Tag Archive | "Willis McGahee"

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On day of return to football, Ravens getting back to business making tough decisions

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Ryan Chell

On a day where the NFL players executive committee, along with player reps from all 32 teams voted unanimously to approve the CBA and get back to the business of football, so too were the Ravens personnel staff when it came to getting back to the business of making tough roster decisions.

“We are excited to be back in the business of football and looking forward to having our players back,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said in a statement Monday afternoon officially kicking off the Ravens off-season agenda.

However with a new CBA tentatively in place pending re-certification of the players union and a new salary cap of 120 million set, the Ravens didn’t take long to make decisions regarding the trying to free up necessary cap space to sign their draftees, eligible free agents, and upgrades, as the Ravens cut four big name players on Monday-three of them integral parts of the offense.

Much like the bell kicking off the day at the New York Stock Exchange, the Ravens said right off the bat that moves-including the tough ones-would be coming, and they followed up on their promises.

The Ravens cut ties Monday afternoon with RB Willis McGahee, DT Kelly Gregg, TE Todd Heap, and WR Derrick Mason, saving roughly close to 20 million dollars in cap space.

All this occurs on the eve of welcoming in their veteran players tomorrow at 10AM in Owings Mills to get the 2011 season underway.

Newsome said in the same statement that things are different now playing under new rules as opposed to the anarchy of no-CBA in 2010.

In a sense, returning to football came with a price.

“With this agreement comes a new salary cap, unlike last season when there was no cap,” Newsome said. “We will be making a number of roster moves in the next 48 hours that will free up salary cap space.”

Newsome justified the future moves-the four Ravens veterans cannot officially be cut until Thursday and are expected to travel to Owings Mills for exit physicals-by saying that it puts the team in better position to make off-season deals as opposed to handcuffing them for years to come.

“This will give us the ability to make offers to our players we want to re-sign, plus put us in a position to sign free agents from other teams,” he said.

And indeed it did.

By those four moves alone-the Ravens-a team already roughly five million under the cap, saved themselves roughly 18.5 million dollars in salary cap room with the departures of Heap, Mason, Gregg, and McGahee.

This will also go a long ways toward agreeing to terms with draft picks Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith, Jah Reid, and others.

But even with that money eventually being freed up to use on the Ravens of the future, it certainly is tough for Raven Nation to watch four veterans who put in a combined 30-years in a Baltimore uniform go maybe for good.

Heap, the team’s first-round pick in 2001, put together 10 quality seasons catching 467 balls for 5,492 and 41 touchdowns.

Heap declined to comment until the move became official on Thursday, and given that stance, it could mean that he could be quickly back in a Ravens uniform after negotiating a new deal.

Mason, the team’s all-time leading receiver with 5,777 yards in six seasons after coming over as a free agent from Tennessee in 2005, was only expected to be released had the team made another veteran move.

And while that move could be days away from being official, it appears Mason may have wore out his welcome in Baltimore with retirement talk, criticism of Roger Goodell, “vows of silence” to the media, and complaining about his role on the team. (continued)

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As Offseason FINALLY Opens, Ravens Face Seven Major Issues

Posted on 25 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to start writing a football column.

With the NFL offseason officially slated to open…well…any moment now, the Baltimore Ravens can finally go to work where they left off following the NFL Draft.

The Ravens (as well as all 31 other NFL teams) will have a frantic 10-14 days ahead of them. They’ll need to make decisions on their own free agents, as well as consider players they may want to let go of in order to create salary cap space (this year’s cap will reportedly be $120 million). They’ll have to take a look at Unrestricted Free Agents elsewhere around the league, as well as potential trades. They’ll also have to sign undrafted free agents to fill a 90 man roster and then work on contracts with their own draft picks.

As far as the Ravens are concerned, they’ll have to do all of this while also opening Training Camp (scheduled to begin Wednesday per NFL Network) and preparing for a preseason opener Thursday, August 11th at the Philadelphia Eagles.

