Ravens Eye Hybrids

b431f7615ea341729c890ad449e3b3e2.jpg


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com 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.

Considering their tradition of a multiple-look defense, the Ravens helped ease the term "hybrid" into every-day NFL vernacular.

And, with a renewed focus on pass rush this offseason, the Ravens are lucky to find a draft deep with such defensive end/outside linebacking talents.

"There are a lot of good defensive ends/outside linebackers in this year's Draft," said Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta. "Some guys are bigger, maybe more 4-3 defensive end types. Other guys maybe translate best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Some guys can play both.

"There are some guys that can drop and have that flexibility to be hybrid-type guys for you, as well. It'll be interesting to see how they come off the board."

The Ravens have shown in the past that they can take a collegiate defensive end and mold him into a successful linebacker that can drop into coverage when needed (see Terrell Suggs).

One player who could match the Ravens at No. 25 is Michigan's Brandon Graham.

Drawing comparisons to Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker – and fellow Michigan alumnus – LaMarr Woodley (6-foot-2, 263 pounds), Graham might not have prototypical size, measuring in at a short and stocky 6-foot-1, 268 pounds. But, his understanding of leverage, strength, relentless motor and playmaking ability have him slotted in the first round by most draftniks.

Last season, the team captain posted 10 sacks and an NCAA-leading 26 tackles for loss while earning All-Big Ten honors.

"We like him coming out of Michigan," DeCosta said of Graham, the first two-time Michigan MVP in the program's storied history. "Strong, explosive guy. Good motor,
tenacious. He plays like a Raven. Not the biggest guy, but he plays bigger than he looks."

Some analysts have also compared Graham to that of Denver's Elvis Dumervil, who stands 5-foot-11, 248 pounds. Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009.

"I look at myself as the next one," Graham said of Dumervil. "He's 6-1, he's small. A lot of people didn't think he could do it. But believe whoever gets me is going to love me."

Still, as a player that essentially played every college down with a hand in the dirt, Graham has a lot to learn at the next level if he joins a 3-4 defense, where his outside linebacker responsibilities will be highlighted.

A lot of people are betting Graham will answer the challenge.

Here are some other "tweener" prospects that could tempt the Ravens at No. 25 or perhaps in the second round:

Sergio Kindle, Texas
6-foot-3, 250 pounds
2009 Stats: 58 tackles, 6 sacks
The Skinny:Kindle is fast, long and rangy, a perfect fit for a 3-4 squad that wants a player that can get after the quarterback and drop in coverage. He actually started his career at linebacker, so he has that experience. Over the past two years, Kindle posted an impressive 34.5 tackles for loss. Kindle also was a special teams standout at Texas.

Jerry Hughes, TCU
6-foot-2, 255 pounds
2009 Stats:58 tackles, 11.5 sacks
The Skinny:Hughes didn't start at defensive end until 2008, but he certainly made an impact, registering a nation-leading 26.5 sacks over his last 26 games and 36.0 tackles for loss during that span. The former high school running back did drop some, and his size has many teams working him out at linebacker. He is a pass-rushing threat, as he led the nation with 15 sacks in 2008.

Koa Misi, Utah
6-foot-3, 251 pounds
2009 Stats: 67 tackles, 5 sacks
The Skinny: A versatile warrior, Misi was a four-year starter, getting 12 starts at right defensive end, 12 at left defensive end, 10 at left defensive tackles and two at nose guard, according to NFLDraftScout.com. He also recorded 206 career tackles and 10.5 career sacks. Another undersized end, Misi's football instincts will get him far.

Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech
6-foot-1, 254 pounds
2009 Stats:49 tackles, 4 sacks
The Skinny:As a defensive end, Worilds burst on to the scene as a sophomore in 2008, totaling 62 tackles and eight sacks. Although he wasn't able to match that production last year, he still turned in a solid season. Worilds has shown hustle and agility that suggest he could make the transition to OLB.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising