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (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-A preview of players who will participate in this weekend’s 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 towards the Combine.

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.

CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vY06HXzEb0[/youtube]

When looking at Smith’s senior season in Boulder, it might seem odd that he didn’t record a single interception. But Smith was only thrown on about 20 times in man coverage during his senior campaign, so his opportunities were limited.

More impressive for Smith was that over his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes combined, he allowed just 11 receptions-only one of which was a first down. (He gave up one touchdown in his senior season.)

That lead Smith to gaining very deserved All-Big 12 honors.

The most appealing part of Smith’s candidacy as a first round pick is that he’s 6’2″, 205 pounds. That’s an ideal size for a potential shutdown corner in the National Football League.

The other appealing part about Smith is that he’s not afraid to tackle. He finished his Buffs career with 160 of them. Deion Sanders he’s not-at least through the first 22 years of his life.

Smith is likely going to be available when the Ravens pick at 26th. With Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all expected to become unrestricted free agents, Smith could be a very intriguing possibility.

QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHJTeM4S3I[/youtube]

Tyrod Taylor is not Michael Vick.

That being said, if I represented Tyrod Taylor I’d do my best to make sure the name Michael Vick was mentioned as much as possible during Draft season.

Taylor was certainly explosive at times during his career in Blacksburg. He was responsible for 67 career touchdowns (44 passing, 23 rushing) and thew for over 5,000 yards between his junior and senior seasons combined.

Hokies fans were frustrated by his decision making at times, and he certainly took advantage of lesser competition (572 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010 came in back to back games against Duke and Wake Forest).

He’s 6’1″, 216 pounds and VERY quick (expected to clock in near 4.5 when he runs the 40). He has plenty of upside. He had a solid week at the Citrus Bowl during Shrine Game week. He plans on staying at quarterback, unlike fellow former Va Tech QB Marcus Vick-who was willing to try Wide Receiver during the Draft process.

He’s not likely to find his way into the fray any earlier than mid-Saturday. The Ravens aren’t likely to address the QB position before that point, as they will simply be looking for depth behind Joe Flacco in case free agent backup Marc Bulger departs.

It could be a fit. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be.

RB Jordan Todman (UConn)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucXw_CW2ov0[/youtube]

Todman might be too similar in size to current Ravens RB Ray Rice (he’s 5’9″, 193 pounds; Rice is 5’8″, 212 pounds) to be a true complement in the Charm City backfield, but that doesn’t mean he might not be an option.

The Ravens will still have the option of retaining FB Le’Ron McClain and using him as more of a compliment to Rice, which could enable them to find depth later on with a player like Todman.

Todman didn’t really play a Ray Rice-type role in the Huskies offense, either. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in both his junior and senior seasons, combining for 2,883 rushing yards and 28 TD’s between the two seasons. He caught just 40 passes in the same span.

Will his size allow for him to be a consistent runner at the next level? We’ll have to see. He’s smaller than Willis McGahee (who the Ravens are expected to let go), but he would bring fresher legs-and pottentially a fresher attitude.

Todman replaced a very good back in Donald Brown and more than lived up to the the standard. But despite winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, he’s probably a late Friday night or early Saturday selection.

That might be around the time when General Manager Ozzie Newsome considers a RB.

S Ahmad Black (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MswzKgJ8DBc[/youtube]

What has made Ed Reed a future Hall of Fame safety in Baltimore has been the fact that he’s had a nose for the football.

It’s not the same level, but there’s no question Black had a nose for the football during his four seasons in Gainesville.

Black finished his Gators career with 13 interceptions (3 of which he returned for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles. He also collected 227 tackles and two sacks. I think it’s fair to use the word “playmaker” to describe him.

At 5’9″, 190 pounds; Black isn’t as big as Reed. With that in mind, he’s not really expected to be a free safety at the NFL level and play centerfield the way Reed does.

But with Dawan Landry a possibility to depart when free agency finally begins, the Ravens could use general depth at the position all around.

Black will go early. Perhaps too early for a team that still counts Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski as options at the position.

WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt)

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

His numbers over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh were very good but a bit short of earth shattering.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 TD’s.

But there’s another number for Baldwin that is much more significant and makes him a likely first round pick after just three seasons at Heinz Field.

6’5″.

Baldwin’s unreal combination of size and speed (he’s believed to be able to post a sub 4.5 at the home of the Colts this weekend) makes him a potentially VERY dangerous downfield threat at the next level.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens need EXACTLY that type of receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The question is now whether or not Baldwin sticks around to 26, or would it be worth it for John Harbaugh and company to try to move up to make sure they come away with him?

Not every tall, fast receiver selected early in the Draft has panned out and become a legitimate offensive superstar in the NFL. If the Ravens don’t walk away with Baldwin in the Draft, they’d still have free agency (should free agency ever actually happen) to consider addressing the need with a potential free agent like Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.

If he’s there at 26, I’d have to imagine it would be hard to pass up on him.

FB Owen Marecic (Stanford)

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

Two things to start. One-Marecic is NOT going to play both sides of the ball in the NFL the way he did with the Cardinal. Two-I know he’s white and he played for Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, but Marecic is NOT Toby Gerhart. The comparisons would be unfair.

With all of that said, Marecic is a VERY interesting prospect. He won the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 as the most versatile player in college football. In one game against Notre Dame, he ran for a TD and returned an INT for a TD within the span of 13 seconds.

Even without playing defense at the next level, the Ravens could certainly find ways to use his versatility. He’d be an immediate candidate to help Jerry Rosburg in Special Teams and would be truly valuable should Le’Ron McClain depart or be moved into more of a true halfback role.

Marecic certainly handled short yardage situations for Stanford, scoring 10 combined touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons on just 48 total touches.

John Harbaugh should know a thing or two about Marecic both from his brother and since his father (Jack Harbaugh) coached Marecic for a month in 2009 leading up to the Sun Bowl. He appears to be the exact type of football player would love, and should stay on the board until at least midway through the day Saturday.

LB Nate Irving (NC State)

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

After the Ravens selected Paul Kruger in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was more discussion about Kruger overcoming a stabbing than there was about his actual football ability.

Should the Ravens select Irving this year, be prepared for a similar amount of discussion about things not related to football.

Irving missed the entire 2009 after a car accident that caused a number of serious injuries. Irving suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and told reporters that summer he felt “blessed” to be alive.

Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack felt “blessed” to have him return to the football field in 2010, as he tallied 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He finished his NCSU career with 211 tackles, nine sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There has been some question as to whether or not Irving (6’1″, 235 pounds) can play Inside Linebacker at the NFL level. There are also of course questions as to whether any of the Ravens’ trio of Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain can REALLY play ILB at the NFL level either.

And we all know Ray Lewis isn’t getting younger.

Irving is probably a Saturday selection, and teams will clearly be paying very close attention to the medical portion of his Combine participation this weekend. The Ravens have taken chances on players with red flags before, but after selecting Sergio Kindle last year, they might be a bit more guarded in their decision making.

DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT2-mRCgX0[/youtube]

There’s no secret that new Defensive Coordinator DESPERATELY needs a true rush end, as the Ravens failed to find a complement for Terrell Suggs along the Defensive Line last year.

It’s also no secret that Watt is one of the top D-End prospects in the country, having collected 11 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s during his two seasons in Madison after transferring from Central Michigan.

Watt is a 6’6″, 292 pound monster who wrecked havoc on Big Ten passers during his two seasons with the Badgers. His 21 Tackles for Loss in 2009 resulted in 91 lost yards for opponents.

Does that sound like something the Ravens could use?

The good news for the Ravens is that there are a number of First Round DE prospects in this year’s Draft, including Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey who we have already profiled. Given the number of DE prospects, there’s a chance a player like Watt could stay on the board until 26th, but it is no guarantee.

If Watt’s available, it would be very difficult for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to pass up on such a talented player at such a position of need.

C Kris O’Dowd (USC)

odowd

Southern Cal became a bit of an “Offensive Lineman U” during the Pete Carroll era, producing the likes of Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons), Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Winston Justice (Philadelphia Eagles) and more.

O’Dowd is the next in the line of Trojans lineman who is expected to make the transition to the NFL level.

He’s 6’4″, 303 pounds and was part of an O-Line that blocked for the 3rd leading rushing attack in the Pac 10 last season, behind just Oregon and Stanford. He made an immediate impact upon arriving in Malibu, becoming the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for USC since 1996.

Teams will be taking a particularly important look at O’Dowd medically in Indianapolis, as he battled knee and shoulder injuries during his college career. With Matt Birk expected to be playing in his final season in 2011, the Ravens could do well to spend a Saturday selection on a player like O’Dowd.

And if you’re at all concerned about O’Dowd off this field, this ESPN piece about his relationship with a young man named Jake Olson should probably ease those concerns…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhY4RnQLaOc[/youtube]

WR Greg Salas (Hawaii)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH94OG2Fcko[/youtube]

Salas’ numbers in 2010 were almost unreal.

The young man from Chino, California caught 119 balls for a ridiculous 1,889 yards and 14 TD’s for the Warriors as a senior. It wrapped up an amazing career in Honolulu that saw him catch 285 passes for 4,345 yards and 26 TD’s-the overwhelming majority of which came in his final three seasons.

Those numbers are amazing.

The problem with Salas is that there’s nothing about him in particular that would make him stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps. He’s not terribly big (6’2″, 210 pounds) and isn’t lightning fast either (expected to post a 40 time in the mid 4.5′s in Indy).

