Posted on 16 August 2013 by WNST Staff
Posted on 22 May 2013 by Luke Jones
The Ravens took another step toward locking up their entire 2013 draft class Tuesday by signing fourth-round linebacker John Simon to a four-year deal.
The Ohio State product became the seventh of the Ravens’ 10 draft picks to sign a contract. Of course, rookie negotiations have become no more than a formality since the new collective bargaining agreement came into play in 2011.
Simon was the 2012 Big Ten defensive player of the year and will compete with Courtney Upshaw for playing time as a reserve behind Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil in Baltimore’s 3-4 base defense.
In his final season with the Buckeyes, Simon collected 44 tackles, nine sacks, and 14 1/2 tackles for a loss.
Only first-round safety Matt Elam, second-round linebacker Arthur Brown, and third-round nose tackle Brandon Williams remain unsigned as the Ravens continue organized team activities this week.
Posted on 03 May 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Chosen by the Ravens to begin working toward a third championship in franchise history, a collection of rookie draft picks and free agents took the practice field in Owings Mills for the first time on Friday.
But before any of these first-year players can entertain thoughts of how big their respective roles will be during the 2013 season and beyond, simple tasks such as lining up in the huddle correctly or even finding the locker room must be mastered in their first mandatory minicamp. Adjusting to the speed of an NFL practice is challenging enough, but diving headfirst into a playbook more complex than any encountered in college will be a chore players won’t master for quite some time.
It’s all about baby steps, starting with first-round safety Matt Elam and finishing with the undrafted rookies trying to gain favor with head coach John Harbaugh and the rest of the staff in their first weekend together.
“You just take a couple of minutes at a time. I know we have lunch, so that’s what I’m looking forward to right now,” said fourth-round linebacker John Simon as he laughed. “Then, we have meetings, so [I'm] not getting too ahead of yourself and just slowly getting through the day – putting your focus into everything.”
Following an offseason filled with free-agent departures, retirements, and difficult releases, the Ravens view this draft as a pivotal step in replenishing a championship team with young talent ready to play immediately, whether it be as a starter or a key reserve. This is especially true on the defensive side of the football where the Ravens lost six key contributors and already view Elam as well as second-round inside linebacker Arthur Brown as projected starters against the Denver Broncos in Week 1.
Unlike other organizations plagued with prolonged spells of losing or lukewarm success, the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII title brings instant credibility in getting rookies to buy into their message with no questions asked. Of course, general manager Ozzie Newsome and his scouts have made a point to identify high-character players with team-centric goals that take precedent over personal accolades.
Understanding the organization’s way of doing things can’t be learned overnight, but the message is clearly expressed from the moment rookies walk into the building.
“I walked into the locker room and the first thing I saw was, ‘Team. Team. Team,’” Brown said. “That was definitely comforting to me, just recognizing that it is all about the team. I come from a school that definitely focuses on a team effort, so really just seeing that from the coaching staff and the other players is definitely what I am all about.”
Competing with Cody
Third-round pick Brandon Williams admits to having a chip on his shoulder after hearing the doubts about his NFL potential coming from Division II program Missouri Southern State, but the 335-pound defensive lineman couldn’t help but smile when asked about the opportunity he’s received in Baltimore.
Newsome made no secret about his team’s need to get stronger at the nose tackle position after Terrence Cody and Ma’ake Kemoeatu struggle at the spot throughout the 2012 season. The Ravens invested free-agent money in veteran defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to strengthen the defensive line but waited until the second day of the draft to identify Williams as a viable option at nose tackle.
And with Cody entering the final year of his rookie contract and failing to live up to expecations, Williams sees a golden opportunity to etch out a key role in the defensive line rotation.
“I love it. It’s great being here competing,” Williams said. “[Cody will] make me better; I’ll make him better. It’s just a team thing and a [defensive] line thing. We both can feed off of each other’s energy and play.”
Of course, with the Ravens’ extensive depth at defensive end, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could see more time playing inside, but there’s no disputing the opportunity that Williams has to make his mark in his first professional season.
No replacing Ray
Brown has heard the comparisons to the incomparable Ray Lewis since before the Kansas State linebacker was even drafted by the Ravens as his possible replacement, but the second-round pick is taking it all in stride.
Understanding there’s no way he can put himself in the conversation with one of the greatest defensive players in league history, Brown is looking forward to learning from the many remaining veterans influenced by the future Hall of Fame linebacker as well as crossing paths with Lewis himself. Expectations will be high after the Ravens moved up six spots in the second round to take him after suffering the losses of both Lewis and free-agent departure Dannell Ellerbe this offseason.
“The way I look at it is [there's] no replacing Ray Lewis,” Brown said. “He is still a part of this team. He has had a major impact on so many of guys that are already here. Really, I am just an addition looking to fulfill my role and be an impact player.”
