Tag Archive | "zbikowski"

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Zbikowski Wins Again in Atlantic City

Posted on 27 March 2011 by WNST Staff

Here’s a recap of Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski’s third professional fight courtesy of NewsCore…

Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski remained undefeated in his young boxing career Saturday, beating Caleb Grummet by a unanimous decision in Atlantic City, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Zbikowski moved to 3-0 with the win, landing uppercuts in the third round to bloody Grummet’s nose, and another that stunned the former cagefighter with 1:37 left in the bout.

It marked the first time Zbikowski did not win via a first-round knockout.

“I’m very, very critical of myself. Obviously, you want knockouts. Overall experience is what you need. You’re not always going to get knockouts,” he said.

Zbikowski, 25, said Friday that he planned to keep boxing in 2012.

“Without a doubt — if I can get that worked out — that’s my perfect world,” said Zbikowski.

Whether he can continue boxing and play in the NFL will depend on his next football contract. The former Notre Dame star is currently a restricted free agent, and has not signed while the league remains in a lockout.

He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2012, meaning his next contract would need to allow him to continue his boxing career in the offseason.

Zbikowski has boxed since the age of 10 and compiled an amateur record of 75-15. He won his first professional fight at Madison Square Garden in June 2006.

He is next scheduled to fight on April 23 at the Indian Casino outside of Dallas, the Sun reported citing an official with Top Rank Boxing.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 21 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Tennis-ATP Tour & WTA Tour Sony Ericsson Open (Satuday-Monday 11am from Miami live on Tennis Channel); NBA: Washington Wizards @ Portland Trailblazers (Tuesday 10pm from Portland live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Los Angeles Clippers (Wednesday 10:30pm from Los Angeles live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Denver Nuggets (Wednesday 9pm from Denver live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Golden State Warriors (Sunday 9pm from Oakland live on Comcast SportsNet); Auto Racing: NASCAR Auto Club 400 (Sunday 3pm from Fontana, CA live on FOX); Horse Racing: UAE Derby (Saturday 10am from Meydan City, Dubai live on HRTV), Louisiana Derby (Saturday 5pm from New Orleans live on HRTV); Arena Football: AFL Spokane Shock vs. Iowa Barnstormers (Friday 8pm from Des Moines, Iowa live on NFL Network)

10. Elton John (Saturday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena); Sick Puppies & Framing Hanley (Wednesday 7pm Rams Head Live); Kingston Trio (Sunday 4pm & 7pm Rams Head On Stage); Cold War Kids (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club), All Time Low & Yellowcard (Monday 5:30pm 9:30 Club); Stryper (Tuesday 7pm Bourbon Street), CKY (Sunday 7pm Bourbon Street); Janet Jackson (Tuesday & Thursday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Stanley Clarke & Victor Wooten (Wednesday 7pm State Theatre); The Strokes “Angles”, Green Day “Awesome as F**k”, Soundgarden “Live on I-5″ available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I could post songs from four different acts coming to town next week-but in all fairness, only one of them is Elton John.

Therefore, here are four Elton John songs. I’m sure you understand.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Ta0qCG8No[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhJHL34DiBY[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxE7y1gSNPE[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBCVEcjScTQ[/youtube]

9. Roller Derby: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena)

Does anyone remember the “Roller Jam” show that used to be on TNN a few years back???

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJuryj90RpQ[/youtube]

Holy hell. How did that show not last? That’s Jerry Springer-quality awesome. “Awesome sauce” in fact.

(If you’re a “Parks & Recreation” fan and that last line meant something to you, you’re a hero to me.)

8. Golf: PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 2:30pm live on NBC. All golf from Orlando); LPGA Tour Kia Classic (Thursday-Saturday 3:30pm, Sunday 4pm live on Golf Channel)

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are going to play in Orlando…which means that if you so choose to, you can watch two bad golfers on television this weekend.

I enjoy the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but in my neighborhood we always called it the “Half & Half” Invitational.

Anyone?

Also-why can’t I post the Family Guy “Old People Agree With Arnold Palmer” clip here? It’s nowhere to be found on YouTube…or anywhere else. It’s pretty funny. And pretty honest. I think I’m starting to feel more and more like Arnold Palmer at age 27.

7. NHL: Washington Capitals @ Philadelphia Flyers (Tuesday 7:30pm from Philly live on VERSUS), Washington Capitals @ Ottawa Senators (Friday 7:30pm from Ottawa live on Comcast SportsNet PLUS), Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens (Saturday 7pm from Montreal live on Comcast SportsNet & NHL Network)

With the Caps playing in the City of Brotherly Love this week, I get the chance to rag on Drew Forrester-sharing memories of Bobby Clarke, Ron Hextall, Ken Linseman and Joffrey Lupul.

In fact, here’s a small gift for my “Morning Reaction” cohort…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8KVx8vDlYw[/youtube]

6. Mixed Martial Arts: UFC Fight Night Live-Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Phil Davis (Saturday 10pm from Seattle live on SpikeTV); Bellator Fighting Championships 38: Tim Carpenter vs. Daniel Gracie (Saturday 7pm from Tunica Resorts, MS live on MTV2); Titan Fighting Championships 17 (Friday 10pm from Kansas City live on HDNet)

Did you miss Jon “Bones” Jones’ complete DESTRUCTION of former UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua this past weekend? Here’s some highlights, courtesy of ESPN…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FciP4UFe88[/youtube]

I haven’t seen such a one-sided fight since The Undertaker completely destroyed Triple H at Wrestlemania X-7…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ht3J06SVIg[/youtube]

Oh wait…I guess we’re supposed to be pretending like that fight never happened…

5. Women’s College Basketball: Georgetown @ Maryland (Tuesday 7pm from Comcast Center live on ESPN2 & ESPN3.com); other games Tuesday, Saturday-Monday on ESPN2 & ESPN3.com

Thus far we’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos, but absolutely no pictures of attractive women.

Does it make me sexist that I waited until the “Women’s College Basketball” section to consider attractive women? At least I said “attractive women” instead of “sexy broads”, right?

The below picture is of former Playboy model Tiffany Taylor, a University of Maryland graduate. So, you know, once again…Terrapins > Hoyas.

tifftaylor

4. College Basketball: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16-San Diego State vs. UConn (Thursday 7:15pm from Anaheim live on CBS), Florida vs. BYU (Thursday 7:27pm from New Orleans live on TBS), Duke vs. Arizona (Thursday 9:45pm from Anaheim live on CBS), Wisconsin vs. Butler (Thursday 9:57pm from New Orleans live on TBS), North Carolina vs. Marquette (Friday 7:15pm from Newark live on CBS), Kansas vs. Richmond (Friday 7:27pm from San Antonio live on TBS), Ohio State vs. Kentucky (Friday 9:45pm from Newark live on CBS), Florida State vs. VCU (Friday 9:57pm from San Antonio live on TBS); Elite 8 games Saturday & Sunday live on CBS

The good news? With Jimmer Fridette and the Cougars still very much alive, CBS & Turner intelligently decided to send “Mr. March Madness” Gus Johnson to the Big Easy.

That leads us to the fantastic video of Johnson calling the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Hail Mary victory over the Houston Texans this season, courtesy of “imaU2fan” on Twitter. This is pretty good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wap6gGcVDAA&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

3. College Lacrosse: Loyola @ Mt. St. Mary’s (Saturday 1pm from Waldron Family Stadium live on AM1570 WNST); Virginia @ Johns Hopkins (Saturday 2pm from Homewood Field live on ESPNU); Quinnipiac @ UMBC (Saturday 3:30pm UMBC Stadium); Towson @ Delaware (Saturday 1pm from Newark, DE live on ABC2 & ESPN3.com); North Carolina @ Maryland (Saturday 12pm from Byrd Stadium live on ESPNU); Colgate @ Navy (Saturday 12pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium); Tufts @ Stevenson (Wednesday 4pm Caves Athletic Complex), Scranton @ Stevenson (Saturday 12pm Caves Athletic Complex)

Both the Cavaliers and Tar Heels are coming to town this weekend. Conveniently, I can’t stand the Cavaliers or the Tar Heels.

Not all of the memories between the Terps and UNC are positive, but here’s one I like…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0SnOgHx3eg[/youtube]

2. Soccer: MISL Championship-Milwaukee Wave @ Baltimore Blast (Friday 1st Mariner Arena); Argentina @ Team USA (Saturday 7pm from East Rutherford, NJ live on ESPN2); MLS-DC United @ New England Revolution (Saturday 4:30pm from Foxborough, MA live on Comcast SportsNet)

Attention people of Wisconsin: I appreciate what your Green Bay Packers did in the Super Bowl. In fact, I’ll always be grateful.

But on Friday night, I hope you lose. Terribly. Preferably something along the lines of 400,000 to zero.