With will-be free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth significant question marks to return, there’s no easy place to see Salas fitting in at the top with Boldin and Mason in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But the Ravens do need to find more receivers should Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh (and Marcus Smith who is also a free agent) depart. There is no doubt that Salas can catch the football. Should he stick around late into Saturday, he would have to be a player Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company would want to consider.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

If the NFL Draft is the “Super Bowl” of NFL Draft season, I believe next week’s trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for the NFL Scouting Combine would qualify as the end of the regular season.

After next week, the Draft season “playoffs” begin as players hold Pro Timing Days on college campuses and private workouts at National Football League facilities.

Before I continue, I remind you of the East West Shrine Game players, the NFLPA Game players, the Senior Bowl prospects and the rest of the Draft prospects we have already profiled.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
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)
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)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International)

The Baltimore Ravens made some personnel changes this week, adding CB Marcus Paschal and WR Brandon Jones. Both of those players are little more than guys who are getting Training Camp tryouts.

The team placed the franchise tag on DT Haloti Ngata ensuring his return for at least the 2011 season (if there is one). They also worked out free agent DC Reynaldo Hill.

Despite all of that, 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 towards the Combine.

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.

CB Aaron Williams (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5oUaOLG-yE[/youtube]

Our buddy Scott Wright from DraftCountdown.com had the Ravens selecting the 6’1″ junior Longhorns DB at 26th a week ago. (He’s since switched to Colorado CB Jimmy Smith.)

I’m not sure I agreed with the mock, but I definitely wouldn’t be up in arms if Williams was the pick.

Williams has one unique advantage as a 6’1″ corner-the advantage of being two or three inches taller than any corner on the Ravens’ roster (not named Cary Williams).

Williams is best known for the sack that ended the career of then Oklahoma (and now St. Louis Rams) QB Sam Bradford. Unfortunately his senior season might have been most remembered for a TD he gave up to Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. Blackmon burned a few folks during the 2010 season to be fair.

But Williams was very good for the better part of his three seasons in Austin. He finished his career with 89 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions-including one he returned for a TD.

There’s a good chance he’s on the board at 26. He definitely won’t reach to the team’s pick in the second round. They could possibly trade back and get him-but with question marks surrounding CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington in free agency-GM Ozzie Newsome and company might not be able to take that chance.

WR Torrey Smith (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A_6n_eoI2o[/youtube]

I know what you’re thinking.

“How could I possibly not know everything there is to know about Torrey Smith? I listen to him every Tuesday at 12:30 with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST!”

While I INDEED suggest checking out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net to hear more from the former Terrapins star, I figured I might pass along a little more information as well.

Smith may ultimately go down as a player who would have been better off sticking around for one more year to make himself a first round pick, but there’s also a chance he’ll be a player whose Draft season alone makes him a first round pick.

Smith will run one of the more important 40 yard dashes at LucasOil Stadium next week, where is expected to post a sub-4.40 time. The only thing working against him will be the fact that fellow former Terps WR Darrius Heyward-Bey lit the Combine on fire two years ago but has disappointed since being selected in the Top 10 by the Oakland Raiders.

Smith wouldn’t address a size need for the Ravens (he’s 6’1″), but he would certainly address a speed need-which Donte’ Stallworth was unable to do during his season in Charm City.

Smith saved his best for last in College Park, grabbing 67 catches for 1,055 yards and 12 TD’s. The only disappointment for Smith in 2010 was his return game, as he tallied just 585 return yards after combining for 2,498 yards and 3 return TD’s between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

While Lardarius Webb and David Reed each came on at the end of the season in their respective return roles, it’s safe to say neither have particularly locked their roles down.

Smith could offer a lot to the Ravens. 26th might be a stretch as of now, but as he rises in Draft season it could very well be the exact spot where he ends up. Before they pull the plug, they’ll probably want to encourage Smith to improve some of the company he keeps…

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

OT Anthony Costanzo (Boston College)

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

At this point, it seems unlikely that the Eagles’ 6’7″, 308 pound monster will be around when the Ravens are on the clock at 26.

But with the Jared Gaither situation still very much up in the air and question marks surrounding Michael Oher’s long-term stability at LT; it might be a good decision for Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company to make a move for a player of Costanzo’s stature.

Costanzo had a remarkable career in Chestnut Hill, having been a starter for four seasons. He was the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for BC in ten years during the 2007 season-which we remember as the year Matt Ryan was a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Costanzo had a big week in Mobile, showing off his quick feet and long arms. More impressive (according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com) was his frame, as he displayed a muscular torso despite his mammoth size.

He’s not quite (Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl OT) Joe Thomas as a prospect-but he’s really good. There’s a chance he could become Joe Thomas at the next level.

DE Brooks Reed (Arizona)

brooksreed

There has been plenty of attention given during Draft season to Wildcats DE Ricky Elmore, but Reed is certainly deserving of note himself.

Reed boasts an impressive 6’3″, 262 pound frame and tallied 17 sacks during his career in Tucson. There has been discussion of whether or not he can be and end at the next level or if he’s going to end up being a stand-up guy.

With the Ravens very obviously needing End help, he would have much more potential value to Chuck Pagano’s defense as an end than an OLB. The question is whether or not he can provide a consistent rush from the end position, and we don’t quite know the answer to that.

Reed has plenty of athleticism, having played RB as well as DE in high school. It doesn’t guarantee he’ll be a great athlete at the NFL level, but it certainly speaks to his versatility.

WR Randall Cobb (Kentucky)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i09R28AWgFU[/youtube]

It is REALLY hard to figure out how valuable the former Wildcats star will be at the next level.

During three seasons in Lexington, Cobb played quarterback, running back, receiver and returner. Between the four positions, he was responsible for 42 total touchdowns over those three seasons.

As a more natural receiver in 2010, Cobb was very impressive. He grabbed 84 catches for 1,017 yards and seven TD’s. But it’s hard to figure out if Cobb can make a seamless transition to being a natural receiver at the NFL level.

With a 5’11″ frame, Cobb is going to have to be FAST to really be a dynamic threat in the NFL. At a Pro Timing Day last season, he ran just a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash. Scouts will need to see a time better than that in Indiana next week.

Cobb’s 40 time could be the difference in going as high as the first round or as low as the fourth round. It seems as though 26th would be a stretch for a team like the Ravens, as Cobb probably has to be viewed as a “project” for folks like Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta.

But if Cobb ends up slipping, a project might not be a bad addition to the team’s receiving corps; as long as they further address the need to compliment Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason with a true top target.

OT Joseph Barksdale (LSU)

barksdale

After moving from Right to Left Tackle between his junior and senior seasons, Barksdale has seen his draft stock continue to rise.

The 6’6″, 318 pound big man made the move to the left side for the 2010 season after Ciron Black graduated. The move appears to have paid off, as Barksdale is currently projected amongst the top 10 tackles available in the Draft. He’s not in the Thursday or Friday night conversation as of right now, but he could be moving in that direction as Draft season continues.

Barksdale claimed second team All-SEC honors during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge, helping the Tigers finish 4th in the conference in rushing. He tallied 49 knockdowns at the most important position on the line.

Head Coach John Harbaugh has said he wants OL Marshal Yanda to return to RG (if he returns to the team as a free agent). To do that, the team has to get a player to complement Oher and solidify the tackle position. As the Draft progresses to Friday night/Saturday, Barksdale will be a more attractive option for new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Shane Vereen (California)

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

The Ravens will be looking for a back to compliment Ray Rice should Willis McGahee (as many of us are expecting) be let go. Vereen might very well be a solid option.

Vereen isn’t a big back, but his 5’10″ (205 pound) frame was big enough to allow him to carry the ball 15 or more times in nine of the Golden Bears’ 12 games in 2010. Vereen finished the year with a 5.1 yard per carry average, adding 13 TD’s.

Vereen finished his three year career in Berkeley having rushed 556 times for 2,834 yards and 29 TD’s. He added 874 receiving yards and six receiving TD’s over the three seasons. His numbers (and build) are similar to fellow former Bears back Marshawn Lynch.

Vereen could play his way up the board during Draft season, but without having participated in a College All-Star Game as an early entry his only Draft season statement thus far was an appearance on ESPN2′s All-Star Football Challenge. He’s probably a late Friday night pick right now, which could be the perfect spot for the Ravens to plug him into Cam Cameron’s offense.

DE Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnVMrltDc4[/youtube]

Much like Arizona’s Reed, the Ravens are going to have to determine if Matthews can be a true rush end at the NFL level.

He certainly did a solid job in the role during his four years in Columbia, tallying 13 sacks between his junior and senior seasons. Matthews finished his Gamecocks career with 142 total tackles from the edge.

The Ravens haven’t found a true rush end since the demise (and ultimate departure) of Trevor Pryce. They rotated Ngata, Paul Kruger and even Cory Redding on the edge last season, with none of them settling into the role.

Matthews would certainly bring an impressive frame (6’4″, 268 pounds) to anchor the line, as well as a fairly high motor (expected to run the 40 in the 4.7′s range). He often went against premiere O-Linemen in the SEC (including Barksdale above) and had success.

Early in Draft season, Matthews is a Saturday pick-probably in the 4th-5th round range. It would make sense for the team to draft an end earlier in the weekend, but Matthews could certainly end up being an additional insurance policy.

CB Jalil Brown (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84WC_f_3Ip4[/youtube]

While more attention is given to his Buffaloes teammate Smith, Brown certainly has the tools to play at the next level.

Brown (6’0″) isn’t quite as tall as Smith (6’2″), but his size does separate him from other corners in the draft-as well as the corners on the Ravens’ roster. Only Cary Williams (6’1″) from last year’s roster is taller than Brown, although Paschal is also 6’0″. The Ravens’ top corners under contract (Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb) are 5’11″ and 5’10″ respectively.

Brown had a solid career in Boulder, finishing with six interceptions over his final three seasons. His performance was good enough to pick up All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. There may be some concern for NFL scouts due to a shoulder surgery between his junior and senior seasons-but it did not appear to affect him during his senior campaign.

