RAVENS DRAFT ANALYSIS: THIS IS DEFENSIVE TACKLE FOOTBALL!

NFL Draft RAVENS DRAFT ANALYSIS: THIS IS DEFENSIVE TACKLE FOOTBALL!

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Amobi Okoye, 6’2", 302, Louisville
 
Okoye is the boy wonder of the 2007 NFL Draft at the age of 19.  Strangely, there isn’t a dispute about his status as draft-eligible but that is due to the Cardinal product skipping several years of school and finishing a college degree as opposed to prodigal sons Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams.  The energy and effort put into the game by this player is nothing short of amazing.  There will be the occasional ding about a player taking a play off, as was the case with Haloti Ngata last year, but not a peep in this category about Okoye.  Watching a game will show the defensive tackle chasing plays downfield if the go around him or hustling to the outside to stop the sweep or screen.  The only big negatives mentioned are a lack of height, but that isn’t as a big a concern as Baltimore’s own Kelly Gregg is certainly lacking in that area.
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Okoye appears to be pegged for the top 10, although he could slip down to the 49ers and former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.  Acquiring Okoye would require a monumental trade that the team is not likely to repeat after its trading games for Kyle Boller.
 
Ray McDonald, 6’4", 276, Florida
 
McDonald was a stalwart on Florida’s championship line, but he is the kind of player that will likely slide down in the draft as he isn’t the type of player a team can ask to go after the Quarterback on a regular basis.  Even so, this type of player has a lot of value, and McDonald in particular in that he has the potential to be able to play a 3-4 defensive end as well as a 4-3 defensive tackle.  This Gator will be gone on Day 1.  Stout run defenders who are able to make plays on the line, even if they don’t have the sustained speed to pursue, can be very valuable on a defense even if all they do is get thrown under the bus and take a double team every play. 
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK: This is the type of player the Ravens might seek to acquire at the tail end of day one, but one they will likely pass on given the current depth at the position with Ngata, Gregg, Pryce, Bannan, and Edwards currently on the roster. 
 
DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler, 6’2", 306, NC State
 
Compare Tyler to another Tank currently in the league subtracting the off the field issues.  Tyler is difficult to move out of space and is effective at moving a pile and splitting a tough double team in the center of the line.  Negatives quickly come into play as the North Carolina State product doesn’t appear to be a self-motivated player.  He has struggled in the classroom.  Even so, Tyler is good natural player who can use his hands well and has ability to get to a quarterback in a three step drop and is able to create penetration at the tackle slot which is something of a rarity in the league. 
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK: The Ravens tend to select players who are leaders on their team or those who are motivated to fully realize their potential.  Even though who are not huge on improving often turn around during their career with the team and focus on becoming a star, such as Terrell Suggs.  Another issue is the comparative lack of focus on weight issues, conditioning, and classroom struggles.  The Ravens defense is one of the most complicated in the league in many ways and without the ability to immerse oneself in the playbook it can be difficult.  Finally, the general style of both Tanks is simply that of a tank.  Don’t ask Tyler to be mobile or play well in space.  Given all of these issues and relative depth on the Ravens line, Tyler will most likely not be the best value for the team in the second round.
 
Alan Branch, 6’6", 324, Michigan
 
Originally competing with Gaines Adamas and LaRon Landry to be the first defensive player selected, Branch has seen his stock tumble recently due to incredibly poor workouts beginning with the scouting combine.  Even so, Branch more than any other player is what created the dominance of the Michigan defense by tying up incredible numbers of blockers with his speed, size, and moves which allowed other players to make plays.  Comparisons have been made to a motivated Shaun Rogers of the Lions, though nfl.com notes that Branch is faster than Rogers and may also be able to play rush end in a 3-4 alignment.  That potential versatility, quick grasping of plays and good leverage will not let Branch fall out of the top half of the first round.
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Even though discussions of Branch seem to always include the word “free fall” as of late, Branch is still a great talent and prospect.  The Ravens shouldn’t have a shot at the Wolverine and will need to look elsewhere to bolster the defensive line.
 
 
This article contains information from nfldraftcountdown.com, nfl.com, and various internet video. For other Ravens’ positional discussion, click on the archive icon above.
 
Ravens currently hold the following picks in the 2007 NFL Draft: Nos. 29, 61 (Round 2), 134 & 137 (Round 4 Compensatory Picks), 166 (Round 5), 174 (Round 5 Compensatory Pick), 203  (Round 6) & 207 (Round 6 Compensatory Pick).

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Matt Ennis

About Matt Ennis

Matt is another of a growing list of NFL draft junkies.  He comes to 24x7 by way of Chicago as a respected member of our message board who charts draft eligible player projections.  You can follow this year's projections here. More from Matt Ennis

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