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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

The Detroit Lions – Losers now of two straight, the Lions could surely use some good publicity to take some of the spotlight away from coach Jim Schwartz’ loss of decorum during his post game exchange with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh immediately following the Lions first loss of the season. Getting into a pre-game dust up with the Falcons probably isn’t going to do it, nor is Ndamukong Suh going to do much for his quickly devolving reputation for antics by standing over Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan while heaping on celebratory trash talk and reveling in Ryan’s apparent injury.

 

Beating the reeling Falcons away from the safety of the Georgia Dome would have been a nice feather in the Lions’ cap, but yesterday’s loss to those Falcons 23-16 may instead serve as a real stumbling block to the Lions potential playoff fortunes. Having seen the Packers run their record to 7-0 with a win on Sunday, the Lions can now look to the NFC wildcard as their most likely passage into the playoffs. As the also-rans of the AFC South look to be fighting for the very same, the Lions may have lost an important tiebreaker on Sunday.

 

Either way their running game is in apparent shambles, the failed Ronnie Brown trade looks to hurt a lot and the oft injured Matthew Stafford may have gone down to injury on the last play of Sunday’s game to boot.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight Lions fans. Next up: @ Denver, Bye, @ Chicago & vs. Carolina before a Thanksgiving Day showdown with Green Bay. There’s plenty of time to right the ship.

 

 

Tony Sparano – Sunday’s game at Miami against the Broncos might have felt like the whole world (or at least the whole stadium) vs. Tony Sparano. And for a while it looked as though Sparano might have won.

 

The coach surely began the season on the hot seat, and if Jim Harbaugh had been compelled to take his talents to South Beach there may have been no seat at all for Sparano. There clearly has been no quarterback for Sparano and the Dolphins since making due with Chad Pennington to moderate success in 2008.

 

Sunday though was strange. Tim Tebow, making his debut for the Broncos this season, enjoyed a great deal of crowd favor from those who showed up to celebrate Tebow’s 2008 Florida Gators National Championship team, and most Dolphins fans it seems have succumbed to the “suck for Luck” philosophy that wins at this point will only inhibit their chances at the top pick in next year’s draft.

 

As Tebow was crossing the goal with the game tying 2-point conversion, fans of both teams (plentiful in Miami on Sunday) seemed united in their hopes that Sparano and his Dolphins would find a way to lose…and they did. Everyone but Sparano left happy (or at least appeased).

 

Prognosis: Prepare to be pushed Tony Sparano. Your boy Bill Parcells bailed on you already, and the only purpose you’re serving at present is to be the means to a 0-16 season that will deliver Andrew Luck and likely the next head coach as well. No need for the Dolphins to rush that move though, they can save money now and keep the new guy from being associated with this ongoing mess.

 

 

NBA Fans – The NBA lockout got shock value attention courtesy of Bryant Gumbel last week, they got impartial mediation courtesy of the federal government and they got the best wishes of seemingly every fan still clinging to hopes of an NBA season at all this year. The end result, talks broke off at an apparent impasse with not only no apparent resolution in sight, but it seems there aren’t even any official plans to continue the talks as yet. The players are into the “making plans” phase of taking their talents to wherever paychecks are imminent and many owners seem contented to let the whole season go un-played, and David Stern will probably cancel Christmas this week.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight; college basketball is just around the corner. Accept the fact that there probably won’t be an NBA season and get over it. That way if there is one you’ll be imminently happy but you won’t waste any time, energy or emotion sweating it out in the meanwhile.

 

 

Clemson, Stanford & Boise State – It’s that time of year again too. The national championship picture is down to 7 teams after undefeated Oklahoma and Wisconsin fell last weekend. For those 7 teams, their chance at a national title just became a lot more real, and suddenly a lot more important too.

 

In fairness, it’s probably only 5 of the 7 legitimate title contenders that are seeing the championship picture with more clarity this week, as it’s been all but ordained that the winner of the SEC’s loaded western division would roll though the conference title game and into the BCS National Championship game as a result. For weeks we’ve been touting the LSU and Alabama winner as one half of the title picture at least, that part hasn’t changed.

 

What has changed is the likelihood that the Big-12 winner would get the other side of that bracket as that may be suddenly not be so likely. The Big-12 still has 2 undefeated teams in Oklahoma State (3rd in the BCS) and Kansas State (8th in the BCS) but both still have to play each other and a still strong Oklahoma team now relegated to the role of spoiler. Oklahoma State also still has Baylor with Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and the Texas Tech team that just beat Oklahoma on their schedule and Kansas State has Texas and Texas A&M still remaining too.

 

Mathematically there could still be 5 undefeated powers left at season’s end (but likely won’t be). Where the ones who don’t reside in the SEC shake out should be quite interesting and is still very much up in the air right now.

 

Prognosis: If you’re a fan of any one of the three listed in the title, you might as well jump as no matter which team you side with, the odds are stacked against you. Beware though that if you do, you’ll surely miss out on an exciting and controversial finish to the college football season.