Brown’s 40 time in Indianapolis will go a long way in determining where he will be picked. If he stays in the range of 4.5, he’ll probably be an early Saturday pick. If he cuts under 4.5, he’ll have a chance to be picked Friday night. If he ends up posting a number over 4.5, he’ll be in danger of sliding to late Saturday.

The former Buffs corner has a unique connection to the Ravens. He set an Arizona High School record by once running for 412 yards in a game at South Mountain High School. The player who previously held the record? Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.

S Rahim Moore (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im2SZjMaO2A[/youtube]

With Ed Reed’s future almost always in jeopardy and Dawan Landry a free agent, the safety position will have to be addressed by the Ravens in the offseason.

Moore exploded on the Pac 10 scene in 2009, recording 10 interceptions for the Bruins. He tallied just one interception as a junior however before leaving Los Angeles early for the Draft.

While his interception numbers were down in 2010, his tackle numbers increased greatly. He tallied 77 tackles, up from 45 as a sophomore.

Moore has an impressive build (6’1″, 197 pounds) and can work his way up the Draft board by going under 4.5 when he runs the 40 yard dash at the Combine.

He looks like a Friday night pick as of right now. The Ravens could do well to pick him in the second round.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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NFL Draft Season Moves To Alabama For Senior Bowl

Posted on 26 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

NFL Personnel folks didn’t have to travel far this week.

After this past week’s East West Shrine Game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, NFL Draft season shifts from Florida to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl.

Saturday’s game from Ladd-Peebles Stadium will air at 4pm on NFL Network. Senior Bowl practices will also air throughout the week on NFL Network.

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a group representing the organization in Alabama.

Before I continue to with my player profiles, I remind you of the players we have already profiled.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware)
FB-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland)
WR-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU)
OT-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada)
DE-Justin Trattou (Florida)
S-Jermale Hines (Ohio State)

With the only movement for the organization this week being the (reported) extension the team gave K Billy Cundiff, there’s no movement in my “biggest areas of need”…

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

Now here’s a look at 10 players participating in this week’s Senior Bowl who you should keep an eye out for.

WR Leonard Hankerson (Miami)

Look, I don’t want to watch this video again any more than any other Terrapins fans reading this. But the 1:40 mark is a perfect example of something Hankerson could bring to Charm City…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6lp4sxzFlQ[/youtube]

Ugh.

Here’s what we know. Hankerson is 6’2″ (205 pounds), but can both stretch the field and get up and get balls-although maybe not quite as well as some of the 6’4″ and 6’5″ receivers available.

Hankersoon broke Hurricanes single season records in 2010 with 72 catches, 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had 75 receiving yards or more in eight of the Canes’ 13 games his senior year.

Those single season records come from a school that produced the likes of Andre Johnson, Santana Moss and Michael Irvin just as a reminder.

There really aren’t any red flags with Hankerson. There are no obvious character flaws (although he’ll certainly be picked apart when he reaches the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis) and he served as a team captain in Coral Gables last season.

If he was two inches taller, he’d be a slam dunk. If he’s on the board in the 2nd or 3rd round he might still be.

LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzZUA5CZ6IQ[/youtube]

The good news for Mark Herzlich is that no matter what happens in his quest to reach the NFL, he already has enough material for writing his first book.

Herzlich is best known now for his recovery from Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that caused him to miss the entire 2009 season. But before getting cancer, Herzlich was on his way to being a potential Top 45 pick in the NFL Draft.

In ’08, Herzlich tallied 110 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, six interceptions and two TD returns. He was an absolute wrecking machine.

He was still one of the better linebackers in the ACC when he returned in 2010, but he didn’t post the same type of season. He finished with just 65 tackles, but still forced two fumbles and brought down four interceptions.

He looks like he can still perform at a very high level, but it isn’t a guarantee. NFL teams will take his recovery into account, but they will look at both the positive and negative aspects.

On the positive side, he’s a solid human being who has already shown the ability to to overcome adversity.

On the negative side, teams will have to at least CONSIDER the possibility that he might not ever regain the dominance he showed in Chestnut Hill before his diagnosis.

He might very well be a hell of a player, perhaps the exact type of defender the Ravens could line up next to Ray Lewis and let him learn from the future Hall of Famer.

Neat story-Herzlich was such an impressive athlete coming out of Conestoga High School (Pennsylvania) that was actually offered a lacrosse scholarship by Dave Pietramala at Johns Hopkins. Doesn’t make him a better option, just a neat story.

OT Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjPsgcj2ufI[/youtube]

While Carimi will almost certainly at least START his National Football League career as a Right Tackle, his 6’7″, 325 pound frame will make some scouts think of him as a Left Tackle of the future.

Carimi’s representatives will ABSOLUTELY throw around the name of Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl Tackle Joe Thomas during Draft season. Thomas was also a dominant O-Line force for the Badgers, although he was thought to be more of a slam dunk at the NFL level than Carimi has been thus far.

Not only does Carimi have a solid ability to protect the passer, but he showed quite the ability to run block as well. The Badgers finished second in the league in rushing, just five yards behind Illinois. RB John Clay rushed for over 1,000 yards despite missing two games.

Mobile is a big week for Carimi. Indy will be a big week for him as well. His size and his success in the Big Ten (not only did he take care of NFL prospect/Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward for the most part in the video above, he also handled NFL prospect/Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn as well) combined with a strong Draft season could push him to the Top 10 in the Draft.

But much like Michael Oher, if he’s around in the early to mid 20′s (especially at 26), the Ravens might not think twice to grab him. With Jared Gaither’s future in Baltimore in question, the Ravens could be wise to try to bookend Oher and Carimi moving forward.

LB Casey Matthews (Oregon)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUz2o2a_OXA[/youtube]

As NFL fans watched Matthews lead the Ducks against the Auburn Tigers in the BCS Championship Game out in Glendale, many of them thought to themselves, “this guy could really help my team.”

Some of those same NFL fans will be watching Clay Matthews (III) lead the Green Bay Packers against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl next week and will think to themselves “my team needs to get his brother.”

It’s with that in mind that I point out Casey Matthews ISN’T Clay Matthews. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player that could help NFL teams, it just means he isn’t the type of sack machine his brother has been.

Casey Matthews is more of inside linebacker, perhaps the type of player that could step in and learn the WILL spot that Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden have failed to nail down.

Matthews is 6’1″ and 232 but isn’t quite as quick as a number of other inside linebackers. He averaged over 69 tackles a season from his sophomore year to his senior in Eugene; adding eight sacks, four interceptions and a forced fumble over the same three year span.

The NFL is clearly in his blood. Not only is his brother an All-Pro performer, his father (Clay Jr.) was a four time Pro Bowler over a 19 year career with the Browns and Atlanta Falcons. His grandfather (Clay Sr.) played for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950′s. His uncle (Bruce) was a Hall of Fame OL for the Houston Oilers. His cousin (Kevin) is a lineman for the Tenneessee Titans. His cousin (Jake) just finished his freshman season at Texas A&M and could well reach the NFL too.

He looks like he could hang around for awhile on Draft weekend. If he’s available into late Friday night or Saturday, he could end up being a steal for the Ravens.

(Thanks to Mobile Press-Register for headline photo of Matthews)

DE Allen Bailey (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-A6SlfWKPo[/youtube]

The Ravens need a Defensive End. Unfortunately for them, Bailey has looked better on the inside of the D-Line in Mobile-at least according to CBSSports.com.

Bailey measured in at 6’3″, 278 pounds in Mobile; which reportedly left him at a not-so-surprising disadvantage when matched up against the better Offensive Tackles participating in the Senior Bowl. It might be nothing more than a blip on the radar screen for a player who will eventually become a dominant Rush End. It might be a sign that Bailey will never truly be an End at the NFL level.

Bailey showed an ability to get after Atlantic Coast Conference quarterbacks, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the next level. He tallied 102 tackles and 19 sacks over his final three seasons with the Canes. He has the moves, but the power is a question.

He might prove to be an effective interior lineman at the next level. But if the consensus is that he’ll be a Defensive Tackle in the NFL, he probably won’t be the guy for the Ravens in the first or second round.

WR Austin Pettis (Boise State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfqGvm5PNuY[/youtube]

Yep. That’s impressive.

There’s a lot that’s impressive about the former Broncos receiver. First, he’s 6’3″ and can get up (as you saw in the video). Second, he’s quick. He’s expected to be able to run in the 4.5′s at LucasOil Stadium.

Pettis finished his career with 229 catches for 2,838 yards and 39 touchdowns. In BSU’s 2010 Labor Day upset of Virginia Tech at FedEx Field, Pettis also blocked a punt and held for an extra point. Later in the season he even THREW for a touchdown.

Clearly some of Pettis’ impressive numbers came from being part of a high-powered WAC offense that included Heisman Trophy QB candidate Kellen Moore and fellow Senior Bowl WR Titus Young. The question will be whether or not he can still be effective at the NFL when a team doesn’t have the football for as many plays and a coordinator (say…Cam Cameron) isn’t calling quite as many passes.

Right now Pettis looks like a potentially dangerous target for QB Joe Flacco if he’s available late Friday night or Saturday afternoon. He could be a solid compliment to Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and whoever else the team lines up at WR.

RB DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBFs5HZwyng[/youtube]

Much like Carimi’s reps will do their best to use the words “Joe Thomas” as much as possible during Draft season, Murray’s reps will ABSOLUTELY look to use the words “Adrian Peterson” as much as possible during the same stretch.

They’ll do well to compare Murray’s explosiveness to the fellow former Sooners back. They’ll unfortunately also remind NFL personnel that Murray (hamstring, knee, etc.) has a bit of an injury background much like Peterson.

