OWINGS MILLS – As far as ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is concerned, the Baltimore Ravens are on solid ground when it comes to their evaluation of University of Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle from a medical and talent standpoint.
Kindle fell to the Ravens in the second round because of concerns about a right knee that has been surgically repaired four times as well as a driving under the influence arrest and a texting while driving incident where he crashed into an apartment building.
There were some reports that Kindle might need to have microfracture surgery, but the Ravens and Kindle have emphasized that’s not the case.
“I talked to teams before that didn’t have an issue and checked with teams that night,” Kiper said during a Tuesday conference call. “After Kindle was taken, I said, ‘Did you have a problem with Sergio Kindle? Did you guys have anything?’ They said, ‘No, we had no problem with Kindle, no problem at all. He’s on our board.’
“Several players went in the high part of the first round that some teams had taken off their board because of whatever medical or issue they might have had. There were some top 15, top 20 guys that went that some teams wouldn’t have touched. That’s just the way it is with 32 teams having 32 different doctors and different medical information. There wasn’t a consensus on Kindle one way or the other, but to get him where they did was a real good choice.”
A 6-foot-3, 250-pounder with 4.65 speed and 16 career sacks, Kindle went to Baltimore with the 43rd overall pick as the Ravens traded their first-round pick to the Denver Broncos for second-round, third-round and fourth-round selections.
Kiper awarded the Ravens an A for a draft class that includes Kindle, Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody, Oregon tight end Ed Dickson, Brigham Young tight end Dennis Pitta, Utah wide receiver David Reed, Syracuse defensive tackle Arthur Jones and Morehouse offensive tackle Ramon Harewood.
Kiper gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a B and C grades to the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.
He didn’t have a problem with the Ravens not getting a cornerback or a safety. Baltimore attempted to trade up to the St. Louis Rams’ 33rd overall spot in the second round to get imposing Virginia cornerback Chris Cook, but they were unsuccessful.
“At the end of the day, they didn’t get a cornerback or a safety, but you can’t get everything,” Kiper said. “It’s only seven rounds, you don’t have 12 rounds or 17 rounds. You can’t take a corner if you don’t have a conviction on a guy just because he fills a need. That’s why the Ravens do so well.”
Kiper said he was hearing the Ravens were prepared to take controversial Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round if they hadn’t traded out. Bryant went to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Ravens were seriously considering Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams in the first round if they hadn’t made the trade.
“I think Dez Bryant was the guy they wouldn’t have taken,” Kiper said. “That’s what I was told or heard through the grapevine. The Ravens didn’t panic and take a player they didn’t have a strong conviction about.
“They got tight ends, a wide receiver and a kick returner. Defensive tackle was a need area. Kindle gives them great security at linebacker. Cody is a huge tackle. Harewood is a huge tackle that will play guard in the NFL. They didn’t get a corner or a safety, but they got a heck of a lot of talent at a variety of positions.
NOTES: Kiper praised instinctive Ravens rookie free agent linebacker Mike McLaughlin, who’s going to be used at fullback and linebacker. “He has awareness, he’s smart, a leader, good athlete, has issues in coverage,” Kiper said. “He ran a 4.84. Speed is the question. He did 29 reps at the combine. He’s a good athlete, just not real fast. If he ran a 4.7 instead of a 4.84, he probably would have been a fourth-round pick. He’s an undrafted free agent that will have a chance to make the team , I think.” … Running back Willis McGahee has been named the grand marshal of the annual Preakness Parade of Lights on May 14. “Baltimore is my home and to be a part of something of this much tradition and grandeur that has been identified with Baltimore for 135 years, well, that is something pretty special,” McGahee said in a statement. I am so honored to be invited to do this.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.