As General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company go to work, I’ve identified seven major issues the team faces in this crazy offseason period.

In some particular order…

1-Someway, somehow, the pass rush MUST be upgraded

New Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano inherits a unit that tallied just 27 sacks in 2010. Only three teams had a lower total (the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with 26 sacks each, the Denver Broncos finished with 23) last season. The Ravens posted the disappointing total number despite 11 sacks alone from LB Terrell Suggs.

The easiest way the Ravens can upgrade this area is by adding a Rush End. Amongst defensive linemen a season ago, only DT Haloti Ngata (5.5) and Cory Redding (three) posted multiple sacks.

The Ravens have in-house options to anchor their defensive line, although none are ideal. Redding could again be asked to take on rush responsibilities, but only once in his career (2006 with the Detroit Lions) has he tallied more than three sacks in a season (eight).

Third year DE Paul Kruger finally got into the sack column last year, but through two seasons that one sack remains the only he has posted.

Another option is DE Pernell McPhee, the team’s 5th round pick out of Mississippi State. McPhee’s chances are less likely due to the shortened offseason, as coaches will be less likely to trust a player immediately after getting little to no time with him in the offseason.

The Ravens can look to free agency to get rush end help. Green Bay’s Cullen Jenkins, Carolina’s Charles Johnson, Minnesota’s Ray Edwards and Tennessee’s Jason Babin headline a group of available rushers off the edge. All will be pricey for a team that still needs to get Ngata signed to a long term deal.

Battling injuries throughout the season, LB Jarret Johnson finished with just 1.5 sacks in 2010. The Ravens are hoping 2010 second round pick Sergio Kindle can spell him at the SAM position, presenting some heat opposite Suggs. It’s hard to count on production from Kindle considering he’s still working his way back from a fractured skull that forced him to miss what would have been his rookie season, but Kindle has maintained this offseason that he has been cleared to return to football.

On the inside, the Ravens can potentially produce a more consistent rush from within. Releasing DT Kelly Gregg could provide the team roughly $3 million in cap savings, and could pave the way for one of the team’s younger interior linemen to get time on the field. DT’s Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou could all be options and could all provide a little more ability to reach the backfield.

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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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Possible Departures ???
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Former Teammates, Others Remember Greatness of John Mackey

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

A number of former teammates and NFL personalities have chimed in with reactions to the passing of former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey, via AM1570 WNST or press releases. Here are a few of the reactions:

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti:
“We are tremendously saddened to hear about the passing of John Mackey, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Sylvia and the entire Mackey family. I was fortunate to get to know John and Sylvia personally, and I was struck by her love and loyalty throughout the difficult times of his illness. John set the standard by which tight ends are measured on the field, and he will be sorely missed not only by his family, but also by the entire Baltimore community.”

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome:
“I am mourning the loss of John Mackey, and my deepest condolences go out to his wife Sylvia and the Mackey family. John revolutionized the tight end position during his Hall of Fame career, and he laid the foundation on and off the field for modern NFL players.”

DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA):
“John Mackey is still our leader. As the President of the NFL Players Association, he led the fight for fairness with a brilliance and ferocious drive. His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players. His unwavering loyalty to our mission and his exemplary courage will never be forgotten.”

Indianapolis Colts Owner/CEO Jim Irsay:
“I am deeply sorry to learn of the passing of John Mackey. John was as identified at his position as any player who has played in the National Football League.  John combined size, speed and power in being only the second tight end ever voted into the Hall of Fame and earning a spot on the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team.
His statistical numbers have been eclipsed as the game has evolved, but those in football recognize to this day how John impacted the game.  He authored big moments with his on-field ability, such as his memorable 75-yard scoring reception in Super Bowl V. John’s passion for the game extended beyond his playing years, and he is one of the most notable figures in league history. We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to John’s wife, Sylvia, and the entire Mackey family.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field.  He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined the tight end position.  He was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association.  He worked closely with our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president of the NFL Youth Football Fund.  He never stopped fighting the good fight.  Our thoughts are with Sylvia and the Mackey family on the loss of our good friend.”