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The #Occupy15-7-0 Campaign Hasn’t Really Caught On Yet

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The #Occupy15-7-0 Campaign Hasn’t Really Caught On Yet

Posted on 17 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. After beating Old Dominion in miraculous fashion, I understand why Towson Coach Rob Ambrose’s first comment was “Oh my God!”

If you’re not aware, the Tigers topped ODU after trailing by 11 points late in the fourth quarter. They recovered an onside kick and then completed the miracle when QB Grant Enders found WR Tom Ryan for a 63 yard TD on 4th and 29.

Impossible?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z93IQd7oaw4&feature=related[/youtube]

This season his been crazy for Towson football. I’m more and more surprised they didn’t win in College Park.

2. The Green Bay Packers are so good that even when they’re not very good they win.

Seriously, the defending Super Bowl champs (and last remaining undefeated team) did absolutely NOTHING in the second half. No matter, they had already ensured themselves a blowout victory.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1hNThbRuqQ[/youtube]

Yes, that WAS AJ Hawk flipping off his own sideline. I don’t get it either.

hawk

3. I’ll assume Michael Turner’s big performance Sunday came because he heard I had picked the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl before the season.

But it’s not as though I feel any more comfortable about my chances of being right.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd1WLndlnrA[/youtube]

I liked Cam Newton’s Deion Sanders dance. I would assume Panthers fans would prefer that he win games. He will.

4. I’m keeping Kellen Moore and Trent Richardson just ahead of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson in my Heisman Trophy watch. (Landry Jones is now 5th for me if you’re scoring at home).

I’m sure this keeps you up at night. Russell Wilson had the best highlight of the weekend in Wisconsin’s blowout win over Indiana…

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

Trent Richardson had both the best game of his career and perhaps the best juke of all time in Alabama’s win over Ole Miss…

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

But I put Kellen Moore at the top of the list a few weeks ago and he hasn’t done anything to make me change my mind. Certainly not in Boise State’s blowout win over Colorado State…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obt4pqafnLA[/youtube]

Luck was great again in Stanford’s big win over Washington State, but he might have been upstaged by teammate Ty Montgomery…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb2LUWV6S48[/youtube]

Landry Jones should probably not be making his first appearance in my Top 5. Hey, it’s my list jerks. He was really good in Oklahoma’s win over Kansas…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wefV1zoReY8[/youtube]

5. So let me get this straight. Ryan Tannehill was a great receiver, now he’s a great quarterback and he might go on to be an orthopedic surgeon? I wish I had one skill.

Tannehill threw four TD’s to Ryan Swope alone in Texas A&M’s big win over Baylor Saturday…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcH0_drbtu8[/youtube]

In the loss, Bears QB Robert Griffin III…I don’t know how to describe this. I’m just glad Gus Johnson called it…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sztf9JpzDEM[/youtube]

Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State and Texas traded kickoff return TD’s. And otherwise the Cowboys kicked the Longhorns’ asses…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiTrot49na4[/youtube]

6. The New York Giants got a nice win over the Buffalo Bills. How the hell did they lose to the Seattle Seahawks last week?

It wasn’t a good 4th quarter for Drayton Florence…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbZd7OAxyZ0[/youtube]

But really, they lost to the Seahawks last week. How in the hell is that possible?

7. Attention Tom Brady: We get it. You’re good at quarterbacking.

He came up with a big time throw to Aaron Hernandez to help the New England Patriots beat the Dallas Cowboys…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c11qzU8HVAQ[/youtube]

By law, we’ll all be talking about Tony Romo on Monday instead of anything that happened in the game. Right up until we remember Tim Tebow is playing again next weekend.

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There Is No Bye Week For The 15-7-0

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There Is No Bye Week For The 15-7-0

Posted on 10 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I guess it’s safe to say Rob Ambrose made the right decision to not redshirt Terrance West

Especially seeing as how his 4TD’s helped Towson improve to 4-1 on the season with their win over Richmond Saturday night at Unitas Stadium….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT4vlLi_vWo[/youtube]

The Tigers are now 2-0 in the CAA for the first time EVER. Remember when they were picked to finish last in the conference? Nice call there.

(Editor’s note: Spiders QB-and USC transfer-Aaron Corp completed 31 of 34 attempts Saturday night. I still can’t figure out how Towson was ever able to stop them. How does someone go 31 or 34 and win???)

2. When they weren’t fighting, there was a pretty fun football game being played between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers

For some reason, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins decided to fight about a pretty impressive Steve Smith touchdown from Cam Newton…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq7gVv7I4MA[/youtube]

…Yeah I really have no explanation for that. I will reiterate what I’ve been saying about the Saints all season however. You can tell me all you want about their defense not being great. Based on how good Drew Brees and company are, they’re fine.

3. We want to write the Pittsburgh Steelers off, but Ben Roethlisberger just won’t let us

Sitting on my fantasy football bench, Big Ben managed to toss FIVE touchdowns for the Steelers in the win, pissing off everyone in the world who has no connection to the Steel City. Oh, and Daniel Sepulveda executed a perfect fake punt just to rub it in…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rChOUXR7JyQ[/youtube]

Jonathan Dwyer also ran for over 100 yards as the bad guys beat the Tennessee Titans. That answers the age old question, “who is Jonathan Dwyer?”

