Tag Archive | "Marc Bulger"

As the NFL lockout ends, the time to say goodbye to some GREAT Ravens likely approaches ….

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As the NFL lockout ends, the time to say goodbye to some GREAT Ravens likely approaches ….

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Rex Snider

As we’ve now endured more than 130 days immersed within football’s version of HELL, it appears the brink of a new season awaits us.  Vote on this, vote on that ….

Training camps are supposedly opening next Saturday morning.  That’s the latest information from a twisted saga that has taken many, many turns.

Free agency is predicted to be a frenzied period of mass signings and cuts, along with very little time for dragging out negotiations.  In other words, we won’t be tortured with weeks of whether Brett Favre is coming back or not.

The biggest free agency prizes will likely have new homes and helmets by the time I return from vacation, two weeks from today.  And, Owings Mills will most certainly be a destination for a number of known NFL talents, as well.

Did I mention vacation?

That’s correct …. as the Ravens report to Westminster-East at the franchise’s headquarters, and as the world of the NFL is turned upside down with mass rumors, tweets, speculations and ultimate transactions, I will be enjoying all the news from the comforts of a beach chair in the surf, at Dewey Beach.

Perfect timing, huh?

We’re still days away from any official windows of negotiation – we’re not 100% certain of rules and policies regarding such overtures – and names of possible casualties and additions for the 2011 edition of the Baltimore Ravens are abounding.

Who do you believe?  What do you believe?  Should you even believe this lockout is really coming to an end?

The lockout is ending.  The owners and players have long concluded this marriage won’t suffer a separation that costs either side any money.  Thus, you can bet we’re on the brink of actually seeing, hearing and talking about football and its daily drama …..

And, as we’re on the verge of a new season, the speculation has already begun.  We know the Ravens will make some painful cuts of veteran talents, while also conceding to allow some of the team’s free agents to walk away.  But, they’re likely to make some very exciting additions, as well. 

We kinda know most of the team’s needs – but, we don’t really know what Ozzie Newsome and company are thinking …. OR how they’ll go about building their vision of the best team for the upcoming season.

But, we’ve heard the rumors.

Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie, Eric DeCosta, John Harbaugh and others whom are tasked with collaborating to the choices of parting with members of “the family” are undoubtedly conflicted over a number of such decisions.  They’re human and while the heart doesn’t likely figure into the ultimate decision, its certainly impacted – especially when they leave Winning Drive and explore their conscience. 

But, it’s the business of the National Football League.

I’ll leave you with a pictorial collection of the rumored potential exits that could transpire over the next couple weeks.  Some are predictably apparent and others are a reach.  From a personal perspective, I can imagine this process is among the toughest and most agonizing for any executives.

I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to weigh in with thoughts and opinions …..

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here is my first offseason/preseason ranking of the players who are currently property of the Baltimore Ravens or who were property of the team at the end of the 2010 season.

This list INCLUDES players who are not under contract-whether they are tendered restricted free agents, draft picks, exclusive rights free agents or even players who are expected to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Unlike in the past, I will do this list by position as I attempt to further explain how the team’s roster currently shapes up.

I apologize for my delay in putting this compilation together. Blame Gary Williams…and the Triple Crown…and the team’s practices at Towson University…and my own laziness.

Obviously there is much to be done before any of this matters, but this is simply “as the roster stands now” analysis.

Quarterbacks (4):
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger (UFA)
Tyrod Taylor
Hunter Cantwell

tyrod

The quarterback position is still in much less than full clarity at this point.

Joe Flacco has been a NFL quarterback for  55 games, including the playoffs. Joe Flacco has played every snap in 55 of those 55 games.

A season ago, the Ravens took a slight risk by parting ways with two backups-trading John Beck to the Washington Redskins during Training Camp and releasing Troy Smith after the preseason finale in St. Louis. They decided to carry only two active quarterbacks, paying a hefty price for veteran backup Marc Bulger.

Bulger appears to be out in Charm City, with most in the league believing he is destined to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens knew they’d need to address quarterback depth during the draft and did so by selecting the explosive former Virginia Tech Hokies star (Taylor-pictured above) in the 6th round.

While Taylor (who hails from the quarterback hotbed of Hampton, Virginia) certainly has a number of supporters who believe him capable of being a legitimate starter in the league-he will not play that role in Baltimore unless there is turmoil this season one way or another (injury or failure).

Flacco is the starter. Taylor will have a great chance of making the roster. The real question facing the team is how else to address the position. It is believed that the Ravens will pursue another veteran QB of sorts when (if?) free agency finally begins. Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has been a much rumored name the team could consider pursuing.

Should the Ravens not acquire a veteran free agent to backup Flacco, Cantwell could remain in the mix. He spent the entire 2010 season on the team’s practice squad-but has in the past been an active part of the Carolina Panthers’ roster.

With Taylor unlikely to be let go (or placed at risk of being taken away by trying to move him to the practice squad) but also unlikely to be the primary backup early in his career, it is fairly safe to assume the team will keep three quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (8):
Ray Rice
Le’Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
Jalen Parmele
Matt Lawrence
Jason McKie
Anthony Allen
Curtis Steele

parmele

Rice is obviously the team’s “featured” back. The issue for Cam Cameron’s offense this offseason is figuring out how to complement the fourth year back moving forward.

The worst kept secret in football is that the Ravens intend to part ways with McGahee because he is unwilling to take a cut from the $6 million he is owed. Should McGahee find the market slim there would always be a chance he could look towards Baltimore again, but it certainly appears unlikely.

With McGahee apparently gone, the Ravens will have to build their backfield without him. One option is McClain, who had his best season yet as a true fullback in 2010 (despite the fact that he was actually passed over for Pro Bowl recognition by Houston Texans FB Vonta Leach) but who has made clear his desire to carry the football more often.

McClain was initially thought to be on the cusp of reaching free agency this offseason (and departing), but without a new CBA McClain (and other fourth and fifth year players) would likely remain under contract. McClain’s size and potential goal line/short distance ability make him potentially a solid complement for Rice.