Former Colts WR Raymond Berry:
“He was a combination of a lot things, very intelligent, great personality and one of the most well liked players on the team. He was very unselfish, and had a great sense of humor, so he was a delight to be around.  He was the whole package. I’m thinking his playing days far outshadow, anything he did after his playing days. He was such a performer for so many years for the Colts, to me that’s his legacy.”

Former Colts RB Tom Matte:
“It’s a sad day for Baltimore, but I think overall the quality of life that John had in the end was tough. I don’t think there is any question about it that he should have been in the Hall of Fame a lot earlier than he got in. But John, in my estimation was the first big, fast tight end that could catch the ball, block, and make the big plays.  John Mackey was at the forefront of the leadership. There is a lot of respect out there for John Mackey, and what he did as a player, and what he did off the field in negotiations. He’s a great guy, he will be missed, but he is in a better place than he was.”

Former Colts LB Ted Hendricks:
“I was a rookie coming into the league and there was none any better then him at tight end.  To practice against him I’ve learned a lot of things from him.  To me it made the games easier because there was nobody that I played that had more talent than he did. He was definitely a consummate tight end.  Everything, each attribute that he had.  His blocking ability, his pass catching, and not only that but running with the ball after he caught it.  And you couldn’t ask for anything better in a tight end than that.”

Former Colts DE Ordell Braase:
“The thing (I most remember) was the first time I saw John Mackey, how impressed I was with him. Do you realize that he did not get into the Hall of Fame until the last vote? He should have been just an out and out slam dunk on being into the Hall of Fame.”

Former Colts QB Earl Morrall:
“It’s a very somber day, John Mackey was one of my favorites, he is one that really produced for you, and one of the best during his time playing.  John was a great blocker, good solid, opened up the running game for us. He’d release and then go up the field and catch the ball. Defenses would shiver when he got the ball because he would go through them. He could play any day.  He gave you every bit he could on the field.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley:
“Today, we reflect on the life of John Mackey, a great Baltimore Colt and one of football’s legendary players.  His remarkable talents on the football field revolutionized the tight end position and earned him a place in history in the Hall of Fame, while his loyalty, determination and integrity off the field have earned him a place in our hearts.  We are saddened by his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Baltimore Ravens RB Willis McGahee:
“He’s a great guy. Meant a lot not just to our time, but with our time. He set the pace. It’s our job to continue his legacy.”

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame TE Charlie Sanders:
“His loss is a tremendous loss, not only for the NFL and what he stood for, but it’s also a reminder of what this game is all about. I didn’t have a hero or idolize anybody growing up, so he was the one player that I idolized and tried to copy more than anyone else throughout my career. I took pride in trying to get to the top where he was. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Former Colts C Bill Curry

“I loved John like a brother and he was a great mentor to me, in addition to being a great player.  When you are with great human beings you usually make the mistake of not appreciating them until you don’t have them anymore.  And I am going through a lot of that right now.  What I remember is his rookie year.  Watching number 88 returning kickoffs and when he came exploding out of the end zone it was terrifying.  I said I have never seen anything like that in my life.”

Former Ravens TE Dan Wilcox

“Rest in piece to John Mackey out there.  I definitely send my condolences to his family as well.  Coming to a town like Baltimore and playing in a city like that, you would love to get a piece of what John Mackey had while he played in the NFL. To be around someone like a John Mackey and all the other Colts that are around Baltimore was an amazing experience. John Mackey was definitely one of the best, one of the all time greatest.  And you hate to lose a guy like that.”

Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick

“I was so fortunate that when I first came to Baltimore to have a chance to meet so many of the great former Colts and John was one of them.  …That smile of his, that energy, that orb that he had, his love for the game, his love for the Colts.  To watch Shannon and Ozzie communicate and talk with John and the reverence they had for him and what he represented, it’s a loss for all of us.”

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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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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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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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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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Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

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Another Week of Pro Timing Days as Draft Season Continues

Posted on 24 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

There’s still no labor peace in the NFL, but NFL Draft season continues on as we inch closer and closer to Radio City Music Hall in New York at the end of April.

This week featured another round of Pro Timing Days, including a controversial stop at Georgia’s Pro Timing Day in Athens, where league scouts were forced to watch WR AJ Green workout on TV screens due a strange rule surrounding the lockout.

Since Green will be off the board before the Ravens select at 26th, I won’t bore you with further details.

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)
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 (Connecticut), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama)
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)
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)
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), 
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)

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
Part 8-A look at players who participated in the first week of Pro Timing Days

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 whose schools 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.

DE Aldon Smith (Missouri)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBee49viSK8[/youtube]

There was a time when the former Mizzou pass rusher was believed to be available for the Ravens at 26.

As Draft season has continued, that can no longer be considered a certainty.

Smith is a 6’4″, 263 pound beast who combined for 17 sacks over the last two seasons for the Tigers despite missing three games last season with a broken leg.

Smith played just those two seasons in Columbia, opting to depart after his redshirt sophomore season for the Draft.

There’s plenty to like about Smith. He ran a 4.74 in the 40 yard dash while in Indy, and has shown his versatility in different defenses. His wingspan was measured at an astounding 84 inches.

He also told reporters at Pro Day he can do a standing backflip-but we haven’t seen that yet.

The Ravens have scheduled a workout with Smith and will find themselves in an interesting position should he be available at 26. He’s clearly a talent, but he’s probably still a bit of a project at this point.

The Ravens desperately need a pass rusher on the edge. The demise of Trevor Pryce has left them in a bad spot. If they think the presence of Smith can generate a better rush (along with LB Terrell Suggs), he’d almost certainly be on his way to Charm City.

C Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-oyDfPkV-A[/youtube]

Quick-does anyone know where Slippery Rock is located?

If you said Butler County, Pennsylvania you’re a big winner.

A four year starter for The Rock, Fusco has been a steady riser throughout his career and now into Draft season.

He’s a 6’4″, 316 pound solid player who has shown off his athleticism after moving from tackle to center. He even made a catch (for nine yards) during his senior season.

The Ravens will be looking for center depth in the Draft. Matt Birk has said he’ll come back this season, but they’ll have to work with the expectation that Birk could be entering his final season. Chris Chester is still in the mix (he’s expected to be back as a restricted free agent), but is likely better served at guard than moving back to center.

It’s not a very deep draft at the position, but Fusco could be an option in the later rounds. He put together a solid Pro Day (although it was held at Lehigh) and has likely guaranteed himself a Saturday selection.

CB Ras-I Dowling (Virginia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwYM_5uJ0MY[/youtube]

In one sentence, I think Dowling would be labeled as “obvious talent with obvious injury issues.”

Dowling is an impressive 6’1″, 198 pound corner who posted eight interceptions, three forced fumbles and a sack over his first three seasons with the Cavaliers. He posted an impressive 4.40 40 at the Combine.

Unfortunately, Dowling played in just three games during his senior campaign in Charlottesville, as he battled a broken left ankle, right knee issues and a lingering hamstring problem.

After all of that, he pulled up with another hamstring issue during the Combine.

Yikes.

Dowling actually WASN’T able to participate in the Wahoos’ Pro Day due to his injuries, he’ll instead delay until April 3rd-when he’ll hold his own individual Pro Day.

Cornerback is an issue for the Ravens. Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are unrestricted free agents. Domonique Foxworth is coming off a torn ACL.

They’ll have to address the problem somehow, whether in the Draft or later.

