Winning in the trenches

Street Talk Winning in the trenches

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OWINGS MILLS — When the Baltimore Ravens hired coach John Harbaugh four months ago, he didn’t make it a secret that he believes a winning football team is built by controlling the line of scrimmage with a strong offensive and defensive line.

That’s the philosophy he was taught by Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, among others.

"Absolutely, you win in the trenches," Harbaugh said. "I’ve heard that enough over the years from Andy and before. It will always be that way. It will never change."

And the Ravens’ scouting efforts tend to follow that precept, too.

Maryland’s Dre Moore and Notre Dame’s Trevor Laws are among the defensive tackles the Ravens are impressed with.

Moore has the measurables at 6-4, 305 pounds with 4.84 speed and 31 repetitions in the bench press. An All-ACC selection, Moore recorded six sacks, 63 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception last season for the Terrapins.

"Moore had a great combine," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "He had an excellent Senior Bowl. He’s a wide-body guy who can play the run. He’s a better athlete than you think."

About all the 6-1, 304-pound Laws lacks is height.

Laws notched 112 tackles for the Fighting Irish, bench pressing 225 pounds 35 times at the scouting combine with a 30-inch vertical leap and a score exceeding 30 on the Wonderlic exam.

"Trevor Laws is a bit undersized, but he has an excellent motor," DeCosta said. "He’s a one-gap type guy, very disruptive on the inside. He’s definitely a player that we like."

On the other side of the ball, USC offensive tackle Sam Baker is a 6-4, 308-pounder who could be of value during the second day after dipping on draft boards over the past year.

"Last year, people had him as an elite prospect," DeCosta said. "He’s not the biggest guy, not the greatest athlete, but he’s very intelligent, shows some nastiness and could play tackle or guard."

Rutgers’ Jeremy Zuttah is a classic swing tackle-guard at 6-3, 303 pounds. He raised eyebrows at the combine with 35 reps in the bench and 4.9 speed and has a reputation for finishing blocks.

"Zuttah had an excellent combine workout," DeCosta said. "He’s very athletic, plays right tackle and is very good in space at the second level.

"He’s very good in pass protection. He’s probably a guy you can get in the third round who gives you excellent versatility."

Another sleeper lineman is Oregon’s Geoff Schwartz, a 6-6, 331-pounder. Although he lacks foot speed, his temperament reminds Baltimore of a hard-working former Ravens starting tackle.

"He’s a Tony Pashos type, a big, physical aggressive guy who’s not blessed with great athleticism," DeCosta said. "He’s got a good, strong demeanor and he’s very intelligent."

NOTE: Eastern Kentucky cornerback Antwaun Molden was one of the Ravens’ predraft visits. The team also recently conducted a workout with Indiana cornerback Leslie Majors.

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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