Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Ravens can make this a hometown draft
By Jamison Hensley
The Ravens have never taken a Baltimore native in the franchise's 18-year draft history. So, what are the chances that streak ends this year?
Actually, there's a possibility the Ravens could draft two hometown players this week. The Ravens could select Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round and Towson running back Terrance West in the third or fourth round. Fuller and West both played their high school football in Baltimore.
Baltimore native Terrance West, a running back out of Towson, could be an option for the Ravens in the third or fourth round.
Fuller hasn't been linked heavily to the Ravens, but the team places a high priority on cornerbacks. Most draft analysts consider Fuller one of the top three cornerbacks available, and the NFL Network's Mike Mayock has him rated No. 1.
"He’s a competitive player with excellent speed and athleticism, and he comes from a very good football family," Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said of Fuller.
Fuller has been projected to go in the middle of the first round, and there's no guarantee he will be available when the Ravens pick at No. 17. While cornerback isn't a major need for the Ravens, they could use one to replace Corey Graham as the nickelback and to possibly start in 2015, when Lardarius Webb's salary-cap number is $11 million.
"We’ve always felt you can’t have enough corners, especially when you’re in a league now where it’s a passing league with people putting three or four receivers in the games," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "You don’t have too many corners.”
The Ravens have a history of taking cornerbacks high in the draft, selecting five in the first and second rounds. This is second only to outside linebackers (six drafted in the first two rounds).
"Obviously, we like corners and we’re not afraid to take them," Hortiz said. "If there is one sitting there and we’ve got him ranked high, we’ll take him.”
There's a stronger likelihood that the Ravens will consider West, who ran for 2,519 yards and scored 42 touchdowns (setting an FCS record). The Ravens are expected to start looking at running backs in the third and fourth rounds, and West is projected to go in that range.
Running back is a need because starter Ray Rice could miss time because of an NFL suspension, and backup Bernard Pierce won't practice until training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. The Ravens averaged a franchise-worst 3.1 yards per carry last season.
"Terrance [is] a guy who really burst onto the scene this year," said Hortiz, who attended West's game against Delaware last season. "He ran through [Division] I-AA. What he did in the postseason was pretty fun to watch. He’s a really productive player who has had a great year and a lot of touchdowns and knows how to find the end zone.”