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Storylines To Watch At The Combine

Posted Feb 19, 2014

Do wide receivers help their cause? Offensive tackles could move. Newsome could break some news.

The NFL descends upon Indianapolis this week for the annual scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Coaches and executives from all 32 teams will be in attendance to watch and meet with more than 300 prospects. The combine serves as a high-pressure job interview for the prospects and is a chance for NFL executives to get an idea of truly how healthy, fast, strong and big the incoming rookies are.

Player interviews begin Thursday, and then the workouts take place from Saturday through Tuesday.

The Ravens will have all of their coaches and scouts in Indianapolis for the event, and here’s a preview of some of the storylines to keep an eye on over the next week:

Which Wide Receivers Stand Out?

The Ravens have their eyes set on adding a wide receiver this offseason, and many draft experts have them targeting one in the first round. Some of the names linked to the Ravens in early mock drafts are Texas A&M’s Mike Evans and USC’s Marqise Lee, but those predictions often change after prospects go through the combine routine. The 40-yard dash time is a key measure for receivers, and some of the first-round predictions could change after scouts have a chance to put the stopwatch on the pass catchers.

Movement With Offensive Tackles

The Ravens may look to take an offensive tackle early in this year’s draft, especially if they are unable to work out new deals with free agents Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher. The top offensive tackles in the draft – Michigan’s Taylor Lehwan, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Auburn’s Greg Robinson – are all competing to be the top linemen taken in the draft. A strong combine performance could vault one of them to the Houston Texans with the No. 1 overall pick. But a disappointing showing could force one of them to slip down the board, and possibly fall to the Ravens in the middle of the first round.

Does Ozzie Newsome Break Any News?

Most teams have their head coach or general manager address the media at some point during the combine, and Newsome is scheduled to talk with reporters Saturday morning. Newsome typically keeps his cards close to the vest, but he could divulge some information about ongoing contract negotiations with free agents like tight end Dennis Pitta or Monroe. Agents and front-office executives often use the combine as a place to meet and hash out negotiations, so it’s possible Newsome will have news to share when he addresses reporters.

Combine Freaks That Steal The Show

Every year there are a few prospects that seemingly come out of nowhere to steal the show at the combine. Unknown prospects put themselves in the national spotlight with great times in the 40-yard dash or showing off tremendous athleticism in other combine drills. There will certainly be a handful of prospects people are talking about by the end of the week who “win” the combine, and it will be interesting to see if any of them could be a fit for the Ravens. 

How Does Michael Sam Handle Media Onslaught?

One of the most anticipated events of this year’s combine is Missouri defensive end Michael Sam meeting with the media ahead of his workouts. After Sam’s announcement last week that he is gay, he will become the NFL’s first openly gay player if he is drafted or signed by a team. He made the announcement through an interview with the New York Times, but he has not faced questions in a press conference setting since coming out. Sam’s announcement has been a topic of much discussion in the media and in NFL circles, and his press conference is expected to draw a similar crowd to what former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o faced at the combine last year.

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