Brown’s biggest competition for a starting job alongside Jameel McClain appears to be fourth-year linebacker Rolando McClain, who carries severe baggage from his days in Oakland as well as an arrest earlier this month that took place less than two weeks after he was signed to a one-year contract. His troubles coupled with Brown’s selection have led many to wonder whether the 2010 first-round pick will even make it to training camp as a member of the Ravens.
Taking the Harvard baton
In addition to answering questions about a potential competition with Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, fourth-round selection Kyle Juszczyk of Harvard has been asked about his connection with retired Ravens center Matt Birk, who attended the same Ivy League school.
Juszczyk and Birk are both represented by agent Joe Linta and kept in touch over the last month as the former learned his draft fate. In addition to clarifying the pronunciation of his name — saying it’s like “you ‘use’ a ‘check’” — the rookie fullback shared Birk’s advice in preparing him for what to expect in the locker room as a Harvard product.
“On draft day he texted me, congratulated me [and] told me he thought I’d do well,” Juszczyk said. “He apologized and said, ‘Guys in Baltimore don’t think Harvard guys are too smart anymore –- sorry about that.’”
Even in retirement, Birk’s sense of humor can still be felt in Owings Mills.
Simon on Meyer
Simon received arguably the best compliment of any of the Ravens’ 10 draft picks when Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said he would name his son after the Buckeyes defensive end after he served as a two-time captain in Columbus.
Projected to play outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system, Simon was appreciative of his college coach’s words — even if they were uncharacteristic based on his perception of Meyer.
“He never really said it to my face, so I’ve never actually heard it, but I’ve heard other people talk about it,” Simon said. “He’s a blunt person. He tells it like it is. For him to say something like that about myself, it’s special to me and I respect the hell out of the guy. It means a lot.”
Posted on 02 May 2013 by Luke Jones
With the Ravens welcoming their new batch of rookies to Owings Mills for their mandatory minicamp this weekend, they got down to business with signing some of their 10 draft picks from the Class of 2013.
The drama of rookie contracts has largely been eliminated since the introduction of a new system with the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, so signings have become mere formalities with holdouts and delayed negotiating now things of the past. The contracts of drafted rookie players are set at four years — first-round contracts contain an option for a fifth season — with rookie free agents receiving three-year contracts. While contract figures aren’t slotted with a fixed amount, each team is given a rookie cap figure by which to abide.
According to The Sun, the Ravens have reached four-year agreements with fourth-round fullback Kyle Juszczyk, fifth-round offensive lineman Ricky Wagner, sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, sixth-round center Ryan Jensen, seventh-round wide receiver Aaron Mellette, and seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony.
In addition to handing out contracts to six of their 10 draft choices, the Ravens officially assigned jersey numbers to each player and can be seen below:
S Matt Elam – No. 31
LB Arthur Brown – No. 59
NT Brandon Williams – No. 98
LB John Simon – No. 47
FB Kyle Juszczyk – No. 40
OL Ricky Wagner – No. 71
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore – No. 67
C Ryan Jensen – No. 77
WR Aaron Mellette – No. 80
CB Marc Anthony – No. 36
The Ravens have also issued No. 51 to troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, which will lead many to wonder whether we’ll actually see the 23-year-old linebacker suit up in Baltimore. The second-round selection of Brown certainly clouded McClain’s future even more than it already was following an arrest two weekends ago.
Posted on 28 April 2013 by Luke Jones
Because I refuse to put a grade on a draft that needs a couple years in order to truly be evaluated, I instead offer a thought on each of the 10 selections the Ravens made in the 2013 NFL Draft this weekend.
Some are serious, others are not, and you can guarantee you won’t find a silly letter grade attached to any of them.
1. Round 1 – S Matt Elam, Florida
Thought: The Ravens are over the moon for Elam, but you do wonder if his propensity for the big hit will draw untimely penalties in the same way Bernard Pollard would.
2. Round 2 – LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Thought: No one will ever be Ray Lewis, but Brown’s skill set provides the Ravens with a complete linebacker who’s strong in pass coverage, something they were severely lacking.
3. Round 3 – DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State
Thought: It’s great that the 335-pounder can walk on his hands, but that act of athleticism is too reminiscent of Kyle Boller being able to throw a football through the uprights while on a knee at the 50 for me to really care.
4. Round 4 – DE John Simon, Ohio State
Thought: The Jarret Johnson comparisons have already been made, but did Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer mean “John” or “Simon” when he said he’d name his son after the new Ravens outside linebacker?
5. Round 4 – FB Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard
Thought: General manager Ozzie Newsome didn’t dismiss the idea that the Ravens could keep both Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach and Juszczyk on the 53-man roster this year, but it wasn’t a ringing endorsement of the idea either.
6. Round 5 – OL Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
Thought: The Ravens technically drafted a left tackle on Saturday, but Wagner’s feet aren’t quick enough for the position at the next level, meaning he’ll likely find a home at guard or right tackle with the Ravens.