Should the Ravens move McClain into that role, they would likely need to consider keeping McKie or otherwise improving the fullback position. McKie was a non-factor during his brief stay at the end of the 2010 season-but could be a viable option in a thin market.

Parmele (pictured above) is the wild card in the backfield. The coaching staff has remained high on him throughout his time in Baltimore (and he has connections with Cameron dating back to the Dolphins). Parmele has remained a value special teams player (and is a viable return option), but he has run the ball only seven times in his career.

Lawrence, Allen and Steele are all question marks (and possibly longshots) to make the roster. Lawrence is a talented special teams player but missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL. Allen (the team’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) is hoping his 6’1″, 228 pound frame is enough to get him on the roster. Steele spent the 2010 season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. The team liked his quick hitting ability, but he will have an uphill climb-especially if there is no Training Camp.

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Former VT QB and Ravens sixth-round draft pick Tyrod Taylor on backing up Flacco: “I can’t wait to learn from Joe”

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Former VT QB and Ravens sixth-round draft pick Tyrod Taylor on backing up Flacco: “I can’t wait to learn from Joe”

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens fans heard some of the rumors over this draft weekend that we may have seen the last of Marc Bulger in a Baltimore uniform should the NFL’s lockout be lifted.

The Arizona Cardinals appear to be ready to sign Bulger-the longtime NFL veteran of the St. Louis Rams who backed up Joe Flacco this year-to a contract when the teams are allowed to sign free agents pending a new CBA.

If the Ravens were to lose Bulger, it would absolutely create a gaping hole in the depth chart behind Flacco, and on Saturday, Baltimore’s personnel department made a move in the draft to ensure that they have at least one quarterback behind Flacco should Bulger decide to move on to Arizona or another NFL team.

Tyrod Taylor

With the 180th pick in the sixth round of this weekend’s draft, the Ravens selected Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor-a 6-foot, 217 pound quarterback who started all four years for the Hokies  in Blacksburg.

Taylor joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to talk about becoming a Raven and taking the short drive up I-95 to begin his NFL career.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Taylor told Nelson. “But there’s still a lot to learn, and I can’t wait to learn from Joe Flacco.”

“It’s always good to get drafted by a team close by so I can keep track of the Hokies and stay close to home for the family.”

In his four years playing for Frank Beamer starting 41 of 49 games for Virginia Tech, Taylor finished with 6,795 passing yards, 43 TDs to just 19 INTs.

He really put it together in 2010, earning ACC Player of the Year honors while passing for 2,521 yards, 23 TD and 4 INTs.

His passing yardage, 2,174 rushing yards and 23 rushing scores over his Hokie career also set school records, and it shows that his versatility being able to throw the ball as well as make a play with a legs can help the Ravens offense move the chains.

If Ravens fans want to make a correlation, you can compare Taylor to that of a Troy Smith.

Taylor hopes that the Ravens use all his physical skills as an asset.

“Will the Ravens plan plays just for me? I want to help out any way I can,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s biggest concern coming into the draft was the lack of a proven track record playing at VT.

Despite his stellar numbers as a Hokie his senior year, most of those numbers came too late in his college career for NFL scouts to give him due notice.

That was one of the reasons why he lasted till the sixth round when the Ravens took a chance on him and his athletic ability.

“Going into it, my agent and I talked about what might happen,” Taylor said. “It was disappointing to slip to the sixth round. I was hoping for the third, fourth, or fifth.”

In a way, it was his post-season work after the page was turned on his college career  that caught NFL GM’s eyes the most, especially January’s East-West Shrine Game where Taylor completed four of five passes for 59 yards.

“Early in the process looking at the numbers, some teams had mixed feelings,” Taylor said of his visits. “But I think after evaluating film, teams changed their minds about me, especially after the East-West Shrine Game.”

Still, the biggest question mark for Taylor will be if he can be a pocket-passer in the NFL who relies on his arm first-and his legs second.

Taylor answered that doubt with all the confidence in the world.

“It shouldn’t be hard for me,” Taylor said. “It’s just learning the reads and trust in the system. Be yourself and move the chains.”

The Ravens see him as a quarterback as well.

“We feel like he has the skill sets to play quarterback and he also brings the added dimension of being a terrific athlete that can-as we see so much now-get out of the pocket and hurt people,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said Saturday after the draft was completed.

Taylor said he already has that chip on his shoulder for being drafted so low over the weekend by the Ravens.

Could there be a comparison to another big-time college quarterback who had to wait till the sixth round in Tom Brady?

“With him being drafted in the sixth round also, I also feel motivated to prove them wrong. Ten quarterbacks were drafted ahead of me, so again, it’s all motivation,” Taylor said.

But, at least he’s not motivated to take #5 away from his incumbent teammate after having it at Virginia Tech the last several years.

“It’s Flacco’s number,” Taylor laughed, “so I’ll change it.”

WNST welcomes a former ACC-rival in Tyrod Taylor to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Tyrod as well as many of your other Ravens draft picks! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

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

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State), Greg Little (UNC)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh), Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State), Mike Pouncey (Florida)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), Corey Liuget (Illinois)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga), Justin Rogers (Richmond)
K-Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8910-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Parts 11 & 12-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten final prospects we have yet to profile during Draft season.

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

DE Cam Jordan (Cal)

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

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

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

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

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

RB Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington)

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

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

Both are pretty cool.

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

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

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

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

WR Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian)

edmundgates

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

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

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

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

CB Curtis Brown (Texas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

OT James Carpenter (Alabama)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QB T.J. Yates (North Carolina)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s just not going to work.

DE Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)

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

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

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

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

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

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

CB Davon House (New Mexico State)

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

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

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

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

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

TE Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P Travis Baltz (Maryland)

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

Two things.