Dowling will be intriguing. He was an arguable first round talent a year ago. He’s clearly no longer a first round guy. But how soon would a team like the Ravens be willing to consider snapping him up to join Chuck Pagano’s defense? That much we don’t know yet.

DT Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q8TQg6uoSg[/youtube]

It has been a bit puzzling to keep seeing Wilkerson’s name linked to the Ravens in mock drafts.

The reality is that the Ravens have an anchor in the middle of their defensive line (Haloti Ngata) and have plenty of depth behind him at the position (Terrence Cody, Brandon McKinney, Lamar Divens, Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones).

This could really test General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s steadfast “best player available” policy in the Draft. National Football Post reported the team will work out the former Owls big man this week, and could face a serious decision should he be available at 26.

On paper, Wilkerson LOOKS like a Raven. He measured in at 6’4″, 315 pounds in Indianapolis and tallied 10 sacks from the interior in 2010.

He doesn’t appear to be the type of player who could move to the outside and become a natural rush end, but the Ravens could certainly benefit from having another player on the field who is capable of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

Wilkerson stood on most of his Combine numbers, posting only a 29 inch vertical at his Pro Day in Philadelphia.

He’s a late first round/early second round type of player. The only question will be whether or not he’s a true fit for a Ravens team that doesn’t really have a need for him.

QB Jeremiah Masoli (Mississippi)

masoli

In draft season, he’s been known as Jeremiah “Red Flag” Masoli.

We all know the history of Masoli’s transgressions.

In 2005, Masoli was forced to spend time in juvenile hall for his participation in a robbery. After transferring from City College of San Francisco to Oregon in 2008, Masoli kept his nose clean for a short time. That came to a halt when plead guilty to second degree burglary in March 2010. After a later arrest for marijuana possession in 2010, Masoli was dismissed by Ducks coach Chip Kelly but managed to catch on at Ole Miss.

Beyond his transgressions, Masoli showed himself capable of being a solid player at times. In three years of playing time, Masoli put up 5,930 yards passing and threw for 42 TD’s. He also ran for 1,930 yards and 29 TD’s. At his Pro Day this week in Oxford he worked out as both a quarterback and as a running back, with the thought being that teams could choose to use him as a Wildcat option at the next level.

The Ravens have historically (mostly) stayed away from players like Masoli. But after cutting Troy Smith following the 2010 Training Camp, they were left without a mobile QB on the roster-and had to use position players in practice to replicate opposing mobile QB’s. It would be safe to assume they’d like to get a mobile QB on the roster somehow.

It’s also no guarantee that Masoli gets drafted at all. In fact, the chances are probably no greater than 50-50 at best. The likelihood of Head Coach John Harbaugh considering a player like Masoli would go up if the team could add him as an undrafted free agent instead of using a pick on him.

Of course, UFA’s can’t be signed this year until a new labor deal is in place-but let’s worry about that another day.

My guess is that Masoli doesn’t end up in Purple and Black…but he’s certainly an interesting player to discuss between now and the end of April.

DE Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbXmQTn_D7w[/youtube]

The Ravens had an obvious presence at the Hawkeyes’ Pro Day in Iowa City, giving additional evidence that the team is legitimately considering using an early pick on the Clayborn to bolster their D-Line.

Clayborn is an impressive 6’3″, 281 pound specimen who electrified the Big Ten with 63 tackles and 11 sacks in 2009. Those numbers dropped off in 2010, as the big man managed just 52 tackles and only four sacks. The drop-off was particularly alarming considering Clayborn did not miss any time due to injury.

Clayborn’s size and speed (4.78 40) as well as a solid week at the Senior Bowl have kept him in the conversation as a first round pick-perhaps a player who could go off the board even before the Ravens select at 26.

D-Line coach Clarence Brooks needs outside help. Clayborn certainly appears to be the type of player capable of creating pressure on his own. That might very well make him a perfect fit in Baltimore.