But I’ll still be grateful that you beat the Steelers. And I’ll be grateful that “That 70′s Show” was set there. I always thought “Mila Kunis or Laura Prepon” should have been the “Ginger or Maryann” of my generation…

kunisprepon

1. Boxing: Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jorge Solis (Saturday 9:45pm from Atlantic City live on HBO)

You’re thinking to yourself: “Who the hell are these guys?”

The response: “who cares?”

The reason why this fight is #1 on the list is that Ravens S Tom Zbikowski is scheduled to fight on the undercard.

As I told Tom two weeks ago, I’m a Notre Dame hater in general. But I pull for him…even if I pull for Georgia Tech when I’m watching “Rudy.”

Feel better Fighting Irish lovers. You know I still cry during this scene…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ7ZpLgkVxA[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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On Eve of Brother Jon’s Biggest Fight, Ravens’ Jones Contemplating Own MMA Future

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On Eve of Brother Jon’s Biggest Fight, Ravens’ Jones Contemplating Own MMA Future

Posted on 19 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Jon “Bones” Jones is one of the brightest stars in the history of Mixed Martial Arts.

Just three years into his career as a professional fighter, Jones has posted a 12-1 record. His only loss (to Matt Hammill in December 2009) came via disqualification due to illegal elbow strikes.

Jones will compete in the biggest fight of his young career Saturday night, when he challenges Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) light heavyweight title holder Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event of UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey.

At just 23 years old, Jones has used a flashy style and an ability to catch opponents off guard to endear himself to MMA fans all over the world. He comes into his first title fight just weeks after an impressive submission victory of then undefeated Ryan Bader at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.

jonjones

Fans of the Baltimore Ravens may find themselves with a particular rooting interest in Jones Saturday night, as he is the younger brother of DT Arthur Jones, the team’s 2010 5th round pick out of Syracuse in the NFL Draft.

As his younger brother prepares for the biggest fight of his young career, the elder Jones has spent time working alongside him and famed MMA trainer Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Between participation in a high profile camp, an amateur wrestling background, the fluid nature of the current National Football League lockout and the decision of Ravens teammate Tom Zbikowski to step into a boxing ring earlier this month, Jones has many reasons to consider a step into the MMA world himself.

“I’m really leaning towards taking a fight” the elder Jones told Thyrl Nelson and myself in an interview Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST. “But we’ll see. Right now I’m doing it for cardio and getting my hands right. Getting my muscles flowing so I can be in the best shape I can come this year whenever I get called back to the farm to work.”

Jones’ situation is not exactly like Zbikowski’s. Zbikowski had 90 amateur fights and a professional victory already on his resume as a boxer before he was even selected by the Ravens out of Notre Dame in 2008. During his first three seasons in the National Football League, Zbikowski has established himself as a steady role player both behind future Hall of Fame S Ed Reed on the defensive side of the football and as a steady contributor to the team’s Special Teams unit. Zbikowski even made six defensive starts in 2010 while Reed began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Jones made just two game appearances as a rookie in 2010. If and when the NFL finally begins the 2011 season, he will still be looking for his first career tackle. While he was an accomplished amateur wrestler at Union-Endicott High School in New York, he has never participated in a sanctioned MMA contest.

artjones

And while Zbikowski has stated multiple times that boxing was his first love, Jones is very aware that his most important work is done on football fields.

“The NFL pays well, better then MMA does as of right now. Your mind wanders from time to time but you just have to remember, ‘what’s my real job?’”

The elder Jones may be aware that football should be his priority, but his superstar brother said his interest in MMA has been evident as the two train together in New Mexico.

“He’s helped my training out so much” Jon said in an interview with Nelson Tuesday on AM1570 WNST. “I’m wrestling on a level that I was wrestling in at high school, and we’re getting into those scrambles that we used to. Just being around him, he’s a competitive guy and pushing me to a whole new level. I’m grateful to have him here for my training.”

While Zbikowski’s transition to boxing was particularly natural during the offseason, other NFL players have moved into arenas that have to be considered even more foreign than Jones’. Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Johnson is scheduled to participate in a tryout for MLS team Sporting Kansas City next week, while New York Jets (and former Ravens) LB Bart Scott has been involved with Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestling.

Certainly a move into the Mixed Martial Arts arena by Jones would be met with greater respect and appreciation.

Jones’ playing weight (313 pounds) is nearly 50 pounds heavier than Mixed Martial Arts’ heavyweight cap (265). As Jones would not want to cut so much weight ahead of football season, he would have to find a promotion that would allow him to fight at the 265 pound+ “Super Heavyweight” level.

Should such an opportunity present itself, Jones is well aware of why he could have a significant MMA future.

“I was a strong wrestler in high school, I was a two time state champion. Once you wrestle, you don’t forget the moves. I was big in freestlye and grecko, I think I shocked the guys to be so big and move as fast as I do. I’m just having fun right now, the sport is growing, and it’s growing more and more on me. At first I thought it was barbaric, two grown men locked in a cage fighting, beating each other up. But it’s more like art, it’s about technique and more than just punching someone.”

Unlike Zbikowski (who is a restricted free agent yet to sign his tender offer), the road would be a bit more difficult for Jones to step into a ring. Jon Jones told Nelson his older brother would have to receive clearance from the league to take a fight. Given the nature of the relationship between the league and the NFLPA right now, there is no certainty that such clearance would be given.

But if it were, the younger Jones believes his older brother could make a significant impact in the world of combat sports.

“I could see Art competing within a year and a half of training. He throws me around like a rag doll, and I’m in the UFC. If Arthur were to dedicate more time to mixed martial arts, I could see him competing at the highest level within a year and a half’s time.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fXx0Rg37pk[/youtube]
Jones at WNST’s June 2010 “Ravens Rookie Show”

-G

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 14 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Golf-PGA Tour Transitions Championship (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on NBC. All golf from Tampa Bay, FL); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Demetrius Hopkins vs. Brad Solomon (Friday 9pm from Hollywood, FL live on ESPN2), Lucian Bute vs. Brian Magee (Saturday 10pm from Montreal live on Showtime); Horse Racing: Rebel Stakes (Saturday 5pm from Hot Springs, Arkansas live on HRTV); Arena Football-AFL: Philadelphia Soul @ Chicago Rush (Friday 8pm from Chicago live on NFL Network); Soccer: MLS-Columbus Crew @ DC United (Saturday 7:30pm RFK Stadium)

10. Pete Yorn (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Cold (Thursday 7pm Rams Head Live), Halestorm & Charm City Devils (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live); Mike Epps (Saturday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena), Lil’ Wayne (Sunday 7pm 1st Mariner Arena); Phil Lesh & Bob Weir (Thursday 8pm Patriot Center); Travie McCoy (Sunday 6pm Recher Theatre); America (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Loretta Lynn (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club); 2nd Annual Hippodrome Foodie Experience with Alton Brown (Saturday 6pm Hippodrome); The Fighter” and “WWE True Story of Wrestlemania” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday)

Drew Forrester and I will be Rams Head Tuesday night, because Pete Yorn is outstanding…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zginCd6D0as[/youtube]

John Allen is a Charm City rock icon. That is all.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmHauE5ODe4[/youtube]

If you’re not a Weezy fan, I don’t think we can be friends. Nicki Minaj is coming to town with him. I’d marry her.

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

Is it possible for me to enjoy a Phil Lesh/Bob Weir show even if I don’t smoke pot? I mean, I dig Scarlet Begonias…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj_kK1j3CV0[/youtube]

9. St. Patrick’s Day (Thursday)

This year’s festivities will be a bit different, as basketball will be a bit of a priority Thursday. That being said, I need a couple of things to make my St. Patty’s Day better.

1-Bangers and Mash

bangers

2-Smithwick’s

smithwicks

3-Flogging Molly[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trkx9xLb5X8[/youtube]

If your establishment has those three things and ample breathing room, please let me know. I will be in attendance.

8. Auto Racing: NASCAR Jeff Byrd 500 (Sunday 1pm from Bristol, TN live on FOX)

Bristol is a smaller track, which is supposed to make the race more exciting.
But really, how can it get any more exciting than THIS?!?!?!?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V78QFZxooQ[/youtube]

7. Tennis: ATP Tour & WTA Tour BNP Paribas Open (Tuesday & Wednesday 2pm live on Tennis Channel, Thursday 2pm & 10pm live on Tennis Channel, Friday 2pm & 6pm live on Tennis Channel 4pm & 11pm live on ESPN2, Saturday 7:30pm live on Tennis Channel 2pm & 4pm live on ABC, Sunday 2pm & 4pm live on ABC. All tennis from Indian Wells, CA)

The Indian Wells stop is one of the few tour stops on the schedule that goes two weeks despite not being a grand slam event.

Of note from what’s already happened in the draw, Donald Young defeated Andy Murray.

NO, NO…please don’t leave. I promise that’s the only tennis analysis you’ll find here. Instead, here’s the picture of Ana Ivanovic everyone likes so bad…

ivanovic

6. NBA: Washington Wizards @ Chicago Bulls (Tuesday 8pm from Chicago live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors (Friday 7pm from Toronto live on Comcast SportsNet PLUS), New Jersey Nets @ Washington Wizards (Sunday 1pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet)

The ‘Zards haven’t done much of anything right this season…until this past weekend.

