Scouting: Mid-Round Edge Rushing Prospects
The Ravens seem set for the near future with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil book-ending the front seven on passing downs. But the future is up in the air for Courtney Upshaw after 2015, and for Suggs and Dumervil shortly after as their cap figures rise towards the ends of their contracts.
Drafting an edge rusher is a plan for the future, and one the Ravens usually exercise even if not an immediate need. Paul Kruger, John Simon, and Brent Urban are guys that were drafted despite not necessarily filling a need. Here are some middle round prospects that specialize in edge rushing, DEs or OLBs that fit the 3-4 scheme. (Round projections courtesy of CBSsports.com)
Discuss your thoughts on these potential Ravens draft targets on our message board.
Hau’oli Kikaha: Washington
6’2”/253 lbs. Third round. Kikaha would likely be a first rounder if he didn’t have major medical red flags. He has suffered two torn ACLs in 2011, and again in 2012. Otherwise, the consensus is this guy is an elite pass rusher. The way he bends and uses his leverage when he rushes reminds me a lot of Elvis Dumervil. He gets that low in his center of gravity. He is former wrestler and judo champion, so he understands leverage, center of gravity, hand placement importance. However, like Dumervil, he is strictly a rush specialist, that has trouble setting the edge in the run game. He is Washington’s all time sacks leader (36). He has a high ceiling and could be a mid-round steal. Really like what i saw from a rushing standpoint.
Frank Clark: Michigan
6’3”, 271 lbs. Fourth round. Arrested on a domestic violence charge. Ravens pass.
Henry Anderson: Stanford
6’6”, 294 lbs. Fourth round. Anderson was first team All-Pac-12 in 2014. In high school he was a record setting shot putter, lettering in track, basketball, and of course football. He’s got long arms which helps him fend of blockers and wrap up ball carriers. But his footwork, and hands need improvement. Some scouts claim the defensive scheme helped him more than he helped himself. His body type reminds me of a Chris Canty type. Tall, slender build.
Alani Fua: BYU
6’5”, 238 lbs. Fourth or fifth round. Fua is a slim guy, evident by is ht/wt ratio. Scouts want to see him bulk up in order to take on blockers at the NFL level. But he is experienced as a pass rusher from many positions. I could see him as a Pernell McPhee type is skill set as a stand-up rusher, roaming free, attacking from a number of places that keeps the opposition guessing. Fua also has been tasked with coverage on slot receivers which can be a nice advantage, having a 6’5” man in coverage. It’ll be interesting how much stock teams into his less than typical size.
Zach Hodges: Harvard
6’2”, 250 lbs. Fifth round. Zach’s story is the stuff movies are made of. His father, a boxer, died when he was a baby. He and his mother would later end up in an abusive relationship with his new step father, and left one night never looking back. They would end up homeless, living in a car together when Zach was 11. Unable to shower, or have clean clothes, Zach was quickly outcast at school. When they began to get back on their feet after two years, Zach got a job at 13 mowing lawns, and befriended a family that changed their lives. The Kenny family was making renovations to their house, and the husband, Chris, taught Zach how to paint, lay floors, build a deck, and taught him about real world issues. Politics, economics, Chris Kenny became a father figure to Zach. Just when things were looking up for Zach, he faced the horror of losing his mother at age 16 to a stroke. He witnessed her collapse on his way out the door to head to school. Even more heartbreaking, the decision was his at age 16, to have the doctors remove his mothers breathing tube, as she would not have wanted to be kept alive by machines. Chris checked in with Zach every single day to make sure he was doing everything he could to honor his mother by working hard, studying late, staying late at practice. That hard work and dedication got him a chance at Harvard, which he passed up over Stanford.
“My past is always with me, always pushing me. I want to make it in the NFL because it will give me a chance to influence people. Maybe my story will connect with a kid out there, maybe give him hope. If my story can uplift someone, then it will give everything I’ve been through more meaning.”
Forget the football prowess. It’s this kind of character that football teams, especially the Ravens look for. To give a man like this a chance that he deserves. To know that his past experiences fuel him to strive for higher goals. Hodges is the guy that everyone should look forward to, and cheer upon hearing his name called, no matter who selects him.
For your Ravens tie in with Zach, Phil Savage, the former scout and later director of player personnel for the Ravens (1996-2004) now runs the Senior Bowl as its executive director. Savage stated that Hodges was the only player invited to make a phone call to personally thank him for the invite. He showed that week that despite playing against Ivy Leaguers, he belonged with the top talent in the country. I’d be willing to bet that Savage put in a good word for Hodges to his old friend Ozzie Newsome.
Lynden Trail: Norfolk State
6’7”, 269 lbs. Fifth round. Trail, a former high school receiver, was a top recruit in the nation when he went to Gainesville, Florida to play under Urban Meyer. When Meyer left, so did Trail, for Norfolk State where he played the last three seasons. At the Senior Bowl he was given reps at the tight end position near the goal line, getting back to his receiving roots. Intriguing versatility. He lacks a really good move to beat opposing tackles, and lacks a high motor at times. Seems to take long routes to get to the QB, not using his size to his advantage. Although did knock down 18 balls in his three seasons. Who knows? Maybe situational tight end is his calling at the next level.
Max Valles: Virginia
6’5”, 251 lbs. Fifth or sixth round. Valles is a redshirt sophomore, described more as a freakish athlete than a football player. He is extremely raw, but the potential for his is very high if he can gain some football IQ, which can be coached. He can either play with a hand in the dirt, or as a stand-up rusher. He gets low for a tall man which is a good first step for a raw talent at the position. Valles is probably not a factor to earn playing time in his rookie year, especially if drafted by Baltimore. But with the size, skill set, and high ceiling, could be worth rolling the dice on coaching him up, and hope he can be a force in later years.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]