Murray’s size (6’1″, 207 pounds) and ability (he once ran a 4.42 40 and recorded a 36.5 inch vertical leap while in Norman) should translate to the NFL with no problem. Murray averaged well over four yards per carry during his career in the Big 12. He ran for 50 touchdowns and caught another 13 over four seasons. The word “explosive” certainly fits.

If he’s available in Round 2, the Ravens would likely do well to pair him with current RB Ray Rice, especially if RB Willis McGahee departs.

QB Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq1gL_Q-vO0[/youtube]

This much I know. In Reno, there couldn’t be a negative word said about Kaepernick. The guy is an ICON.

I understand why. Kaepernick LOOKS like a quarterback. He stands at 6’6″ and weighs in at 225 pounds. He’s unbelievably quick, with the capability to run a 4.5 40 (or maybe even under that) at the Combine.

During his four year career with the Wolf Pack, Kaepernick became the only NCAA FBS quarterback to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for another 4,000. He was also the only player to ever have three seasons of 2,000+ passing yards and 1,000 plus rushing yards.

At times (including the team’s upset win over Boise State in 2010), Kaepernick looked absolutely brilliant.

There will be one particularly big question mark surrounding Kaepernick during Draft season. NFL personnel folks will have to figure out how much of Kaepernick’s success can be tied to Coach Chris Ault’s “Pistol Offense.” The system was fun to watch and produced explosive numbers-but it isn’t a system that will translate to the NFL level. Kaepernick doesn’t really have much in the way of injury concerns, with his only notable injury being an ankle sprain against the Terps in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl.

Kaepernick looks like he could be very good. If he keeps performing at a high level during Draft season, he’ll probably be picked too high for the Ravens to consider him as a compliment to Flacco.

OT Nate Solder (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76BVEBtw-qk[/youtube]

As of right now, Solder looks like he could very well be in the mix when the Ravens pick at 26.

If so, he could be a VERY tempting option to join new Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller’s group.

Solder is an enigma. His technique and ability didn’t always match his mammoth size (6’9″, 315 pounds) during his Buffaloes career. There were absolutely times where he manhandled players who were clearly matchup problems. There were also times where quicker ends and linebackers were able to move around him.

Reports from Mobile say Solder has struggled against players like Cal’s Cameron Jordan, but has impressed against Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan.

He looks like he could be a franchise tackle; but he’ll need further development. The Buffs weren’t really an offensive juggernaut, but that isn’t necessarily Solder’s fault.

The question for the Ravens will be whether or not a project like Solder is a good compliment to Oher. It’s a fair question. They’ll hopefully get an answer as Draft season progresses.

S Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K2Aj0xujxc[/youtube]

I’ve been having trouble trying to figure out exactly how good Jarrett is.

He had a very good career for the Owls, collecting 292 tackles, forcing two fumbles and tallying nine interceptions. He was often the best player on the field during MAC contests.

Yep…no idea.

Jarrett has the look of a NFL player, checking in at 6’2″ and weighing 202 pounds. He’s agile and looks good in man coverage. He’s not necessarily an Ed Reed-type ballhawk; and might translate better at strong safety at the next level.

He’s probably a Friday night guy at this point. With Dawan Landry potentially leaving, he could be an option to get into the mix with Tom Zbikowksi and Haruki Nakamura next season.

(Thanks to YouTube, NFLDraftScout.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, and various official college websites for help in putting together the profiles.)

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

Posted on 22 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

For NFL Draft nerds (like myself), this week has marked the true start to NFL Draft season.

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome lead a group of staffers who traveled to Orlando to watch practice ahead of this year’s annual East West Shrine Game.

With the NFL Draft likely to take place before free agency begins this year, it can be argued that Draft season is more significant than it has been in years past.

Before we start to look at players involved in Draft season, I think we should first identify the Ravens’ biggest areas of need. With free agency still to determine many things, here are the areas where I believe the team most needs to improve.

1. Defensive End-Newsome said this week the team needs a “companion” for LB Terrell Suggs in pass rush. I agree, and I believe it needs to be a true edge rusher.
2. Offensive Tackle-If the team feels comfortable with bringing back Jared Gaither (and Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated they were), re-signing him could address the problem. If not, they’ll need to upgrade.
3. Wide Receiver-The Ravens will have to make decisions on TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth; but need to come away with a big receiver and a speed receiver that can both be counted on offensively.
4. Cornerback-Only Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb are under contract, so the team needs to make decisions on Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Fabian Washington and Cary Williams. Either way, they would be well served to add a bigger, more physical corner.
5. Fullback-If Le’Ron McClain returns, this wouldn’t be an issue. With the current expectation that he won’t return, the team will be looking for an option here.
6. Inside Linebacker-At the MIKE spot, the team knows Ray Lewis can’t play forever. At the WILL spot, the team has three players (Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe) who are all coming up on some form of free agency and who have not separated themselves from each other at all.
7. Safety-While it doesn’t appear Ed Reed will retire this offseason, the Ravens have to think about the possibility it could happen in the near future. At the same time, Dawan Landry is a free agent and appears to be one of the more likely free agents on the team to get bigger money elsewhere.
8. Center-Whether or not Matt Birk retires (I’ll guess he doesn’t), the team clearly needs to review the position. If Birk returns, it will only be for one more season. I don’t think the team has future plans for Chris Chester in the middle. Daniel Sanders could be an option, but the team might be well to draft a center as well.
9. Running Back-Willis McGahee is a very likely departure this offseason, leaving the team with a need to compliment Ray Rice.
10. Quarterback-If Marc Bulger departs, the Ravens will need someone else to backup Joe Flacco. Hunter Cantwell could be an option, but they might want to at least CONSIDER a doomsday theory scenario with Flacco and draft a mid to late round QB as well.

Some of these positions will be addressed whenever free agency finally does begin, others can be addressed simply by signing the team’s own free agents. Before free agency is even an issue, the Ravens will have to get through Draft season.

Here are a look at 10 players participating in the Shrine Game, which you can watch at 4pm on NFL Network.

RB Evan Royster (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tWf1NOPkL0[/youtube]

After an explosive sophomore season (1,391 yards of total offense and 12 TD’s), Royster immediately gained attention.

Incredibly, he posted two more very steady seasons, tallying 1,356 yards of total offense and 8 TD’s in 2009; 1,216 yards of total offense and 7 TD’s in 2010. He has the size of a back who could compliment Rice (6’1″, 228 pounds) and many scouts think he’ll have a solid career as a third down back at the NFL level.

So what’s the problem? Well, Royster’s biggest performances as a senior came against Temple and Michigan, neither or which can really be considered premiere defenses. He also doesn’t fit the bill of the dynamic backs in the Naitonal Football League currently like Rice, Jacksonville Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew, Houston Texans back Arian Foster, Tennessee Titans back Chris Johnson or Kansas City Chiefs back Jamaal Charles.

As of right now, he’s probably a mid to late round pick. If so, he might be a solid pick-up should McGahee leave Charm City.

WR Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mihM5auuXx0[/youtube]

As the Ravens look for a receiver who can  extend the field, they might want to think about Jean. He’s 6’3″ (and somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds), and has deceptive quickness.

While the Owls don’t exactly play against top caliber opposition in the Sun Belt conference, Jean also managed to post big games against Texas (see above) and Michigan State. He finished the 2010 season with 64 catches for 988 yards and 8 TD’s, wrapping up a career with 146 catches for 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He’s probably a late round pick at this point, but what he does at the Citrus Bowl Saturday and what he does at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis could lift him to late Friday night or early Saturday morning. If the Ravens don’t go receiver early, he could certainly be an option for the team later in the weekend. Jean wasn’t exactly hotly pursued out of High School in Miami, but he could be a hot name in April.

DE Justin Trattou (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DBWhBn75KM[/youtube]

Maybe an interception isn’t the greatest highlight to offer for a player the Ravens would be looking to see handle an edge rush, but I can only work with what I have.

Trattou is a rising end whose size has never matched his ability to bring down a QB. He tallied just 8 sacks over his four seasons in Gainesville despite his 6’4″, 255 pound frame. In fairness, he was surrounded by top notch rushers like Carlos Dunlap during much of his Gators career.

Trattou may pan out to be more of a Dwan Edwards or Cory Redding contain type of end, but NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks says he’s put together an impressive mix of rush moves this week in the shadow of Disney World. If he continues to show a rush presence, he could be an intriguing name for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

S Jermale Hines (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBM7zf2IAw[/youtube]

Hines’ career interception total over four years in Columbus (three) looks more like a single game for a future Hall of Famer like Reed, but that doesn’t mean Hines hasn’t had a nose for the football. The safety from Cleveland also finished his Buckeyes career with 159 tackles and two sacks, and was named first team All-Big Ten by conference coaches in 2010.

At 6’1″, 216 pounds; Hines is bigger than your typical free safety-but is also quick. In fact, Hines could be an option as a returner at the next level as well. He’s as much an athlete as a football player, but his football skills certainly developed well at OSU, and could very well still improve as he reaches the NFL.

As the Ravens approach Saturday, Hines could be a valuable depth option at safety. While Tom Zbikowski handled FS well with Reed on the PUP list, he didn’t necessarily convince anyone he was absolutely the team’s replacement for Reed longterm. Hines could be that type of player someday if groomed appropriately at a young age.

WR Terrence Toliver (LSU)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhIrQn1Nd7w[/youtube]

His numbers are by no means overwhelming, but exactly how many times was Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron able to call a play like the TD pass Toliver caught from Jarrett Lee above?

Exactly.

