Countdown: One Tough Cookie


In the days leading up to the NFL Draft, takes a look at some of the successes from the Ravens' scouting department. On Wednesday, it was fourth-round pick Jarret Johnson.


In the third round of the 2007 draft, offensive lineman Marshal Yanda is the choice.

The Ravens always knew **Marshal Yanda** was tough, from the time he was first scouted as a talented offensive lineman at the University of Iowa.

Perhaps that's why many within team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., just laughed off the time he took three taser shots to the chest to win a $1,500 bet last year.

Now, with Baltimore's young offensive line growing closer, that intensity is carrying over to the rest of the unit.

Not that any more offensive linemen are lining up for their own shock session.

"Everyone is seeing Yanda’s toughness] now,” said [**Chad Alexander**, the scout that followed Yanda from the start. "You're not going to intimidate him. He plays with effort and a high motor on every play. That's infectious, because everyone on that line feeds off that energy."

At a compact 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, Yanda isn't the giant road grader that a lot of teams value at tackle, and that could have caused him to slip to the third round of the 2007 draft.

Or, it could have been because a lack of focus landed him at a junior college for two years before he was accepted at Iowa.

The Ravens, however, saw a mauler, someone who demonstrated a blue-collar work ethic off the field and a nasty streak on it. Within eight months of joining the Hawkeyes, Yanda was their starting right tackle and eventually became a team captain - exactly the type of determined player Baltimore values.

"He was an underrated guy, because he went to a junior college before going to Iowa, so there wasn't an entire career of tape," Alexander explained. "But, he ended up starting for a couple of years and was even a captain, which is a tremendous accomplishment.

"He was not the biggest or most athletic guy, but when you watched him on tape, you saw the tenacity, the toughness, the effort. He's a really good player."

There is always a lot of upside to offensive linemen hailing from Iowa, as the Hawkeyes are headed by Kirk Ferentz, a former offensive line coach for the Ravens.

And, Yanda was as Iowa as could be. Raised on a dairy farm - that now raises pigs - Yanda tells stories of waking at dawn to help with daily chores. Maybe making Iowa's football team wasn't so difficult when put into perspective.

"Coming from a different school and stepping into that offensive line - Iowa has a great tradition of putting out offensive linemen - I think that shows a lot about his ability and the respect he draws," said Alexander. "[Coach Ferentz] works with the O-line a lot, and all the guys that come out of Iowa are really technically sound and ready to play at the next level."

The Ravens valued Yanda so much that they actually traded a fourth- (101st overall), a fifth- (166th) and a sixth-round (203rd) pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to move up and nab him at No. 86.

Originally slated to be Baltimore's third tackle, Yanda fulfilled his promise early.

When Jonathan Ogden went down in Week 1 during Yanda's rookie campaign with a toe injury, **Adam Terry** shifted over from right to left tackle, and Yanda stepped in for Terry and never looked back. He started 12 games that year before head coach **John Harbaugh** took over the Ravens and hired offensive line coach **John Matsko**.

Matsko slid Yanda inside to right guard, where he started five contests.

"He played mostly left tackle, but we value that versatility," Alexander stated. "His size alone projected him to be more of a guard. Typically for a tackle, you want someone that is just a big guy that is really long.

"But Marshal's technique makes up for that. He knew how to use his hands and play on his feet. He is able to play anywhere on the offensive line."

In that fifth game, a 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Yanda suffered a severe knee injury that required surgery on three ligaments. His season was over, and it took him months of having his leg stabilized in a bulky sleeve and using crutches until he could walk regularly again.

Yanda is currently fully participating in the Ravens' offseason conditioning program and said he expects to be back for Organized Team Activities this summer.

Consider Yanda's comeback just another sign of his trademark toughness.

No taser needed.

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