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Eisenberg: First-Round Talent In Disguise


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

One of the enduring characteristics of the NFL draft is that teams claim their second-round picks could have gone in the first round. It's usually not true. The teams are just blowing smoke.

But both players the Ravens selected in the second round were indeed first-rounders in disguise. No smoke this time.

A night after they traded out of the first round rather than add some young defensive talent, the Ravens staged a nifty recovery on Day 2.

Sergio Kindle, an outside linebacker from Texas, was rated the 19th best player in the draft on the league's official website. The Ravens grabbed him with the 43rd pick.

Terrence Cody, a massive defensive tackle from Alabama, was rated the 30th best prospect by the league. The Ravens selected him with the 57th pick.

Those are value purchases any bargain shopper can appreciate. No one can dispute that the Ravens got themselves a couple of deals in the second round.

"If someone had picked either of them yesterday (in the first round), we would have said, 'Well, that figures,'" said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of player personnel.

Of course, there is always an explanation for why a price drops on an item, and Kindle and Cody aren't exceptions. Both fell out of the 2010 first round because of questions and issues that dogged them through the pre-draft season. Now their problems are the Ravens' problems, too.

Kindle is a major talent by everyone's reckoning, a high-energy pass rusher so gifted he was recently voted this draft's top 3-4 outside linebacker in a Milwaukee newspaper poll of scouts. But he had off-field issues in college – a DUI and leaving the scene of a car accident – and most important, has knee problems that some teams deemed so serious they took him off their draft boards entirely.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome dismissed those concerns, saying he had total faith in the Ravens' medical staff, which vetted Kindle and gave him a thumbs-up.

"When our people give a medical grade, it is in the 98th or 99th percentile (of accuracy)," said Newsome, who added that "a lot" of players taken in Thursday's first round didn't get the same thumbs-up from the Ravens' staff, underscoring how variable and erratic such judgments are.

Asked about a rumor that Kindle might soon need microfracture surgery, Newsome said there was "no need at this point."

As for Cody, the reason he dropped out of the first round is as obvious as his 354-pound frame. The guy has had a weight problem. He was the heart of an Alabama defense that won a national title a few months ago, but when other NFL teams took a look, they saw a potential headache they could live without.

Newsome, who starred at Alabama and remains fanatically devoted to the school's football program, admitted that his closeness to the Crimson Tide allowed him to inspect Cody more carefully than others.

Cody's weight "has been going south," Newsome said. "I think he understands that he has to control it if he wants to have a career in the league."

The way Newsome and DeCosta were talking, they don't expect either player to come in and start. Kindle is being penciled in behind Jarret Johnson, and Cody will join the defensive line rotation, which needed a boost after the defections of Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan.

The Ravens' blueprint calls for both players to eventually develop into starters along with Paul Kruger, last year's second-round pick, giving the Ravens the core of a new defense that needs to crystallize as veteran stalwarts such as Ray Lewis and Kelly Gregg run out of time.

"We thought we had made the right decision last night (when they traded out of the first round) and now we know we made the right decision," Newsome said.

There's no telling how the players' careers will turn out, but Newsome wasn't blowing smoke.

John Eisenberg worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.

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