4. BCS apologists might get their chance to say LSU-Alabama and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State ARE a playoff system for college football

We’ll start with LSU’s big win over Florida, a blowout that included a would-be touchdown on a fake punt-had it not been for a taunting call that we can all agree was questionable at best…

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

Seriously?

Next, The Crimson Tide started the season with a quarterback controversy. In their big win over Vanderbilt Saturday night, AJ McCarron reminded everyone why that didn’t last very long…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQrJYCbUFK0[/youtube]

Oh yeah. Trent Richardson is still pretty good too.

Elsewhere, Texas came into the Red River Rivalry this year with higher hopes based on the (Case) McCoy-(Jaxson) Shipley Combo Part 2. Landry Jones quickly ruined those hopes…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7BEMeOhYwQ[/youtube]

The path to the BCS Championship Game is also easier for the Sooners this year based on the fact that there is no more Big 12 Big 12 Championship Game.

Which leads us finally to Oklahoma State, who finished on the good end of a 70-28 beatdown of Kansas Saturday…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fgH624Jn-Y[/youtube]

Before you pencil Oklahoma into the national title game, a reminder that the Cowboys host this year’s “Bedlam” game in Stillwater. It’s significant.

5. Kellen Moore remains atop my “Heisman Trophy watch” personally, but I understand why everyone is so hot and bothered by Andrew Luck

Here’s my problem. Everyone always beats up the Boise State QB because the Broncos don’t play top-notch competition. For example, they shredded Fresno State most recently…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moapfuyqut4[/youtube]

…but thus far, the best team Stanford has beaten all season is Duke-and Duke was NOT playing with Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Marshall Plumlee or any other Plumlee anywhere on the planet…that I know of.

The Cardinal’s victim Saturday night was a less than impressive Pac 12 newcomer-Colorado. You only know anything about the game because Tiger Woods took a break from being crappy at golf to show up and watch the thing with John Elway…

tiger

Woods finished tied for 30th this weekend at an event won by some dude named Bryce Molder. Tied for 30th. Bryce Molder. Oh…and some dude threw a hot dog at him while he was playing. REALLY…

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

6. Cincinnati Bengals defense plus AJ Green equals late season games could be more interesting for Ravens than we want them to be

AJ Green was immediately more popular just for NOT being Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens. Now it looks like he’s really good to boot…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-FUlm0MGeI[/youtube]

I don’t think Cincy can stay in the AFC playoff race all season by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks like they’re not going to fall apart either. Marvin Lewis’ team will have two chances to make life miserable in Charm City later this season.

7. Sooo….maybe Jim Harbaugh WAS worth all that money?

Until this point, I have refused to believe in the San Francisco 49ers despite their early season success. After their blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, I might have to start buying stock…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59UTGUCaWo0[/youtube]

I’d say the Josh Morgan injury would hurt them, but they play in the NFC West. I get the feeling they could lose half their roster and still be in the mix.

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The 15-7-0 Doesn’t Have a Diploma To Burn Even If It Wanted To

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The 15-7-0 Doesn’t Have a Diploma To Burn Even If It Wanted To

Posted on 03 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations..

1. The Packers are the best team in the NFL, but you already knew that

I’m not really sure what else can be said about Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is amazing. The team is incredibly deep.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=begTfGMrsq8[/youtube]

I was wondering the other day why the NFL wouldn’t put a Super Bowl at Lambeau Field if they’re going to have one in New Jersey. Then I had a sandwich. It was quite a day.

Side note: I’m extremely jealous of sports fans in Wisconsin. They the Packers, the Badgers (more on them next) and the Milwaukee Brewers rocking and rolling. SportsGrid.com noted that Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel headline is the happiest in sports history…

mjs

2. Kellen Moore leads the way, but Trent Richardson and Russell Wilson have joined my personal Heisman Trophy Top 5 list

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5lG8G67UFY[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tnWKrQvss0[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysCN4yA8hhs[/youtube]

The others in my Top 5 are South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Lattimore had a tough day Saturday and Griffin threw his first interception of the year (really) in the Bears’ loss to Kansas State. After you watch the profile ESPN’s College Gameday did of him Saturday morning you’ll certainly forget that ever happened…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhyqhn1LJps[/youtube]

3. It’s clearly a mistake that I DON’T have Andrew Luck or Tyrann Mathieu on my Heisman Trophy Top 5 list right now

Andrew Luck is a quarterback. So explain to me how he did THIS in Stanford’s win over UCLA Saturday night…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89wGMqET3AM[/youtube]

Side note: A few sites found this video of the ESPN ticker showing an odd UCLA-Stanford score during the Nebraska-Wisconsin game. I don’t believe it was accurate…

stanforducla

Few people know who Tyrann Mathieu is. Fewer know how to pronounce his name. No one knows how to spell it. But Kentucky fans will never forget any of those things about the LSU CB I assume…

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

4. It’s crazy how good Devin Hester is at returning punts

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

Also stemming from Sunday in the Windy City…

-I don’t know if Steve Smith is still happy the Carolina Panthers didn’t trade him, but it was the absolute right decision based on wanting to develop Cam Newton.

