Defenders at Senior Bowl will be on Ravens radar

Defenders at Senior Bowl will be on Ravens radar
January 23, 2014, 10:30 am
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Howard County's Michael Campanaro makes the most of Senior Bowl

The Ravens struggled offensively in 2013, but their defensive shortcomings should not be ignored. The pass rush faded in December. Too often, the defense surrendered long drives in critical late-game situations.

“Not having the ability to get off the field cost us maybe three or four ball games,” said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

With that in mind, Newsome has been at the Senior Bowl this week paying close attention to some defensive players that might fit the Ravens’ profile. Here are five that might make the Ravens’ list.

Deandre Coleman, DT, California

Arthur Jones could be leaving the Ravens in free agency, and Haloti Ngata turned 31 years old on Tuesday. Coleman is a powerful, athletic defensive tackle. He might last until the fourth or fifth round, but he could be a steal at that point.

Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn

He has been the best pass-rusher at the Senior Bowl, dominating some drills.

“Dee Ford from Auburn has had a week about as good as any edge rusher could expect to have,” said Mike Mayock of NFL Network during Senior Bowl coverage.

A player like Ford would become even more important to the Ravens if outside linebacker Terrell Suggs does not return. Suggs will count $12.4 million against the salary cap next season, and the Ravens hope to reach a compromise on an extension for Suggs that would result in a lower cap number.

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Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

According to the Carroll County Times, Hageman has already met with Ravens officials at the Senior Bowl. One of the best defensive tackles in the draft, Hageman should be a first-round pick. If he is still on the board when the Ravens pick 16th or 17th, they will probably consider him.

Jaylen Watkins, CB-S, Florida

The Ravens can get inside information on Watkins from safety Matt Elam, a teammate of Watkins’ at Florida. Watkins’ coverage skills and ability to play both safety and corner make him attractive. James Ihedigbo may be leaving the Ravens in free agency, and they need a safety that excels in pass coverage. Watkins could be that guy.

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

In addition to being solid in pass coverage, Ward blocked three punts as a freshman. The Ravens know he can contribute on special teams, while being groomed for playing time at safety.

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