Friday, May 3, 2013

Baltimore Ravens 2013 NFL Draft Report

                       Baltimore Ravens 2013 NFL Draft Report
                                         by Taber Small

Matt Elam
Arthur Brown
Kansas St.
Brandon Williams
Missouri Southern St.
John Simon
Ohio State
Kyle Juszczyk
Ricky Wagner
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Notre Dame
Ryan Jensen
Colorado State-Pueblo
Aaron Mellette
Marc Anthony

The Baltimore Ravens front office put together another awesome NFL draft class and greatly improved their football team. The Ravens biggest needs going into the draft were at S, LB, OL & WR. Ozzie Newsome and his staff strategically addressed their needs on both sides of the ball adding quality depth at each position including DL.

-Matt Elam, SS Florida: Very explosive and hard-hitting in the box safety that fits perfect in the Ravens defense. Considered short for the position but makes up for it with his aggressive and smart style of play. Shows good awareness and anticipation in coverage, which is rare for most strong safeties coming out of college. Fits a need with the departure of previous starting SS Bernard Pollard (Tennessee Titan) in the off-season. Will be asked to start right away and fill a void in the secondary.

-Arthur Brown, LB Kansas St: A fly around LB that plays with great instincts and acceleration. He is considered undersized and bulked up to 242 lbs from 230 during the NFL Draft process. Brown is the type of LB that the Ravens love because he’s physical, plays with great range and speed. They also like his ability to drop back in coverage and move in space. Brown played in a 4-3 defensive college scheme and will need to adjust to playing in a 3-4. He will also need the big guys up front to protect him so that he can do what he does best which is roaming in traffic and making plays around the ball.

-Brandon Williams, NT Missouri Southern St: A true NT that eats up space and can also ties up two defenders for the defense. He is a perfect fit for the Ravens 3-4 defensive scheme. Williams is a very athletic and strong lineman that can be a great back up to Haloti Ngata and possible future starter. With the disappointment of Terrance Cody play and also him recovering from off-season surgery, Williams will be asked to come in and relieve some pressure off of Ngata. Williams also comes from a small school but was a very productive player and dominated the D-II competition for three straight years. He impressed teams with his play at the Senior Bowl, especially in one-on-one drills being immovable and dominate at times. You can never have enough of these guys and the Ravens learn that down the stretch during last years Super Bowl run.    

-John Simon, DE/LB Ohio State: A versatile read & react defender that can play multiple LB positions in any scheme. Can rush with his hand in the ground or standing up. Made a lot of plays last year for Ohio State and fits the style of defense that the Ravens like to run. He is instinctive and is better coming off the edge instead of flowing through traffic in the middle. Will mostly likely spend an early part of his time learning behind Suggs, Dumerville, and Upshaw while playing on special teams. Simon has the tools to become a very valuable player for the Ravens in the future.

Kyle Juszczyk, FB Harvard: I really like this pick, as Juszczyk brings a lot of versatility to the FB/H-back position. He is an effective as a blocker and pass catcher with nice soft hands. Juszczyk is a very smooth and athletic player for a guy his size. Can line up as the blocker in the backfield or from the TE position and could also slide out wide in the slot. His versatility will cause mismatch problems for defenses. Was a surprised combine snub, as he clearly was the best FB at the Senior Bowl coming from the buzz that I heard from scouts. Should challenge Leach for early playing time and could play a major role in special teams. 

Ricky Wagner, OL Wisconsin: Wagner is a nice size OL with good feet and long arms. He is joining the Ravens with great playing experience coming from a program that produces quality offensive lineman for the NFL. Played LT at Wisconsin but will be looked to play OG and fill-in at RT if needed for the Ravens. Struggled in college against edge pass rushers and is more effective as a run blocker. Wagner is a good body on the offensive line to have as he provides decent value to play at tackle or guard but inside will be his natural position in the NFL. 

Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL Notre Dame: Moore is an athletic and good size DL that will bring good depth to the Ravens front seven. He tore is ACL in the national championship game so he will not be available to help up front anytime soon but he is the type of player that the Ravens would like to develop down the line. Not special in any area but he does a good job of getting up field and commanding double teams. He is a good fit for the DE/DT position in the Ravens 3-4 defensive scheme. Has the long arms and body build that the Ravens like to have rushing up front.

Ryan Jensen, OC Colorado St.-Pueblo: Jensen is a very good pick-up for the Ravens in the later rounds. Played guard and tackle in college but will be moved to the OC position to back up Gino Gradkowski. Jenson is a physical interior lineman who plays with great strength and good hands. Could provide depth at OG as well but doesn’t have the girth to mainly be a contributor from the position. Will have to make the adjustment to the OC position but I believe he is good and talented enough to challenge Gino in camp.

Aaron Mellette, WR Elon: Mellette is a big and athletic receiver with good hands. He was a very productive player in college and has the skill set to be a good possession receiver in the NFL. Will make the tough catch over the middle and is a great target to be utilized in the red zone. Has the upside that the Ravens like in a receiver but will need some time to develop for the next level.  He needs to get stronger and is also not polished as a route runner. Could surprise in camp but looks like he may spend some time on the practice squad as he adjusts to the NFL level.

Marc Anthony, CB California: Anthony is a good fluid corner that excels in zone coverage. Brings decent size, athleticism and does a good job of mirroring receivers on their routes. Not a fast or quick athlete and lacks a burst in his game. He struggles in man coverage and needs to improve his footwork. Anthony is going to have a small chance to make the team considering the number of CBs that the Ravens already have on the team. He doesn’t show the skills to play nickel and would have to impress on special teams to help his chances.

Top Undrafted Free Agents to watch:

TE Matt Furstenberg, Maryland: Was a steal to get as an undrafted free agent. Many draft analysts rated Furstenberg as a middle to late round pick. An underrated player that could contend for the third TE spot behind Pitta & Dickson. Will need to show he can be effective as a blocker as he was in college. Has a good shot in sticking with the team because of his skill set, toughness and versatility.

OT Rogers Gaines, Tennessee State: A massive athletic OL with great size (6-6 334 lb.),
strength and good feet. Gaines has the tools to be a starting RT in the NFL. I had
him projected as a late round pick. Still needs development to his game but
posses enough upside that NFL coaches like to work with and develop. Could see a future at LT if his 
game matures. 

DL/LB Brandon Copeland, Penn (Gilman HS): A college defensive lineman who was on the Ravens radar throughout the entire NFL draft process. Copeland is a decent run stuffer who also shows ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Plays with good instincts, strength and explosion. The Ravens like adding defensive players such as Copeland who can line up and play multiple positions.  Will have to make the transition to OLB and show he can rush standing up and also drop back in coverage. 

WR Gerrard Sheppard, Towson (McDonough HS): An athletic wider receiver with
good size, hands and speed. A transfer from UConn who wasn’t very productive
in college but the Ravens also gave the same chance to local player LaQuan Williams
who didn’t have a lot of stats coming out of Maryland as well and made the team
from 2011 training camp. Sheppard has a tough uphill battle because he will need to
out perform the list of receivers that are already a head of him on the depth chart.
They also drafted WR Aaron Mellete in the 7th Round. But if those receivers do not
step up the way they should, Sheppard could come in and surprise the coaching staff with his play.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baltimore Area Local 2013 NFL Draft Prospects

Baltimore Area Local NFL Draft Prospects
By Taber Small

1. Tavon Austin, WR/Ret., West Virgina (Dunbar HS): Austin is the most dynamic and explosive player in the draft. Has a very rare combination of speed, quickness, balance and elusiveness. NFL scouts love is big play making ability which has made him the number one slot receiver on just about every teams draft board. Austin is a smart player that has great awareness and instincts on the field that makes him a special talent. Provides great value in the return game and is a threat every time he touches the ball. He's not known to be a good or effective blocker in the run game. Teams are also still concerned about his size which may keep him out of the top 10 or 15 picks. But he's a top 10 pick in my opinion and will be a productive player for whatever team that drafts him.