This past weekend they did a FANTASTIC job…of finding their way onto Blake Griffin posters!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHB5rNtha-A[/youtube]

Talk about giving fans EXACTLY what they paid their money for!

5. NHL: Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens (Tuesday 7pm from Montreal live on Comcast SportsNet PLUS), Washington Capitals @ Detroit Red Wings (Wednesday 7:30pm from Detroit live on VERSUS & Comcast SportsNet), Washington Capitals @ New Jersey Devils (Friday 7pm from Newark, NJ live on NHL Network & Comcast SportsNet)

So everything that’s happened in the world of hockey recently has been about Zedano Charo. I’m not interested.

The only thing I care about in the world of hockey is the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes got two big points Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks. But I don’t think anyone else cares, so I won’t go any further with it.

You know what, there’s nothing hockey interesting to post here. So instead I’ll post Zach Galifianakis’ monologue from Saturday Night Live. He KILLED…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QnulJMA2FQ[/youtube]

Yeah. That’s better than hockey.

4. Women’s College Basketball: NCAA Tournament-St. Francis vs. Maryland (Sunday 12pm from Comcast Center live on ESPN2/ESPN3.com), Georgetown vs. Princeton (Sunday 2:30pm from Comcast Center live on ESPN2/ESPN3.com). More games Saturday-

While the Terrapins are involved, I’ll be paying attention to Women’s March Madness. In fact, I’ll probably even head down to College Park Sunday.

But if for some reason the season were to come to an end for the Terps, my interest in Women’s College Basketball would go right back to what it was before…

“What’s former UTEP star Claudia Lampe doing these days?”

UTEP

3. College Lacrosse: Denver @ Loyola (Wednesday 7pm from Ridley Athletic Complex live on AM1570 WNST), Loyola @ Air Force (Saturday 3pm from Colorado Springs, CO live on AM1570 WNST); UMBC @ Maryland (Friday 8pm from Byrd Stadium live on ABC 2 & ESPN3.com), St. Joseph’s @ Maryland (Sunday 1pm Byrd Stadium); Towson @ Navy (Tuesday 7pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium); Stony Brook @ Towson (Saturday 1pm Unitas Stadium); Johns Hopkins @ Syracuse (Saturday 6pm from Syracuse, NY live on ESPNU); SUNY Cortland @ Stevenson (Saturday 1pm Caves Athletic Complex)

What do you think the chances are that Greyhounds nation will let me ride out to Colorado with them for the game with the Falcons? I just want to be there for the flyover…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k5b7Pzmy74[/youtube]

By the way, I think the Hounds will beat Air Force Saturday. I don’t know if I would feel the same way if they were playing against Ivan Korshunov from Air Force One…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1P1xOBvAyg[/youtube]

2. Mixed Martial Arts: UFC 128-Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Jon “Bones” Jones (Saturday 10pm from Newark, NJ live on Pay-Per-View); Bellator Fighting Championships 37 (Saturday 7pm from Concho, OK live on MTV2)

I would suggest Baltimore be rooting for Bones Jones Saturday night, as his brother is Ravens DT Arthur Jones.

With no offense to Tom Zbikowski-who I’m pulling for-I know for SURE Saturday night’s fight will be more fulfilling than watching Zibby laugh at the Tomato Can he was placed in the ring against…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TQIf9cMS_Y[/youtube]

If you’ve never seen Bones fight, he’s pretty freaking entertaining…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQqiilaj1rs[/youtube]

1. College Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Butler vs. Old Dominion (Thursday 12:40pm from Verizon Center live on TruTV), Pitt vs. UNC Asheville/Arkansas-Little Rock (Thursday 3:10pm from Verizon Center live on TruTV), UConn vs. Bucknell (Thursday 7:20pm from Verizon Center live on TNT), Cincinnati vs. Missouri (Thursday 9:50pm from Verizon Center live on TNT) Other games Thursday-Sunday live on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV

I don’t care how many networks show the NCAA Tournament as long as two things happen.

1-They ALL play this song…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4o_FZZ_Ccs[/youtube]

2-They somehow find a way to allow Gus Johnson to call every game…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkiM3tBJVhk[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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If Zbikowski Helps Ravens Beat Steelers, I Won’t Fight His Desire To

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

I think I’ve changed my mind about this about a hundred times since I first heard the news.

Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski will step into a boxing ring at the MGM Grand Saturday night in Las Vegas to face a largely unknown opponent named Richard Bryant. The fight will be part of the undercard for the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga showdown, which will air on Showtime Pay-Per-View. It will be Zbikowski’s second professional fight, but first since a 2006 knockout of Robert Bell at Madison Square Garden in New York.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-8BYolVPVw[/youtube]

When I first heard the news, I immediately thought to myself, “There’s no way this is okay.”

I understood the concept. With National Football League Owners and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) locked in a battle over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), it appeared as though the league was quickly headed towards a lockout, which would allow players to do just about anything they wanted to away from football. New York Jets LB Bart Scott has been seen on Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards (a free agent who many fans would like to see consider Charm City) has also decided to box in the offseason.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if Zbikowski’s decision was a good one. I couldn’t help but wonder if as a professional football player, Zbikowski might not be better off simply preparing for football. Whether or not the NFL was going to experience a work stoppage, there are few of that don’t believe in our hearts there will be a NFL season in 2011, and the Ravens will have an opportunity to claim a second Vince Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis in 2012.

On “The Afternoon Drive” last week on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I discussed our thoughts on Zbikowski fighting. I said then I felt as though if I were a teammate of Zbikowski’s, I would probably want to get on the phone with him and say “I understand you’re a boxer. I understand you want to do this. But we want to win the Super Bowl this year. Why don’t you just get together with me in Arizona and let’s work on getting ready for the season.”

In fact, when Washington Redskins OL and former Raven Casey Rabach joined Forrester and I last Thursday on the show, I posed the question to him. “If one of your teammates were to (choose to box, fight Mixed Martial Arts, etc during the lockout), would you make that phone call to say ‘just bear in mind everything that’s going into this decision you’re making.’”

Rabach’s answer seemed perfectly logical to me.

“I’d be the first one on the phone I think to call that player and say ‘hey, remember where your bread is buttered’” said Rabach. “Just be careful, be smart. Definitely those are things that would kind of scare a guy (like) myself, if I hear a player doing that. It just doesn’t seem like anything great will come out of that.”

On Friday’s show, we received a call from Mike Paskoff-one of our regulars on “The Morning Reaction” and someone I worked with briefly during my time at CBS Radio. He reminded me that when it comes to the decisions of other players, teammates tend to be very supportive. Whether the situation is a holdout, an off-field issue or a locker room dispute, players often tend to respond with a simple “that’s his business.”

While Paskoff was right, Rabach’s comments justified the uneasiness I felt about Zbikowski’s decision.

Is this REALLY a good idea?

There was a detour on the road to an inevitable lockout last Friday, as the owners and NFLPA agreed to extend discussion another week. Zbikowski participated in a conference call coordinated by Top Rank Boxing (who is promoting Saturday’s card) to tell reporters he would be participating in the fight with or without a work stoppage in the NFL. As an Unrestricted Free Agent, Zbikowski couldn’t be stopped contractually.

When asked about the support of his teammates, Zbikowski pointed out that a number of teammates including DT Haloti Ngata intended to head to Vegas to support him in his fight.

This Ravens analyst and lifelong Baltimore sports fan remained skeptical.

On Monday, I joined Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST to chat with Zbikowski about his decision, and to get direct word from the safety about my own concerns.

Thinking back on Rabach’s comments, I asked Zbikowski if any teammates had reached out to him to question his decision.

“I haven’t gotten that yet” the former Notre Dame standout told us. “I think people know better than that, because I’m just that hard headed. If you tell me not to do something I’m going to do the opposite, if you tell me not to do it I’m not going to do it, so you’re better off letting it run its course (and) let me do my thing.”

While not overwhelmingly convincing, I understood the concept. I’m 27 years old myself, and I still tend to have the mentality of a 16 year boy when it comes to authority.

“Whatever you want me to do; I’m probably not going to do it-just to make you uncomfortable.”

I’m pretty hard-headed myself. Somewhere right the great Tom Clark (my father) is chuckling.

But Zbikowski followed up those comments with others that were more thought provoking.

“To be honest with you, all these football players are doing MMA, boxing things anyways in the offseason. The days of lifting, trying to get bigger were in high school and college, nobody cares how much you bench on the football field, player wise, nobody cares how much you bench or squat, it means nothing. It’s how athletic you are, it’s how you perform. It’s all those things.”