The Ravens finished 22nd in red zone efficiency in 2010. For the numerous complaints about the lack of creative play-calling, there was only so much for Cameron to work with. Namely, he missed a target the size of Toliver.

Toliver caught just 41 balls for 579 yards and five TD’s during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge. All five TD’s happened either in the Florida game above or in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M, where he caught three.

But there’s another number that’s significantly more important.

6’5″.

The only receiver the Ravens have with such size is James Hardy, and he’s James Hardy. If the Ravens are truly looking to get more dynamic offensively, Toliver could be a solid pickup on Friday night or Saturday.

FB Anthony Sherman (UConn)

anthonysherman

I would love to have been able to share a YouTube clip of the Huskies FB with you, but when you rush just four times for a total of one yard in your senior season I guess there’s not much to post.

Sherman might not have big numbers, but he can help take credit for a rushing attack that finished 2nd in the Big East in 2010, just four yards behind conference leading Louisville. He also showed himself to have reliable hands in the Connecticut offense, grabbing 48 passes for 477 yards and a TD over his four seasons playing football in Hartford.

More importantly, Sherman lead the way for RB Jordan Todman to finish fourth in all of the NCAA FBS in rushing with 1,695 yards. If the Ravens are going to want a traditional blocking back (and the way they used McClain would make you think they are), Sherman could very well fit the bill. At 5’11″, he has a very effective way of throwing around 244 pounds.

OT Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada)

I know what you’re thinking.

“Canada?”

Yeah, I’d usually just ignore a Canuck and let CFL teams fight over who gets him. But there are two unique things O’Donnell has going for him.

1-He’s 6’10.”

2-He did THIS to Boise State DE Ryan Wintersyk at an indoor practice during Shrine Game week.

Does it make him NFL material? Not necessarily. But does it mean more folks will be paying attention? Absolutely.

RB Da’Rel Scott (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADjVJ3MKd8k[/youtube]

Scott HAS to hope scouts were paying close attention to the Military Bowl, as his 200 yard, 2 TD performance against East Carolina was by far and away the best of his senior campaign for the Terps. If scouts could only remember his bowl game performances he’d be a lock to get selected, as he also compiled 174 yards and 2 TD’s against Nevada in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl.

After a breakout season (1,133 yards and eight TD’s) in 2008, Scott totaled just 1,133 yards and nine TD’s in his junior and senior seasons combined.

That being said, Scott’s 5’11″, 200 pound frame is shifty but can still take a hit. He could be a steady performer behind a solid O-Line at the next level and will likely be available late into Saturday.

QB Ricky Dobbs (Navy)

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

A number of teams (including the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions) have had no problems selecting service academy players in the NFL Draft and waiting until they were eligible to play. The Ravens have never done that, but with their partnership with the Maryland National Guard, they’ve certainly been more military friendly in recent years.

Dobbs probably doesn’t project to be a quarterback at the next level, but he’s a better passer than those who don’t follow the Midshipmen (see above) probably realize. Dobbs threw for over 2,500 yards over his junior and senior seasons; combining with 2,170 yards rushing.

It will be interesting to see if Dobbs stays at quarterback throughout Draft season or if he works at other positions. Receiver seems to be the best bet for him given his 5’11″, 215 pound size; but he could fit with some of the more undersized running backs in the NFL as well.

The military service will be an issue. He’s much more likely to sign as an undrafted free agent than to be picked, but he’s the type of special athlete a team might very well be willing to wait for. There’s no off-field red flags for NFL teams to worry about with Dobbs, as everything he does he keeps in mind that he ultimately wants to be the President…of the United States.

QB Pat Devlin (Delaware)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkPzmE0__7A[/youtube]

If the Pat Devlin story sounds familiar, it should. Substitute “Pitt” for “Penn State”, and it’s basically the Joe Flacco story again.

Devlin nearly lead the Blue Hens to the NCAA FCS title in 2010, throwing for 3,032 yards and 22 TD’s before the Hens were cut down by Eastern Washington in the Championship Game.

Devlin doesn’t project quite as high in the 2010 Draft as Flacco did in the 2008 Draft, but he’ll have time to try to improve that. As of now, he looks like a Friday night selection, but will get the chance to go up against better talent in Orlando and will get to work out against better players at LucasOil Stadium in Indy.

If he moves up, there’s no chance the Ravens take him. If he’s around late into Saturday, it wouldn’t stun me.

-G

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

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Ranking The Ravens: A Postseason Breakdown of 53(+) Man Roster

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

In their new song, “Waiting For The End”, the band Linkin Park offered a lyric that should be considered particularly fitting for Baltimore Ravens fans.

The hardest part of ending is starting again…

With their 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, the 2010-2011 NFL season has ended for the Ravens.

It didn’t take long for the team’s offseason to begin. Even with owners and players apparently headed towards a lockout, GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz lead a front office hard at work in shaping what the 2011 Baltimore Ravens will look like…as long as there is a 2011 NFL season.

Members of the front office are already preparing for the NFL Draft, as they are scouting college seniors this week in Orlando at the East West Shrine Game. Next week they will be doing the same thing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

As we enter the offseason, I’ll offer a variation of my preseason power rankings (you’ll remember my “Mocking the 53″ blogs) to review the team’s roster. This is a complicated review, as I factor in who had the best season, who has proved to a better player overall, the value of the position and contract status.

Players labeled as “UFA” are unrestricted free agents. Players labeled as “RFA” are restricted free agents. Players labeled as “ERFA” are exclusive rights free agents. Players labeled as “reserve/future” have reserve/future contracts.

Unique labeling on my part. I’m aware.

1. LB Terrell Suggs
2. DT Haloti Ngata (UFA)
3. RB Ray Rice
4. LB Ray Lewis
5. G Ben Grubbs

grubbs

While I said Tuesday Ngata was the team’s best player in 2010 (he also received my vote for/won the team’s Most Valuable Player award), his contract status leaves him second on the list.

Suggs was outstanding in 2010, proving his 2009 season was indeed a fluke after signing a big contract the proceeding offseason.

It is going to cost owner Steve Bisciotti a LOT of money to retain Ngata this offseason, but the Ravens are basically going to have to pay the price. Losing Ngata could absolutely WRECK the franchise’s plans defensively, as Ngata anchors what they do up front. It could only spell the end of Lewis’ career. If Ngata were to depart, Lewis could no longer be viewed as a Top 5 player on the roster for sure.

Rice’s fantasy football numbers were down in 2010, but his offensive impact certainly wasn’t. He remained the Ravens’ most dynamic playmaker and is expected to an offensive force for years to come.

It was interesting (for me) as I graded out players that I felt Grubbs was worthy of being a Top 5 player. Grubbs proved himself to be the team’s best and most reliable Offensive Lineman, and gives the team at least one more position they don’t have to worry about…for now.

6. WR Anquan Boldin
7. QB Joe Flacco
8. OT Michael Oher
9. K Billy Cundiff (UFA)
10. P Sam Koch (UFA)

koch

Everything at the receiver position has to be viewed as wide open right now…except for Boldin. He has to be viewed as the team’s top possession receiver no matter what Derrick Mason decides to do.

While Flacco is still a cornerstone for the franchise (and the suggestion made that the team should have him “compete” with Marc Bulger for the starting job is laughable), his move outside the Top 5 is a statement. He made SOME of the progress the team wanted him to make-but not all of it. There will be increasing pressure for that to happen next year.

Oher represents a tricky situation for the Ravens. While he struggled in 2010, he’s certainly not a BAD player. The team will have to figure out whether or not he has a long term future at LT. If he does (and he plays to that level), he’ll be a Top 5 player on this team for a long time.

Koch and Cundiff represent a unique problem for the team. During the 15 years of the team’s history, they’ve never been the type of organization that would spend a lot of money on a specialist. They’re going to have to pay two guys this offseason as top-tier specialists. These players were a SIGNIFICANT reason the team managed to win 12 regular season games and a playoff game this year.

11. TE Todd Heap
12. WR Derrick Mason
13. S Ed Reed
14. CB Domonique Foxworth
15. FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)

mcclain

Heap, Mason and Reed are unique. If this list was based on ability and performance alone; there would be an argument they should all be in the Top 10. Their age leaves them on the outside looking in, as even if they return as expected the team will have to make decisions at their positions.

It might seem surprising that Foxworth is the highest ranked of the cornerbacks, but he was the team’s top guy before getting hurt and is the only guy (besides Lardarius Webb) in the group who actually has a contract.

The Ravens are in a VERY unique situation with McClain. He had a tremendous season at fullback; but doesn’t want to return as true fullback. To return, the two time Pro Bowler would have to be assured of more involvement in Cam Cameron’s offense. I’m not sure how likely that is.

16. CB Chris Carr (UFA)
17. LB Jarret Johnson
18. CB Lardarius Webb
19. CB Josh Wilson (UFA)
20. DE Cory Redding

redding

Carr had a great season and offered some legitimate stability to the team’s defensive backfield. That being said, there will be a question as to whether or not bringing him back will work monetarily. If he gets paid as a #1 corner, the Ravens might be in trouble. Wilson is in the same boat. The uncertainty surrounding those two corners helps Webb find himself ranked higher on the list.

My guess is that one of Carr and Wilson will be back, but not both.

Johnson and Redding are both solid contributors to the defense, and the Ravens can pencil them in for next season. They’ll need a healthier (or just somehow more effective) Johnson, and they’ll need to compliment Redding with a legitimate rush end.

21. S Dawan Landry (UFA)
22. WR TJ Houshmandzadeh (UFA)
23. TE Ed Dickson
24. DT Brandon McKinney
25. DT Kelly Gregg

kgregg

Like other players, the Ravens find themselves in a tricky spot when it comes to Landry. As a starter and solid contributor to one of the league’s better defenses over the last few years, Landry could find himself in position to make a lot of money on the free agent market. The Ravens may or may not be in a place to match that. He’s been good; but with restricted free agents Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura likely to return, it seems unlikely they would retain Landry at a high cost.

