Ravens keeping an eye out for blockers

OWINGS MILLS – Although the Baltimore Ravens' entire offensive line remains intact, the team isn't averse toward casting its collective gaze on a diverse class of blockers.<br><br> The AFC North champions return all five starters from the group that created pathways for Jamal Lewis to run through for a league-high 2,066 rushing yards.<br>

Yet, the Ravens still might have an eye on depth-building when they are on the clock in the second round with the 51st overall pick.

"I think we would follow the premise we've always followed if it was going to be a lineman, so it would be the best lineman there at that point," offensive line coach Jim Colletto said. "It could be a tackle. It could be a guard. It could be a center. There's not a whole lot of space here for a guy coming in, but we will take a good look."

In most scenarios, the top-rated players in terms of grade and value at that point would be offensive guards Chris Snee and Justin Smiley of Boston College and Alabama, respectively, center Jake Grove or Georgia Tech junior offensive tackle Nat Dorsey.

"I like Dorsey a lot," Colletto said.

Dorsey is 6-foot-6, 325 pounds with a slow 40-yard dash time of 5.44 seconds and has had a history of shoulder problems. He has had trouble keeping on weight and maintaining his intensity. 

However, he was a three-year starter in the Atlantic Coast Conference at left tackle and allowed only four career sacks.

Snee and Smiley are both compact, accomplished interior blockers at 6-2, 315 pounds and 6-3, 300 pounds. Both are known for having tremendous work ethics. Smiley owns Alabama weightlifting records and leadership awards.

"Both are very similar in that they're very strong, physical guards," Colletto said. "They are short and hard to push around."

A prep standout defensive lineman from Pennsylvania, Snee operates with sound leverage and qualifies as a tough guy.

"Chris Snee is a pretty good football player who figures to be a good player in the next couple of seasons," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said.

Grove won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top guard and graded out at 91.8 percent blocking efficiency last season. He was a unanimous All-American selection.

"Grove could play guard, too, which we like any of our interior guys to be able to do," Colletto said.

Purdue junior tackle Kelly Butler has the athleticism that NFL teams seek, and the height at 6-7 and 323 pounds.

"He's a really tall guy like Jonathan Ogden," Colletto said. "He needs a lot of work on his run blocking, but has good athletic skills."

USC tackle Jacob Rogers has plenty of experience at leading the Trojans' line and has an extensive background in pass-blocking. At 6-5, 305 pounds, he's somewhat undersized in today's super-sized NFL and would need to add some weight to play right tackle.

"Rogers comes from a real good program," Colletto said. "He's not overly big at 305 pounds, but he's a good athlete."

University of Florida offensive tackle Max Starks is gigantic at 6-7, 348 pounds. His stamina has occasionally been an issue, and the former mortician's helper has weighed as much as 380 pounds.

"Starks is a possibility, too," Colletto said. "Like many of these players, he's a developmental guy who's not going to come in and set the world on fire."

Since the season ended, Baltimore has signed center Mike Flynn and right tackle Orlando Brown to long-term contracts and retained restricted free agent right guard Bennie Anderson. Ogden and Pro Bowl alternate guard Mulitalo are mainstays on the left side.

"If we had to play tomorrow, we would know the guys we would take the field with," Colletto said. "There are some good guys out there in the draft, though. If we're lucky enough to get a guy or two, we'll give them a shot and see what they can do."

NOTE: Ravens starting quarterback Kyle Boller will take part in a round-table discussion with other NFL players as part of ESPN's draft coverage this weekend.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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