-Matt Forte also ran all over the place and the Chicago Bears looked good in a win. I’m still not buying into them, but I’m a Jay Cutler hater so my opinion should only matter so much.

-Here’s Marion Barber faceplanting after attempting a backflip when he scored a touchdown in the game. Enjoy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c30cSwjPDk[/youtube]

5. Maybe the Tennessee Titans CAN survive without Kenny Britt?

Nate Washington looked good and Jared Cook finally showed why I drafted him to my fantasy team this year (although I already dropped him needing depth), but I’m still not convinced they can keep treading water without Britt…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1kY2FO2wxk[/youtube]

…in other news, I told Cleveland Browns fans last week to take a picture of the AFC North standings. I hope they took my advice.

6. I want to put Tajh Boyd on my Heisman watch list too. Can I have a Top 10 instead of a Top 5?

I’m confused. Clemson looked good against Auburn, then again against Florida State, then AGAIN against Virginia Tech. Who are these Tigers and what have they done with the roller coaster team we’ve all come to know and not love?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRRc3n4D-Cc[/youtube]

I still think the Hokies are a factor in the ACC before the season is over. I think a lot of things. Like for example, who is Melissa Giraldo and why is this the first I’ve heard of her? (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

7. Not only is the SEC better than the other conferences in the FBS, SEC fans are better than fans in other conferences in the FBS

Here are the highlights from a thrilling Arkansas win over Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, which included an incredible 510 passing yards from Razorbacks QB Tyler Wilson…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVsLYxOsr2o[/youtube]

And here’s the .gif of the shirtless “man of a larger carriage” celebrating SOMETHING the Hogs did Saturday…

hogs

That’s just fantastic.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 29 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: College Soccer-Stanford @ Maryland (Friday 7:30pm Ludwig Field), Radford @ Maryland (Sunday 7pm Ludwig Field); Holiday Inn Express BWI Classic: St. Francis @ UMBC (Thursday 7pm Retriever Soccer Park), Fairleigh Dickinson @ UMBC (Saturday 7pm Retriever Soccer Park); Boxing: Jan Zaveck vs. Andre Berto (Saturday 10:30pm from Biloxi, MI live on HBO); WNBA: Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Thursday 7pm Verizon Center), Washington Mystics @ Atlanta Dream (Friday 7:30pm from Atlanta live on NBA TV), Connecticut Sun @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet/NBA TV)

10. UPROAR Festival feat. Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Seether, Sevendust (Wednesday 2pm Jiffy Lube Live), Jimmy Buffett (Thursday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live), Stevie Nicks (Saturday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live), Journey/Night Ranger (Sunday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Lyle Lovett & His Large Band (Tuesday 8pm Wolf Trap); Olivia Newton-John & Terrell Owens host Cancer Awareness Event feat. Kelly Bell Band (Saturday 6:30pm Rams Head Live); The Hold Steady (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), Umphrey’s McGee (Friday & Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club); B.B. King & Buddy Guy (Tuesday 7:30pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall), The Script (Thursday 7:30pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Fuel (Friday 7pm Jaxx); Blake Shelton (Saturday 7:30pm Timonium Fairgrounds), All Time Low (Sunday 7:30pm Timonium Fairgrounds); Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (Friday 8:15pm Baltimore Grand Prix Party Zone), The Bridge/Collective Soul (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Grand Prix Party Zone); Red Hot Chili Peppers “I’m With You”, Lil’ Wayne “Tha Carter IV”, Counting Crows “August & Everything After: Live From Town Hall”, Lenny Kravitz “Black And White America” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I won’t make the rescheduled version of Jimmy Buffett either, but somewhere in the comfort of my own home I’ll probably be singing “Fins”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNrM7DnYz4Y[/youtube]

Drew Forrester plays tunes from The Hold Steady sometimes on “The Morning Reaction”. I’m a fan…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Isvn_Dsj2bA[/youtube]

I’m so bitter that all of the good shows are in DC this week. Men shouldn’t admit to enjoying The Script as much as I do…but I REALLY enjoy The Script. A lot…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMihKmoYfe8[/youtube]

WNST intern Ryan Morrison hooked me up with an advance copy of Tha Carter IV…I hope I’m not getting him in legal hot water by mentioning that. There was a humorous moment during Hurricane Irene where everyone in my house was singing along to this song. Don’t play it if you’re at work. Unless you work at The Gold Club. If you do, could you bring a Chap’s sandwich by the station Monday?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl3QmFHk7D4[/youtube]

9. Maryland State Fair (Tuesday-Monday Timonium Fairgrounds); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday-Monday RennFest Fairgrounds Crownsville); Glenn Clark’s Kickball Championship Round (Thursday 6:45pm Carsins Run Aberdeen)

I’m not sure which yet, but either Friday night or Monday early afternoon I’ll be at the fair. I have two goals. ONE-watching something get born in the Birthing Center and squirm like hell. TWO-Re-enact this picture…

msf

Glorious. Re-enacting THIS picture would also be an option…

horse

There’s a good chance I win the Breeders Cup at some point in the future.