Houshmandzadeh almost seems to be in a “if Mason doesn’t come back” position. The Ravens can’t just retain all of their top three receivers and make progress offensively. If Mason retires, there would be a much greater likelihood of Houshmandzadeh returning.

Dickson showed signs of being a potential breakout performer in 2010, but never actually broke out. The team will look to expand his role as he continues to get more comfortable in the offense. He also represents the team’s best chance of limiting an aging Heap’s snaps in 2011.

It might look surprising at first to see McKinney listed ahead of a player like Gregg, but I think it represents an area where the Ravens can move forward. McKinney came on strong down the stretch, looking like a reliable cog on the defensive line. While Gregg made a fantastic play on Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium, he showed signs of aging as the season wore on, and it would be difficult to assume he could continue playing the majority of downs in the future.

26. OT Jared Gaither (UFA)
27. OL Marshal Yanda (UFA)
28. DT Terrence Cody
29. C Matt Birk
30. S Haruki Nakamura (RFA)

nakamura

My only gut instinct with Gaither is that the team won’t give him the type of premium price tag a top tier OT would probably expect. There’s an argument as to whether or not ANYONE should pay Gaither that price, but my guess is that someone will. The Ravens don’t want to see Yanda depart, but there’s a chance another NFL team will choose to offer him legitimate tackle money because he played the position in 2010.

The Ravens likely can’t be in position to overpay a player like Yanda, but they certainly to solidify their O-Line. Birk could still decide to retire; but even if he doesn’t the team has to make future plans for the position.

Cody showed SOME signs of being a future contributor during the 2010 season, but probably not enough that the Ravens can feel comfortable with expecting him to play every down in 2011. Nakamura could be very important, as he would be the most likely to step into the role should Landry depart in free agency.

31. RB Willis McGahee
32. DE Paul Kruger
33. LB Jameel McClain (RFA)
34. LB Tavares Gooden (RFA)
35. LB Dannell Ellerbe (ERFA)

ellerbe

I’m going to guess that McGahee won’t be getting the $19.7 million owed to him over the last three years of his contract. The most likely scenario probably involves McGahee not returning to Charm City next season. But if he’s willing to take a pay cut, there’s still a chance he could be a solid compliment to Rice behind an improved O-Line.

Paul Kruger started to show some signs at the end of the season that he might be able to contribute in the future. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the level of progression the team had in mind for the 2009 2nd round pick. 2011 could be a “make or break” type of year for Kruger.

And then there’s McClain/Gooden/Ellerbe. Does anyone else want to try to figure this out? The team clearly hoped one player in this group would separate themselves out at McDaniel College in Westminster during Training Camp in 2010, but that clearly didn’t happen. They also hoped one would separate themselves during the 2010 season. That didn’t happen either.

Of the group, McClain has probably shown himself to be the most steady, but is equally vulnerable against the pass. Gooden is probably the best against the pass, but there’s a joke in there about being the prettiest girl at fat camp. Ellerbe showed some capability of making plays in the backfield, but looks lost against the pass.

It looks like all three will end up returning in 2011. It also looks like the Ravens will be in a very familiar position when (if?) the season begins.

36. WR/KR David Reed
37. CB Fabian Washington (UFA)
38. S Tom Zbikowski (RFA)
39. LS Morgan Cox
40. OL Chris Chester (UFA)

chester

Whether or not David Reed can someday contribute at receiver is still to be determined. But he clearly came on as a kick returner until a concussion and a wrist injury cut his season short. He’ll have to stay out of trouble off the field, but it looks like the Ravens have a solid piece of the puzzle in Reed.

Washington made it clear earlier this week he wouldn’t return to the team unless his role was expanded. There’s a chance his role could be expanded if Carr and Wilson depart. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good. Zbikowski will almost certainly be back, the organization will now have to determine whether or not he is capable of replacing Ed Reed on a full-time basis whenever the future Hall of Famer walks away from the game.

Cox did a nice job of solidifying the long snapper position after beating veteran Matt Katula out during the preseason. The only concern surrounding Cox is how quickly he’ll be able to return from the torn ACL he suffered against the Cleveland Browns, but it appears as though he’ll be ready to go.

Chester will be another tough decision for the Ravens. If another team is willing to pay him to be an every down linemen, the organization will have to think hard before matching. Chester has shown himself as being reliable, but I think he’s only a starter in Baltimore if Yanda were to depart…or the Ravens were forced to keep Yanda at Tackle.

41. CB Cary Williams (ERFA)
42. OL Tony Moll (UFA)
43. LB Jason Phillips
44. QB Marc Bulger (UFA)
45. WR Donte’ Stallworth (UFA)

stallworth

Williams could be in a good spot this offseason. As an exclusive rights free agent, he could be in a good position to come back and get more playing time should some of the corners ahead of him sign elsewhere. He’s 6’1″, and the team liked him at least enough to hold on to him through a suspension to start the 2010 season.

Moll looks like a solid option to return and give the O-Line important depth. He’s capable of playing multiple positions to at least a solid level. He’s not good enough to be an every down player and it’s unlikely that another team will choose to pay him that way.

Phillips showed signs in 2010, probably enough that he will enter the 2011 season on the “good” side of the roster bubble. He certainly can’t be considered a lock at this point however.

Bulger will likely only return to the team if he isn’t offered a starting job elsewhere. With Jim Harbaugh now in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, it wouldn’t be stunning to see him consider Bulger. If the options are for backup jobs-or even jobs where Bulger would have to “compete” for a starting gig, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him return to Baltimore.

Some of the fan frustration surrounding Cam Cameron certainly centers around Stallworth, who seems unlikely to return. The Ravens need a speed receiver option, but it has to be a player they’ll trust to send out and stretch the field.

46. TE Dennis Pitta
47. LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
48. DT Arthur Jones
49. WR Marcus Smith (UFA)
50. DT Lamar Divens (RFA)

divens

The lack of involvement from Pitta in 2010 was disappointing, but he was often a victim of only being able to dress 53 players. His role should expand in 2011.

Ayanbadejo and Smith are interesting cases. Both are special teams players only for the most part, and the team will have to determine how much value they have. Smith is unlikely to generate much interest elsewhere, Ayanbadejo isn’t getting any younger. Both could return, but I don’t think they’re guarantees.

Jones and Divens are both solid players who have the “look” of Ravens defensive linemen. The only issue for new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano is that he’s inheriting a bunch of these type of players. They’re big, they move fairly well and they can control gaps. Jones will clearly be back in 2011, Divens is the question mark.

51. LB Prescott Burgess (UFA)
52. RB Jalen Parmele (RFA)
53. OT Oniel Cousins (RFA)
54. WR James Hardy (reserve/future)

55. TE Davon Drew (ERFA)

ddrew

Burgess was a solid Special Teams contributor who was also able to get a handful of positive snaps defensively. There’s a chance he could generate interest elsewhere, we remember the New England Patriots grabbed him when he was available in 2009.

Parmele could stand to benefit from a McGahee departure, but probably wouldn’t be a great option as the top compliment to Rice.

Cousins gives the team a cheap reserve tackle. I can’t fathom anyone will be hot after him, so he seems like a player that will at least make it to Westminster with a chance to retain his job.

Hardy is interesting. He climbed the list after comments by Newsome in the team’s Season Review press conference. There was a reason Hardy was once a second round pick by the Buffalo Bills. There’s also a reason why he was unemployed a season ago. Either way, he’s 6’5″. The Ravens don’t have any other receivers of that size right now.

Davon Drew is the fourth of four TE’s on the roster. That would be a problem in a lot of places, but when the General Manager is a former Tight End, it bodes well for the chances of sticking around.

56. LB Sergio Kindle (ERFA)
57. DT Kelly Talavou (ERFA)
58. RB Matt Lawrence (RFA)
59. QB Hunter Cantwell (reserve/future)
60. WR Justin Harper (reserve/future)

harper

Kindle is such a question mark (as he continues to recover from a fractured skull) that it really doesn’t matter how much talent he might have. Until there’s reason to believe he’ll be able to return next season, he can’t be an assumed part of the 53 man roster.

If Talavou is able to come back healthy, he’s highly thought of by the organization. He could be the insurance that allows the team to let someone like Divens go elsewhere.

Lawrence is a good Special Teams player if he’s healthy. It will be an uphill battle for him to make the roster in Training Camp, especially after missing the entire 2010 season.

Cantwell is the team’s 3rd quarterback, but has only a cup of coffee worth of experience on an active roster with the Carolina Panthers in 2009. If the Ravens decided to go with three QB’s again, he’d have a decent chance to make the roster.

Harper is tall. Harper has only ever been on the active roster briefly. The team’s website apparently doesn’t know Harper wears number 82. That’s where we’re at with Harper.

61. OL Ramon Harewood
62.
OL Bryan Mattison (contract status unknown)
63. OL Daniel Sanders (contract status unknown)
64. RB Curtis Steele (reserve/future)
65. DE Albert McClellan (reserve/future)
66. CB Danny Gorrer (reserve/future)
67. OT Brady Bond (reserve/future)
68. OT Andre Ramsey (reserve/future)
69. LS Kevin Houser (UFA)

I’d provide a picture of Kevin Houser here, but even the team’s official site doesn’t have one.

If they all return (and are healthy); Harewood, Mattison and Sanders will compete to try to provide depth along the O-Line. Harewood could give the team an insurance policy if they choose to cut ties with Cousins, Sanders could prove to be the team’s center of the future when Birk hangs up the cleats. A local writer joked with me that Mattison had been “on scholarship” in recent seasons-that would probably come to an end now as his father (former Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison) has departed for Michigan.

