Welcome to the third installment of my NFL Draft profiles, which I will be doing throughout the months leading up to Draft season in hopes to make sure you are introduced to every player who might be a future member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Sorry for how long this took, as our trip to Ft. Lauderdale to cover the Super Bowl and “Snowpocolypse 2010” have limited my ability to get this posted quickly.
So far, I have previewed players participating in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando and Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. If you missed either update, these are the players you can go back to learn about….
QB’s Daryll Clark (Penn State), Sean Canfield (Oregon State)
WR’s Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati)
TE’s Andrew Quarless (Penn State), Richard Dickson (LSU), Jimmy Graham (Miami)
OG Mike Iupati (Idaho)
OT Vladimir Ducasse (UMass)
DE’s Greg Hardy (Ole Miss), Brandon Graham (Michigan)
LB Ross Pospisil (Navy)
S’s Kam Chancellor (Virginia Tech), T.J. Ward (Oregon), Myron Rolle (Florida State)
CB’s Devin Ross (Arizona), Brian Jackson (Oklahoma), Trevard Lindley (Kentucky), Javier Arenas (Alabama)
K Leigh Tiffin (Alabama)
This week, I’m going to try to take a look back at what transpired in Orlando and Mobile, and who may have risen on the Ravens’ radar moving forward. With still no player movement, my team needs for the Ravens remain the same….
Thanks to CBSSports.com, SportingNews.com and SI.com for reports from the all-star games-and to NFLDraftScout.com & Wikipedia for help regarding particulars.
East West Shrine Game…
QB Max Hall (BYU)
Statistically, there is really no argument that can be made against Max Hall. During his 3 seasons in Provo (after transferring from Arizona State), Hall threw for over 11,000 yards and nearly 100 TD’s. Sometimes success from a Brigham Young quarterback can be dismissed based on the level of competition he played against in the MWC; but that’s not the case with Hall. Not only was he strong against teams like Utah (who he awkwardly said he “hated” in a post-game press conference), but he compiled an impressive 7-2 record against BCS opponents. He has no more than average size (6’1″, 200 pounds or so); but he’s a bit older (24) due to his LDS mission. Comparisons to current Ravens and former BYU QB John Beck would be pretty fair, as both came from similar backgrounds and systems. Hall made a nice impression while in Orlando; putting together a very solid 4th quarter in the East West Shrine Game, including a TD pass to Ryan Moya.
C John Estes (Hawaii)
Estes was a steadying force for the Warriors, even if not an overwhelming one. His size (6’2″, 295 pounds) will make his performance on the bench even more important at the NFL Scouting Combine. He is by no means small, but no NFL team will want to have a sub-300 pounder on their offensive line. Estes will likely need to add bulk as well as prove he has the muscle to battle with the Haloti Ngata and Shaun Rogers of the world inside. As a player who will be available late Friday night and possibly even on Saturday, Estes may be a good fit for the Ravens. Estes could spend a year or two adjusting his body to the NFL level while Matt Birk continued to anchor the middle of the line in Charm City.
WR Verran Tucker (Cal)
Tucker was showing some positive signs in Orlando before a hamstring injury stunted his Draft season progress. Tucker will have to make up for that in Indianapolis and with his own Pro Day in Berkeley, as he does not have the resume and profile to fall back on. Tucker was never a big numbers guy for the Golden Bears, tallying just 815 yards and 4 TD’s during his 2 year career after transferring from El Camino Junior College. In fact, Tucker had as many 100 yard seasons for the Bears as you and I did. But there are positives about Tucker for sure-he’s in the 6’1″-6’2″ range, and can move his sub-200 pound frame very quickly (he’s expected to run in the 4.4 range in Indy). He’ll need to show teams in individual workouts that he can be a slot receiver at the NFL level,capable of picking up yards after catches over the middle. Ozzie Newsome and company will need multiple receivers before the season begins, so adding a player like Tucker late in the Draft might be an option.
