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The Ravens have had to deal with Pittsburgh Pro Bowl outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley the past few years.
Now Baltimore could draft a player in a similar mold.
Alabama hybrid Courtney Upshaw is a stocky, strong 6-foot-1 hybrid outside linebacker that could end up being a viable option at pick No. 29.
“This guy’s as explosive as can be off the edge,” Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. “Very strong hands. Not a big guy. He’s built kind of like those outside linebackers out there in Pittsburgh.”
Upshaw recorded 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks for the national champions last season. He had seven sacks the year before, so there’s consistent production.
Upshaw was a finalist for the Lombardi award (given to the nation’s top linebacker or interior lineman) and Butkus award (best linebacker). He lost to Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
Upshaw played mostly with his hand in the ground, but is also confident that he can stand up and be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He fit into Alabama’s defense, which is similar in scheme to Baltimore’s.
“He abuses tight ends and when he hits tackles they go back,” Hortiz said. “He’s really got a knack for getting to the quarterback.”
Upshaw’s stock is sliding, however, according to the draftniks. And it has less to do with his tape, and more with his measurables.
Upshaw opted not to participate in any events besides the bench press at the combine because he felt he needed more training. He then turned in a disappointing unofficial 4.81 second 40-yard dash at his pro day. Some mock drafts now have Upshaw falling to the second round.
A slower 40-yard dash time also led to hybrid outside linebacker Terrell Suggs falling to the Ravens at No. 10.