2. Corey Fuller, WR Virginia Tech (Woodlawn HS): Fuller put himself on the NFL scouts radar after a productive senior year. He is a burner and really improved his overall game this past year. Still learning the nuances of the WR position and must improve his route running. Posses good size, speed, athleticism. Scouts like his potential to be a good number 3 or 4 receiver in the NFL. Look for him to be drafted between the middle to late rounds.

3. Alec Lemon, WR Syracuse (Crofton HS): Lemon is a productive player that will bring good value as a possession receiver at the NFL Level. Was a consistent performer for Syracuse showing good hands and route running ability. Will need to improve his strength and blocking at the NFL level. Would be rated higher in the eyes of scouts if he was a littler faster. Lemon will be a late round selection that could be a good surprise pickup for a team because he is a technically sound player.

4. Brandon Copeland, DE/LB Penn (Gilman HS): Copeland is a rising prospect that has become a better known commodity among scouts after an impressive pro day. Versatile defender who is a decent run stuffer and also shows ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Plays with good instincts, strength and explosion. He is projected and evaluated by NFL teams as a OLB candidate in a 3-4 defense. This makes scouts wonder if he can successfully make the transition as he doesn't have much experience rushing from a two point stance or dropping back in coverage. Also wasn't a dominate pass rusher in college and will need to learn how to consistently shed blocks. Overall, Copeland is a good instinctive player that posses the skills to make the transition and has put himself in position for late round to priority free agent consideration. Priority Free-Agent prospect.

5. Jordan Dangerfield, SS Towson: Dangerfield is an athletic and explosive safety that was one of the top and productive players in FCS. The Hofstra transfer turned himself into a NFL prospect with his play over the last two years as the leader of the Towson secondary. A physical hitting safety that plays well in the box and is a solid tackler. Need to improve his instincts and skills in pass coverage. Also doesn't have ideal size for the position. Dangerfield projects as a reserve safety and will need to make an impact on special teams to make a roster. Priority Free-Agent prospect.

6. Matt Brown RB, Temple: Brown is a very shifty and elusive ball carrier. Speedy back that runs hard and breaks a lot of tackles for a back his size. Really came on as a return specialist as a senior. His small stature limits his value as a change of pace back for the next level.  His best and only chance to make a NFL team will be as a returner. Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

7. Chris Burnette, Old Dominion DT (Gilman HS): Burnette is a decent run stuffer that knows how to use his strength and quickness to his advantage. Plays with good leverage and gets consistent penetration in the backfield. He is considered undersize for both 4-3 and 3-4 teams. Not an effective pass rusher. Will have to gain weight and hopefully land with the right team that can utilize his skills. Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

8. Terrance Garvin, SS/LB West Virginia (Loyola HS): Garvin is a tweener prospect that is better suited to play WLB for a 4-3 team. Played the SS/LB hybrid position for West Virginia 3-3-5 defense and was productive player at times. Plays faster than his forty time and is a sound tackler. Not fast enough to be a SS and needs to gain weight to be a LB in the NFL. Will need to make a roster on special teams and develop as a LB. Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

9. Frank Beltre, DE/LB, Towson: Beltre is an explosive player with a quick first step. A physical and undersized DE that will have to make the transition to LB. Doesn't have experience playing standing up and will have to become comfortable moving in space while dropping into coverage. Will get a look as a free agent and could impress enough to get a shot in training camp. Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

