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Ravens Impressed With Draft's Local Prospects


The Ravens don't have to look too far to find talent in this year's draft class.

Maryland has become fertile ground for amateur football, and the Ravens have seen the quality of prospects from the DMV greatly improve in recent years.

The Ravens recently held a local pro day workout at the Under Armour Performance Center to get a look at some of the area's top talent, and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta came away impressed with what he saw.

"We probably had our best local pro day that we've ever had, from the standpoint of numbers and also talent," DeCosta said. "I think that speaks very well of the local football talent in the state."

DeCosta did not divulge who the team invited to those workouts because the Ravens do their best to keep all their visits under wraps, but some of the top players from the region include Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, Oklahoma pass rusher Charles Tapper, and Terps' pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, safety Sean Davis and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson. 

"Maryland high school football is really getting good," DeCosta said. "Honestly, I have to say there are more talented kids from this area this year than I can remember."

Jones is probably the biggest-name prospect from the area. The Gilman High School alum went on to become a starting cornerback and punt returner for the Crimson Tide, winning a pair of nationals championships in his four seasons there.

He is a natural athlete who played both sides of the ball in college before settling into his role as a defensive back. He notched seven interceptions in his college career and also returned 48 punts for a total of 518 yards and four touchdowns. He led the nation in punt return touchdowns and his 518 punt return yards ranked second-best in a single season in Alabama history.

"I'm an all-around player," Jones said during an interview at the Senior Bowl. "I can help in both special teams and on [defense]. And I can be a lockdown corner. I can go inside, I can go outside, and I'm fundamentally sound. And just a playmaker."

The 5-foot-9 cornerback is considered by many draft analysts as a Day 2 draft pick, and potentially an option for the Ravens with their No. 36 or No. 70 selections. The other players from the area are also likely mid-round picks, but Tapper or Ngakoue could sneak into the second round based on their pass-rush ability.

The Ravens have relied on the local pro day workout to find players in previous years. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro essentially earned himself a spot based on his performance at that event in 2014. Campanaro performed so well that the Ravens traded back into the draft to get him after they had initially used up all their picks.

Other local prospects who have eventually found their way to the Ravens for at least training camp include running back Terrance West, wide receiver LaQuan Williams, fullback Kiero Small, linebackers Brandon Copeland and D.J. Bryant, and quarterback Jerry Lovelocke.

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