Who should Ravens fans watch at the NFL Scouting Combine?
The annual NFL Scouting Combine is slated to begin this week, and there are a number of players that the Ravens will likely spend a lot of time studying, especially at the WR, DB, and edge rusher positions.. Last year, I wrote an article summarizing the performance benchmarks that scouts will be looking for at key positions including those mentioned above. Here is a primer to get to know some of the Combine participants that are prime candidates for the Ravens to draft.
CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State: Lattimore is a Junior who only has one year of starting experience at the collegiate level so his size along with how he tests and interviews will be very important for evaluators. Considered by many to be the top CB prospect in the upcoming draft, Lattimore will need to prove he is worthy of an early first round selection.
DB Desmond King, Iowa: King is an example of a player who stayed in school for his senior year and most likely hurt his draft stock by doing so. After notching 8 interceptions in his junior campaign and winning multiple awards including the Jim Thorpe award for top DB in the country and Big Ten DPOY, he had a bit of a down year in 2016. He did participate in the Senior Bowl, but questions about his speed and ability to be a true lockdown CB have many evaluators thinking his best position could be at safety in the NFL. For King to hear his name called in the first round, he will likely need to prove the doubters wrong and test extremely well in the 40 and other agility and explosiveness drills.
DB/LB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan: Peppers is a fascinating case study of a prospect. He was a literal jack of all trades at Michigan where he spent time playing at CB, Safety, LB, RS and even RB on offense. At the Combine he is listed as a LB, but he is much smaller than the typical LB and will likely best fit into a hybrid LB/S type role in an NFL defense. Peppers was a dynamic return man in college, but the playmaking ability on defense never really showed up as he only notched 1 turnover in his entire collegiate career. Testing well will certainly help his cause, but perhaps most importantly he will need to interview well for teams to get a good idea of what they will potentially be drafting.
OLB Tim Williams, Alabama: Williams is a player who has a chance to put on a clinic at the combine regarding his athleticism, but what really matters for the Alabama product will be how he interviews given his checkered off the field history. A failed drug test would also be catastrophic for Williams’ draft status given reports of multiple failed drug tests while at Alabama. Teams will likely also try to get a good handle as to why a player of his talent only played a part time role in the Crimson Tide defense.
OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA: Similar to Willliams, McKinley can help himself a lot if he posts impressive athletic numbers which would reaffirm the athleticism he displays on the field. While McKinley doesn’t have a checkered past, he is relatively inexperienced being a full time starter for only 1 season at UCLA after transferring from Junior College. He really exploded production-wise as a Senior, but he is still a bit raw as a prospect. It will be important for him both to test well and do well in interviews.
OLB Haason Reddick, Temple: The trend of explosive athletes continues with Reddick who really came on strong for the Owls in his senior season. He also has a bit of a checkered past and was originally recruited as a defensive back who made the transition to edge rusher. He is a bit undersized as a pass-rusher, so he will have to prove throughout the process that he has what it takes to play on the edge in the NFL.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan: While Davis will not be able to compete on the field in Indianapolis due to a recent shoulder procedure, the senior WR will likely be extremely busy interviewing with NFL teams. For Davis the medical checks will be extremely important as he has a chance to be the first WR taken in the draft.
John Ross, Washington: Ross is an incredibly explosive, big play threat WR that unfortunately has a long history of injuries in college including ACL and microfracture surgeries. Last year we saw the stock of LB Myles Jack plummet due to a potential knee problem. Ross has first round talent, but for him to go that early the medical checks will need to come back clean.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington: Kupp has put together an extremely productive collegiate career and he turned a lot of heads at the Senior Bowl, but he needs to answer some questions about his athleticism at the Combine. If he can put together a strong workout, his draft stock could be one that sees a significant rise.
Ardarius Stewart, Alabama: Stewart is one of the less-heralded Alabama prospects in the coming draft, but that does not mean he should go unnoticed. Stewart is a bit raw in his routes, but he has explosive playmaking ability and is fun to watch in the open field. If he tests well at the Combine, he could be an early Day 2 pick in the draft.