10. Grant Enders, QB Towson (Old Mill HS): Enders is a mobile and solid QB that was a great leader for the Towson football program. Has the ability to scramble to extend the play and throw on the run. Can make all the intermediate throws. Was inconsistent with this reads at times and lacked accuracy on the deep ball. Doesn't have the strongest arm and need to learn how to set his feet on all his throws. Has the intangibles that you like in a QB but needs more development in many aspects of his game to be a NFL QB. Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

11. Gerrard Sheppard WR Towson (McDonough HS): Sheppard is a Uconn transfer that possess good size, speed and soft hands for the next level. Athletic receiver that knows how to use his body against  defenders. Didn't get many pass catching opportunities in college and is one of the main reasons why his stats aren't that productive. Not very quick or elusive and also doesn't show a great knack for finding open spots in the defense. Impressed NFL scouts at his recent pro day which earned him a spot as a free-agent after the draft.  Second Tier Free Agent prospect.

I want to wish all these guys good luck with this weekends draft and also their NFL journey.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2013 NFL Draft Sleepers - Part II

Middle to Late Round STEALS for NFL Teams
By Taber Small

1. Matt Furstenburg, TE Maryland 6-4 245 lb.

Strength: Brings great athleticism and speed to the tight end position. Has a athletic build and possess the long arms and wingspan that scouts like. Shows good agility and elusiveness after the catch for a player his size. He is a very reliable receiver and does a good job of making catches away from his frame showing strong hands. Catches on the run without breaking stride and can adjust to poorly thrown passes showing good flexibility. Shows good top-end speed for a TE and has the potential to be a vertical threat at the next level. Display good quickness and release off the line of scrimmage in either a two/three point stance. Does a good job of setting up his routes in the pass game. Is comfortable going over the middle and makes plays in traffic. Plays with good toughness and has been effective as a blocker at the college level. Gives great effort in both aspects of his game.

Weakness: Lacks the ideal base that scouts look for in a tight end and has a lean athletic build. Even though he was a good blocker in college, scouts are concerned that he would be limited in this area of his game against pro defensive linemen. Will need to use good blocking technique and get under defenders pads to gain leverage against bigger and strong lineman. Will also need to improve his upper body strength. Furstenburg will have to adjust his body control and improve his balance when blocking at the next level. Rarely used as a down field option and must show he can catch the deep ball. Will also needs to be more active with his hands to beat NFL linebackers off the line. 

Analysis: Furstenburg has the ability to be a solid tight end at the NFL level. Has shown the skills in college to be a good blocking and receiving option for NFL teams. Will bring versatility to a NFL team and could also line up as a FB in certain formations. University of Maryland QB situation last year  resulted in a lack of production during Furstenburg senior year affected his NFL status. But NFL scouts know that the situation was out of his control and likes is skill set for the next level. Maryland has suffered through a inconsistent QB situation the last couple years and Furstenburg was not utilized in the best way possible to consistently showcase his skills. His value increased at the NFL Combine running the fastest TE 40 times of 4.50 & 4.56 while also jumping 35 inches. Each year NFL teams are looking to add more athletic TE's with speed to their offensive pass game and Furstenburg fits that mold. He will be a good draft steal for a team in the middle to late rounds. 

*NFL Draft Grade: 4th-5th Rd

Matt Furstenburg NFL Combine workout video:

2. Latavius Murray, RB Central Florida 6-2 223 lb.

Strength: A tall running back that is blessed with a good combination of size, speed and strength. Shows good vision and quickness to elude defenders which is rare for a back his size. Anticipate and finds the creases at the line of scrimmage. Posses the lateral quickness to navigate through tight spaces. Sticks his foot in the ground and hits the holes with great acceleration. Has the patience and instincts to find cutback lanes. A slasher and runs hard between the tackles and falls forward after contact. Bounces off defenders and breaks tackles. Blessed with great elusiveness and breakaway speed that shows up on tape. Good open field runner and makes defenders miss in the secondary. Shows a good nose for the end zone. Has soft hands and does a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield. Recognizes blitzes and is a reliable pass blocker. Good ball security and has only lost 3 fumbles with 453 career carries.