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

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

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

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

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Pro Days Nearly in Books as Draft Season Begins Home Turn

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Pro Days Nearly in Books as Draft Season Begins Home Turn

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

With only Notre Dame left amongst significant Pro Timing Days this season, NFL Draft season is now headed to pro facilities, as teams will host private meetings with prospects.

This of course is all happening despite the fact that the league and the players are battling in court in Minneapolis.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8 & 9-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects whose schools have already held their Pro Timing Days.

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

DE Sam Acho (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea4RHlaq8eg&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Acho became an interesting name in Charm City when he told us at the Combine he had met with the Ravens. Clearly the team had gone down the “Longhorns pass rusher” road recently (see Kindle, Sergio), and they desperately need a rush end.

Acho is a 6’2″, 262 pound beast who tallied eight sacks in each his junior and senior seasons in Austin. He has decent speed (he posted a 4.67 forty yard dash at the Combine and sat on the number at his Pro Day) and has shown the ability to be a solid pass rusher at the college level.

The Ravens will have to figure out if that can translate to a level in the NFL that allows him to partner up with LB Terrell Suggs to get after quarterbacks.

If Kindle’s off-field issues scare fans into thinking the team should avoid all former ‘Horns defenders altogether, consider some of Acho’s accomplishments.

-William V. Campbell Trophy winner (nation’s top football student-athlete)
-2010 Wuerffel Trophy (all-around excellence in athletic, academic and community achievement)
-ARA Sportsmanship Award
-UT’s seventh two-time Academic All-American
-member of the 2010 AFCA Good Works Team
-2010 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete
-finalist for the 2010 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

The Ravens will have to decide whether Acho’s on-field ability warrants a late Thursday or early Friday selection, but they shouldn’t be concerned about him away from the field at all.

(Acho joined Thyrl Nelson last week on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST, make sure you hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net if you missed him!)

RB Mikel Leshoure (Illinois)

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

I would be FLOORED if the Ravens selected Leshoure with the 26th pick in the Draft. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Ravens selected him in the 2nd round should he be available.

Leshoure is a 6’0″, 227 pound back with solid speed (4.56 40) who exploded on the scene in 2010. Leshoure posted nearly 1,900 yards of total offense and 20 total touchdowns after totaling just over 900 yards in 2009.

Seeing the way NFL teams have considered the number of touches a back has at the college level more and more, Leshoure decided to leave Champaign a year early and keep as much tread on his tires as possible.

The Ravens will need to overhaul their backfield this offseason. RB Willis McGahee is expected to be let go, FB Le’Ron McClain could depart as an unrestricted free agent. The team needs to figure out how to pair someone with their undersized superstar Ray Rice to carry them offensively.

Leshoure’s size could make him a decent complement paired with Rice.

But I would still only expect it to be possible if Leshoure slips to 58th.

LB Akeem Dent (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJbNrEv5zXc[/youtube]

The Ravens have issues at Inside Linebacker.

They have a future Hall of Famer at one position (Ray Lewis) who-while still performing at a Pro Bowl level-is not getting any younger.

Lining up next to him, the team has attempted to see Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain nail down a spot-but none of them have done so.

They have to find some better answers at ILB.

Dent recently met with Ravens LB Dean Pees, meaning the team is at least considering a Saturday selection on the former Bulldogs backer. He’s 6’1″, 242 pounds with underwhelming speed (4.78), but he capped his career with Athens with an exceptional 122 tackle, three sack, two forced fumble senior campaign.

There’s nothing about Dent in particular that really makes him stand out-but he’s been productive against SEC offenses and has shown decent character.

For a team needing help at the position, that might be all that’s necessary.

QB Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p9xT-7-UkU[/youtube]

When Gil Brandt reported that the Ravens’ QB coach attended Stanzi’s Pro Day in Iowa City, I will admit that I was a bit confused.

Jim Zorn has since taken over the same role with the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron and Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg to split the responsibilities of working with Joe Flacco.

It is believed (from the folks in Owings Mills I talked to) that Ver Steeg was the coach working with Stanzi at Iowa’s Pro Day. It’s certainly a sign that the team is legitimately considering Stanzi as an option should backup Marc Bulger depart (or perhaps even if he ends up returning).

Stanzi had a solid career for the Hawkeyes, compiling a 3,000 yard senior season to finish off a 7,377 yard/56 TD career. He has solid size (6’4″, 223 pounds) and while he isn’t quick, he did improve his 40 time to 4.93 at Pro Day.

There will likely be some concerns still lingering from a 2009 ankle injury that forced him to miss time, but he didn’t miss a game in 2010.

The Ravens probably won’t even think about quarterbacks until Saturday-as they are not looking for someone who will need to play (unless there’s an emergency situation) in 2011. If Stanzi remains on the board after three rounds, he will have to at least be a consideration.

CB Brandon Burton (Utah)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8HHyOuT4NM[/youtube]

This won’t be the first time I will have written about the Ravens’ CB situation as they (eventually) enter the offseason.

CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents. CB Domonique Foxworth is coming off of an ACL injury that cost him the entire season. CB Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent.

As of this moment, the team has Lardarius Webb, Marcus Paschal and Danny Gorrer as healthy players under contract. They’re going to have to do SOMETHING at the position-although we all expect Foxworth and at least one of the UFA’s to be back in the mix.

Burton is a 6’0″, 190 pound corner who produced solid if not spectacular numbers during three seasons with the Utes. He finished his career with 97 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and three interceptions.

Clearly those numbers were skewed at least a bit by the fact that Mountain West opponents learned not to throw in his direction quite as much.

Burton has decent speed (he shaved his 40 time down to 4.50 at his Salt Lake City Pro Day), but a quicker time might have made him a first round possibility. Instead, he’ll likely be a player the Ravens can consider adding to Chuck Pagano’s defense on Friday night.

RB Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVJY_1wU8Lo[/youtube]

Evans only did positional workouts at his Pro Day in Blacksburg, deciding to sit on all of his workout numbers from the Combine.

The decision-much like his decision to leave Va Tech with a year of eligibility left-could certainly be considered questionable.

