NFL Combine update
Today was the big day of the four day long NFL Scouting Combine for the Ravens. The needs that will be addressed are up the middle of the defense, and today was the time for linebackers and defensive lineman to shine.
It certainly looks like no one projected to fall to the Ravens at pick #32 did anything today to blow the scouts away. Top performers included DTs John Jenkins and Jesse Williams both putting up 30 reps of 225lbs on the bench.
DE/LB Sam Montgomery had one of the better verticals at 34.5″.
All eyes of course were on LB Manti Te’o. He’ll be criticized for his 4.81 40-yard time, but he excelled in the 3 cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle. Drills that measure the ability to change direction quickly and explosion in small spaces. LB Kevin Minter also ran a 4.8 40-yard dash. Both players have had meetings with Ravens personnel.
Other players the Ravens have had meetings with include, in no particular order:Ricky Wagner – LT – Wisconsin Corey Fuller – WR – Va. Tech (Woodlawn HS) D.J. Fluker – OT – Alabama Oday Aboushi – OT – Virginia Lonny Pryor – FB – Florida State Brandon Jenkins – DE – Florida State Menelik Watson – OT – Florida State John Simon – LB – Ohio State Jesse Williams – DT – Alabama Lane Johnson – OT – Oklahoma Kevin Reddick – LB – North Carolina Tank Carradine – OT – Florida State (coming off torn ACL) Matt Elam – S – Florida Josh Evans – S – Florida D.J. Swearinger – S – South Carolina Kenny Vaccaro – S – Texas Tavon Austin – WR – West Virginia (Dunbar HS, fastest 40-time, 4.25, changed to 4.34) Margus Hunt – DL – SMU William Gholston – DE – Michigan State
I highlighted SMU’s Margus Hunt for a couple reasons. First, that’s an ugly (in a good way) football name if I’ve ever heard one. Picture his name being spoken in those old, raspy, grizzled NFL narrators voices from the 50′s and 60′s. “Watch as Margus Hunt, sheds blockers and can’t be stopped as he plows Bart Starr into the icy, frozen tundra with ease.” But seriously, he is 6’8″, 275lbs and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash. He’s a big, strong, pass rushing DE out of a 3-4 system. At 6’8″, I keep thinking of a bigger, stronger Jason Taylor. At 6’8″, I keep think of someone who could swat enough balls out of the air to make J.J. Watt jealous. Aside from Tavon Austin’s blazing speed, and the presence of Te’o, Margus Hunt probably turned the most heads. Hunt’s not listed on the experts (Kiper and McShay) mock drafts as a first rounder, though his stock probably rose with that 40-yard time. The Ravens like to often draft the best player available regardless of need. Depending on where Margus Hunt’s stock places him, Maybe the Ravens venture outside the middle of the defense to get this guy. He’s also 25 years old. Depending on your school of thought, you wouldn’t have to go through that developmental period as he is probably entering his prime now.
Word is that Ed Reed has reached out to LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, a.k.a. Honey Badger, who has faced problems with drug use, and claims he hasn’t used illegal drugs since October of 2012. That’s great if he’s cleaning himself up, but he bench pressed 225 just four times. That’s four more than me, but I’m not out there trying to impress NFL scouts either. Someone will probably take a flier on him, but he’s got work to do.
Something tells me with the depth of defensive players in this draft, and the Ravens draft history, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozzie trades down, out of the first round. Probably give up a few draft spots to a) still land the person they want, and b) save some more money on the can by not having to pay anyone 1st round value. They are going to pinch pennies anywhere they can. If they can still get the players they want, why not trade down?