Weakness: Has battled injuries and missed multiple games throughout his career which is always a concern when evaluating running backs. Was not a full-time starter until his senior year. A little stiff in his upper body, runs up right and doesn't show a great low center of gravity. Do not have the thick build legs that scouts look for in a running back. Needs to improve his route running especially in zone coverage when finding the open spots. Is a willing blocker but must improve his technique in pass protection and stay latched on to blitzing LBs when initially engaged. Very little experience on special teams which limits his value as a backup RB in the NFL.

Analysis: When healthy Murray is a dynamic RB blessed with all the tools to be an every down NFL RB. He is an explosive back that was UCF best offensive weapon and scoring threat the last couple of years. Came on as a senior and finally put it together in a full season rushing for over 1,100 yards in 11 games with 15 TDs. His injury history is a huge concern for teams as he missed three games last year and also suffered a season ending knee injury in 2009 as a Sophomore. This along with inconsistent production is probably the reason why he is not rated higher in the eyes of scouts and wasn't invited to the NFL Combine. But after a recent pro day showing with a 4.38 40 time, 36 VJ, 10'4'' BJ and 22 bench press reps Murray has generated a great amount of buzz from scouts. He's placed himself as a definite draft pick in the later rounds and may go even higher than most people expect.

*NFL Draft Grade: 5th-6th Rd

3. David King, DE Oklahoma 6-4 285 lb.

Strength:  Athletic, explosive defensive lineman who's flashed potential as a pass rusher and run stuffer. Versatile player that has experience playing on the edge and also moving inside on passing downs in college. Flashes good initial quickness, agility and shows a great burst coming off the snap. Shows good upper-body strength and uses his length to pressure offensive linemen. Better as a inside pass rusher and is active with his hands. Has the ability to make plays in pursuit and shows good closing speed when he gets a clear path to the backfield. Good leaping ability for his size and will get his hands up in passing lanes. A discipline player and who knows how to use his hands to tie up blockers to protect linebackers. Shows good enough change of direction and is effective on twists and stunts. Has good fluid hips for a player his size. Good character person and well liked by teammates and coaching staff. 

Weakness:  Does not show the ability on tape to be a consistent edge rusher at the next level. Also not big enough to be a DT in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Has not been a good productive player during his career and didn't become a full-time starter until his senior year. Doesn't always play with a great motor and shows average closing speed when rushing outside the box. Also doesn't consistently get off blocks when lining up at either tackle or end. Plays tall and upright and doesn't play with good leverage and balance. Has to learn how to stay low when coming out of his stands and actively use his hands to shed blockers. He needs to add more moves to his pass rush in order to keep offensive lineman off balance and isn't as natural transitioning when his initial rush is stalled out. 

Analysis: King has the talent and experience to be a good rotational defensive lineman due to his versatility to play multiple positions along the defensive front. His skill set fits better in a 3-4 defensive scheme as a DE/DT. King biggest asset will be his ability to tie up blockers and stuff the run as he is not a special pass rusher. Has the frame to get bigger and fill more into the position. He finally asserted himself as a NFL prospect with more consistent play during his senior year. Looked good in one on one's during the Texas vs the Nation all-star game week. Also impressed with his ability to push the pocket. Weighed in at 275 lb. for his pro day and impressed scouts with 4.65 & 4.70 40 times, 32 vertical jump and 27 bench press reps. The NFL team that selects King will have to develop him more as a football player and also physically. But he is an intriguing prospect with great potential and could be a late round steal for a team if he is given time to develop. 

