Sunday, April 27, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Blog - Live

Okay, I'm a little late to the party as I spent all of day 1 of the 2008 NFL Draft working for the Ravens at their 11th Annual Spring Football Festival. I may have missed the chance to blog the big picks live, but I did get to watch some of the coverage in Steve Biscotti's suite alongside Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, Matt Stover and Adam Terry. So don't feel too bad for me. (Editor's Note: My SFF recap will be posted in the next day or two.)

I'll recap the first two picks quick and I'll try to add links and video throughout the day:

1. Joe Flacco - QB, Delaware (Rd 1, No. 18)
The Ravens rumors went back and forth as the draft began, with Sal Pal reporting that Baltimore was looking to trade up to #2 to get Matt Ryan. Apparently the Rams wanted too much and the Ravens decided to move down the line instead, trading with the Jaguars and settling into the 26 slot. But that wasn't enough as the Ravens brass in the war room wanted to make sure they got their guy, so after trading back up to 18 with the Texans, the Ravens made a Blue Hen the new face of the Baltimore franchise.

2. Ray Rice - RB, Rutgers (Rd 2, No. 55)
Finally, Ray Rice is on my team. Let me explain. Four years ago, Rice had committed to play his college football in Central New York at my alma mater, Syracuse University. But the 'Cuse fired their head coach before what would have been Rice's frosh season, Paul Pasqualoni, after years of mediocrity. Rice reversed course and chose Rutgers, leading the Scarlet Knights to national prominence for the first time in 30 years.

Now on to day 2 and after all their maneuvering on the first day of the draft, the Ravens have 9 picks today. 9! It's time to build a team.

3. Tavares Gooden - LB, Miami (Rd 3, No. 71)
Another #52 from Miami. Could lighting strike twice? The ESPN crew pointed out that most of the Ravens current linebacking core are entering the final contract year and Gooden is a good bet to add depth and possibly start in his sophomore season.

4. Tom Zbikowski - S, Notre Dame (Rd 3, No. 86)
The boxer! Zbikowski is actually an amateur boxer, but he was also the heart and soul of Notre Dame the last few years, regardless of the team's record. His all out hustle and hard hits made him a man to avoid if you were playing against the Irish.

5. Oniel Cousins - G, UTEP (Rd 3, No. 99)
I've never heard of this guy. But how many guards do you really know in the NFL Draft? In fact, how many guards do you know who are actually in the NFL and not on your favorite team. It's a lackluster position, but the NFL Network guys describe Cousins as "mean" and another "Harbaugh guy". Well, I couldn't find any YouTube clips for Cousins, but here are some 2007 UTEP highlights - I'm sure he played a role in some of those runs.

6. Marcus Smith - WR, New Mexico (Rd 4, No. 106)
A tough wide receiver who also excels on special teams sounds about right for Harbaugh and for the Ravens. Although Mason, Clayton and Williams comprise a sound triumvirate of wide outs, the one knock on all of them have been their ability to go up and catch the tough pass in traffic. This guy is strong and finished among the top ten in the bench press among wide receivers at the 2008 Combine. No video on Smith either, but here is some soothing footage of the 2006 Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.

7. **TRADE** The Ravens traded their 2nd pick of the 4th round (No. 125 overall) to the Oakland Radiers for CB Fabian Washington.

8. David Hale - OT, Weber State (Rd 4, No. 133)
Another offensive lineman, another name you and I didn't know until now. But take a look at his profile photo on - can you say Tony Pashos 2.0?

9. Haruki Nakamura - FS, Cincinnati (Rd 6, No. 206)

It took a while, but after watching 72 guys go off the board, the Ravens finally had a chance to make another selection. Their choice? Haruki Nakamura, another hard-hitting safety with a nose for the ball and work-ethic worthy of a special teams slot for Coach Harbaugh.

10. Justin Harper - WR, Virgina Tech (Rd 7, No. 215)
Another wide receiver for the Ravens whose height, 6'4" was probably the most important stat to focus on in the war room. On the same team as Eddie Royal, its only fitting that his most memorable play in college was caused by Royal in the 2008 Orange Bowl:

11. Allen Patrick - RB, Oklahoma (Rd 7, No. 240)
The final pick for the Ravens in the 2008 NFL Draft was the back-up at OU to the breakout start of the 2007 Draft, Adrian Peterson. Patrick split time with AD in '06 and served as the featured back for the Sooners in '07. One can only hope he still keeps Peterson on speed dial to get some advice on how to handle defensive fronts in the NFL.

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