Street Talk Ravens evaluating thin safety class

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OWINGS MILLS — It’s not exactly a revelation that the Baltimore Ravens will explore drafting a safety at some point.

The Ravens only have two pure safeties on the roster in starters Ed Reed and Dawan Landry since the team has shown little interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent backup Gerome Sapp.

Outside of University of Miami standout Kenny Phillips, no safeties are expected to be picked in the first round. Only a few are graded as first-day selections in a thin class.

"I think there have been better years at the safety position," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

During the second day of the draft, there are still opportunities to acquire depth or even a prospect that could eventually challenge Landry as he enters his third season as the starter.

Baltimore conducted a visit with Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson, a speedy, hard-hitting Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 363 career tackles and 13 interceptions.

North Carolina State’s DaJuan Morgan, a somewhat inexperienced converted wide receiver, is another potential first-day selection. Oklahoma cornerback Reggie Smith has the size and tackling ability to move inside to safety.

Iowa cornerback Charles Godfrey could move full-time to safety with his blend of size (6-foot, 207 pounds) and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash).

"He has the size to be effective in run support," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "He’s probably a player who will be picked in the third round."

Baltimore holds the 99th overall pick in the third round, a compensatory selection awarded for losing linebacker Adalius Thomas in free agency a year ago to the New England Patriots.

Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski passes the toughness test as a professional boxer who has fought at Madison Square Garden. A high school option quarterback, he’s also an accomplished punt returner with three touchdowns in the kicking game.

There are some issues with his instincts and ability to locate the football in deep coverage, but he’s regarded as an enforcer against the run with 300 career tackles. He ran a 4.4 at the NFL scouting combine.

"Tom Zbikowski is more of an in-the-box type safety," DeCosta said. "He’s a great special-teams guy, he’s been a very productive player for Notre Dame. He’s probably not a great back-end player in terms of ball skills."

At the Senior Bowl, scouting combine and a Pro Day, the Ravens have displayed some interest in Arizona State safety Josh Barrett. He’s a classic size-speed prospect at 6-1, 223 pounds with 4.4 speed.

Cal-Berkeley safety Thomas DeCoud has drawn high marks from scouts for his tackling, range and athleticism. He meets the specs for the position at 6-1, 207 pounds with 4.5 speed and has a strong special-teams background.

"Another guy that’s intriguing is Thomas DeCoud," DeCosta said. "He’s very instinctive and makes a lot of plays. He’s got versatility."

NOTES: Tight end Quinn Sypniewski tore the anterior cruciate in his left knee during the Ravens’ three-day minicamp. It’s expected to be a season-ending injury. … The Ravens conducted a private workout with Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan last week, one day prior to Steve McNair’s retirement. Ryan also visited the Kansas City Chiefs, who hold the fifth overall pick, last week. Earlier this month, he had a dinner meeting in Boston with Falcons owner Arthur Blank, general manager Tom Dimitroff, coach Mike Smith, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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