Brent Urban is a wake-up call for Canty

May, 14, 2014
5/14/14
11:30
AM ET
One Baltimore Ravens draft pick whose development bears watching is defensive end Brent Urban. Chris Canty will certainly be paying attention.

When Urban is ready to start, it could signal the exit for Canty. It might come this year or in 2015.

Urban has been mislabeled a project by some. He played out of position in a 4-3 defense at Virginia. He played hurt for most of the season, which dropped his stock in the draft.

[+] EnlargeBrent Urban
AP Photo/Johnny VyVirginia defensive end Brent Urban impressed the Ravens with his play at the Senior Bowl.
If you need an indication of how much the Ravens like Urban, team officials started talking about drafting Urban in the second round. The conversation that sold the Ravens on Urban came the week leading up to the draft.

Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta was watching film in his office when he got a call from general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"Have you seen Urban at the Senior Bowl?," Newsome asked.

After DeCosta said he did, Newsome said, "He was kicking butt."

Urban, who suffered a high ankle sprain during the season, had to leave the Senior Bowl practices because of the injury, which contributed to him falling to the fourth round. He had surgery in February and expects to get on the field either in late May or early June. The important part is he'll be ready for the start of training camp, when he'll compete for a starting job.

Canty, 31, didn't produce as expected in his first season with the Ravens. He had two sacks in the first two games, but he didn't have another one the rest of the season. He recorded nine tackles in his final six games.

The Ravens have kept Canty, who has the 10th-highest cap number on the team, because there was no one ready to replace him. That could change if Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore, a sixth-round pick who missed all of last season with a knee injury, prove they are able to handle significant roles.

If the Ravens cut Canty this season, it would free up $1.83 million in cap room. If they released him in 2015, the Ravens would clear $2.66 million of cap room. The Ravens are in the middle of the NFL in cap space, so there is no urgency to part ways with Canty right now. The extra cap room could become more necessary if the Ravens need to sign a higher-priced veteran offensive tackle or cornerback.

Urban is the perfect fit for a 3-4 defensive end, which is also referred as "five technique." At 6-feet-7, 298 pounds, he has nearly the same build as Canty (6-7, 317). It's easy to see the line of succession.

The Ravens have used the past two drafts to build their defensive line of the future. Last year, the Ravens started Canty, Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones. If the Ravens projections are correct, the starting defensive line could soon be Urban, Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan.

"Urban was a guy that we really liked throughout the whole process, starting in the fall," said Joe Hortiz, the director of college scouting. "The scouts went in there during two-a-days recognizing just the size of him. He is put together; he’s chiseled. On film, you see a prototypical five-technique body type who is playing in a 4-3 scheme. But you loved his motor, his competitiveness and really how he played on the early film. We felt like we were getting a potential starter down the road."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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