*NFL Draft Grade: 6th-7th Rd

4. Paul Worrilow, ILB Delaware 6-2 240 lb.

Strength: An aggressive, explosive and very physical inside linebacker that plays with good instincts. Tough hard hitting player that has a nose for the football and made big plays throughout his career for Delaware. A underrated LB who studies opponents tendencies and makes good pre-snap reads. Keeps a wide base and holds his ground at the point of attack showing good initial power. Good body control and breaks down in space. Squares and wraps up ball carriers while drive legs through contact. Takes good pursuit angles and uses his hands and quick feet to weave through traffic. Shows good natural movement and takes on blockers to fill up gaps. Drops well in zone coverage showing good awareness, ball skills and excellent closing speed. Finds the lanes and effectively times his blitzes. Also provides value as a good edge rusher. Possess very good sideline to sideline speed and the ability to chase down ball carriers.

Weakness: Has a tendency at times to take on blocks with alternating shoulder which results in him being washed out of the play. Lacks the size to be a middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense that he played in college. Stiff hips and not very fluent when covering backs in man coverage. Needs to consistently drop deeper in zone coverage eliminating passes being thrown over deep middle third of the field. Has difficulty shedding blockers against big and stronger offensive lineman. Will sometimes over run his gap leading to open cut back lanes. Needs to be in a system that protects LB which will allow him to freely flow to the action. Small school player and faced lower competition.

Analysis: Worrilow was a highly productive player for Delaware during his career. Led the team in tackles three straight years and was the unquestionable leader of the defense. Fits best as a inside 3-4 LB or 4-3 SAM. He is a high motor LB that plays with excellent strength and speed. NFL scouts like that he is a active player who is always around the football. He received a late invite during the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game week and impressed scouts in attendance with his instincts and also how he flies around on the field. He was also a special teams ace in college and which will help his chances when fighting for a NFL roster spot as a rookie. He impressed at his pro day running 4.59 40, 34 VJ, 10-4 BJ and 30 bench press reps. Worrilow is a versatile and active LB that can provide depth in any defensive scheme. He is someone that teams love to select in the later rounds (preferably 7th) avoiding trying to fight to sign him after the draft.

*NFL Draft Grade: 7th Round

Paul Worrilow highlight film:

5. Vernon Kearney, CB Lane 6-2 185 lb.

Strength: Kearney is a tall, athletic and rangy defensive back that has good length for the CB position. Fluid hips and can quickly change direction turning and running without losing stride. Has good quick feet and can mirror receivers down field. Recognizes routes and reacts quickly when tracking the ball in the air. Knows how to use his length to his advantage. A discipline corner that plays his assignments and rarely gets caught out of position. Possess great straight line speed for a tall CB. Best playing in man coverage when staying on top of the receiver showing good closing burst.

Weakness: Has a skinny 6-2 frame and needs to add weight. Also needs to develop more upper body strength which is a big reason why he is not strong in press coverage. Scouts feel he will struggle against bigger and stronger wide receivers at the next level. Has some stiffness up top and also needs to improve his footwork. Is not a sound tackler and avoids contact when coming up to fill the run. Will not come up and make the big hit that you look for in a CB. Not a great leaper and maybe overmatch in jump ball situations against taller receivers. Has struggled when asked to play press coverage and will need to develop more in zone at the next level. Lower level D-II competition and didn't face elite receivers on a weekly basis.

Analysis: NFL teams are intrigued with Kearney's size, speed and athleticism to run with receivers downfield. Has the savyness and instincts that you like in a cornerback. Possess good enough man coverage and ball skills to be a good 4th or 5th CB in a defensive secondary rotation. Still needs more development to his game and will be a candidate to contribute early on in special teams. Kearney impressed NFL scouts at both Texas vs. the Nation and Raycom all star games in one-on-one drills against better known WRs. He also recently impressed scouts at his recent pro day with 4.39 & 4.45 40 times. His 1.48 10 yard split shows is burst and explosiveness as an athlete. Kearney is a talented small school prospect with nice size as well as upside potential who could eventually grow into a free safety.

*NFL Draft Grade: 7th-PFA