Oh-I’m playing for a kickball title Thursday night in Aberdeen before the Ravens game. The hell with the Ravens game, no one that matters is playing. I’m playing for a kickball title. I’d love to have you guys come support us. You really owe me at least that much considering all I’ve done for you.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 01 August 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Soccer-MLS Toronto FC @ DC United (Saturday 7:30pm RFK Stadium); WNBA New York Liberty @ Washington Mystics (Saturday 7pm from Verizon Center live on NBA TV); Pro Lacrosse: MLL Chesapeake Bayhawks @ Rochester Rattlers (Saturday 7pm from Rochester, NY live on ESPN3.com); Canadian Football League: Toronto Argonauts @ Montreal Alouettes (Thursday 8pm from Montreal live on NFL Network)

10. Jill Scott/Anthony Hamilton/Mint Condition (Sunday 7pm Verizon Center); Guster/Jack’s Mannequin (Sunday 6pm Pier Six Pavilion); Steely Dan (Tuesday 6:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Death Cab For Cutie (Sunday 6pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Alison Krauss & Union Station (Sunday 8pm Wolf Trap), INXS (Monday 8pm Wolf Trap); Cinderella (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live); Alien Ant Farm (Friday 7pm Recher Theatre), Hammerjack’s Reunion feat. Child’s Play (Saturday 1pm Recher Theatre); Cappadonna (Thursday 8:30pm Sonar); Toad The Wet Sprocket (Thursday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head On Stage); Bon Iver (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Rusted Root (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club); O.A.R. “King” (Tuesday) and Jay-Z & Kanye West “Watch The Throne” (Monday) available in stores/on iTunes; Doug Benson Loves Movies Podcast (Wednesday 8pm Baltimore Comedy Factory), Rob Cantrell (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); John Mulaney (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv)

Look, I know Steely Dan is great and all-but we agree that they stole a Grammy that rightly belonged to Eminem, don’t we?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTDRd0Z0O4o[/youtube]

Is the guy JD Fortune still singing for INXS after winning that reality show? It’s a little embarrassing, but if he can sing “Need You Tonight” ANYTHING like Michael Hutchence I’d be in…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhvbRZWEtd4[/youtube]

I’ve seen Alien Ant Farm three times in my life. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit that, but I’ve felt like you and I should always be able to trust each other to tell the truth.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ2t4jfVTiU[/youtube]

I’m seriously freaking out about the new O.A.R. record. Not excited enough to actually go to a record STORE, but damnit I’m approaching 30. Record stores just aren’t real anymore. What was I talking about here?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-yValw_UbE[/youtube]

9. National Aquarium 30th Anniversary Festival (Friday-Sunday National Aquarium in Baltimore); Baltimore Summer Restaurant Week (begins Friday throughout Charm City)

It’s a shame William Donald Schaefer didn’t make it long enough for this. He wouldn’t have been in health to don the suit once more, but it wouldn’t have meant more to anyone in the world.

wds

Thus concludes the only part of this that will in any way resemble anything of a serious nature.

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Stevenson Tabs Gary Stewart as New Hoops Coach

Posted on 28 June 2011 by WNST Staff

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – A former Division I head coach with 230 career victories in 18 collegiate seasons, Gary Stewart has been named as the new head men’s basketball coach at Stevenson University, Director of Athletics Brett Adams announced on Tuesday. He replaces Adams who resigned in March after 17 seasons as the school’s first head coach to focus on his role as AD.

“Gary Stewart, at many different levels, is highly recognizable in the basketball community,” said Adams. “Beyond that, Gary Stewart played Division III basketball and was a very successful coach at the Division III level, including an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. He has a reputation of bringing programs from worst to first.”

Stewart owns the unique distinction of having served as a head coach at each NCAA level. He brings 25 years as a highly-respected college coach to Stevenson, including 11 at Division I, six at Division II and eight at Division III. In 18 seasons as a college head coach, he has totaled four conference championships and six postseason appearances.

“Gary has some Division I experience, but I think his heart and soul is Division III,” commented Adams. “I am very excited about having him come on board. It was humbling to see so many top caliber candidates from over 200 qualified applicants that we had for this position. I think this will be a great triumph for Stevenson University and
Division III basketball.”

Most recently, Stewart was the head coach at the University of California, Davis from 2003-11 where he led the program’s four-year reclassification from Division II to Division I, culminating in the Aggies’ first year as an official member of the Big West Conference during the 2007-08 season.

“I am truly honored and extremely humbled to join Stevenson University as the new head men’s basketball coach,” said Stewart. “Stevenson University is growing at an unprecedented pace. I am enthusiastically looking forward to help build on the tremendous values, history and tradition of this extraordinary university.”

In eight seasons at UC Davis, Stewart mentored five Big West all-conference selections and three Freshman of the Year recipients. He posted his 200th career victory with an 85-74 win over Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 15, 2009 before becoming one of 14 charter appointment to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Ethics Coalition in May 2009.