While his Hokies’ teammate Ryan Williams is all but a sure thing to be a Friday night pick, there is certainly no guarantee Evans will be selected at all. He has decent size (6’0″, 227 pounds) and speed (4.56 40), but the ACL injury that cost him his entire 2009 season will certainly leave personnel folks (like Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome) wary of using a pick on him.

Evans was tremendous in 2008, rushing for 1,265 yards and 11 TD’s. He bounced back for a decent season in 2010, posting 854 yards and another 11 TD’s. He clearly made the decision to leave school out of fear that he would take too much “tread off his tires”, which has become a significant concern for NFL teams who tend to lower the life expectancy for a running back every year.

Evans might be the type of back that could complement someone like Rice, but he’d likely have to come in as a late round pick (or Undrafted Free Agent…if teams are ever able to sign those) and compete for a job behind Rice, Jalen Parmele and whoever else the team brings back in the backfield.

DE Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)

winterswyk

I think we all expect the Ravens to have addressed the need for a rush end early in the Draft, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they could consider selecting multiple Ends during the course of the weekend.

Winterswyk is an intriguing late round prospect. He measures in at 6’4″, 268 pounds and shaved his 40 time down to the 4.80 range at his Pro Day (according to the National Football Post) after a disappointing 4.96 at the Combine.

Winterswyk garnered plenty of attention during his junior season, tallying nine sacks for the Broncos and establishing himself as the type of player who could be a serious threat off the edge at the next level.

That excitement died down a bit in 2010, as Winterswyk managed only two sacks during his senior campaign.

The Ravens certainly couldn’t use a Saturday selection on the former BSU rusher and assume that they had solved their issues on the edge. But if they used an early pick on an End (or waited to address the issue if and when free agency finally begins), Winsterswyk could certainly be an interesting project for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to consider.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I08QqP7cE5A[/youtube]

I’ll say what you’re thinking…yes, there’s reason to compare Sanzenbacher to former Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley.

But there’s no guarantee that a Stokley-type receiver is what the Ravens need right now to complete their receiving corps.

The team will be looking for a downfield speed threat as WR Donte’ Stallworth (unrestricted free agent) may well depart following a season where he was unable to get into the mix offensively.

Sanzenbacher (5’11″, 182 pounds) could be the type to fill that role-but will initially be looked at as more of a possession receiver with a speed threat (4.48 40 at his Pro Day).

The Ravens will return two possession receivers at the top of their corps (Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason), meaning size and speed will be what they are most looking for in a receiver.

Should they address those issues by selecting a Jon Baldwin-type receiver early in the draft, Sanzenbacher could be an additional option on Saturday to further bolster Cameron’s offense.

QB Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7VFdi_WhLY[/youtube]

At 6’5″, 251 pounds; Johnson certainly has the LOOK of a NFL quarterback. At times during his career with the Aggies, he certainly showed off the skills necessary to be a NFL quarterback as well.

Unfortunately, his career in College Station ended with him on the bench due to a shoulder injury. Coach Mike Sherman’s staff lost faith in Johnson’s arm strength-and those questions have clearly lingered over his performance during Draft season.

Johnson has a unique mix of size and athleticism, and managed to throw for over 8,000 yards and 67 touchdowns before ending up on the bench. He had a particularly prolific junior season, completing 296 of 497 attempts for 3,579 yards with 30 TD’s and just eight interceptions.

Johnson could be particularly interesting on Saturday (or as an undrafted free agent) to Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and a Ravens team that will be looking for depth behind Flacco but not for someone who would need to step in and play anytime soon barring emergency.

OT DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)

demarcuslove

Not only has the situation with OT Jared Gaither not been resolved, we’re absolutely no closer to having any true understanding of how the team’s tackle position might shake out.

The team could still decide to retain their former supplemental pick despite the injury issues that cost him the entire 2010 season. They could choose to allow the unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere and sign or draft another tackle. They could let Gaither depart and re-sign OL Marshal Yanda to play tackle. They could choose to elevate a Tony Moll or Oniel Cousins to the position.

Get the picture?

Love (6’4″, 315 pounds) could be an option for the Ravens at tackle or guard as the team considers how they’ll shape their O-Line opposite LT Michael Oher and LG Ben Grubbs.

Love certainly showed his ability to handle top rushers as an All-SEC performer for the Razorbacks; but struggled against top talent during Senior Bowl week in Mobile.

He’ll probably be a late Friday/early Saturday selection and will certainly be an interesting prospect for a Ravens team needing changes along the line.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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First Round of Pro Days in Draft Season Books

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First Round of Pro Days in Draft Season Books

Posted on 17 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

No matter what happens in Washington DC or courtrooms in Minnesota or the NFLPA offices; NFL Draft Season is moving forward.

After the Combine, Draft season has now progressed with Pro Timing Days, as players work out in familiar settings on their own college campuses. Some Pro Timing Days have gotten a ton of publicity (like Auburn’s, which aired on ESPN3.com), others have gone virtually unnoticed outside of the local market (Maryland held their Pro Timing Day in College Park Wednesday).

The Baltimore Ravens continue to send scouts to Pro Timing Days during the NFL lockout, a group lead by General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union)
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), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami)

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 & 6-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium

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 who have already held their Pro Timing Days.

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 Brandon Harris (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0yjcu9CJvc[/youtube]

Harris has been a bit of a faller ever since the end of the Hurricanes’ regular season.

He struggled in the Canes’ Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame. He measured in an inch shorter (5’10″) than his listed height in Indy. He lost an inch on his vertical between his stop at the combine and his Pro Day in Coral Gables.

That being said, he’s been linked to Charm City by a number of mock drafts-both by fans and experts.

Harris measured in at 5’10″ in Indianapolis, and posted an exceptional 4.46 in the 40 yard dash.

He excelled in man coverage during his time under Randy Shannon, playing much above his height. The Ravens would have to believe he can translate that ability to the next level for him to be a real fit in Chuck Pagano’s defense.