TE Riar Geer (Colorado)
What impressed scouts most about Geer in Orlando was his solid blocking and safe hands in passing situations. In terms of 2nd tight ends, Geer really appears to fit the bill. He’s definitely got the size (6’3″, 252 pounds) to play the position, but he’s not particularly quick-which will limit his ability to be an offensive playmaker. Geer was never much of a numbers guy (his 402 yards receiving during his senior season in Boulder were almost twice as much as his next biggest season), but he was dependable, and could be a nice late round option for a team needing help in 2 TE sets. His red flags include a knee injury and a previous arrest due to an off-campus fight. There is the possibility Geer could play some Fullback at the next level as well. While the Ravens could use another player to line up next to Todd Heap, it is more likely they’d be looking for a player who could develop into more of a playmaker.
OT Rodger Saffold (Indiana)
Maybe no player solidified their stock at the Shrine Game as much as Saffold did, as he was REALLY impressive against Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy in practice-winning most 1 on 1 matchups. At 6’5″, 312 pounds; Saffold is roughly the size of Michael Oher, who the Ravens selected in the first round a season ago, and ended up being a Rookie of the Year candidate. Saffold is a likely mid-round pick right now, but he could rise over the coming weeks as more teams deem him capable of being an OT at the next level instead of needing to move to OG, which a number of scouts thought he would before his performance in Orlando. If he stays in the mid-rounds, Saffold would likely be the type of player the Ravens would look at with Jared Gaither’s future still up in the air.
LB Jason Beauchamp (UNLV)
The biggest question about Beauchamp’s draft status absolutely surrounds what position he will play. He appears to be an outside linebacker-but not necessarily a great pass rusher. He has the tackling ability of someone who can play inside, but got around the edge nicely when he wasn’t hurt last season. His tackling numbers in Las Vegas were impressive-he tallied 332 for his career, 221 over his final two seasons. At 6’3″, 243 pounds; teams will watch his numbers in the 40 and on the bench closely as they try to determine where he might fit in on their defense. He’s clearly a very bright kid, as he wrote a weekly column for the Las Vegas Sun on top of his football duties. In a defense with as many movable pieces as Greg Mattison’s, Beauchamp could slide in at Jarret Johnson’s current position, or possibly at the JACK position Dannell Ellerbe currently mans.
CB Alterraun Verner (UCLA)
If the Ravens add just one cornerback this offseason, my best guess is that it will be someone a bit taller than Verner, who at 5’10” is actually not even as big as Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington or Frank Walker. But if John Harbaugh and staff decide that they want to bring in more than one CB, Verner may be a solid option. As you can see, he’s a very capable defensive playmaker, having intercepted 13 passes, forced 3 fumbles and scored 4 defensive TD’s during his Bruins career. In that way, he reminds me of Lardarius Webb, a pick that appeared to work well for the Ravens last season. He also reminds me of Webb in that he might have to move to safety to make his speed effective at the NFL level. He’s believed to be a mid-round pick, and his size will probably prevent him from rising too much higher than that.
K Hunter Lawrence (Texas)
Believe it or not, Hunter Lawrence actually made a few other kicks during his Longhorns career. Of course, clearly none of them were as meaningful as the pressure kick he made to beat Nebraska inside Cowboys Stadium to win the Big 12 Championship Game and advance to the BCS Championship Game. This would mean that he’s connected on one more big kick in his life than say Steve Hauschka or Billy Cundiff (unless of course you consider a game winner for the Browns in a 6-3 victory over the Bills a “big kick”). But beyond that kick, Lawrence was 34/39 on FG attempts during the two seasons he kicked in Austin; including 13-15 tries from between 40-49 yards. He doesn’t have a giant boot necessarily (in fact he missed his only career try from beyond 50 yards), but for a steady kicker who has had to make pressure kicks before, he could work as solid competition for Cundiff; especially if he ends up going undrafted.
WR Blair White (Michigan State)
It took him until his senior year to become a reliable target in East Lansing, but he certainly delivered. White finished his senior season with 70 catches for 990 yards and 9 TD’s. Over his final two seasons, he put together 6 100+ yard games. At 6’2″, 205 pounds; White would not likely be the typical #1 receiver in the NFL, but he certainly could fill a role. The comparisons to guys like Austin Collie and Brandon Stokley are inevitable (likely having a lot to do with the fact that White is…..well….white), and they might very well be fair. White got Draft season off to a great start, nabbing 7 catches for 93 yards in the East West Shrine Game. White would be a solid option for the Ravens should he be available on Saturday.
