This draft should more than meet that demand, particularly at defensive tackle.
There’s definite star quality in Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, locks for the top five selections of the first round.
It’s a hefty supply of interior defensive lineman capable of anchoring the line of scrimmage or penetrating the backfield by shooting gaps.
When the Baltimore Ravens are on the clock with the 25th overall pick of the first round, the best defensive lineman that might be available is Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Odrick has drawn high marks from the Ravens for his hard-nosed style and toughness.
He’s not regarded as an explosive athlete, but he moves well and is capable of playing defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or operating as a traditional defensive tackle in a 4-3 set.
“My versatility and where I can play, but also my quickness as a defensive tackle” Odrick said when asked what separates him from the pack of defensive linemen. “I think I’m quicker than a lot of defensive tackles in the country, just my size and capability to play inside or outside.”
Named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year, Odrick registered 43 tackles, seven sacks and 11 tackles for losses last season for the Nittany Lions.
The Ravens could be in the market for a defensive lineman considering that Dwan Edwards signed with the Buffalo Bills. Plus, nose guard Kelly Gregg and defensive end Trevor Pryce are getting up in years.
For the Ravens, Odrick would probably operate as a defensive end on the left side where Edwards lined up.
“He fits what they want from a defensive end in the 3-4 scheme,” said Russ Lande, a former Cleveland Browns scout who covers the draft for the Sporting News. “He’s a perfect fit as a long-armed, tall kid who can hold the point of attack. He’s athletic enough to make plays. He’s a hard worker, a competitive kid, which is what you want for that position.”
The Ravens don’t expect Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams to be available in the latter portion of the first round. His stock is rising so fast that he’s likely to be drafted in the top half of the first round.
However, there’s a strong possibility that burly Alabama nose guard Terrence “Mount” Cody will be there.
The Ravens have a history of large defensive linemen such as Haloti Ngata, Maake Kemoeatu, Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams.
“We love those guys,” Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said. “Traditionally, we always had a lot of success with those big, run-stuffing guys. I think Cody’s just a guy you can’t move.
“He’s a 350-pound guy, very strong at the point of attack, a deceptive athlete, very good feet in a short area. With all the 3-4 teams in the NFL, I think those guys are going to be very hot commodities.”
The 6-foot-4, 349-pounder visited the Ravens as well as the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets.
The question mark surrounding Cody is his weight. He has weighed as much as 400 pounds in junior college and played at roughly 380 pounds last season before showing up at 370 pounds at the Senior Bowl.
He’s beginning to get into better shape now.
“I’ve been working really hard,” Cody said in a telephone interview. “When I came in at 348 pounds, it shocked a lot of people and I ran a better 40-yard dash.
“Day in and day out, I’m trying to get in better shape and keep the weight off and maintain my strength. This is the best shape I’ve been in since high school, but this is me getting into good football shape.”
If the Ravens drafted Cody, he could eventually succeed Gregg.
Cody has drawn some second-round grades because he’s a player who will operate on first and second downs in the NFL and doesn’t provide a pass rush.
A two-time All-American selection, Cody made life easier for Butkus Award winning middle linebacker Rolando McClain. He’s also a big-time presence as far as blocking kicks.
“I feel like I’m that perfect 3-4 player,” Cody said. “I took up those blocks for Rolando and we both did really good this season. He was running free and getting involved. After the first play of the game, I knew if they were going to try to run away from me and tire me out.”
Not everyone is sold on Cody, though.
“He’s way over the limit as far as weight is concerned,” said Tony Pauline, who covers the draft for Sports Illustrated. “He had the worst 10-yard time. His vertical jump was awful, broad jump awful. The guy only cranked up 22 reps in the bench press. He’s not working hard enough.
“People say how nobody rushed for 100 yards against him. No running back has run for 100 yards against Alabama in years. I would take him in the second round. He’s got the size to annihilate and engulf opponents, but his weight is a major concern.”
The Ravens are also high on East Carolina defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a rising player on NFL draft boards.
Joseph bench pressed 225 pounds 39 times, and he has long arms.
“Very strong lower body,” DeCosta said. “We see him as a possible five-technique (3-4 defensive end) and also a possible three-technique (4-3 defensive tackle), who can pass rush on the interior and also set the edge against the run.”
UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price is more of a fit for 4-3 teams.
Named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Price recorded 23 tackles for losses last season.
His explosiveness draws high marks, but his stamina isn’t as good.
“He’s a penetrator,” DeCosta said. “He’s a 4-3 guy for sure.”
In the second round, North Carolina defensive tackle Cam Thomas is considered a strong candidate for 3-4 teams.
The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder recorded 83 career tackles, nine for losses and 3 1/2 sacks for the Tar Heels.
At the NFL scouting combine, Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 5.29 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times. He also posted a 29-inch vertical leap.
“They will get a guy who loves the game, a guy who’s enthusiastic,” Thomas said. “I play the game with passion and love. I will bring that thunder. I will clog the gaps and penetrate a whole lot. I’ll use my power."