Zbikowski was completely on target with such thoughts. A number of NFL players have sought out Mixed Martial Arts training in the offseason. In fact, many of those players have done so under the guidance of FOX NFL Insider Jay Glazer. Ravens DT Kelly Gregg was scheduled to work with Glazer during the 2010 offseason, but backed out at the last minute. Incorporating fighting into months of preparation for football isn’t unique to Zbikowski. The only unique aspect is that Zbikowski would actually step into a professional ring against a combatant who desired to cause him physical harm.

It’s unique…and potentially much more dangerous.

Zbikowski had said in his conference call that he had hoped to fight multiple fights during the spring and summer. I asked him Monday if he would still do so even if the league avoided a work stoppage.

“I’m going to see how this goes” responded Zbikowski. “If it’s another 50 second one (like his 50 second knockout of Bell at MSG), I don’t know If I can keep up the six, seven weeks of training because anybody who’s ever done boxing knows what kind of shape you have to be in and what kind of training it takes. That was one of the toughest things. I sparred almost 100 rounds for 50 seconds last time and that’s bittersweet, because you can’t complain about your pro debut at Madison square garden being a 50 second knockout. We’ll see how it goes because I’m not really one who’s good with making plans. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants and see what’s what.”

While it’s certainly understandable that Zbikowski wouldn’t want to prepare for weeks for less than a minute of fighting, it’s also reasonable to think that without a lockout Zbikowski’s only focus should be helping the Ravens win the AFC North.

With that in mind, the front office of the Baltimore Ravens (particularly Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh) should have every right to ask Zbikowski to keep his focus on football if there is no work stoppage-even if he believes he will eventually become a full time boxer.

And if they do?

“I don’t know about this one because it’s already fight time, you know I would have a tough time saying no to it” responded Zbikowski. “I would just say ‘You guys have (Pro Bowl safety) Ed Reed, you don’t need me! Eight picks and he’s not even playing in six games! You don’t need me!”

It’s funny, but it’s not exactly reassuring. Zbikowski did go on to offer another thought that would reassure me a bit more.

“There’s not going to be anybody in better shape come Training Camp. I’ll guarantee you that.”

I’m still a bit uneasy. Zbikowski told me he’s well aware of the worst case scenario. There’s absolutely a chance (although I’d think the chances are slim) that he could step into the ring Saturday night and take the wrong shot to the head.

If that happens, the second guessing of his decision to fight will be the least of Zbikowski’s concerns.

But as Forrester has said on multiple occasions this offseason, there’s only one thing that should matter right now for the Baltimore Ravens.

Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Zbikowski joked about how boxing could prepare him for the task.

“I’ll bring back a belt. When we play them, I’m going to stand at midfield. If they’ve got somebody they want to throw at me again like they did back when we had the home game, I’m gonna take somebody’s head off. Or you can just send me in (and) let me blitz. Haloti got a little piece of (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) on accident, imagine what would happen if I do it on purpose. I’ll take an ejection; I’ll take an ejection for the team.”

He gets the point. If he’s on the field and contributing if/when the Ravens face the Steelers this fall, I don’t care what he does in the offseason.

Of course, I’ll be pulling for him to never leave his feet Saturday night.

If you missed Monday’s interview with Zbikowski, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

-G

(Headline photo courtesy of USA Today)

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Tuesday Top 7: Top 7 Sports Figures You’d Like to See Get Knocked Out By Tom Zbikowski

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Tuesday Top 7: Top 7 Sports Figures You’d Like to See Get Knocked Out By Tom Zbikowski

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

In honor of the potential* (*probably not happening) fight between Baltimore Ravens S Tom Zbikowski and Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (or is it Chad Johnson?), today’s Tuesday Top 7 topic was “The Top 7 Sports Figures You’d Like to See Get Knocked Out by Tom Zbikowski”…

(Note: This list is meant to be fun. We’re not actually encouraging violence against any of these folks. Please don’t be “that guy”…)

Glenn Clark’s list…

7. Jim Irsay

irsay

6. Hines Ward

hinesward

5. Mark Teixeira

tex

4. Robert Horry

horry

3. Triple H

HHH

2. Jonathan Papelbon

PAPELBON

1. Jim Calhoun

calhoun

Drew Forrester’s list…

7. Roy Williams (North Carolina)

royw

6. Pete Weber

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q8PzkhEDlg[/youtube]

5. Tony Stewart

smoke

4. Aubrey Huff

huff

3. Cecil Newton

cecilnewton

2. Charlie Sheen

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

1. Pat Summitt

summitt

If you missed the explanation of why these players made the list on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 07 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: NBA-Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington Wizards (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Los Angeles Clippers @ Washington Wizards (Saturday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Oklahoma City Thunder @ Washington Wizards (Monday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet); Soccer: MISL-Missouri Comets @ Baltimore Blast (Sunday 5:05pm 1st Mariner Arena); Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator Fighting Championships 36 (Saturday 9pm from Shreveport, LA live on MTV2); Tennis-ATP Tour & WTA Tour BNP Paribas Open (Saturday-Monday 2pm from Indian Wells, CA live on Tennis Channel); Arena Football: AFL-Philadelphia Soul @ Pittsburgh Power (Friday 8pm from Pittsburgh live on NFL Network); Women’s College Basketball: Selection Monday (Monday 7pm ESPN)

10. Get The Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live); Boyz II Men (Monday 7pm Bourbon Street); America (Monday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club), Apocalyptica (Sunday 10pm 9:30 Club), Pete Yorn (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Shamrockfest feat. Dropkick Murphys and Carbon Leaf (Saturday RFK Stadium); Lupe Fiasco “Lasers”, R.E.M. “Collapse Into Now”, Billy Joel “Live at Shea Stadium” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday); Jackass 3 available on Blu-Ray & DVD (Tuesday)

Kind of a weaksauce week for live music, but there’s some decent stuff mixed in. I mean, what…IN THE WORLD…is better than CooleyHighHarmony???

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHzkICG47LU[/youtube]

I’m a fan of Grace Potter…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHlhOgQ36m8[/youtube]

There’s few better ways to prepare for St. Patty’s Day than Dropkick Murphys…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-64CaD8GXw[/youtube]

and I freaking LOVE Carbon Leaf…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1zs2yezmkE[/youtube]

And since I’m on a role, it’s about time Lupe Fiasco’s disc finally came out. This song was one of the best of 2010…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmp6zIr5y4U[/youtube]

9. Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Sunday 2pm Downtown Baltimore), Shamrock 5K (Sunday 1:15pm Downtown Baltimore)

A 5k run is a surprising place to bump into Rex Ryan…

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

Not a surprising place to bump into Rex Ryan? The place where we bumped into him in Indianapolis during NFL Scouting Combine weekend…

steaknshake

8. Golf: WGC Cadillac Championship (Thursday & Friday 2pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday 2pm Sunday 3m live on NBC. All golf from Doral, FL); PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open (Thursday 6:30pm, Friday 11:30am, Saturday 6:30pm Sunday 7:30pm from Rio Grande, Puerto Rico on Golf Channel); Champions Tour Toshiba Classic (Friday 6:30pm, Saturday 9:30pm, Sunday 10:30pm from Newport Beach, CA on Golf Channel)

Yeah…I looked up to find out that Rory Sabbatini won the most recent golf event. I honest to God couldn’t tell you anything else going on in the sport, it is what it is.

So I wandered over to some golf blog page for more information about what was going on in golf. Holy hell was that terrible. There was actually information on how to tell two different types of golf balls apart. WHAT THE EFF? They’re golf balls. Hopefully someone put their initials on one of them or something.

Anyway, one of the blogs had an ad for something involving Izabel Goulart. I don’t know what it was, but I don’t care. It was the first interesting thing that happened during my quest for golf information.

goulart

7. NHL: Edmonton Oilers @ Washington Capitals (Wednesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Chicago Blackhawks @ Washington Capitals (Sunday 12:30pm from Verizon Center live on NBC)

In hockey news, the Columbus Cottonmouths of the SPHL wore these jerseys for a “Fight Night” promotion this weekend. (Thanks Puck Daddy!)

cottonmouths

If the Caps would wear something like this, I might actually have a reason to give a hoot about them for a second or two.

6. Pro Wrestling: TNA Victory Road (Sunday 8pm from Orlando live on Pay-Per-View)

I guess TNA is supposed to be interesting now because 1-Sting is their champion, 2-Bart Scott has joined the fray…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZEFxLp6MQ8[/youtube]

3-Angelina from Jersey Shore is now part of TNA…

angelina

Nope. Still not really all that interested.

5. Boxing: Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga (Saturday 9pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime PPV); Sergio Martinez vs. Sergiy Dzinziruk (Saturday 10:30pm from Mashantucket, CT live on HBO); Jimmy Lange vs. Jimmy “The Fighting School Teacher” Holmes (Saturday 7pm Patriot Center)

The Cotto-Mayorga card is a pretty big deal all around, as both Joshua Clottey and Yuri Foreman are on the undercard.