Harris is a borderline 1st/2nd round pick. He could go anywhere between 20 and 40. With the Ravens sitting at 26, there’s no question that he’ll be a legitimate consideration.

LB Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-Ckjltk9Ic[/youtube]

The bad news? Sheppard’s disappointing 4.76 40 at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge was particularly troubling for scouts who envisioned him moving to an outside linebacker position at the next level.

The good news? The Ravens would more likely be looking at Sheppard as an inside linebacker prospect given the inability for Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain or Dannell Ellerbe to look down a starting job in the 3-4 scheme and the long-term reality of Ray Lewis’ age. If his time hurts his stock with some teams, it could make him available to a team like the Ravens later in the Draft.

Sheppard measured in at 6’2″, 250 pounds in Indianapolis. His biggest strength is tackling in space (he combined for 228 tackles between his junior and senior seasons), but he progressed during his senior season enough that he was able to record four sacks and force two fumbles for the Tigers.

Sheppard is a late Friday night or early Saturday at this point. He’s a good player who lacks elite speed. He’s roughly the same size as Lewis. And here’s a note from his LSU bio…

“Undisputed team leader for the Tigers as a senior in 2010 … Known for his fiery pre-game speeches to the team”

Sounds like he might be a fit.

DE D’Aundre Reed (Arizona)

dreed

I was chatting with Arizona DE Brooks Reed at the Combine-and it came upon me to ask him what it was like going through the Draft process with a teammate like Ricky Elmore.

His response caught me off guard.

“Yep, it’s great to be able to have Ricky with me…and D’Aundre Reed.”

My head couldn’t quite get around it. D’Aundre Reed was at the Combine?

Sure enough-despite starting just eight games for the Wildcats, Reed has been getting a bunch of attention during Draft season.

It isn’t because of his numbers. During the last two seasons in Tucson, Reed tallied just 54 tackles and four sacks.

That being said, Reed has good size (6’4″, 258 pounds) and managed to shave his 40 time down to 4.75 at his Pro Timing Day.

There’s certainly no guarantee that he’ll be drafted, but he’ll be an intriguing prospect both late Saturday and after the draft is over. He may a bit more like Cory Redding than Trevor Pryce, but could be an interesting developmental prospect for the Ravens.

OT Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HG8AW-S198[/youtube]

With the news that Ravens assistant O-Line coach Todd Washington was closely watching Sherrod at the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, there has been some buzz in town surrounding the 6’5″, 321 pound tackle.

We all know the Ravens have O-Line needs. OT Jared Gaither and G/T Marshal Yanda are unrestricted free agents. Head Coach John Harbaugh has not hid from the fact that he wants to see Yanda return to guard and Gaither back at RT.

That’s all well and good, but there are a number of moving parts involved-not only due to free agency but also due to the health of Gaither. With Andy Moeller set to begin his first season as O-Line coach, the team could do well to obtain another mammoth bookend tackle.

After not running in Indianapolis, Sherrod clocked in at 5.29 at the MSU Pro Day in Starkville. He’s clearly behind Gabe Carimi in terms of being the most sought after tackle in the draft, but he’s in the mix with the likes of Nate Solder and Anthony Costanzo just behind that.

He’ll likely be available at 26. He probably won’t be available a round later when the Ravens pick again. Depending on how the first round plays out, Baltimore could be a destination for the big man.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0xi0eaaP7I[/youtube]

I understand how 40 times can change between the Combine and Pro Day.

I absolutely do NOT understand how a player like Rodgers can go from measuring in at 5’5 7/8″ inches in Indianapolis and then 5’7″ in Corvallis just weeks later.

Even with the extra inch and an eighth, a team interested in Rodgers would be looking simply for a Ray Rice type of back who is capable of producing solid yards per carry on the ground but can be involved in the passing game to a significant extent as well.

That might not make him a fit in Baltimore-as the Ravens already have a Ray Rice (whose name just so happens to be Ray Rice), but might be looking to revamp their backfield with an impending departure of Willis McGahee, and a potential departure in unrestricted free agent FB Le’Ron McClain.

Rodgers is well known for combining with his older brother (WR James Rodgers) to make the Beavers a very explosive offense over the last few seasons. He posted an impressive 1,471 yards of total offense and 17 TD’s in 2010-which was considered a disappointment after 1,962 yards of total offense and 22 TD’s in 2009.

Clearly the season ending injury his brother suffered and the departure of QB Sean Canfield went into the statistical drop Rodgers suffered as a junior before leaving school.

Rodgers wouldn’t address the Ravens’ backfield needs, but he could be an interesting addition late Friday or early Saturday if Newsome and company believed they could further address the backfield issues later in the offseason (if there is any later in the offseason this year).

WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63lbmKiBWl0[/youtube]

Jernigan was a clear beneficiary of participating in drills at the Trojans’ Pro Day last week, with the most significant bump coming in his 40 yard dash.

Jernigan was clocked at 4.46 at the Combine, but shaved that number down to 4.32 at his Pro Day.

Jernigan was a consistent target during his four years in Troy, catching 262 balls for 3,128 yards and 18 touchdowns. Critics will (fairly) point out that those numbers were tallied while playing Sun Belt conference competition, and that can’t really be ignored.

Yet most mock drafts see Jernigan as a Friday night selection; where the Ravens could be looking for wide receiver help if they don’t address the position in Round 1.

Jernigan’s 5’9″, 185 pound frame does not give him ideal size to stand out in a receiving corps that already features average sized receivers like Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. But the team will be looking for a speed receiver option, as Donte’ Stallworth never really found his way into Cam Cameron’s offense a season ago and is a likely departure as an unrestricted free agent.

Getting down to 4.32 at Pro Day could be a big step in proving to scouts (including those in Baltimore) that he has a realistic future as a speed receiver in the NFL.

OG/OT Danny Watkins (Baylor)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVyyt5-S88E[/youtube]

Watkins is a VERY intriguing prospect for a number of reasons.

