The Ravens lost a staple in the trenches in Haloti Ngata through trade with the Detroit Lions just before free agency opened up for 2015. In the last two drafts the Ravens have bulked up on the front line with selections of Brandon Williams in 2013, and Timmy Jernigan in 2014. Both of which will be in line for starting roles in 2015. But there are question marks behind them with an aging Chris Canty resigned this offseason. Deangelo Tyson, Lawrence Guy are serviceable. Christo Bilikudi won’t garner any attention, and you have two men coming off injuries that haven’t made it through an NFL camp yet in Brent Urban, and Kapron Lewis-Moore.
Needless to say, depth in the trenches is of utmost importance where guys can have their season end in the blink of an eye. Williams and Jernigan look solid, but the competition is wide open behind them. Here is look at a few of the mid round defensive tackle prospects the Ravens could target in the upcoming draft, that also appear to fit their 3-4 scheme. (Round projections courtesy of CBSsports.com).
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Marcus Hardison: Arizona State
6’3”, 307 lbs. Third round. Hardison would likley be higher on draft boards if he had more experience at the FBS level. The JUCO transfer our of Dodge City CC (Kansas), hardly saw playing time in 2013. But last year had 53 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and had a hand in six turnovers. He is explosive off the line with a knack for quickly getting into the backfield. He hits with authority leading to some of those turnovers (three forced fumbles, two INTs, one fumble recovery). His draft stock has been going up since a solid second half of 2014, 13 tackles in their bowl game with Duke, and a stand out Senior Bowl performance.
Gabe Wright: Auburn
6’3”, 300 lbs. Third or fourth round. Wright is penetrating, pass rushing interior lineman. He’s strong positing 34 reps on the bench press at the combine, and had his name called often at the Senior Bowl. He is a durable tackle playing in all 52 games in his four year career at Auburn. Wright was a beast in his junior year, but the production dropped off in his senior year once team started double teaming to slow him down. He excels more pass rushing than run stopping, sometimes getting too high and allowing blockers better leverage on him. He’s got a nice spin move though.
Bobby Richardson: Indiana
6’3”, 283 lbs. Fourth or fifth round. Richardson was the team captain for the Hoosiers in their 3-4 scheme. He doesn’t have the desired height to play DE in the NFL in 3-4 sets, nor the mass to play interior positions in an NFL 3-4 set. But Arthur Jones was 6’3” and lined up as a DE in the Ravens system. Richardson shows great agility for a big man and a high motor with a nose for the football, sometimes chasing down RBs from behind. Good burst off the line to be disruptive in the backfield. He’s got long arms (34 5/8”) and big mitts (11”) to keep blockers from getting inside position on him.
Leterrius Walton: Central Michigan
6’5”, 319 lbs. Fifth round. Walton was recruited as an offensive lineman by the Chippewas of the MAC, where they, and other Midwest schools often churn out the best O-lineman. That gives Walton a leg up on the competition by knowing the “rules” on the other side of the ball. He was a three year starter, but is a raw prospect. He’s gotten by on athleticism, but has been such a force that he often required double teams. But to be successful in the NFL he needs to be coached up in fundamentals of the position. He plays too high, and doesn’t possess much of a spin or swim move to slip by blockers.