The reason why Cotto-Mayorga is a big deal in Charm City however is because Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is fighting on the undercard. We don’t know who he’s fighting, but whoever it is HAS to perform better than Robert Bell did five years ago at Madison Square Garden, right?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-8BYolVPVw[/youtube]

By the way, “Rudy” was on Encore Sunday-right after Little Giants. Raise your hand if you ALWAYS hate Notre Dame…right up until the point where Jon Favreau and the folks in South Bend start chanting Rudy’s name.

For the record, as soon as they finish carrying him off the Notre Dame Stadium field, I start hating Notre Dame again.

4. High School Basketball: MPSSAA Semifinals-4A: Eleanor Roosevelt vs. Patterson (Thursday 7pm), Magruder vs. North Point (Thursday 9pm); 3A: Milford Mill vs. Friendly (Thursday 3pm), South Hagerstown vs. Centennial (Thursday 5pm); 2A: Gwynn Park vs. Digital Harbor (Friday 7pm), South Carroll vs. Easton (Friday 9pm); Dunbar vs. Owings Mills (Friday 3pm), Williamsport vs. Pocomoke (Friday 5pm); Finals all day Saturday (All games at Comcast Center)

Unfortunately Monique Bassett couldn’t will my Perry Hall Gators all the way to College Park, but I’ll give her a pass in her first season.

My picks to win the state titles are Patterson, Milford Mill, Digital Harbor and Dunbar-but I don’t really know anything about the subject.

It’s not the only subject I don’t know much about but comment on anyway. For example, I don’t really know much of anything about women’s fashion, but I’d like to note that I approve of what Samara Weaving is wearing here. (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

weaving

3. Ed Block Courage Awards (Tuesday 5:30pm Martin’s West); Anquan Boldin “Chalk Talk” (Thursday 5pm Hill Field House-Morgan State)

Kinda tough to weave my way from Samara Weaving to the Ed Block Courage Awards, huh?

I won’t bother trying to be clever or funny here, and I definitely won’t bother trying to post a picture of an attractive gal. Instead I’ll channel Lance Storm and “be serious for a moment.”

If you didn’t read our own Nestor Aparicio’s column about Michael Vick’s night in Baltimore last year, I REALLY encourage you to do so. It will help explain this video…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmp-fMr31c0[/youtube]

2. College Basketball: ACC Tournament-Maryland vs. North Carolina State (Thursday 7pm from Greensboro, NC live on ESPN2), MEAC Tournament-Morgan State vs. North Carolina A&T (Thursday 8pm from Winston-Salem, NC streamed live at MEACHoops.com), Coppin State vs. Norfolk State/Howard winner (Thursday 6pm from Winston-Salem, NC streamed at MEACHoops.com); Selection Sunday (Sunday 6pm CBS)

Just a year ago, I was sitting outside the Greensboro Coliseum on a Friday afternoon thinking about a weekend that would either involve watching the Terps make a run towards an ACC Championship or watching the Morgan Bears try to clinch their second straight March Madness berth.

The Terrapins didn’t keep their end of the bargain, but Todd Bozeman’s Bears certainly did-and my weekend in the Triangle was OUTSTANDING.

This year…I think I’m gonna stick in the mid-atlantic.

Hey, Fang Mitchell’s Eagles still have a real chance of making the Tournament-but I’m not holding my breath that I’ll be needing to do another Selection Sunday special Sunday night on AM1570 WNST.

But if you have any interest in heading to Carolina for the weekend, I’d still encourage it. Just make sure you do these three things…

bojangles
cookout
biscuitville

1. College Lacrosse: Maryland @ Towson (Saturday 11am from Unitas Stadium live on ESPN3.com), Loyola @ Duke (Friday 7pm from Durham, NC live on AM1570 WNST), Lafayette @ Navy (Saturday 12pm Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium), Lynchburg @ Stevenson (Saturday 1pm Caves Athletic Complex); Inside Lacrosse Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic: Syracuse vs. Georgetown (Saturday 11am) Cornell vs. Virginia (Saturday 1:30pm), Johns Hopkins vs. UMBC (Saturday 4pm) All games from M&T Bank Stadium live on ESPNU

So before we start filling out our NIT brackets in Baltimore, there’s a damn good day of lacrosse Saturday.

I’ll be at Maryland/Towson and Hopkins/UMBC Saturday for sure, and might try to poke in over in Owings Mills in between.

It’s a shame there’s so much going on in town Saturday, because if there wasn’t I would have gone down to Duke with the Greyhounds Friday night and then stuck around for the ACC or MEAC title games Saturday.

Instead, the Glenn Clark household will be torn over a battle of alma maters when the Terps face the Tigers Saturday morning. I want you to look closely at this picture before you decide whose side you’re going to support…

mdtowson

The great part is…I might have her so brainwashed that she mistakenly roots for Maryland on Saturday. HAHAHA!!!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re just hours away from the start of the annual NFL Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. WNST.net will be live in Indy this weekend to provide coverage of the Combine.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest from the place our friend Merton likes to call “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.”

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

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado)

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

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 4 & 5-A preview of players who will participate in this weekend’s Combine

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

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

Here are ten more prospects to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

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

CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vY06HXzEb0[/youtube]

When looking at Smith’s senior season in Boulder, it might seem odd that he didn’t record a single interception. But Smith was only thrown on about 20 times in man coverage during his senior campaign, so his opportunities were limited.

More impressive for Smith was that over his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes combined, he allowed just 11 receptions-only one of which was a first down. (He gave up one touchdown in his senior season.)

That lead Smith to gaining very deserved All-Big 12 honors.

The most appealing part of Smith’s candidacy as a first round pick is that he’s 6’2″, 205 pounds. That’s an ideal size for a potential shutdown corner in the National Football League.

The other appealing part about Smith is that he’s not afraid to tackle. He finished his Buffs career with 160 of them. Deion Sanders he’s not-at least through the first 22 years of his life.

Smith is likely going to be available when the Ravens pick at 26th. With Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all expected to become unrestricted free agents, Smith could be a very intriguing possibility.

QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHJTeM4S3I[/youtube]

Tyrod Taylor is not Michael Vick.

That being said, if I represented Tyrod Taylor I’d do my best to make sure the name Michael Vick was mentioned as much as possible during Draft season.

Taylor was certainly explosive at times during his career in Blacksburg. He was responsible for 67 career touchdowns (44 passing, 23 rushing) and thew for over 5,000 yards between his junior and senior seasons combined.

Hokies fans were frustrated by his decision making at times, and he certainly took advantage of lesser competition (572 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010 came in back to back games against Duke and Wake Forest).

He’s 6’1″, 216 pounds and VERY quick (expected to clock in near 4.5 when he runs the 40). He has plenty of upside. He had a solid week at the Citrus Bowl during Shrine Game week. He plans on staying at quarterback, unlike fellow former Va Tech QB Marcus Vick-who was willing to try Wide Receiver during the Draft process.

He’s not likely to find his way into the fray any earlier than mid-Saturday. The Ravens aren’t likely to address the QB position before that point, as they will simply be looking for depth behind Joe Flacco in case free agent backup Marc Bulger departs.

It could be a fit. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be.

RB Jordan Todman (UConn)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucXw_CW2ov0[/youtube]

Todman might be too similar in size to current Ravens RB Ray Rice (he’s 5’9″, 193 pounds; Rice is 5’8″, 212 pounds) to be a true complement in the Charm City backfield, but that doesn’t mean he might not be an option.

The Ravens will still have the option of retaining FB Le’Ron McClain and using him as more of a compliment to Rice, which could enable them to find depth later on with a player like Todman.

Todman didn’t really play a Ray Rice-type role in the Huskies offense, either. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in both his junior and senior seasons, combining for 2,883 rushing yards and 28 TD’s between the two seasons. He caught just 40 passes in the same span.

Will his size allow for him to be a consistent runner at the next level? We’ll have to see. He’s smaller than Willis McGahee (who the Ravens are expected to let go), but he would bring fresher legs-and pottentially a fresher attitude.

Todman replaced a very good back in Donald Brown and more than lived up to the the standard. But despite winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, he’s probably a late Friday night or early Saturday selection.

That might be around the time when General Manager Ozzie Newsome considers a RB.

S Ahmad Black (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MswzKgJ8DBc[/youtube]

What has made Ed Reed a future Hall of Fame safety in Baltimore has been the fact that he’s had a nose for the football.

It’s not the same level, but there’s no question Black had a nose for the football during his four seasons in Gainesville.

Black finished his Gators career with 13 interceptions (3 of which he returned for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles. He also collected 227 tackles and two sacks. I think it’s fair to use the word “playmaker” to describe him.

At 5’9″, 190 pounds; Black isn’t as big as Reed. With that in mind, he’s not really expected to be a free safety at the NFL level and play centerfield the way Reed does.

But with Dawan Landry a possibility to depart when free agency finally begins, the Ravens could use general depth at the position all around.

Black will go early. Perhaps too early for a team that still counts Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski as options at the position.

WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt)

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

His numbers over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh were very good but a bit short of earth shattering.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 TD’s.

But there’s another number for Baldwin that is much more significant and makes him a likely first round pick after just three seasons at Heinz Field.