First of all, it is believed that Watkins is more likely to be a guard at the next level, despite playing LT at a very high level following the departure of former Bears and now St. Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith.

Second, Watkins has a strange story. He grew up in Kelowna (British Columbia), Canada. (He was actually selected by his hometown BC Lions last year in the CFL Draft.) He didn’t play football in high school, instead choosing to play rugby and hockey. He just began playing football three years ago at Butte (junior) College in California and played just two seasons in Waco.

Third, he’s 26 years old. That certainly hurts for some teams who are looking for long term prospects, and his lack of experience might be a detriment to a team who would draft him believing his age made him more pro-ready.

With all of that said, the general consensus is that Watkins is still an early Friday selection. He’d be more valuable to the Ravens as a tackle; but could provide a better option than Chris Chester at guard should the team choose to keep Yanda at RT. The Ravens held a private workout with Watkins in Texas this week, so there’s clearly interest.

And if Watkins becomes a Raven, perhaps his previous career as a firefighter could somehow help? Perhaps?

WR Niles Paul (Nebraska)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmFt10el-m4[/youtube]

Paul shaved his time in the 40 down to 4.42 at his recent Pro Day in Lincoln, .03 seconds faster than the time he posted at the Combine.

But the questions most scouts have about Paul don’t really have much of anything to do with his speed.

The real question is whether or not he’s capable of being an elite receiver at the next level. And it’s certainly a relevant question considering he never posted particularly prolific numbers during his career with the Cornhuskers.

Paul had a good year in 2009, catching 40 passes for 796 yards and four touchdowns; but those numbers fell in his senior season when he grabbed 39 balls for 516 yards and just one score.

Paul’s best value is as a returner, as he tallied nearly 2,500 yards and three TD’s over his last three seasons as the Huskers’ primary return option.

David Reed and Lardarius Webb appeared to get comfortable as the team’s kickoff and punt returners respectively last season, but they certainly haven’t solidified themselves in positions where they couldn’t be unseated.

Paul measured in at 6’1″, 224 pounds at the Combine. His senior season was cut short by a foot injury that will certainly be a concern for any team wanting to consider him.

While not as short as Jernigan, Paul’s size probably wouldn’t allow him to stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps either-as he’s basically the same size as TJ Houshmandzadeh, who is certainly a question mark to return as an unrestricted free agent.

QB Andy Dalton (TCU)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY_J_w4oQfc[/youtube]

If there was any hope that the man who surpassed Sammy Baugh as Texas Christian’s all time winningest QB could somehow slip far enough to be a consideration for the Ravens on Saturday, those hopes have probably been dismissed by his performances thus far during Draft season.

Dalton had an exceptional Pro Day according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, completing 49 of 52 attempts-with two of his incompletions the result of dropped passes.

Dalton is no stranger to the word “exceptional”, as the four year starter finished his career with more than 10,000 passing yards and 71 touchdowns…and a particularly significant Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

His 6’2″, 215 pound frame and solid arm will be beneficial to SOMEONE in the NFL…it’s just unlikely to be the Ravens. Joe Flacco is THE quarterback; the team could just be looking for help behind him with Marc Bulger an unrestricted free agent.

RB Mark Ingram (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7b6kJwvhN4[/youtube]

If Mark Ingram never played a snap in the NFL, it wouldn’t keep him from being able to write a book about his life to this point.

His father (Mark Ingram Sr.) helped the New York Giants win Super Bowl XXV, but was eventually incarcerated due to charges of bank fraud and money laundering. He remains in prison to this day and is not scheduled to be released until 2014.

The younger Ingram has overcome his father’s troubles in a big way, becoming the Crimson Tide’s first ever Heisman Trophy winner and leading his team to a BCS National Championship Game win over Texas in Pasadena back in January of 2010.

After an incredible 2009 season in which he compiled 1,992 total yards of offense and 20 TD’s, a knee injury delayed the start of his 2010 campaign. A “down” year in 2010 still resulted in 1,157 yards of total offense and 14 TD’s.

Ingram is considered a slam dunk first round pick, especially after getting his 40 time down into the range of 4.5 at his Pro Day in Tuscaloosa following a disappointing 4.62 at the Combine.

The Ravens are unlikely to look to grab a 5’9″ back in the first round, but Ingram’s availability could challenge their “best player available” philosophy. They DO need backfield help even if they have more pressing needs.

There’s also a certain General Manager in Baltimore who has a particular affinity for former Alabama players.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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With Combine in Rear View Mirror, Draft Season Heads to School

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With Combine in Rear View Mirror, Draft Season Heads to School

Posted on 10 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re over ten days removed from the National Football League’s annual Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis.

I apologize for the delay in updates, a trip to Sarasota for Orioles Spring Training is to blame.

Now draft season heads back to campus, as schools host Pro Timing Days for their NFL Draft hopefuls.

The Baltimore Ravens brought a significant contingent of personnel folks to the premiere event during Draft season, including General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Head Coach John Harbaugh. The group was very active over the weekend with meetings and workouts.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii)
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), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

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 & 6-Previews of players ahead of the 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 from the Combine to Pro Timing Days.

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.

DE Cameron Heyward (Ohio State)

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

Remember when former Buckeyes LB James Laurinaitis was headed towards the 2009 NFL Draft and his name couldn’t come up without a mention of his father Joe Laurinaitis (the former WWF star “Road Warrior Animal”)?

Be prepared for the same now with Cameron Heyward-the son of former New Orleans Saints RB Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.

Much like Lauriniatis, Heyward heads toward the Draft as a marquee prospect.

Heyward measured in at 6’5″, 294 pounds in Indy. The only disappointing part of his weekend was that an offseason elbow surgery prevented him from being able to lift, where he would have been expected to show off great upper body strength.

Heyward probably won’t be able to lift between now and the Draft, which could allow him to slip to late in the first round or completely out of the first round altogether. He did take time however to show reporters assembled in Indianapolis that he was fully capable of bending his arm at the elbow and had a full range of motion in his arm.

