*Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz sat down to discussprospects at several positions of need leading up to next month's draft. This is the first installment of a five-part series. *
General Manager Ozzie Newsome pointed to the interior of the defense as the top priority for the Ravens heading into next season.
Nose tackle Terrence Cody struggled last season and veteran Ma'ake Kemoeatu is an unrestricted free agent. Thus, the Ravens could look to improve the interior of their defensive line in this year's draft, which has a deep crop of defensive line prospects.
Here's Hortiz's take on five interior defensive linemen who could be possibilities for the Ravens in this year's draft:
Jonathan Hankins, Ohio StateJunior, 6-foot-3, 320 pounds; 55 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 1 sack
"He comes out of the school with a lot of positive comments from the staff, what they say about the kid, about his leadership, about how his leadership tied to his success, which is to me very important. The way they talked about him as an underclassmen, being one of the main reasons that team went 12-0, is an impressive thing."
- Run stuffer
- Fits the mold of a nose tackle
- Difficult to move off the ball
- Able to eat up blocks and clog up the middle
Jesse Williams, AlabamaSenior, 6-3, 220; 37 tackles, 1 sack
"He's a run stopper. He's not going to be a 12-sack, 10-sack, 8-sack a year guy. That's not what he does."
- Has versatility to play nose tackle or defensive end
- Really good technique with his hands
- Has good quickness when lined up at nose tackle
- Limited football experience because he was born in Australia and didn't start playing until late high school
Sylvester Williams, North CarolinaSenior, 6-3, 313; 42 tackles, 6 sacks
"He's a guy that really made his own way. He played only one year of high school football. He's built himself into a really good football player. Really, he was a kid who had no idea what he was doing when he first started playing the game, but he had talent, and he's just worked hard at it. And he's gotten better throughout his career."
- He's on the rise after a strong Senior Bowl and combine
- Strong on intangibles like work ethic and determination
- Late bloomer and still somewhat raw
Kawann Short, PurdueSenior, 6-3, 299; 43 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks
"He's a big man who when he's on can really show up and be dominant. He's played well. He's got sack production over his career, and for an interior guy that's a plus. He's been really productive at Purdue for four years there, and he's played under four different defensive line coaches.
- Big frame, has lost about 20 pounds since the fall
- Long arms. Could possibly play defensive end
- Lack of coaching consistency means his* *game needs some honing
Akeem Spence, Illinois
Junior, 6-1, 307; 72 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 sack
"He's a prototypical nose tackle type guy. He's built low, but he plays low."
- Best suited as a run stuffer
- Smaller than other many other interior defensive linemen, but he compensates by playing low to the ground with good power