Stewart made an immediate impact on the Aggie program in 2003-04. Taking over a team that finished three games under .500 the previous season, he guided UC Davis to an 18-9 record and a 15-7 mark in the powerhouse California Collegiate Athletic Association in Division II. In its third year of Division I reclassification, he led the Aggies to a 64-58 upset over Stanford at The Pavilion on Dec. 4, 2005.

Under Stewart, UC Davis won more games than any other four-year transition program, averaging double-figure wins from 2003-04 through the final transition year in 2006-07. In the summer of 2006, he  was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors, joining such coaches as Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tubby Smith (Minnesota), Bill Self (Kansas), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Brey (Notre Dame) and Bo Ryan (Wisconsin).

“There is an expectation of excellence set forth by the Stevenson administration and athletic department leadership,” added Stewart. “With a wonderful academic reputation, a passionate fan base and some of the nation’s best Division III athletic facilities, Stevenson has a great foundation in place to build a championship basketball program.”

Stewart is no stranger to Division III, earning four All-SCIAC selections at the University of La Verne and serving as team captain for three years from 1980-84 before returning as the Leopards’ head coach from 1987-95 where he guided his alma mater from last place to first place in a matter of three years. He ranks second in school history with 116 victories which includes a 20-8 record and NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance following the 1992-93 season.

“I am committed to the mission of Division III athletics,” said Stewart. “Immersed in strong fundamentals with a team approach, I will run a goal oriented program predicated on the ‘always compete’ philosophy.  While vigorously pursuing athletic success, academic achievement will always be the guiding force of the basketball program. As I continue to formulate and implement a blueprint for the upcoming season, I will put into action the strategic plan for relentless recruiting of accomplished student-athletes needed to build and sustain a championship program.”

Stewart is the only coach in La Verne history to lead his team to a SCIAC title, a feat he accomplished three times, or a berth in the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship. In 2002, he was honored as a Distinguished Graduate during the university’s 75th Diamond Jubilee festivities while he was later inducted into the University of La Verne Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

Stewart received his bachelor’s of science degree in physical education from La Verne in 1984 and captured the SCIAC’s Ted Ducey Award, bestowed upon one senior who best exemplifies outstanding achievement in academics, athletics, leadership and sportsmanship. In addition, he was selected as the recipient of the Anthony P. Scafani Sportsman of the Year Award.

Stewart, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Long Beach State for two seasons from 1984-86, completed his master’s of arts degree in education at La Verne in 1995.

After eight seasons with the Leopards, Stewart spent two as the head coach at Division II Cal State East Bay from 1995-97. The program that had gone 22-79 in the four seasons prior to his arrival, but in just two years, Stewart led the Pioneers to a share of the NCAC title with UC Davis. For his efforts, he was named the 1997 NCAC Co-Coach of the Year and was selected by the Oakland Tribune as the Bay Area Men’s College Coach of the Year for all NCAA divisions.

Following UC Santa Barbara, Stewart spent one season as an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara under Jerry Pimm during the 1997-98 season and was honored by Dunk Magazine as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.

Stewart was an assistant coach at Washington State from 1999-2002 and was an assistant coach to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for the 2002 NABC All-Star Game. He assisted former Maryland head coach Gary Williams in 2003 and Hall of Famers Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) in 2004 and Jim Calhoun (Connecticut) in 2005. He also worked with Bruce Weber (Illinois) in
2006 and John Brady (LSU) in 2007.

Prior to UC Davis, Stewart served as the director of basketball services at UCLA under Steve Lavin during the 2002-03 season.

In addition to coaching, Stewart has 16 years of experience as a university lecturer and assistant professor while serving two years as an assistant and associate athletic director at Cal State East Bay. He is a member of the NABC and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

Stewart’s service also includes the NABC Ethics Committee and Assistant Coaches Board of Directors and NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Regional Advisory Committee.

An active participant in community service, Stewart traveled to the Middle East as part of the United Service Organization’s (USO) ”Operation Hoop Talk.” In 2009, after his first visit to Iraq and Kuwait, he was one of four coaches, including Georgetown’s John Thompson III, to serve as a court coach at the USA Basketball  U18 Team Trials in Washington, D.C., featuring former Connecticut star Kemba Walker.

Stewart’s other highlights include the United Way, ALS Foundation, Free Throws For Heroes program for 9/11 relief, which was adopted by the NABC, Special Olympics and raising relief funds for the American Red Cross in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Stewart has twice been honored with the UC Davis Community Service Award and, in 2008, the Diversity and Principles of Community Achievement Recognition Award. In four seasons in the Big West Conference under Stewart, the Aggie men’s basketball team received three consecutive Big West Conference Team Sportsmanship Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011.

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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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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

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)
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)
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)
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), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
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)

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 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-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 more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

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.

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlprPUyKL8M[/youtube]

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)

justinrogers

If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11″, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36hhdBm9QU[/youtube]

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

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

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

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

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCO9L3kFDrg[/youtube]

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

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

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwr7WlO77E[/youtube]

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPDvs5vvAM[/youtube]

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

kemarscarlett

Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Like Florence & The Machine said, “The Pro Days are over.”

Well maybe those weren’t the exact lyrics from Florence Welch and company, but the statement remains true.