Steele has the look of a potential weapon at the next level. If he can work his way into the return game, he’d have a much better shot of making the roster.

McClellan is employed by the Ravens, as is Gorrer. I’m going to guess most of you didn’t know that. Neither has a realistic path to the active roster.

Bond and Ramsey are big. My guess is that both of them will find their way onto an active roster in the National Football League someday. It probably won’t be in Baltimore however.

It might not be fair for me to rank Houser last on this list. He’s a NFL player, which is more than anyone else in this final group can really say. But his ONLY chance of returning to the team is if Cox can’t return from his torn ACL. There’s a chance he might not be ready for the start of Training Camp, but it’s unlikely it will be a factor moving towards the 2011 regular season.

(Thanks to BaltimoreRavens.com for the pictures!)

-G

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

Posted on 18 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here are our Top 7 Baltimore Ravens from their 31-24 AFC divisional round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday at Heinz Field…

Glenn Clark’s Top 7…

7. Paul Kruger

kruger

6. Cory Redding

redding

5. Haloti Ngata

ngata

4. Todd Heap

heap

3. Ray Lewis

raylewis

2. Sam Koch

koch

1. Terrell Suggs

suggs

Drew Forrester’s Top 7…

7. Chris Carr

ccarr

6. Paul Kruger

kruger

5. Ray Rice

rice

4. Cory Redding

redding

3. Brandon McKinney

mckinney

2. Todd Heap

heap

1. Terrell Suggs

suggs

(Thanks to Getty Images, AP & Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for photos from Saturday’s game)

FINAL SEASON TOTALS:

Glenn:
29. Paul Kruger (1 point)
29. Morgan Cox (1 point)
29. Tavares Gooden (1 point)
26. David Reed (2 points)
26. Willis McGahee (2 points)
26. Le’Ron McClain (2 points)
23. Ed Dickson (3 points)
23. Marshal Yanda (3 points)
23. Kelly Gregg (3 points)
22. Ben Grubbs (4 points)
20. Terrence Cody (5 points)
20. Michael Oher (5 points)
18. TJ Houshmandzadeh (7 points)
18. Jarret Johnson (7 points)
16. Chris Carr (8 points)
16. Lardarius Webb (8 points)
15. Josh Wilson (10 points)
14. Fabian Washington (12 points)
13. Dawan Landry (13 points)
12. Cory Redding (14 points)
11. Billy Cundiff (18 points)
10. Sam Koch (23 points)
9. Ed Reed (25 points)
8. Todd Heap (27 points)
7. Derrick Mason (29 points)
6. Ray Lewis (35 points)
5. Terrell Suggs (37 points)
4. Haloti Ngata (45 points)
3. Ray Rice (46 points)
2. Anquan Boldin (49 points)
1. Joe Flacco (66 points)

Drew:
31. Ed Dickson (1 point)
31. Jason Phillips (1 point)
26. Paul Kruger (2 points)
26. Morgan Cox (2 points)
26. TJ Houshmandzadeh (2 points)
26. Jameel McClain (2 points)
26. Dannell Ellerbe (2 points)

25. Marshal Yanda (4 points)

22. Willis McGahee (5 points)
22. Le’Ron McClain (5 points)
22. Michael Oher (5 points)
20. Lardarius Webb (6 points)
20. Fabian Washington (6 points)
18. Brandon McKinney (7 points)
18. Cory Redding (7 points)
14. Terrence Cody (8 points)
14. Tavares Gooden (8 points)
14. Josh Wilson (8 points)

14. Jarret Johnson (8 points)
12. Dawan Landry (11 points)
12. Sam Koch (11 points)
9. Chris Carr (20 points)
9. Ed Reed (20 points)
9. Billy Cundiff (20 points)
8. Todd Heap (21 points)
7. Derrick Mason (22 points)
6. Haloti Ngata (32 points)
5. Ray Lewis (36 points)
4. Anquan Boldin (37 points)
3. Terrell Suggs (42 points)
2. Ray Rice (53 points)
1. Joe Flacco (77 points)

If you missed the explanation of why these players made the list on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Harbaugh Says Cameron Will Remain Offensive Coordinator

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (13-5) returned to 1 Winning Drive Monday, less than 48 hours after their season ended with a 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh put to rest any rumors he would consider firing Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron Monday.

“Cam Cameron is our offensive coordinator” said Harbaugh. “That’s how we’re going forward. I know Cam is a tremendous coach.”

Harbaugh indicated no other coaches would be at risk of losing their jobs based on the team’s performance.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh. “I think we have a great, great coaching staff. Top to bottom-that includes all three coordinators, that includes every one of our position coaches, there’s not a guy that I’m disappointed in.”

The Ravens finished just 22nd in the NFL in total offense in 2010, despite the additions of WR’s Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth in the offseason, as well as the draft selections of TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta

Harbaugh said the statistics didn’t affect his decision process with Cameron.

“He’s the same guy that was the offensive coordinator three years ago when everybody said we (outperformed) our expectations, and even last year. We had a tough year statistically, but we did win a lot of football games with that offense. There are things we can do a lot better, and we’re going to go to work on those things.”

FOCUS ON FREE AGENTS: The Ravens enter an offseason which will be based in as much uncertainty as the league itself.

The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, eight additional restricted free agents and five exclusive rights free agents.

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, DT Haloti Ngata, FB Le’Ron McClain, CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Carr, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, OL Chris Chester, OL Tony Moll, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch, QB Marc Bulger, LB Prescott Burgess and LS Kevin Houser.

The restricted free agents are S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Jameel McClain, WR Marcus Smith, OT Oniel Cousins, DT Lamar Divens and RB Jalen Parmele. LB Sergio Kindle, DT Kelly Talavou, TE Davon Drew, CB Cary Williams and LB Dannell Ellerbe are exclusive rights free agents.

Harbaugh said Monday the team will focus offseason plans on retaining their own free agents.

“We’re going to try to get back as many of these guys as we possibly can” said the coach. “Because we like our players.”

Harbaugh said he had high hopes that many of the team’s free agents would return.

“Talking to the guys today, the vast majority of guys really want to be here.”

Coming off a second straight Pro Bowl selection and a season in which he was voted the team’s MVP, Ngata is the most important player to get back according to Harbaugh.

“I believe Haloti Ngata will be a Raven for life” said the coach. “That’s the goal. He’s told me he wants to be here. I believe the organization wants him here. It’s priority number one to have Haloti Ngata here.”

Houshmandzadeh said he’d like to return to Charm City, but admitted an expanded role would play a significant part in making his decision.

“I want to come back because I had fun here and I enjoyed myself” said the receiver. “I do want to be a starter. I do because that’s what I’ve been. It’s hard to adjust.”

Free agency cannot begin until owners and the NFLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Houshmandzadeh, L. McClain, Houshmandzadeh, Stallworth, Cundiff, Koch, Washington, Wilson, Kindle, Bulger, QB Joe Flacco, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, C Matt Birk and WR Derrick Mason now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……L. McClain joined Rex Snider Monday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is also available in the Audio Vault……The Ravens will select 26th in the 2011 NFL Draft……A team source told WNST’s Drew Forrester a contract extension for Harbaugh should be considered “imminent”……The Ravens signed all seven practice squad players to reserve/future contracts. WR Justin Harper, RB Curtis Steele, CB Danny Gorrer, QB Hunter Cantwell, OL Andre Ramsey, OL Brady Bond and LB Albert McClellan joined former Buffalo Bills WR James Hardy in getting such contracts……Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti will hold their season review press conference Thursday afternoon in Owings Mills

-G

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Not “Great Enough” to Beat Steelers, So Ravens Now Forced to Evaluate Everything

Posted on 16 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — After suffering another crushing playoff defeat Saturday, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh offered a telling postgame statement.

“We just weren’t great enough today to win that football game.”

His team certainly wasn’t.

It was one more crushing defeat for the Ravens (13-5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4), this time a 31-24 meltdown in the AFC divisional round at Heinz Field.

In three seasons under Harbaugh, the Ravens have suffered more than their fair share of such losses.

This one was likely the most crushing of the Harbaugh era, if not the most crushing in franchise history.

Leading 21-7 at the half, the Ravens appeared well on their way to a trip to the AFC Championship Game and well on their way to finally vanquishing their AFC North nemesis in the process.

Three turnovers later, the Ravens found themselves in a dogfight they wouldn’t win.

They were close.

For moments, they were great.

But in the end, Harbaugh was right. They weren’t great enough.

(Here’s the part where fans can feel free to add in the word “again.”)

Not being “great enough” is frustrating. It’s more frustrating when there’s no obvious answer regarding how the team can get there.

I posed the question to Harbaugh following the season ending defeat.

How does this team become “great enough”?

“That’s what we’ll have to study” responded Harbaugh. “We’ll go to work in the offseason and try to build our team the best way we can. Things come up and things happen, you’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to adapt. You never know on a journey what bend the road’s gonna take. You gotta overcome some adversity and some obstacles and we’ll have to build our team the best way we can to be great enough to these kind of games.”

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds like coach speak. It is to some extent. But there’s truth to it.

The truth is that the team really is close to being “great enough”.

On Saturday, it took a blown 14 point lead, those three turnovers, crucial late drops from WR’s Anquan Boldin & TJ Houshmandzadeh and a miraculous 58 yard pass from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to WR Antonio Brown for the Ravens to be eliminated.

They were about as close to finally getting past the Steelers as possible without actually picking up a victory.

I asked Harbaugh after the game if after another crushing defeat he still believed the team was close to being “great enough”. He agreed, but he added one more thought.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

That’s the reality. The reality is that the Ravens are unbelievably close to turning the corner.