S Van Eskridge (East Carolina)
Scouts would probably like to see a little bit more speed from a free safety prospect like Eskridge, but he certainly has plenty to offer otherwise. At 6’1″, 195 pounds; he’s probably big enough to play at the next level, potentially even big enough to play CB. He showed unique playmaking ability during his career with the Pirates-picking off 11 passes and forcing 5 fumbles. He’s also a very capable tackler, having tallied 290 over the last 3 seasons. Moreover, Eskridge performed at the most important times; having combined for 19 tackles, 2 interceptions and 2 pass defenses in ECU’s win over Houston in the Conference USA Championship game and their loss to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl. On top of that, he ended up claiming defensive MVP honors in the Shrine Game. There are few red flags on Eskridge’s resume, and he could be a very intriguing prospect should he be available on Saturday.
WR/RB Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
While he is one of the biggest stars of Draft season thus far (and has a big fan in our man Paul from Hawaii), McCluster may not be a perfect fit for the Ravens, mostly because he’s almost a clone of Ray Rice. McCluster is an explosive playmaker, tallying 2,997 total combined yards during his junior and senior seasons in Oxford. McCluster is roughly Rice’s size (each are somewhere between 5’7″-5’9″, with McCluster clocking in at just a few pounds below Rice’s 210. But the idea remains the same. McCluster is at his best when teams get him the ball in space-which he proved during a stellar Senior Bowl week in Mobile. The Ravens weren’t shy to take chances on Rebels prospects a season ago, drafting Michael Oher and adding FB Jason Cook & LB Tony Fein before letting each go at the end of Training Camp. With Willis McGahee’s future questionable, Cam Cameron could decide to take a chance on another playmaker to help make the Ravens’ offense even more unpredictable. We know one thing-McCluster does the one thing Cameron wants his backs to do-he catches the ball. He’s probably a Friday night guy in April’s Draft.
LB Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri)
376 tackles, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions and 2 defensive TD’s made the last 3 seasons of Weatherspoon’s Tigers career particularly memorable. To make his NFL career memorable, he’ll have to settle in at a LB position-which could be outside or a JACK-type of position depending on the team he ends up with. Weatherspoon is a beast at 6’2″ and 245 (or so) pounds, and is expected to be able to post a 40 in the 4.5 range on the fast track at LucasOil Stadium. Weatherspoon comes from a family of athletes, including his cousin-former WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon. Lions DC Gunther Cunningham told the Detroit Free Press that Weatherspoon showed a great deal of leadership during Senior Bowl week. Should he play inside, the Ravens may be looking for a leader after the eventual retirement of Ray Lewis. However, Weatherspoon is expected to be a Thursday or Friday night pick-which may be a bit too early for the Ravens to pull the trigger on a LB that isn’t a pass-rusher.
WR Jeremy Williams (Tulane)
He’s taller than Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, but 6’1″ may not be the ideal size for a receiver the Ravens are looking at in the 2010 Draft. But if Williams stays on the board until Saturday, he will be a reliable target for any team that takes a chance on him. Williams had a spectacular senior campaign for the Green Wave, grabbing 84 catches for 1,113 yards and 7 TD’s. His season included 5 games where he tallied 100 or more receiving yards. Williams capped that off with a strong performance at Ladd Peebles Stadium, where he made 6 catches for 83 yards and finished with over 100 yards of total offense. Of course, things haven’t necessarily worked out well stemming from the last time the Ravens drafted a WR named Williams…
WR Taylor Price (Ohio)
Scouts around Mobile compared Taylor Price to Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Johnny Knox is LIGHTNING fast. I’ll reiterate that I don’t think a 6’1″ receiver will address the Ravens’ problems at the position, but I know having game-breaking speed has worked for other #1 WR’s around the league, including Carolina Panthers star Steve Smith. Price didn’t put up eye-catching numbers during his Bobcats career, but he finished with just over 2,000 yards receiving and 14 TD’s. On top of that, Price spent some time during his career as both a punt returner and kick returner-but wouldn’t be an obvious candidate to compete with Lardarius Webb, Jalen Parmele or Chris Carr for a return job in Baltimore.