Draft season has officially shifted from Pro Days to private visits 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), 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)
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)
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)
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), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)
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), Akeem Dent (Georgia)
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), Brandon Burton (Utah)

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 & 10-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-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

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 Christian Ballard (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgvSsE5tLI[/youtube]

Ballard is one of a number of Defensive Ends that has wandered over to Owings Mills during Draft season.

The Ravens are clearly in need of a rush end, and have looked at a number of players who could fit the role. Ballard (6’4″, 283 pounds) managed to tally eight combined sacks over his junior and senior campaigns with the Hawkeyes despite playing part of that time on the interior of the line.

Ballard has shown good speed during Draft season, trimming his 40 time from 4.75 at the Combine to 4.70 at his Pro Day in Iowa City. He’s not a first round pick, but he is a player the Ravens could consider as early as the second round.

They may have addressed rush end before that. Ballard’s teammate Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and a number of other players are all higher on the board. The Ravens have a GLARING need at the position. If they don’t address it in the first, don’t be surprised if they address it with Ballard.

OT James Brewer (Indiana)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X01sxTrZZY[/youtube]

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Ravens have hosted Brewer at 1 Winning Drive, but we do know that the team paid special interest to Brewer’s Pro Day in Bloomington.

The Ravens have an issue along their O-Line. OT Jared Gaither is an unrestricted free agent and there are just a few question marks surrounding him. OT Michael Oher may or may not have a future at LT. G/T Marshal Yanda probably needs to return to being a Guard only.

The team will have to make some decisions.

Brewer (6’6″, 323 pounds) could help in that decision making process. He’s not a first round talent, but he looks like someone who is going to be able to play fairly early on if selected late Friday or early Saturday.

There is a SMALL issue with Brewer…he’s from Indianapolis. If he roots for the Colts, that could be trouble.

But otherwise, he has to be a legitimate option to help new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Stevan Ridley (LSU)

stevan

Unlike Ravens RB Ray Rice, Ridley’s game is much about power than speed (his 4.65 40 time at the Combine was better than either of his runs at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge). That could be a recipe to get him to Charm City, as the team may well lose both RB Willis McGahee (expected to be released) and FB Le’Ron McClain (Unrestricted Free Agent) this offseason.

Ridley might not be massive, but he packs 225 pounds in a 5’11″ frame. He has the look of a third down/red zone weapon at the next level, which is part of what the Ravens will be looking for in their backfield this offseason.

Ridley had just one big season with the Tigers before declaring for the Draft a year early. After rushing for just 272 yards and four TD’s combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he exploded for 1,147 yards and 15 TD’s as a junior. Clearly part of the reason for leaving early was to save some “tread” on his tires.

The Ravens paid special attention to Ridley at the Combine, where they learned more about why he was voted a team captain as a junior. He’s not a Thursday night pick and probably not a Friday night pick either. As the Draft wares into Saturday, he’ll look more and more appealing to the Ravens-who need to give Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron a change of pace option in the backfield.

CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DwCYgqHWk[/youtube]

Just to recap the Ravens’ CB situation this offseason-Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents; Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. Lardarius Webb is the only corner that saw the field last season that remains fully under contract.

Clearly new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will need SOMETHING in his defensive backfield, be it returning players or newcomers.

Marsh is an intriguing option who has already visited General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company in Owings Mills. He was very much under the radar screen playing for the Aggies, but his 6’1″, 197 pound size and 4.42 speed have been undeniable during Draft season.

Marsh initially garnered attention for his matchup abilities against Boise State receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He received a Senior Bowl invite but missed the week due to a hamstring injury.

Marsh could come off the board as early as Friday night. If the Ravens don’t select a cornerback in Round 1, he could be a legitimate option after that point.

DE Ricky Elmore (Arizona)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtE9qFonW7s[/youtube]

The Ravens have shown equal interest in Elmore and fellow former ‘Zona DE Brooks Reed, as both have shown an ability to get after Pac 10 quarterbacks.

Elmore tallied 21 combined sacks between his junior and senior seasons, finishing his Wildcats career with 25 sacks overall. During Draft season he’s been training with Clay Matthews Sr. (whose son is a pretty good pass rusher himself) in an attempt to even further improve his ability to get after QB’s.

Elmore is a physical beast, measuring in at 6’5″, 255 pounds. He’s not blazing fast (4.88 40 at the Combine), but he’s deceptively quick for his size.

As I mentioned with Ballard, the Ravens have to be desperate for rush help on the edge. If they select an end Thursday (or early Friday), they’ll likely want him to be someone who also has the ability to stand up in a 3-4 defense.

If they don’t go DE early, Elmore could be a better option later into the Draft (likely Saturday). Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company will have to determine how quickly Elmore could make an impact.

S Will Hill (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQK0xhpkE4Y&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Hill’s size (6’1″, 202 pounds) and decent speed (4.64 40) as well as his overall football ability (four interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville) should make him a solid Free Safety prospect.

Yet despite the Ravens showing interest in Hill at the Combine, he’s viewed as a borderline possibility to get picked anywhere in the Draft.

