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
6. Inside Linebacker
9. Running Back
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)
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)
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…
OT Anthony Costanzo (Boston College)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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…