CB Kyle Wilson (Boise State)
The oddest thing about Kyle Wilson’s draft profile is trying to figure out how a player with his speed managed to end up at Boise State despite being from Piscataway, New Jersey. Strangely enough, it WASN’T because Rutgers wasn’t interested. Wilson wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, but he proved his doubters wrong during his career with the Broncos. Not only did he finish his career with 11 interceptions and 2 defensive TD’s, he also added 3 punt return TD’s. Wilson’s speed isn’t a concern, but his size (5’10”) makes it difficult to assume he can transition from WAC star to shutdown NFL corner. There will be plenty of comparisons made between Wilson and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Gerald Alexander, who also went to the Draft coming off a BSU victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
TE Ed Dickson (Oregon)
Unlike Riar Geer, Ed Dickson does appear to be the type of TE who could develop into a big playmaker while splitting time with a former Pro Bowler like Todd Heap to start his career. Dickson has tremendous size (6’5″, 244 pounds); and could really make sure he doesn’t stick around until Saturday on draft weekend by posting a 4.6-ish 40 at the Combine. Dickson didn’t exactly put up insane numbers in Eugene, but he did average over 500 yards receiving and 4 TD’s over each of the final 3 seasons of his Ducks career. Dickson is a tremendous athlete, having previously played LB and DE in High School and early in his college career. What makes him even more intriguing is that his size (much like the size of Miami TE prospect Jimmy Graham) makes him a legitimate jump ball and endzone threat, which the Ravens are currently lacking.
LB Daryl Washington (TCU)
While pass rusher Jerry Hughes is the Horned Frogs defender that is getting the most attention during Draft season, Washington has quietly made a name for himself as a riser at the ILB position. Washington had a stellar senior season in Fort Worth; tallying 109 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and a INT return TD. Washington moves well for someone who is about 6’3″, 234 pounds; but he moved to strong side during the Senior Bowl, and scouts will want to see continued progress from him at that position. Where he could fit in for the Ravens would be as a reserve MLB, as his ability to move downfield in pass coverage could get him playing time in obvious passing situations with Ray Lewis having appeared to lose a step in 2009. He looks like a Friday night pick as of right now.
OG Jeff Byers (USC)
If some schools are “Linebacker U” (like Penn State) or “Wide Receiver U” (Tennessee and Michigan State have been given that nickname), when will we finally recognize Southern Cal as “Interior Lineman U”? After players like Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons) and others, Byers is just another steady O-Lineman the Trojans are going to send to the NFL. The issue that is holding Byers back is his history of injuries. His career was slowed in 2005 and 2006 by hip and back injuries that caused him to miss the better part of two seasons. But Byers showed solid versatility in his senior season, even starting a game at center when Kris O’Dowd was hurt. Byers measures in at 6’3″ and right around 300 pounds-making his growth and bench performance very important as teams like the Ravens consider him on Saturday.
DE Alex Carrington (Arkansas State)
One of the most below the radar pass rushers in the entire FBS, Carrington is out to prove that his 19 sacks over his final two seasons in Jonesboro were about his own individual ability, not the Sun Belt level of opposition he faced with the Red Wolves. Carrington is an absolute monster, checking in at 6’5″, 280 pounds and expected to post a 40 somewhere in the 4.7 range at the Combine. Scouts in attendance at the Senior Bowl were blown away by his strength and versatility; as he’s believed to be capable of rushing in either a 3-4 or 4-3 set. Carrington would be a VERY intriguing selection for a Ravens team with Trevor Pryce’s long-term future in the air; and needing someone to perform opposite Terrell Suggs.
QB Jarrett Brown (West Virginia)
The inevitable comparisons with Brown will be to Miami Dolphins QB Pat White, but that’s only because the two players aren’t standing next to each other. Brown wasn’t overwhelming during his only season as a starter in Morgantown; he threw for 2,144 yards and 11 TD’s; adding 452 more yards and 6 TD’s on the ground. But Brown has great size for a player looking to prove himself at the next level-at 6’4″, 200 pounds. He’s not blazingly fast, but he definitely has the ability to move in the pocket-and his time in the 40 could change where he ends up getting picked. If the Ravens do end up moving Troy Smith-Brown’s size gives him an obvious advantage over the former Heisman Trophy winner as far as how his game will translate. He looks like a borderline Friday night or Saturday choice as of right now, which will certainly impact whether or not the Ravens would be interested.
Next week I’ll take a look back on the “Texas vs. The Nation” game risers.