Ravens' Work Eliminates Risk

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The Ravens have been associated with a few draft prospects that missed a significant amount of time last year, but that doesn't mean they don't have a solid book on them.

There is a significant amount of risk involved with those players, but the Ravens believe they can accurately gauge the potential reward with thorough investigation.

"We are not averse to taking risks, but we do our homework," said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. "We have very good scouts, and one of the best things they do is get us information. And when we get the information, I think we do a good job deciding what information that we need and what we can just kick out."

The draft's top two tight ends – a position the Ravens have targeted – fit that bill of speculation.

Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham (6-foot-5, 261 pounds) and Arizona's Rob Gronkowski (6-foot-6, 258 pounds) both sat out all of 2009 because of serious knee and back injuries, respectively.

They have been spending much of the offseason attempting to prove that they are worthy of a high selection, and teams have worked hard to confirm it.

Gresham, who was coming off a 66-catch, 950-yard, 14-touchdown campaign, wowed at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he posted a 4.68-second 40 and a 35-inch vertical.

"Gronk" didn't work out at the Combine, instead performing at his Pro Day with a 4.65-second 40 (with the wind) and a 33-inch vertical. He caught 47 passes for 672 yards and 10 scores in 2008.

"The guys that were hurt – particularly their senior season and not able to work out at this point – I think you have to rely heavily on the film from their junior year," said Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz. "We do a good job – our training staff, medical doctors – getting the rundown, grading them, putting a medical grade on them, finding out where we think they'll be [and] where they are currently."

Another player that has Ravens fans whispering is wideout Dez Bryant, but he missed time because of a wholly different reason: suspension.

Bryant, 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, was held out of the final 10 games of his senior season for lying to NCAA investigators about a meeting with former all-world cornerback Deion Sanders.

But, Bryant, who claims he never had any other character issues, has some all-world promise, as well, logging 21 touchdowns (including two on punt returns) the last time he played a full season.

"He's got a great body of work," said Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta of Bryant. "He's caught a lot of balls; we have all that on tape. You do all your research and you just kind of build a profile and see where he stacks against everybody else."

Certainly, there are several other players that have caused the Ravens to dig a little more, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Whether it is because of injury or discipline, missed time does not account for overlooked information.

Said DeCosta: "It is a little bit more challenging, but fortunately we have a lot of tape to look at."

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