MOBILE, Ala. – With Senior Bowl week wrapping up, most of the Ravens front office staff has already left Mobile. While Eric DeCosta and his team of scouts were looking closely at wide receivers, several other positions of need were examined this week. The Ravens also have questions at pass rusher, cornerback and tight end, and the Senior Bowl has some intriguing options at those positions.
The argument can be made that the most impressive defensive player this week was the defensive end from Michigan, Brandon Graham. Graham has flashed huge potential as a pass rusher, showing a quick first step and an uncanny ability to get to the backfield. Graham has certainly caught the eye of scouts and is drawing comparisons to another former Michigan standout and current Pittsburgh Steeler, LaMarr Woodley. Graham is a little undersized at 6'1", but has the potential to be a standout 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Graham may be a good fit for the Ravens not just because his abilities as a pass rusher, but because he'd love to be a Raven. Graham said this week that his favorite player growing up was Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, and when asked what it would be like to play on the same defense with Lewis, Graham couldn't help but smile.
"That'd be nice. That's scary right there. Not only is Ray Lewis a great player, he's a mentor and he'd teach me a whole lot. I think that'd be a good fit for me."
At the cornerback position, there are several players of interest here in Mobile. In fact, the depth of talent at the cornerback position in the Senior Bowl might be the best in years. Players like Boise State's Kyle Wilson, Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox, Florida State's Patrick Robinson and Wake Forest Brandon Ghee are all potential second round picks.
Perrish Cox is an interesting prospect that is sure to be on the Ravens' radar. At just under 6'0" and 186 lbs, Cox has ideal size for a cornerback. What makes Cox a more intriguing prospect for the Ravens are his abilities as a kick returner, a position that the team may be looking to upgrade. Cox has returned two punts and four kicks for touchdowns in his career at Oklahoma State and matched that with ten career interceptions. Perrish has had a nice week of practice, grabbing several interceptions and showing the ability to stay with receivers in man-to-man coverage.
Finally, the Ravens may be looking to bring in some youth at the tight end position. One of the most interesting tight end prospects in this year's Senior Bowl is Jimmy Graham of Miami. A former basketball player that has only played one year of football for the Hurricanes, Graham is being closely examined due to the success of another former basketball player turned tight end, Antonio Gates. Though he is raw as a tight end, Graham has shown a lot of promise this week as a receiver. At 6'6" and 259 lbs, he is an imposing figure that knows how to use his body to shield the defender from the ball and has done a nice job catching the ball in team drills.
As a player from "The U," Graham says he already has a connection with the Ravens.
"To be a part of the Ravens would be amazing because I feel like half of the team is from 'The U.' I had the opportunity to learn from Ed Reed this summer. He was kind of teaching me coverages, teaching me how to not give away what I'm about to do. He's a very, very smart safety. I'd really enjoy it. I think I can help them out. I think I'd be able to stretch the field and definitely help them in the red zone."
When talking about Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Graham had nothing but praise.
"I think he's great. I think he has his best years ahead of him and I'd love to catch touchdown passes from him."
Though most of the scouts have left Mobile, players still have another opportunity to show their skills in the game on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Brandon Graham could solidify himself as a first round draft pick with a big performance and both Perrish Cox and Jimmy Graham are hoping to continue to help their draft stock by showcasing their abilities.
Will Spencer is the lead writer at Draft Breakdown (www.draftbreakdown.com) and a draft contributor for BaltmoreRavens.com.