Quinn, Ayers Sheard, Little visit the Ravens

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens conducted several visits with draft prospects over the last few days, including three first-round prospects in North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers and Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard. Ayers has drawn comparisons to Ravens Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

Ayers has previously visited the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers. Ayers has a total of 10 visits.

He also has visits with the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ayers improved his 40-yard dash significantly at his Pro Day workout from the NFL scouting combine with clockings in the 4.69 to low 4.7 range. Ayers ran a 4.84 at the combine. Ayers bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times and posted a 34 1/2 inch vertical leap. The 6-foot-3, 254-pound all-around linebacker has excellent film, but doesn't test off the charts.

However, teams are extremely high on Ayers, including the New York Giants, New England Patriots and the New York Jets. As a sophomore, Ayers recorded 14 1/2 tackles for losses, six sacks and four interceptions as he returned two for touchdowns and two forced fumbles with one returned for a score. As a junior, Ayers recorded 68 tackles, 10 tackles for losses, four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

He was voted third-team All-American, was a finalist for the Butkus Award and was named first-team All-Pac 10 Conference. Quinn and fellow Tar Heel Greg Little, a wide receiver, visited the Ravens on Thursday. Quinn visited the Buffalo Bills earlier this week. Quinn solidified his upper first-round draft status with a blazing 4.57 time in the 40-yard dash at the Tar Heels' Pro Day workout after running a 4.62 at the NFL scouting combine. Plus, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder also bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times and registered a 10-5 broad jump. Quinn was suspended for the entire season last year due to NCAA violations by accepting two expensive watches. And he declared for the NFL draft one year removed from recording 11 sacks as a sophomore along with 19 tackles for losses and six forced fumbles.

Projected as one of the top 10 selections in the NFL draft, Quinn is no stranger to adversity as he had brain surgery for a benign tumor during his senior year of high school. Known for his explosive burst as a pass rusher, Quinn has rare speed, flexibility and capability to bend and turn the corner.

"I feel that my speed off the edge is unmatched," Quinn told the Carroll County Times in a recent e-mail interview. "They love my ability to rush the passer, but they want me to work on my run contain and they showed concern about me not playing this year." Quinn said he has learned from his mistakes. "It was horrible," he said. "It was the worst feeling not being able to play and letting my teammates down. I believe it will make me appreciate the game even more." Sheard met with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday. Sheard is going to Indianapolis this weekend for a combine recheck of his surgically repaired elbow.

Sheard is graded as a late first-round or early second-round target. The 6-foot-3, 264-pounder was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year last season, recording 52 tackles, 14 1/2 for losses, nine sacks and four forced fumbles. He shined even though fellow defensive end standout Greg Romeus was out for most of the season with injuries. As a junior, he posted 42 tackles, 10 1/2 for losses, five sacks and 12 quarterback hurries. As a sophomore, he registered 45 tackles, 10 1/2 for losses, 5 1/2 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. Sheard offers positional flexibility as a potential 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks. He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Little was also suspended for the entire season due to NCAA violations involving his dealings with an agent. Little impressed at his Pro Day workout with a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, a 38-inch vertical leap and a 10-10 broad jump. He registered a 4.19 in the short shuttle. Recruited as a wide receiver, Little also played some running back and quarterback in Chapel Hill. As a junior, he caught 62 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns. Little is a big, strong downfield target with good body control and hands and is tough to bring down in the open field after the catch. As a sophomore, he rushed for 339 yards and three touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 146 yards. During his freshman year, Little ran for 300 yards and two touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown. He was a Super Prep All-American in high school who lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, safety and cornerback, also playing basketball and running track. Meanwhile, Richmond cornerback Justin Rogers has conducted a private workout for the Ravens.

Rogers has also worked out for another undisclosed AFC team. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 and 4.42 seconds at his campus Pro Day workout. He registered a 6.69 in the three-cone drill and a 4.20 in the short shuttle. The three-time all-conference selection also returned kicks and averaged 30.4 yards per kickoff return as a freshman, returning two for touchdowns. As a sophomore, he intercepted seven passes. Last season, he led the league with a 12.4 punt return average and recorded 48 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also lined up on offense with five rushes, three receptions and completed both of his two passing attempts.

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