FB Shaun Chapas (Georgia)

chapas

AJ Green may have been the star of the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, but there were other players working out who were worth paying attention to as well.

Chapas could be intriguing to the Ravens whether or not FB Le’Ron McClain departs as an unrestricted free agent.

Chapas is a 6’2″, 247 pound bruiser who was clocked with a 4.87 40 time in Indianapolis. He’s not likely to be an explosive Chris Cooley-type of H-Back; but instead is expected to play a natural fullback role.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron appears to be in the market for that exact type of player right now.

Making the case more compelling for Chapas, he received the types of honors during his time in Athens that the Ravens would like to see.

From GeorgiaDogs.com:

“At team’s annual awards Gala, earned team’s Coaches Leadership Award for Special Teams, the Leon Farmer Award for dedication to the strength and conditioning program and the David Jacobs Award as the player who by example portrays courage, spirit, character and determination.”

Sounds like someone Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company would be interested in if you ask me. As the Draft goes deeper into Saturday, he would almost have to be a consideration.

LB Alex Wujciak (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxpcfXl-guo[/youtube]

I will admit that I was quite surprised when the former Terrapins standout did not receive an invite to the Combine.

He certainly did everything necessary during his ACC career to earn an invite. He tallied 354 tackles over three seasons in College Park, mixing in three forced fumbles, four interceptions and two touchdowns.

Wujciak certainly doesn’t lack the size (6’3″, 250 pounds) to play an Inside backer position at the next level. Teams might want him to be a bit quicker (his 40 time was 4.79), but he’s never appeared slow in coverage.

Wujciak comes from an athletic family, as his father (Alan Wujciak) was an OL for Notre Dame while his younger bother (Connor Wujciak) plays for Boston College.

At this point most projections have Wujciak as a late round pick at best. The Ravens need inside backer help. Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain have been not quite good enough to lock down a position and Ray Lewis is getting no younger.

Alex Wujciak is no Ray Lewis.

But he’s certainly deserving of an opportunity to prove himself at the next level.

(Wujciak joined Thyrl Nelson and myself last Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST-you can hear the conversation in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

CB Richard Sherman (Stanford)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzm6HeFS2sE[/youtube]

Continuing the trend of “intriguing prospects”, there are few players in the Draft more intriguing than Sherman.

Fact: Sherman’s 6’3″, 195 pound frame and 4.54 (40) speed are solid if not ideal for a NFL CB prospect.

Other fact: Sherman has played corner for just two seasons in Palo Alto, and his skills (despite 6 interceptions in his Cardinal career) are still considered to be raw.

He’s going to be a later selection if he’s selected at all. The Ravens will have at least some familiarity with him as Harbaugh’s brother (Jim Harbaugh) coached him at Stanford before accepting the head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers.

He’s obviously not “the answer” for the Ravens secondary; but he could be a project worth taking a shot on as the Ravens will continue to face big receivers in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns are expected to be in the market for the aforementioned Green, which would give the division one more matchup problem.

RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGAQP1Rwsus[/youtube]

The Ravens are expected to part ways with RB Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain may be on the way out as well.

That would leave the team with just Ray Rice & Jalen Parmele (and Curtis Steele, Matt Lawrence and Jason McKie for what it’s worth) in their backfield.

They’re going to need to upgrade somehow.

Williams could very well be an option. His size is more similar to Rice (5’9″, 212 pounds) with pretty good speed (trimmed his 40 time down to 4.53 at his Pro Day in Blacksburg).

Williams had an explosive season in 2009 (1,655 yards rushing and 21 TD’s), but a hamstring injury cost him four games in 2010. His numbers were trimmed to 477 yards rushing and nine TD’s as he split time with fellow Hokies back Darren Evans.

The Ravens will have to pay extra close attention to the injury-but they’ll also have to determine if Williams would be a fit behind Rice. He’ll likely be a Friday night pick-and might end up coming off the board to early to be the choice in Baltimore.

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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