7. Round 6 – DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame
Thought: Still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the BCS title game, Lewis-Moore is one to watch for 2014 after being a co-captain and four-year starter for the Fighting Irish.
8. Round 6 – C Ryan Jensen, Colorado State-Pueblo
Thought: Raise your hand if you had never even heard of Colorado State-Pueblo — who brought back football in 2008 after a 24-year hiatus — let alone this offensive lineman prior to Saturday afternoon.
9. Round 7 – WR Aaron Mellette, Elon
Thought: You’ll continually be reminded he’s a seventh-round pick from an FCS school, but it’s difficult not to be intrigued with the 6-foot-2, 217-pound frame and eye-popping production (210 catches and 30 touchdowns in the last two seasons).
10. Round 7 – CB Marc Anthony, California
Thought: You have to feel good for Anthony making it to the NFL after putting up with years of jokes about Cleopatra, Jennifer Lopez, and being a Grammy award-winning singer.
Posted on 27 April 2013 by WNST Staff
The Baltimore Ravens added seven new players on the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
In the 4th round (129th overall pick), the Ravens selected Ohio State DL John Simon. Here’s a look at Simon from the Buckeyes’ 2012 win over Nebraska…
And a look at the OSU pass rusher from their 2012 win over Penn State…
And here’s Simon campaigning to get on the cover of the EA Sports NCAA Football video game…
We saw Brandon Williams’ arms Friday night, his new teammate’s are pretty impressive as well.
Simon received high praise from OSU coach Urban Meyer (courtesy of Eleven Warriors)…
Also in the 4th round (130th overall), the Ravens selected Harvard FB/TE Kyle Juszczyk. Here he is in action from Senior Bowl week…
And an overall career highlight package for the Crimson H-Back…
Juszczyk shared his excitement via Twitter…
Where he had previously shared his disbelief about how much someone was charging for his autograph…
In the 5th round (168th overall), the pick was Wisconsin OL Ricky Wagner. Here’s a look at Wagner from the Badgers’ 2011 loss to Ohio State…
In the 6th round (200th overall), the Ravens went with Notre Dame DL Kapron Lewis-Moore. Here’s Lewis-Moore’s performance in the Fighting Irish’s 2012 win over USC…
Based on this magazine cover, I think we can guess Lewis-Moore has a pretty good personality…
He also seemed quite upbeat despite ACL surgery after the Orange Bowl…
Lewis-Moore had a fun interaction with ESPN’s Rick Reilly…
In the 6th round (203rd overall), the Ravens brought Colorado State-Pueblo Center Ryan Jensen to the team. Here’s a highlight package from the 2011 season…
The CSU-Pueblo team did a “Harlem Shake” video last year…
Jensen Tweeted out a photo earlier this month of a quote that you might be familiar with as a Ravens fan. It’s one of John Harbaugh’s favorites…
In the 7th round (238th overall), the Ravens selected Elon WR Aaron Mellette. Here’s a career highlight package for Mellette…
And some highlights from the Phoenix’s 2012 loss to North Carolina…
Someone is going to have to let him know that his hat (and any friendship with Duke’s Ryan Kelly) is now completely unacceptable…
With their final 7th round pick (247th overall), the Ravens selected California CB Marc Anthony. We were all thinking the same thing.
Turns out it was a different guy.
Here are some highlights from Cal’s 2012 loss to Stanford…
Hear from Simon, Juszczyk, Wagner, Lewis-Moore and Mallette in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net.
Posted on 27 April 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued their trend of beefing up their front seven with the selection of Ohio State defensive end John Simon in the fourth round.
Taken with the 129th overall pick, Simon is considered a high-motor guy and is listed at 6-foot-2 and 257 pounds. He will likely serve as an outside linebacker and pass-rush specialist in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense.
“They are just a tough, hard-nosed team, and I feel that’s how I play the game,” Simon said in a conference call with Baltimore media. “I am just really excited to be part of the organization and look forward to getting to practice.”
A three-year starter for the Buckeyes, Simon finished with 20 1/2 sacks in his career and was named the Big Ten’s 2012 Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year. He led the conference in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (14 1/2) in 2012.
Regarded highly by Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, Simon said he met with the Ravens at the scouting combine and felt good about the conversations he had with them leading up to this weekend’s draft. He will likely find himself competing for situation playing time behind pass rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as well as outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
“I am going to do whatever it takes to do the best I can and to help the team out in any way possible,” Simon said. “Whatever the role is, I am going to just embrace it and do everything I can to be the best possible player for the Baltimore Ravens I can be.”
The Ohio State defensive lineman was dealing with a shoulder injury earlier in the offseason, but he declared himself 100 percent and ready to go after being drafted by Baltimore.
Simon became the fourth straight defensive player to be taken in the 2013 draft by Baltimore before Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk was taken with the next pick at 130th overall.