6’5″.

Baldwin’s unreal combination of size and speed (he’s believed to be able to post a sub 4.5 at the home of the Colts this weekend) makes him a potentially VERY dangerous downfield threat at the next level.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens need EXACTLY that type of receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The question is now whether or not Baldwin sticks around to 26, or would it be worth it for John Harbaugh and company to try to move up to make sure they come away with him?

Not every tall, fast receiver selected early in the Draft has panned out and become a legitimate offensive superstar in the NFL. If the Ravens don’t walk away with Baldwin in the Draft, they’d still have free agency (should free agency ever actually happen) to consider addressing the need with a potential free agent like Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.

If he’s there at 26, I’d have to imagine it would be hard to pass up on him.

FB Owen Marecic (Stanford)

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

Two things to start. One-Marecic is NOT going to play both sides of the ball in the NFL the way he did with the Cardinal. Two-I know he’s white and he played for Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, but Marecic is NOT Toby Gerhart. The comparisons would be unfair.

With all of that said, Marecic is a VERY interesting prospect. He won the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 as the most versatile player in college football. In one game against Notre Dame, he ran for a TD and returned an INT for a TD within the span of 13 seconds.

Even without playing defense at the next level, the Ravens could certainly find ways to use his versatility. He’d be an immediate candidate to help Jerry Rosburg in Special Teams and would be truly valuable should Le’Ron McClain depart or be moved into more of a true halfback role.

Marecic certainly handled short yardage situations for Stanford, scoring 10 combined touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons on just 48 total touches.

John Harbaugh should know a thing or two about Marecic both from his brother and since his father (Jack Harbaugh) coached Marecic for a month in 2009 leading up to the Sun Bowl. He appears to be the exact type of football player would love, and should stay on the board until at least midway through the day Saturday.

LB Nate Irving (NC State)

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

After the Ravens selected Paul Kruger in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was more discussion about Kruger overcoming a stabbing than there was about his actual football ability.

Should the Ravens select Irving this year, be prepared for a similar amount of discussion about things not related to football.

Irving missed the entire 2009 after a car accident that caused a number of serious injuries. Irving suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and told reporters that summer he felt “blessed” to be alive.

Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack felt “blessed” to have him return to the football field in 2010, as he tallied 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He finished his NCSU career with 211 tackles, nine sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There has been some question as to whether or not Irving (6’1″, 235 pounds) can play Inside Linebacker at the NFL level. There are also of course questions as to whether any of the Ravens’ trio of Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain can REALLY play ILB at the NFL level either.

And we all know Ray Lewis isn’t getting younger.

Irving is probably a Saturday selection, and teams will clearly be paying very close attention to the medical portion of his Combine participation this weekend. The Ravens have taken chances on players with red flags before, but after selecting Sergio Kindle last year, they might be a bit more guarded in their decision making.

DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT2-mRCgX0[/youtube]

There’s no secret that new Defensive Coordinator DESPERATELY needs a true rush end, as the Ravens failed to find a complement for Terrell Suggs along the Defensive Line last year.

It’s also no secret that Watt is one of the top D-End prospects in the country, having collected 11 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s during his two seasons in Madison after transferring from Central Michigan.

Watt is a 6’6″, 292 pound monster who wrecked havoc on Big Ten passers during his two seasons with the Badgers. His 21 Tackles for Loss in 2009 resulted in 91 lost yards for opponents.

Does that sound like something the Ravens could use?

The good news for the Ravens is that there are a number of First Round DE prospects in this year’s Draft, including Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey who we have already profiled. Given the number of DE prospects, there’s a chance a player like Watt could stay on the board until 26th, but it is no guarantee.

If Watt’s available, it would be very difficult for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to pass up on such a talented player at such a position of need.

C Kris O’Dowd (USC)

odowd

Southern Cal became a bit of an “Offensive Lineman U” during the Pete Carroll era, producing the likes of Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons), Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Winston Justice (Philadelphia Eagles) and more.

O’Dowd is the next in the line of Trojans lineman who is expected to make the transition to the NFL level.

He’s 6’4″, 303 pounds and was part of an O-Line that blocked for the 3rd leading rushing attack in the Pac 10 last season, behind just Oregon and Stanford. He made an immediate impact upon arriving in Malibu, becoming the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for USC since 1996.

Teams will be taking a particularly important look at O’Dowd medically in Indianapolis, as he battled knee and shoulder injuries during his college career. With Matt Birk expected to be playing in his final season in 2011, the Ravens could do well to spend a Saturday selection on a player like O’Dowd.

And if you’re at all concerned about O’Dowd off this field, this ESPN piece about his relationship with a young man named Jake Olson should probably ease those concerns…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhY4RnQLaOc[/youtube]

WR Greg Salas (Hawaii)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH94OG2Fcko[/youtube]

Salas’ numbers in 2010 were almost unreal.

The young man from Chino, California caught 119 balls for a ridiculous 1,889 yards and 14 TD’s for the Warriors as a senior. It wrapped up an amazing career in Honolulu that saw him catch 285 passes for 4,345 yards and 26 TD’s-the overwhelming majority of which came in his final three seasons.

Those numbers are amazing.

The problem with Salas is that there’s nothing about him in particular that would make him stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps. He’s not terribly big (6’2″, 210 pounds) and isn’t lightning fast either (expected to post a 40 time in the mid 4.5′s in Indy).

With will-be free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth significant question marks to return, there’s no easy place to see Salas fitting in at the top with Boldin and Mason in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But the Ravens do need to find more receivers should Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh (and Marcus Smith who is also a free agent) depart. There is no doubt that Salas can catch the football. Should he stick around late into Saturday, he would have to be a player Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company would want to consider.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

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Draft Season in Focus in Indianapolis for NFL Scouting Combine

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

The annual NFL Scouting Combine is underway at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. WNST.net will be live in Indy this weekend to provide coverage of the Combine.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest from the place our friend Merton likes to call “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” There will also be nearly day long coverage of the events in Indy throughout the weekend on NFL Network.

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

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado)

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

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 4 & 5-A preview of players who will participate in this weekend’s Combine

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

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

Here are ten more prospects to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

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

CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vY06HXzEb0[/youtube]

When looking at Smith’s senior season in Boulder, it might seem odd that he didn’t record a single interception. But Smith was only thrown on about 20 times in man coverage during his senior campaign, so his opportunities were limited.

More impressive for Smith was that over his junior and senior seasons with the Buffaloes combined, he allowed just 11 receptions-only one of which was a first down. (He gave up one touchdown in his senior season.)

That lead Smith to gaining very deserved All-Big 12 honors.

The most appealing part of Smith’s candidacy as a first round pick is that he’s 6’2″, 205 pounds. That’s an ideal size for a potential shutdown corner in the National Football League.

The other appealing part about Smith is that he’s not afraid to tackle. He finished his Buffs career with 160 of them. Deion Sanders he’s not-at least through the first 22 years of his life.

Smith is likely going to be available when the Ravens pick at 26th. With Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all expected to become unrestricted free agents, Smith could be a very intriguing possibility.

QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vHJTeM4S3I[/youtube]

Tyrod Taylor is not Michael Vick.

That being said, if I represented Tyrod Taylor I’d do my best to make sure the name Michael Vick was mentioned as much as possible during Draft season.

Taylor was certainly explosive at times during his career in Blacksburg. He was responsible for 67 career touchdowns (44 passing, 23 rushing) and thew for over 5,000 yards between his junior and senior seasons combined.

Hokies fans were frustrated by his decision making at times, and he certainly took advantage of lesser competition (572 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010 came in back to back games against Duke and Wake Forest).

He’s 6’1″, 216 pounds and VERY quick (expected to clock in near 4.5 when he runs the 40). He has plenty of upside. He had a solid week at the Citrus Bowl during Shrine Game week. He plans on staying at quarterback, unlike fellow former Va Tech QB Marcus Vick-who was willing to try Wide Receiver during the Draft process.

He’s not likely to find his way into the fray any earlier than mid-Saturday. The Ravens aren’t likely to address the QB position before that point, as they will simply be looking for depth behind Joe Flacco in case free agent backup Marc Bulger departs.

It could be a fit. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be.

RB Jordan Todman (UConn)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucXw_CW2ov0[/youtube]

Todman might be too similar in size to current Ravens RB Ray Rice (he’s 5’9″, 193 pounds; Rice is 5’8″, 212 pounds) to be a true complement in the Charm City backfield, but that doesn’t mean he might not be an option.

The Ravens will still have the option of retaining FB Le’Ron McClain and using him as more of a compliment to Rice, which could enable them to find depth later on with a player like Todman.

Todman didn’t really play a Ray Rice-type role in the Huskies offense, either. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in both his junior and senior seasons, combining for 2,883 rushing yards and 28 TD’s between the two seasons. He caught just 40 passes in the same span.