Hill’s issues are more off the field than they are on the field. He had some problems with his Twitter account-as well documented by the website “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

Hill later claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the damage was certainly done-and Hill didn’t exactly win everyone over with his comments about the incident at the Combine.

There are clear question marks off the field, which are clouding the ability he could have on the field. The Ravens appear to be in the safety market this offseason, as SS Dawan Landry is an unrestricted free agent and FS Ed Reed is…well…not getting any younger or healthier. Reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura give them options to plug in, but they’ll certainly look for depth.

Should the Ravens not select a safety at all early in the Draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could take a chance on a player like Hill late in the Draft. After taking risks on DT Terrence Cody and LB Sergio Kindle early in the Draft last season, they might not be as quick to take a chance on a player with a red flag in this year’s Draft.

CB Chris Culliver (South Carolina)

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

As I mentioned with Marsh, the Ravens have secondary issues this offseason. They’ll need to address them SOMEHOW, and Culliver could be part of that.

Culliver is a 6’0″, 199 pound corner who tallied four sacks and three interceptions during his Gamecocks career. (All three picks came in 2008.) He’s coming off a torn pec that caused him to miss the final six games of his 2010 campaign.

Of all of the corners on the Ravens’ active roster in 2010, only Williams (6’1″) is as big as Culliver. None have the blazing speed (4.36 40 at the Combine…which he stood on instead of running at his Pro Day in Columbia) that Culliver has.

Culliver paid a visit to Owings Mills during Draft season to meet with Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company. They likely wanted to see how fluid he was in coverage, as he played just one season at corner in the SEC after converting from safety.

The other nice option with Culliver is his potential involvement in the return game. Culliver finished his SC career with a school record 2,476 return yards. The Ravens got solid production from Webb and WR David Reed/RB Jalen Parmele in the PR and KR roles respectively last season, but they certainly didn’t do so much that they have to be considered locks to return in the roles. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t be disappointed to add another return man if the Ravens were to use a late Friday or early Saturday selection on Culliver.

G Will Rackley (Lehigh)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXM8yMXOHM[/youtube]

The Ravens have certainly had no trouble using a pick in the top half of the Draft on interior linemen before.

G Ben Grubbs (1st round), C/G Chris Chester (2nd round), G/T Marshal Yanda (3rd round) and St. Louis Rams C Jason Brown (4th round) have all been players the Ravens have selected early, and they’ve received mostly good results from the selections.

The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring need amongst their interior linemen, but there are certainly issues to be addressed.

While Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to return Yanda to Guard, he’s an restricted free agent that could depart in the offseason. Even if he stays, the Ravens could be faced with a need to have him stay at RT should the team not re-sign Gaither or not Draft/Sign a better option at the position. After getting a second round tender, Chester (also a restricted free agent) is expected to return, but the team would prefer to have him play a utility role along the line instead of being penciled in at RG.

Rackley could be the type of player who could step in and play RG immediately. The 6’3″, 309 pound lineman turned a number of heads during East West Shrine Game week, showing he was quite capable of playing against big time opposition despite his FCS background.

Rackley was a four year starter for the Mountain Hawks, dominating Patriot League opposition. Clearly the AFC North (and the likes of DT’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Casey Hampton) will offer more significant opposition. Rackley is expected to be a Friday night pick, which could certainly be a legitimate place for the Ravens to jump up and grab him.

CB Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jksB_vrsM[/youtube]

Similar to Curtis Marsh, Skrine is going to be looking to overcome a lower level of competition to make a name for himself as a National Football League corner. But Skrine (who played in the Southern Conference) has many more questions about competition to overcome than Marsh-who played his ball in the WAC.

Skrine (5’10″, 186 pounds) has great speed (4.37 40 at the Combine-but rumored to have actually been as fast as 4.29) and finished his Mocs career with five interceptions.

The Ravens both attended Skrine’s Pro Day and hosted him in Owings Mills in March.

The biggest question surrounding Skrine is whether or not he can play press coverage against NFL receivers, many of whom will have a slight to significant height advantage.

If the Ravens feel like he could be, it would make him a solid option late Friday or early Saturday.

LB Justin Houston (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR0L2RVId90[/youtube]

Houston appears to be a true standup OLB instead of a down DE, which could help as the Ravens try to find pass rush help.

At 6’3″, 270 pounds; Houston was considered “undersized” to play along the D-Line for the Bulldogs, so he was moved to the outside. He responded to the move by producing 10 sacks in 2010; finishing his career in Athens with 19 sacks total.

Houston’s size and solid speed (he trimmed his 40 time down to 4.57 at his Pro Day) make him a borderline first round pick. The Ravens are obviously in the market for pass rush help (more specifically someone to team with LB Terrell Suggs), and they have hosted Houston in Owings Mills during Draft season.

The only obvious red flag with Houston is a 2009 suspension by UGA coach Mark Richt for an unspecified violation of team rules.

While the team seems unlikely to trade out of the 26th spot this year, Houston could be the type of available player that would make them feel like they could. Should Houston be available in the 30-40 range, the Ravens would likely feel as though they got #26 value after trading back.

-G

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