The most impressive part of Heyward’s trip to Indy was his session with the media. Heyward was very impressive in talking to reporters, thinking back on a life growing up around the NFL.

The question for the Ravens will be whether or not Heyward can consistently pressure quarterbacks. He tallied just four sacks during his senior year in Columbus, 15 sacks overall during four seasons at OSU.

The Ravens NEED a rush end, we all know that. But they need a rush end who they can count on to truly generate…well…a rush. There’s certainly a chance Heyward could be that player.

WR Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfn3oxSbJ6A[/youtube]

Shorts just joined Thyrl Nelson Monday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST. If you missed it, I suggest you check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

Shorts found immediate superstardom in Charm City over Combine weekend, as the Ravens didn’t hide from their interest in him. Shorts in fact confirmed to WNST.net that he had met with the team’s entire coaching staff and Newsome.

Shorts is smart to bring up the name Pierre Garcon every time he speaks, as the fellow former Purple Raiders receiver has found immediate success with the Colts.

For as much attention as was paid to Shorts during Combine weekend, his 40 time and measurements hurt. He was listed as 6’2″ during college, but measured in at 6’0″. For a speed receiver, his 4.53 time in the forty was disappointing.

Shorts finished his college career with 4,615 yards receiving, which is nothing to sneeze at. He of course posted those numbers at a Division III school, although Mt. Union was one of the premiere programs at the D3 level.

He’s not going to be a Thursday night pick…or a Friday night pick. And Shorts is certainly not “the answer” for the Ravens in terms of upgrading their WR corps. But he could become a solid complementary piece in Cam Cameron’s offense, and could certainly be an option in the team’s return game.

RB Dion Lewis (Pitt)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1wwCS_BBVI[/youtube]

Has there been a more confusing early NFL Draft entry in recent years than Lewis?

Lewis is not a prototypical every down back. He’s much closer to a Ray Rice type of undersized back who will have to be involved in the passing game to really make an impact at the next level.

Of course, that’s an overly fair comparison. No one in the NFL thinks Dion Lewis is the next Ray Rice right now, which is why he could still be an intriguing option late in the Draft.

Lewis (5’7″, 193 pounds) played for just two seasons with the Panthers before departing for the NFL. His (redshirt) freshman season was incredible, as his 1,799 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per carry average made fans in Western Pennsylvania forget about LeSean McCoy, who had been drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

But his production in his sophomore season didn’t quite reach the same level, as he ran for just 1,061 yards and his average fell to 4.8 yards per carry.

Certainly part of the reason McCoy left school is because of the way running backs are now used in the NFL. There is a common thought that teams are looking for backs with more “tread left on the tires”, as the average shelf life for a back is much shorter than it once was.

Lewis would NOT be a “replacement” for Willis McGahee should the Ravens cut tie with the veteran as expected. But the Ravens could be looking to add multiple pieces to their backfield. As the Draft gets later, Lewis could be an option.

CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami)

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

You’re thinking to yourself…”I know that name!”

You do. Van Dyke became one of the more recognizable names of Draft season when he posted a blazing 4.28 forty yard dash at the Combine, making him the fastest man in Indianapolis.

On top of his speed, scouts clearly like Van Dyke’s size. The former Hurricanes DB measured in at 6’1″, 176 pounds in Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, speed and size alone do not make a player a legitimate NFL prospect. Van Dyke collected three interceptions during his career in Coral Gables, but struggled underneath and in zone situations, only really showing true ability in deep man coverages.

If he wasn’t 6’1″ and blazing fast, Van Dyke wouldn’t be a prospect AT ALL. Because of his size and speed, a team is going to be willing to take a late round chance on his as a developmental prospect.

The Ravens have questions in their secondary; as Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents. On top of that, Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury.

Van Dyke is NOT a player the Ravens could take at the top of the Draft and plug in to play next season. But he could be allowed to progress behind veteran corners in Chuck Pagano’s defense.

DE Dontay Moch (Nevada)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PT3GoRCKY8[/youtube]

What we know is that Moch is FAST.

How fast?

He posted a 4.44 time in the forty at the Combine, easily the fastest amongst D-Linemen and Linebackers. What’s crazier is that Moch had previously recorded a 4.20 forty time at a Pro Timing Day in Reno as a junior.

The question for scouts now is whether or not Moch can match his speed with defensive skill.

Moch is a 6’1″, 248 pound end who many folks believe will have to be converted to an OLB at the next level. That would obviously limit his value to a team like the Ravens, who are in desperate need of D-End help.

Moch definitely showed an ability to get to the QB during his four seasons with the Wolf Pack, collecting 29 sacks during his career. He’s also intelligent, composing a NFL Draft diary during the process for the website SB Nation Arizona (he’s a Chandler, Arizona native).

If the Ravens feel he can team with LB Terrell Suggs and provide pressure from the edge, he could very well be a Friday night choice.

QB Jake Locker (Washington)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZchE4x7zlE[/youtube]

If there was any thought process that somehow Jake Locker could slip far enough in the Draft that he could end up being an option for the Ravens, it’s certainly gone now.

While there are still questions about his throwing accuracy, Locker’s 4.52 time in the 40 yard dash and overall Combine performance confirmed that he’ll be a 2nd round pick at worst. That’s far too early for the Ravens to consider a quarterback with an established starter in Joe Flacco.

Locker will not be the Top 10 pick we once thought he would be, but the former Huskies QB seems more and more likely to be picked 25th by his hometown Seattle Seahawks.

Wherever he ends up, he’ll bring 53 TD passes as a Pac 10 quarterback and a solid 6’3″, 231 pound frame.

But unless something were to happen to Flacco between now and the end of April, he won’t be bringing those attributes to Baltimore.

C Rodney Hudson (Florida State)

rodneyhudson

The bad news? Hudson was a guard (and actually played some tackle as well) in Tallahassee, and was a bit undersized even for a very talented ACC Offensive Lineman.

