Late For Work 5/1: Keep An Eye On These Undrafted Rookies

Worried about Joe’s weapons. Should’ve traded up for Silatolu, Glenn? Rookie jersey numbers.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 at 9:18 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Keep An Eye On These Potential Undrafted Gems

The Ravens have agreed to terms with a total of 21 undrafted rookies since the draft ended Saturday night, according to various reports.

It’s no secret that Ravens brass has been on the hunt for the rookies, but the organization won’t announce its complete 2012 undrafted free-agent class until each player passes his physical and signs his contract.

That may not occur until close to May 10, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec, which is the start of the rookie mini-camp.

While perusing the list of names, many are unrecognizable to Ravens fans. But one or two of them could become the next hidden gem the Ravens mold into a starter like Priest Holmes, Mike Flynn, Bart Scott, and Jameel McClain.

Baltimore seems to have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough, and ESPN’s Jamison Hensley attributes that to the organization’s ability to establish early relationships with them.

“Signing undrafted players is all about recruiting them,” Hensley wrote. “You have to sell prospects on opportunity. You have to convince a player that he has a better shot with your team than anywhere else.”

Keep a sharp eye on North Carolina cornerback/returner Charles Brown, and it won’t hurt to watch out for another five (below) as candidates to become the next Ravens’ undrafted success story, per Hensley:

CB-PR Charles Brown, North Carolina

Draftniks projected Brown to be selected in the fifth or sixth round of the draft, so the Ravens could be getting good value in the undrafted market. At 5-foot-9, 210 pounds, Brown lacks ideal size for a cornerback, but his upside is his toughness, love of hitting and support against the run. The Ravens will also take a look at his return ability.

FB Chad Diehl, Clemson

Diehl loves to deliver a blow as a lead blocker and has the size (6-foot-1, 260 pounds) to make it count. However, he often loses his balance because he leaves his feet to make a block. While Hensley believes fans should watch out for Diehl, Zrebiec says it is unlikely for the Ravens to carry another fullback on the roster beyond Vonta Leach. If Diehl does make the team, he may have to prove his worth on special teams.

NT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor

Baptiste eats up space with his stout and bulky frame (6-foot-1, 316 pounds) and has the strength to get in the backfield. He has a reputation for working hard and using his talents to the fullest. But he lacks stamina and needs polish his technique. He reminds Zrebiec of a young Brandon McKinney and could be useful in a rotation to plug up the middle.

G Antoine McClain, Clemson

Projected to go in the fifth or sixth round, McClain reportedly has good NFL size (6-foot-5, 329 pounds) and can open up lanes in the run game. The concern is that he lacks athleticism and balance. Obviously there are openings in the offensive line, and McClain will try to take advantage.

TE Nick Provo, Syracuse

With Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta on the roster, the Ravens are solid at tight end, but they have regularly carried three at the position and Provo will compete for that spot. Also projected to the fifth or sixth round, Provo is athletic and fast enough to stretch the field down the seam, but can work on his blocking ability. That will need to improve if he hopes to make the roster. It was a little surprising to see him go undrafted.

S Cyhl Quarles, Wake Forest

The Ravens lack depth at safety with Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski leaving via free agency. In addition to 101 tackles in 2011, Quarles has appealing size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), work ethic and special-teams value. The rub on him is that he is an inconsistent playmaker, whose instincts are average.

Hindsight: Eisenberg Worried About Flacco’s Weapons

One of the biggest stories of the offseason will continue to surround quarterback Joe Flacco’s No. 3 receiver.

The Ravens took a flyer on the tall and speedy Tommy Streeter out of Miami in the sixth round. And while he has major potential upside, Streeter has to polish his game.

He will compete with David Reed and Tandon Doss for that third spot, but’s John Eisenberg has his doubts about all three.

“They really needed another young receiver for Joe Flacco to target, and they left a good one on the table in LSU’s Rueben Randle when they selected [guard/tackle Kelechi] Osemele late in the second round,” wrote Eisenberg. “Randle went to the New York Giants, another team that drafts well, three picks later, and Osemele comes with a lot of question marks for a player taken so high.

“The Ravens obviously had the mountainous Osemele rated ahead of Randle, and we’ll see how that works out, but meanwhile, Flacco still doesn’t have that new target.”

Hindsight: Should Have Traded Up For Silatolu, Glenn

While Eisenberg argues the Ravens could have used that 60th-overall pick on Randle, Hensley believes the Ravens should have traded it, along with their third-rounder, to move up and snag either Midwestern State’s Amini Silatolu or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn, who were selected 40th and 41st overall.

Hensley believes they would have been more reliable options to replace the departed Ben Grubbs.

The price would have been Temple running back Bernard Pierce, who the Ravens really like as a backup to Ray Rice.

Rookies Revealing Jersey Numbers

The Ravens have yet to announce the jersey numbers for their eight drafted rookies, but some seem to have already been assigned their numbers.

Fifth-round selection cornerback Asa Jackson revealed on Twitter that he’ll be wearing No. 25.

like waaaaaaahhhhh. But I’ve never had a double digit jersey for football….. Ever lol,” Jackson wrote.

Streeter says he’ll be wearing No. 11.

DeCastro Mistakes Roethlisberger For Travel Planner

The Steelers’ first-round pick in offensive guard David DeCastro already had an embarrassing moment, not recognizing the man he is supposed to protect for years to come.

When quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called DeCastro to congratulate him on being the newest member of the team, the rookie thought the Pro Bowl quarterback was his travel planner.

“He was saying, ‘Did you get those flight plans? Did you get those flight plans?’” Roethlisberger said at a speaking engagement in Blair County, Penn., according to the Altoona Mirror.

It took a few seconds for DeCastro to realize who was on the other end of the call.

“I can’t wait once we get started to get on him about that,” Roethlisberger joked.

Let the rookie hazing begin.

Quick Hits

  • Montego335xi: @untouchablejay4 on the new @Eastbay catalog. #awesome #tsizzle @Ravens [Twitter]
  • “At [pick] 98 comes Delaware guard Gino Gradkowski, who could transition to a long-term center (and successor to Matt Birk),” wrote Peter King. “When I called around over the weekend asking for players GMs and coaches liked, the brother of Bruce Gradkowski came up a few times, and he’ll have the chance to solve a long-term problem for a gritty offensive team.” []              
  • GinoGrad56: Tried getting some Ravens gear at dicks.  Who woulda thought the dicks in pittsburgh has no Ravens gear haha [Twitter]
  • TorreySmithWR: Who is going to OJ Brigance’s race this Saturday? It is for a great cause…it benefits ALS research…look it up [Twitter]
  • Ravens: #Ravens have signed long snapper Patrick Scales. He spent time with the team last summer, but was beat out by LS Morgan Cox. [Twitter]
  • “The Ravens really need Osemele and Gradkowski to blossom and become the latest in their long line of mid-round picks who develop into starters on the offensive line,” wrote Eisenberg. []

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