On Saturday night, they actually came to a stop right at the corner. They just couldn’t quite make the turn.

But turning the corner is still going to take a lot of work.

The Ravens have played three seasons with Harbaugh as head coach. In two of those seasons, losing came directly at the hands of the Steelers.

In breaking news (but not necessarily first reported by WNST), the Steelers aren’t coming off the schedule next season.

To become “great enough”, the Ravens are going to have to figure out a way to get past the Steelers.

As DT Haloti Ngata told me after the game, “something has to change, because it’s always them.”

There will be plenty of theories tossed around about how the Ravens can get over the hump.

Many in the fanbase will point their frustration towards Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, whose offense struggled to get out of their own way for the bulk of the 2nd half in the Steel City. Others will direct their frustration towards Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, who continued to employ a three man rush in 3rd and long situations, including the 58 yarder that set up the game winning touchdown.

Personnel wise, the Ravens will have clear needs in their offensive line and pass rush, but will likely have to re-examine their receiving corps and defensive backfield as well.

Some changes could be out of their hands. Asked about his future after the game, WR Derrick Mason said “I’m not gonna think about it right now.”

C Matt Birk, S Ed Reed and TE Todd Heap could all be forced to similarly consider whether or not they will indeed return to the NFL next season.

FB Le’Ron McClain, RB Willis McGahee and Houshmandzadeh have never hid their displeasure with their roles in Cameron’s offense. Boldin has been less vocal, but has often looked frustrated.

McClain and Houshmandzadeh are joined in (at least potential) free agency this offseason by other valuable contributors like WR Donte’ Stallworth, OT Jared Gaither, OL Marshal Yanda, CB’s Chris Carr & Josh Wilson, S Dawan Landry, P Sam Koch, Ngata and more.

And then there’s the quarterback.

A week after finally putting together a “breakthrough” playoff performance in a Wild Card round win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, Joe Flacco returned to a more “pedestrian” level in the loss to the Steelers.

He was 16/30 for 125 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble.

On the team’s final drive of the game he wildly overthrew Heap and threw a very poor deep ball to Mason before getting sacked. On 4th and long he threw a decent pass but it was dropped by Houshmandzadeh.

Following the loss, fans immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to ask a familiar question.

“Does Flacco have ‘it’?”

GM Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh will have to answer that question this offseason.

Harbaugh wasn’t just throwing around coach speak when he addressed what it would take to reach greatness. He was offering a truthful reflection regarding what the organization was going to have to this offseason.

The answer just wasn’t quite as fulfilling as some fans would want.

They were unbelievably close Saturday night. They were close enough that the Steelers needed a near miracle to win at home.

Yet this offseason will be one where they have to evaluate all aspects of their organization in order to determine what it will take to finally get past the Steelers.

Unreal.

At halftime, they were 30 minutes away from one of the greatest moments in franchise history.

In those 30 minutes, the collapse wasn’t suffered by the players and coaches alone.

The collapse was suffered by the entire organization.

-G

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Mason, McClain, Ngata, Houshmandzadeh, LB Ray Lewis, WR Marcus Smith, CB Lardarius Webb, LB Terrell Suggs and RB Ray Rice following the loss now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Rice played despite flu-like symptoms Friday night, he said following the game he hadn’t eaten solid food in two days……The Ravens will return to 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills Monday to clean out their lockers. Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens

Posted on 11 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here are our Top 7 Baltimore Ravens from their 30-7 AFC Wild Card playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Top 7…

7. Terrence Cody

cody

6. Terrell Suggs

suggs

5. Anquan Boldin

boldin

4. Dawan Landry

landry

3. Chris Carr

carr

2. Joe Flacco

flacco

1. Todd Heap

heap

Drew Forrester’s Top 7…

7. Ray Lewis

raylewis

6. Terrence Cody

cody

5. Anquan Boldin

boldin

4. Dawan Landry

landry

3. Chris Carr

carr

2. Joe Flacco

flacco

1. Todd Heap

heap

(Most photos courtesy of the Kansas City Star)

SEASON TOTALS:


Glenn:
29. Morgan Cox (1 point)
29. Tavares Gooden (1 point)
26. David Reed (2 points)
26. Willis McGahee (2 points)
26. Le’Ron McClain (2 points)
23. Ed Dickson (3 points)
23. Marshal Yanda (3 points)
23. Kelly Gregg (3 points)
22. Ben Grubbs (4 points)
20. Terrence Cody (5 points)
20. Michael Oher (5 points)
18. TJ Houshmandzadeh (7 points)
18. Jarret Johnson (7 points)
16. Chris Carr (8 points)
16. Lardarius Webb (8 points)
15. Josh Wilson (10 points)
13. Cory Redding (12 points)
13. Fabian Washington (12 points)
12. Dawan Landry (13 points)
11. Sam Koch (17 points)
10. Billy Cundiff (18 points)
9. Todd Heap (23 points)
8. Ed Reed (25 points)
7. Derrick Mason (29 points)
5. Terrell Suggs (30 points)
5. Ray Lewis (30 points)
4. Haloti Ngata (42 points)
3. Ray Rice (46 points)
2. Anquan Boldin (49 points)
1. Joe Flacco (66 points)

Drew:
30. Ed Dickson (1 point)
30. Jason Phillips (1 point)
25. Morgan Cox (2 points)
25. TJ Houshmandzadeh (2 points)
25. Jameel McClain (2 points)
25. Brandon McKinney (2 points)
25. Dannell Ellerbe (2 points)

24. Cory Redding (3 points)
23. Marshal Yanda (4 points)

20. Willis McGahee (5 points)
20. Le’Ron McClain (5 points)
20. Michael Oher (5 points)
18. Lardarius Webb (6 points)
18. Fabian Washington (6 points)
14. Terrence Cody (8 points)
14. Tavares Gooden (8 points)
14. Josh Wilson (8 points)

14. Jarret Johnson (8 points)
12. Dawan Landry (11 points)
12. Sam Koch (11 points)
11. Todd Heap (15 points)
10. Chris Carr (19 points)
8. Ed Reed (20 points)
8. Billy Cundiff (20 points)
7. Derrick Mason (22 points)
6. Haloti Ngata (32 points)
5. Terrell Suggs (35 points)
4. Ray Lewis (36 points)
3. Anquan Boldin (37 points)
2. Ray Rice (50 points)
1. Joe Flacco (77 points)

If you missed the explanation of why these players made the list on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Reed’s Brother Missing, Harbaugh Reacts to Jim’s Hiring, Suggs & Ngata Questionable

Posted on 07 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) held their final open practice Friday at 1 Winning Drive ahead of Sunday’s AFC Wild Card playoff showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) at Arrowhead Stadium.

The brother of Ravens safety Ed Reed (Brian Reed) went missing Friday in Louisiana, according to WWL-TV in New Orleans.

The younger Reed reportedly jumped into the Mississippi River in St. Charles, La. to elude authorities. Police attempted to stop Brian Reed Friday morning when his car matched the description of a car believed to have driven another car off the road.

According to the WWL report, police believe the younger Reed may have been driving a stolen car.

When reached for comment Friday by WNST.net, a source very close to Ed Reed said the Pro Bowl safety had no comment and was continuing to gather information.

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said in a Friday night conference call he had not yet had a chance to talk to his star defender.

“I love Ed Reed” said Harbaugh. “Our thoughts and our prayers are with the Reed family. We’re just praying like crazy that Ed’s brother is okay.”

INJURY REPORT: After missing practice Wednesday & Thursday, DT Haloti Ngata (thigh) and LB Terrell Suggs (knee) both returned to practice Friday.

Harbaugh said Friday “I feel good about them” and added “I think they’ll be okay” for Sunday’s game.

Suggs was a bit more coy about his status for Sunday’s game, claiming he was “50-50″ to play.

Ngata and Suggs were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, as were S Tom Zbikowski (back), LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), CB Josh Wilson (head) and S Ed Reed (chest). Those six were all listed as limited participants Thursday.

Five Ravens were listed as probable for Sunday’s game; LB Jameel McClain (back), C Matt Birk (knee), WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle), OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) and WR/KR David Reed (wrist).

For the Chiefs, G Brian Waters (illness) and WR Quinten Lawrence (illness) were listed as probable for Sunday’s game.

HARBAUGH’S BROTHER JOINS NFL RANKS: Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of John Harbaugh and a former Ravens quarterback; agreed Friday to a five year deal to leave Stanford and become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

“I’m very happy he’s not in the AFC” the elder Harbaugh said Friday night in a conference call.

With the Ravens slated to face the NFC West next season, the two coaches will have a chance to face off in Charm City.

“My dad (former Western Michigan & Western Kentucky coach Jack Harbaugh) said he’s just going to take a walk during that one” John Harbaugh joked.

Harbaugh told reporters his younger brother consulted with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti during his decision making process.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Suggs and Oher now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OL Marshal Yanda joined Drew Forrester Friday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……The Ravens practiced indoors Friday after practicing outside Wednesday & Thursday. The Ravens were in good spirits; with many players wearing each others’ jerseys. LB Ray Lewis and LB Jarret Johnson swapped jerseys, as did S Dawan Landry and DT Haloti Ngata. S Ed Reed wore QB Joe Flacco’s jersey, Suggs wore P Sam Koch’s jersey……Suggs was fined $15,000 for punching Bengals WR Jerome Simpson in the team’s Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium……Weather.com/The Weather Channel predicts 34 degrees and snow showers for Sunday’s game in KC……The Ravens will hold a walkthrough Saturday morning before traveling to Kansas City Saturday night. Saturday’s walkthrough will be closed to the media

-G

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