Will his size allow for him to be a consistent runner at the next level? We’ll have to see. He’s smaller than Willis McGahee (who the Ravens are expected to let go), but he would bring fresher legs-and pottentially a fresher attitude.

Todman replaced a very good back in Donald Brown and more than lived up to the the standard. But despite winning Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, he’s probably a late Friday night or early Saturday selection.

That might be around the time when General Manager Ozzie Newsome considers a RB.

S Ahmad Black (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MswzKgJ8DBc[/youtube]

What has made Ed Reed a future Hall of Fame safety in Baltimore has been the fact that he’s had a nose for the football.

It’s not the same level, but there’s no question Black had a nose for the football during his four seasons in Gainesville.

Black finished his Gators career with 13 interceptions (3 of which he returned for touchdowns) and two forced fumbles. He also collected 227 tackles and two sacks. I think it’s fair to use the word “playmaker” to describe him.

At 5’9″, 190 pounds; Black isn’t as big as Reed. With that in mind, he’s not really expected to be a free safety at the NFL level and play centerfield the way Reed does.

But with Dawan Landry a possibility to depart when free agency finally begins, the Ravens could use general depth at the position all around.

Black will go early. Perhaps too early for a team that still counts Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski as options at the position.

WR Jon Baldwin (Pitt)

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

His numbers over the last two seasons in Pittsburgh were very good but a bit short of earth shattering.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Baldwin caught 110 passes for 1,933 yards and 13 TD’s.

But there’s another number for Baldwin that is much more significant and makes him a likely first round pick after just three seasons at Heinz Field.

6’5″.

Baldwin’s unreal combination of size and speed (he’s believed to be able to post a sub 4.5 at the home of the Colts this weekend) makes him a potentially VERY dangerous downfield threat at the next level.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens need EXACTLY that type of receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

The question is now whether or not Baldwin sticks around to 26, or would it be worth it for John Harbaugh and company to try to move up to make sure they come away with him?

Not every tall, fast receiver selected early in the Draft has panned out and become a legitimate offensive superstar in the NFL. If the Ravens don’t walk away with Baldwin in the Draft, they’d still have free agency (should free agency ever actually happen) to consider addressing the need with a potential free agent like Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.

If he’s there at 26, I’d have to imagine it would be hard to pass up on him.

FB Owen Marecic (Stanford)

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

Two things to start. One-Marecic is NOT going to play both sides of the ball in the NFL the way he did with the Cardinal. Two-I know he’s white and he played for Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, but Marecic is NOT Toby Gerhart. The comparisons would be unfair.

With all of that said, Marecic is a VERY interesting prospect. He won the Paul Hornung Award in 2010 as the most versatile player in college football. In one game against Notre Dame, he ran for a TD and returned an INT for a TD within the span of 13 seconds.

Even without playing defense at the next level, the Ravens could certainly find ways to use his versatility. He’d be an immediate candidate to help Jerry Rosburg in Special Teams and would be truly valuable should Le’Ron McClain depart or be moved into more of a true halfback role.

Marecic certainly handled short yardage situations for Stanford, scoring 10 combined touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons on just 48 total touches.

John Harbaugh should know a thing or two about Marecic both from his brother and since his father (Jack Harbaugh) coached Marecic for a month in 2009 leading up to the Sun Bowl. He appears to be the exact type of football player would love, and should stay on the board until at least midway through the day Saturday.

LB Nate Irving (NC State)

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

After the Ravens selected Paul Kruger in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was more discussion about Kruger overcoming a stabbing than there was about his actual football ability.

Should the Ravens select Irving this year, be prepared for a similar amount of discussion about things not related to football.

Irving missed the entire 2009 after a car accident that caused a number of serious injuries. Irving suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib, separated shoulder and a compound fracture in his leg and told reporters that summer he felt “blessed” to be alive.

Coach Tom O’Brien and the Wolfpack felt “blessed” to have him return to the football field in 2010, as he tallied 89 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He finished his NCSU career with 211 tackles, nine sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions.

There has been some question as to whether or not Irving (6’1″, 235 pounds) can play Inside Linebacker at the NFL level. There are also of course questions as to whether any of the Ravens’ trio of Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain can REALLY play ILB at the NFL level either.

And we all know Ray Lewis isn’t getting younger.

Irving is probably a Saturday selection, and teams will clearly be paying very close attention to the medical portion of his Combine participation this weekend. The Ravens have taken chances on players with red flags before, but after selecting Sergio Kindle last year, they might be a bit more guarded in their decision making.

DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QT2-mRCgX0[/youtube]

There’s no secret that new Defensive Coordinator DESPERATELY needs a true rush end, as the Ravens failed to find a complement for Terrell Suggs along the Defensive Line last year.

It’s also no secret that Watt is one of the top D-End prospects in the country, having collected 11 sacks and 36.5 TFL’s during his two seasons in Madison after transferring from Central Michigan.

Watt is a 6’6″, 292 pound monster who wrecked havoc on Big Ten passers during his two seasons with the Badgers. His 21 Tackles for Loss in 2009 resulted in 91 lost yards for opponents.

Does that sound like something the Ravens could use?

The good news for the Ravens is that there are a number of First Round DE prospects in this year’s Draft, including Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey who we have already profiled. Given the number of DE prospects, there’s a chance a player like Watt could stay on the board until 26th, but it is no guarantee.

If Watt’s available, it would be very difficult for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to pass up on such a talented player at such a position of need.

C Kris O’Dowd (USC)

odowd

Southern Cal became a bit of an “Offensive Lineman U” during the Pete Carroll era, producing the likes of Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers), Sam Baker (Atlanta Falcons), Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals), Winston Justice (Philadelphia Eagles) and more.

O’Dowd is the next in the line of Trojans lineman who is expected to make the transition to the NFL level.

He’s 6’4″, 303 pounds and was part of an O-Line that blocked for the 3rd leading rushing attack in the Pac 10 last season, behind just Oregon and Stanford. He made an immediate impact upon arriving in Malibu, becoming the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for USC since 1996.

Teams will be taking a particularly important look at O’Dowd medically in Indianapolis, as he battled knee and shoulder injuries during his college career. With Matt Birk expected to be playing in his final season in 2011, the Ravens could do well to spend a Saturday selection on a player like O’Dowd.

And if you’re at all concerned about O’Dowd off this field, this ESPN piece about his relationship with a young man named Jake Olson should probably ease those concerns…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhY4RnQLaOc[/youtube]

WR Greg Salas (Hawaii)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH94OG2Fcko[/youtube]

Salas’ numbers in 2010 were almost unreal.

The young man from Chino, California caught 119 balls for a ridiculous 1,889 yards and 14 TD’s for the Warriors as a senior. It wrapped up an amazing career in Honolulu that saw him catch 285 passes for 4,345 yards and 26 TD’s-the overwhelming majority of which came in his final three seasons.

Those numbers are amazing.

The problem with Salas is that there’s nothing about him in particular that would make him stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps. He’s not terribly big (6’2″, 210 pounds) and isn’t lightning fast either (expected to post a 40 time in the mid 4.5′s in Indy).

With will-be free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth significant question marks to return, there’s no easy place to see Salas fitting in at the top with Boldin and Mason in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But the Ravens do need to find more receivers should Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh (and Marcus Smith who is also a free agent) depart. There is no doubt that Salas can catch the football. Should he stick around late into Saturday, he would have to be a player Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company would want to consider.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

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NFL Draft Season Kicks Off In Orlando at East West Shrine Game

Posted on 22 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

For NFL Draft nerds (like myself), this week has marked the true start to NFL Draft season.

Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome lead a group of staffers who traveled to Orlando to watch practice ahead of this year’s annual East West Shrine Game.

With the NFL Draft likely to take place before free agency begins this year, it can be argued that Draft season is more significant than it has been in years past.

Before we start to look at players involved in Draft season, I think we should first identify the Ravens’ biggest areas of need. With free agency still to determine many things, here are the areas where I believe the team most needs to improve.

1. Defensive End-Newsome said this week the team needs a “companion” for LB Terrell Suggs in pass rush. I agree, and I believe it needs to be a true edge rusher.
2. Offensive Tackle-If the team feels comfortable with bringing back Jared Gaither (and Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated they were), re-signing him could address the problem. If not, they’ll need to upgrade.
3. Wide Receiver-The Ravens will have to make decisions on TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth; but need to come away with a big receiver and a speed receiver that can both be counted on offensively.
4. Cornerback-Only Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb are under contract, so the team needs to make decisions on Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Fabian Washington and Cary Williams. Either way, they would be well served to add a bigger, more physical corner.
5. Fullback-If Le’Ron McClain returns, this wouldn’t be an issue. With the current expectation that he won’t return, the team will be looking for an option here.
6. Inside Linebacker-At the MIKE spot, the team knows Ray Lewis can’t play forever. At the WILL spot, the team has three players (Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe) who are all coming up on some form of free agency and who have not separated themselves from each other at all.
7. Safety-While it doesn’t appear Ed Reed will retire this offseason, the Ravens have to think about the possibility it could happen in the near future. At the same time, Dawan Landry is a free agent and appears to be one of the more likely free agents on the team to get bigger money elsewhere.
8. Center-Whether or not Matt Birk retires (I’ll guess he doesn’t), the team clearly needs to review the position. If Birk returns, it will only be for one more season. I don’t think the team has future plans for Chris Chester in the middle. Daniel Sanders could be an option, but the team might be well to draft a center as well.
9. Running Back-Willis McGahee is a very likely departure this offseason, leaving the team with a need to compliment Ray Rice.
10. Quarterback-If Marc Bulger departs, the Ravens will need someone else to backup Joe Flacco. Hunter Cantwell could be an option, but they might want to at least CONSIDER a doomsday theory scenario with Flacco and draft a mid to late round QB as well.

