Ravens Eye Kickers, But For The Draft?

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The Ravens have never drafted a kicker in their history, with Matt Stover taking care of the franchise's first 13 years in Baltimore and Steve Hauschka and Billy Cundiff* *splitting the 2009 campaign.

But with the team openly admitting that it wants to bring in competition for the incumbent Cundiff this offseason, it could mean the Ravens will eye kickers in the draft.

Leigh Tiffin could be one player that stands out, as he is the most draft-worthy kicking prospect by many analysts' estimate.

Tiffin was a big reason the Alabama Crimson Tide – Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's alma mater – won the BCS National Championship last year, making a school-record 30 of 35 field goals (85.7 percent) in 2009.

His longest was a 50-yard attempt in a 12-10 victory over the University of Tennessee, in which Tiffin accounted for all of the Tide's scoring.

Plus, the nine career tackles Tiffin posted covering kickoffs definitely say this guy "plays like a Raven."

"We had some problems with kick coverage at times, but I didn't know I had that many [tackles]," he said with a laugh at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Tiffin might stand at a slight 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, but that doesn't mean he is afraid to stick his nose in there.

During the Combine, he admitted that he was hit so hard in one game as a junior that he suffered a concussion. Tiffin also claimed he dislocated his shoulder once because he hit someone so hard.

It obviously didn't affect his kicking. A three-year starter, Tiffin is Alabama's all-time leader with 378 points and 82 field goals during his 45-game career in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Lou Groza Award finalist also believes he has the leg to cancel coverage opportunities by booting the ball into the end zone, as he boasted a career-best nine touchbacks while averaging 63.3 yards on kickoffs.

"I think I can kick 60 yards and pretty well, with any football, anytime, anywhere, in a controlled environment," Tiffin said.

With Tiffin's accuracy, leg strength and toughness, could that environment be M&T Bank Stadium next year?

Here are some more kicking prospects to watch for come draft time:

Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State
6-foot-1, 202 pounds
2009 Stats:15-21 FG, 52 LG, 32-33 PAT
The Skinny: Pettrey missed the last three games of OSU's regular season after tearing his MCL on Oct. 31 of last year, but returned for the Buckeye's bowl game after New Year's. He was deemed healthy to kick off for post-season All-Star games and the Combine. Pettrey has the wherewithal an NFL kicker needs after walking on, redshirting, losing his job to injury, gaining it back and then rehabbing from knee surgery.

Brett Swenson, Michigan State
5-foot-8, 178 pounds
2009 Stats:20-24 FG, 52 LG, 48-49 PAT
The Skinny:Swenson is MSU's all-time leader in scoring (377 points), field goals (71) and extra points (164). His small stature would make him one of the tiniest kickers in the NFL, and he did have six field goals and one extra point blocked during his career. But, he did hold the Spartans' job for four years and booted multiple game-winning field goals.

Hunter Lawrence, Texas
5-foot-11, 184 pounds
2009 Stats:26-29 FG, 49 LG, 62-63 PAT
The Skinny:Lawrence was a hero in the Big 12 Championship, as his 46-yard field goal at the buzzer gave the Longhorns a 13-12 victory over Nebraska. He didn't connect on one 50-yard attempt last year, which could call his leg strength into concern, but Lawrence did convert 10-of-11 from 40-49 yards.

Finally, here is one prospect that could slip under the radar…

Garrett Lindholm, Tarleton State
5-foot-8, 185 pounds
2009 Stats:15-18 FG, 64 LG, 43-45 PAT
The Skinny:According to NFL.com, 13 teams visited Tarleton State to see a linebacking prospect, but when Tobe Nwigwe was sidelined with a foot injury, Lindholm wowed scouts by hitting three of four field goals from over 60 yards in a 10 mph wind. His 64-yarder last year against Texas A&M Kingsville was the third-longest in NCAA history.

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