As the Ravens' search for the next linebacker to man the middle of their defense, one name that continues to come up is LSU's Kevin Minter.
The 22-year-old inside linebacker entered the draft after a stellar junior season, and he's been linked to the Ravens in a number of mock drafts. ESPN's draft expert Mel Kiper has the Ravens taking Minter with pick No. 32, putting him in line to replace Ray Lewis.
"To follow in those footsteps would be a real honor," Minter said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Like most young linebackers, Minter grew up watching Lewis and tries to emulate the future Hall of Famer as a player and a leader.
"I feel like he's pretty much everybody's favorite," Minter said. "The passion he has for the game and just the intensity he brings is unmatched. I hope to be half the player he was."
Minter, 5-foot-11, 246 pounds, is regarded as a late-first or early-second round prospect, and he could possibly fill an immediate hole on the Ravens roster. He would likely end up competing with Jameel McCain and possibly free agent Dannell Ellerbe for a starting inside linebacker job.
"Minter is instinctive, shoots gaps, can play sideline to sideline and is particularly hard for blockers to line up," Kiper said. "He's a steady tackler, and a good quarterback for your defense."
Minter decided to turn pro after being named second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC. He racked up big numbers on LSU's top-flight defense, totaling 130 tackles, four sacks and one interception last year.
"I had a great season, I'm not going to lie," Minter said. "It's just a dream come true to be considered one of the top in the country. It's big."
Minter met with the Ravens at the combine, as well as several other teams. He has also been named as a potential target for the Houston Texans in the first or second round.
While he shot up draft boards last season, Minter didn't necessarily boost his stock at the NFL scouting combine. He clocked a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash, one of the worst times among all the linebackers. That slow 40-time could benefit the Ravens, because it could cause him to slide down draft boards to pick No. 32.
One questions regarding Minter is how he would adjust to the 3-4 scheme that that Ravens run. He played middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense at LSU, and hasn't played in a 3-4 since high school.
"I can't necessarily compare high school to the NFL, but I honestly feel like I'll be comfortable in any defense," Minter said. "I just play ball."
Wherever Minter ends up landing, part of his responsibility at middle linebacker will be making the calls and leading the defense as a three-down linebacker.
"I'm good with the calls," Minter said. "I'm good with my run fits. I've developed well in pass coverages. I can contribute a lot to an organization."