Some of these positions will be addressed whenever free agency finally does begin, others can be addressed simply by signing the team’s own free agents. Before free agency is even an issue, the Ravens will have to get through Draft season.

Here are a look at 10 players participating in the Shrine Game, which you can watch at 4pm on NFL Network.

RB Evan Royster (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tWf1NOPkL0[/youtube]

After an explosive sophomore season (1,391 yards of total offense and 12 TD’s), Royster immediately gained attention.

Incredibly, he posted two more very steady seasons, tallying 1,356 yards of total offense and 8 TD’s in 2009; 1,216 yards of total offense and 7 TD’s in 2010. He has the size of a back who could compliment Rice (6’1″, 228 pounds) and many scouts think he’ll have a solid career as a third down back at the NFL level.

So what’s the problem? Well, Royster’s biggest performances as a senior came against Temple and Michigan, neither or which can really be considered premiere defenses. He also doesn’t fit the bill of the dynamic backs in the Naitonal Football League currently like Rice, Jacksonville Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew, Houston Texans back Arian Foster, Tennessee Titans back Chris Johnson or Kansas City Chiefs back Jamaal Charles.

As of right now, he’s probably a mid to late round pick. If so, he might be a solid pick-up should McGahee leave Charm City.

WR Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mihM5auuXx0[/youtube]

As the Ravens look for a receiver who can  extend the field, they might want to think about Jean. He’s 6’3″ (and somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds), and has deceptive quickness.

While the Owls don’t exactly play against top caliber opposition in the Sun Belt conference, Jean also managed to post big games against Texas (see above) and Michigan State. He finished the 2010 season with 64 catches for 988 yards and 8 TD’s, wrapping up a career with 146 catches for 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He’s probably a late round pick at this point, but what he does at the Citrus Bowl Saturday and what he does at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis could lift him to late Friday night or early Saturday morning. If the Ravens don’t go receiver early, he could certainly be an option for the team later in the weekend. Jean wasn’t exactly hotly pursued out of High School in Miami, but he could be a hot name in April.

DE Justin Trattou (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DBWhBn75KM[/youtube]

Maybe an interception isn’t the greatest highlight to offer for a player the Ravens would be looking to see handle an edge rush, but I can only work with what I have.

Trattou is a rising end whose size has never matched his ability to bring down a QB. He tallied just 8 sacks over his four seasons in Gainesville despite his 6’4″, 255 pound frame. In fairness, he was surrounded by top notch rushers like Carlos Dunlap during much of his Gators career.

Trattou may pan out to be more of a Dwan Edwards or Cory Redding contain type of end, but NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks says he’s put together an impressive mix of rush moves this week in the shadow of Disney World. If he continues to show a rush presence, he could be an intriguing name for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

S Jermale Hines (Ohio State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBM7zf2IAw[/youtube]

Hines’ career interception total over four years in Columbus (three) looks more like a single game for a future Hall of Famer like Reed, but that doesn’t mean Hines hasn’t had a nose for the football. The safety from Cleveland also finished his Buckeyes career with 159 tackles and two sacks, and was named first team All-Big Ten by conference coaches in 2010.

At 6’1″, 216 pounds; Hines is bigger than your typical free safety-but is also quick. In fact, Hines could be an option as a returner at the next level as well. He’s as much an athlete as a football player, but his football skills certainly developed well at OSU, and could very well still improve as he reaches the NFL.

As the Ravens approach Saturday, Hines could be a valuable depth option at safety. While Tom Zbikowski handled FS well with Reed on the PUP list, he didn’t necessarily convince anyone he was absolutely the team’s replacement for Reed longterm. Hines could be that type of player someday if groomed appropriately at a young age.

WR Terrence Toliver (LSU)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhIrQn1Nd7w[/youtube]

His numbers are by no means overwhelming, but exactly how many times was Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron able to call a play like the TD pass Toliver caught from Jarrett Lee above?

Exactly.

The Ravens finished 22nd in red zone efficiency in 2010. For the numerous complaints about the lack of creative play-calling, there was only so much for Cameron to work with. Namely, he missed a target the size of Toliver.

Toliver caught just 41 balls for 579 yards and five TD’s during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge. All five TD’s happened either in the Florida game above or in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M, where he caught three.

But there’s another number that’s significantly more important.

6’5″.

The only receiver the Ravens have with such size is James Hardy, and he’s James Hardy. If the Ravens are truly looking to get more dynamic offensively, Toliver could be a solid pickup on Friday night or Saturday.

FB Anthony Sherman (UConn)

anthonysherman

I would love to have been able to share a YouTube clip of the Huskies FB with you, but when you rush just four times for a total of one yard in your senior season I guess there’s not much to post.

Sherman might not have big numbers, but he can help take credit for a rushing attack that finished 2nd in the Big East in 2010, just four yards behind conference leading Louisville. He also showed himself to have reliable hands in the Connecticut offense, grabbing 48 passes for 477 yards and a TD over his four seasons playing football in Hartford.

More importantly, Sherman lead the way for RB Jordan Todman to finish fourth in all of the NCAA FBS in rushing with 1,695 yards. If the Ravens are going to want a traditional blocking back (and the way they used McClain would make you think they are), Sherman could very well fit the bill. At 5’11″, he has a very effective way of throwing around 244 pounds.

OT Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada)

I know what you’re thinking.

“Canada?”

Yeah, I’d usually just ignore a Canuck and let CFL teams fight over who gets him. But there are two unique things O’Donnell has going for him.

1-He’s 6’10.”

2-He did THIS to Boise State DE Ryan Wintersyk at an indoor practice during Shrine Game week.

Does it make him NFL material? Not necessarily. But does it mean more folks will be paying attention? Absolutely.

RB Da’Rel Scott (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADjVJ3MKd8k[/youtube]

Scott HAS to hope scouts were paying close attention to the Military Bowl, as his 200 yard, 2 TD performance against East Carolina was by far and away the best of his senior campaign for the Terps. If scouts could only remember his bowl game performances he’d be a lock to get selected, as he also compiled 174 yards and 2 TD’s against Nevada in the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl.

After a breakout season (1,133 yards and eight TD’s) in 2008, Scott totaled just 1,133 yards and nine TD’s in his junior and senior seasons combined.

That being said, Scott’s 5’11″, 200 pound frame is shifty but can still take a hit. He could be a steady performer behind a solid O-Line at the next level and will likely be available late into Saturday.

QB Ricky Dobbs (Navy)

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

A number of teams (including the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions) have had no problems selecting service academy players in the NFL Draft and waiting until they were eligible to play. The Ravens have never done that, but with their partnership with the Maryland National Guard, they’ve certainly been more military friendly in recent years.

Dobbs probably doesn’t project to be a quarterback at the next level, but he’s a better passer than those who don’t follow the Midshipmen (see above) probably realize. Dobbs threw for over 2,500 yards over his junior and senior seasons; combining with 2,170 yards rushing.

It will be interesting to see if Dobbs stays at quarterback throughout Draft season or if he works at other positions. Receiver seems to be the best bet for him given his 5’11″, 215 pound size; but he could fit with some of the more undersized running backs in the NFL as well.

The military service will be an issue. He’s much more likely to sign as an undrafted free agent than to be picked, but he’s the type of special athlete a team might very well be willing to wait for. There’s no off-field red flags for NFL teams to worry about with Dobbs, as everything he does he keeps in mind that he ultimately wants to be the President…of the United States.

QB Pat Devlin (Delaware)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkPzmE0__7A[/youtube]

If the Pat Devlin story sounds familiar, it should. Substitute “Pitt” for “Penn State”, and it’s basically the Joe Flacco story again.

Devlin nearly lead the Blue Hens to the NCAA FCS title in 2010, throwing for 3,032 yards and 22 TD’s before the Hens were cut down by Eastern Washington in the Championship Game.

Devlin doesn’t project quite as high in the 2010 Draft as Flacco did in the 2008 Draft, but he’ll have time to try to improve that. As of now, he looks like a Friday night selection, but will get the chance to go up against better talent in Orlando and will get to work out against better players at LucasOil Stadium in Indy.

If he moves up, there’s no chance the Ravens take him. If he’s around late into Saturday, it wouldn’t stun me.

-G

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