The good news? Hudson is expected to play center at the NFL level, reported to the Combine ten pounds heavier than when he played in the Senior Bowl and would have at least a season (fingers crossed for good health) to study under veteran Matt Birk.

Hudson checked in at 6’2″, 299 pounds in Indianapolis, and the only downside for the Ravens is that he’s continuously risen on Draft boards.

He won’t be taken before Mike Pouncey, but he might not last long enough for the Ravens to get him with the 59th pick in the draft.

Most scouts think Hudson could play immediately. If the Ravens can call his name in New York, they might have the benefit of not having to find out.

LB Colin McCarthy (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wB-pouJkVw[/youtube]

Looking to the Canes for defensive help wouldn’t be something new for the Ravens organization.

At times, their success has reached a historic level (see Ray Lewis & Ed Reed). At other times, the jury is still out (see Tavares Gooden).

Interesting to mention the names of Gooden and Lewis, as both play a role in why McCarthy might be a legitimate choice for the Ravens.

Gooden is part of a trio (Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain are the others) who have failed to solidify the WILL backer spot next to Lewis in the team’s 3-4 scheme. And as Harbaugh pointed out in a town hall conference call with fans this week, the team is aware that they have to start considering a long term replacement for Lewis at the MIKE backer spot.

McCarthy could be an option for either role…or perhaps both.

McCarthy is a 6’1″, 238 pound linebacker with decent speed who was a tackle machine (120 in his senior season, 297 for his career) during his time playing for Randy Shannon at “The U.”

On top of being a solid football player, he’s also a smart kid. If you missed his interview with Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, I would encourage you to check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net.

He’s going to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the Draft. It might very well end up that he finds his way to Baltimore.

QB Greg McElroy (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQPVv4pafN8[/youtube]

Despite the fact it was a 43 he posted on the Wonderlic and not a 48, we know that McElroy is intelligent.

We also know that he’s a winner-which helped him win a BCS Championship as a junior with the Crimson Tide.

He also posted fairly impressive numbers in Tuscaloosa, throwing for 5,495 yards and 17 TD’s combined between his junior and senior seasons.

McElroy might not be a future franchise quarterback and will likely stay on the board well into Saturday. That’s exactly where the Ravens might be looking for a quarterback to play behind Flacco with Marc Bulger’s future in question.

He’s got pretty good size, measuring in at 6’2″, 220 pounds at the Combine. We know that Newsome LOVES to draft players from Alabama.

I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone if McElroy ended up in purple and black.

LB Martez Wilson (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kX-cfzjjw[/youtube]

As we mentioned with McCarthy, the Ravens are definitely in the market for ILB help.

Wilson is considered by most scouts (including our own Brian Billick) to be the best inside backer available this year. He posted an impressive 4.49 time in the forty at the Combine, making him the fastest backer in the Draft.

Wilson measured in at 6’4″, 250 pounds in Indy; and had an impressive 111 tackles during his final season with the Illini.

The Ravens are going to need ILB help in this Draft. The question will be whether or not they will want to address it as early as will be necessary to walk away with Wilson. He’s going to have a chance to go as early as late in the first round (the Ravens pick 26th) or early in the second round.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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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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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

We’re just hours away from the start of the annual NFL Scouting Combine 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.”

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

Comments Off

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Ravens Fire Zorn, Cameron & Ver Steeg to Split QB Duties

Posted on 27 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

As first reported by ESPN, the Baltimore Ravens parted ways with Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn Thursday.

Zorn was dismissed after just one season with the team. He had previously served as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins for two seasons.

Under Zorn, QB Joe Flacco improved (marginally) in almost all statistical categories.

In 2009 (with Hue Jackson still serving as QB Coach), Flacco threw for 3,613 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He averaged 7.2 yards per attempt and posted an 88.9 passer rating.

Under Zorn in 2010, Flacco threw for 3,622 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and posted a 93.6 passer rating.

Flacco’s completion percentage actually went down to 62.6% in 2010, from 63.1% in 2009.

Flacco was the only quarterback to play under Zorn in Charm City, as veteran backup Marc Bulger never saw the field. Hunter Cantwell was never activated from the practice squad, John Beck was traded to the Redskins in Training Camp and Troy Smith was released before the start of the season.

Zorn’s dismissal came just ten days after Head Coach John Harbaugh proclaimed intentions to keep his coaching staff in tact.

“I really like our coaching staff” said Harbaugh following the end of the regular season. “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.”

Since that time, Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison departed for the University of Michigan and was replaced by Secondary Coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano is set to be replaced by University of Florida Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin. Offensive Line Coach John Matsko was fired, he was replaced by O-Line Assistant Andy Moeller. Senior Offensive Assistant Al Suanders accepted the Offensive Coordinator position under new Head Coach Jackson with the Oakland Raiders.

Zorn reportedly had a lengthy meeting with Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron earlier this week regarding the offensive direction of the team and the development of Flacco. He did not travel with the team’s other assistants to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl.

Zorn had been previously linked to Offensive Coordinator openings with the Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. Saunders was hired in Oakland, the Seahawks hired Darrell Bevell, but there remains an opening in Cleveland.

The Ravens have decided that Cameron and Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg will split QB coaching duties moving forward.

“We’ve talked about this since the end of the season, and we believe this will help improve our offense,” said Harbaugh in a statement. “Cam is noted for his development of quarterbacks, and that includes Flacco and Pro Bowl players like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Cam is excited about this change and is looking forward to it.”

Ver Steeg came to the Ravens in Harbaugh’s first season (2008) and has five seasons of coaching experience in the National Football League. He has QB Coaching and Offensive Coordinator experience in his career-which has included stops with the Chicago Bears as well as college stops at USC, Utah, Illinois, Harvard, Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Remaining on the Ravens’ offensive staff are Running Backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, Tight Ends Coach Wade Harman, Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler and Offensive Assistant Jason Brooks.

-G

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