Ravens have their eye on Pollack

OWINGS MILLS – The relentless nature and pass rushing skills of gritty Georgia defensive end David Pollack might coincide with the Baltimore Ravens' draft plans.<br><br> In a scenario akin to how safety Ed Reed managed to drop to Baltimore with the 24th overall pick in 2002, Pollack is another highly productive, studious prospect who some teams may downgrade because of his lack of ideal computer numbers.

The Ravens are highly impressed with Pollack and would likely consider him for their No. 22 overall pick of the first round even though this isn't regarded as a strong defensive line class.

At 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, Pollack doesn't pass scouts' size test and only covers 40 yards in 4.79 seconds. However, the Lombardi and Ted Hendricks award winner draws high marks for intangibles, strength (bench presses 425 pounds, squats 700 pounds) and top-end production with 33 career sacks.

Compared often to New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, Pollack probably fits in best as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. He might even be capable of converting to inside linebacker.

"If we're lucky enough to get him, we need to sit him down beforehand and see if our plan matches what he would like to do in this league," said Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome, who said he would host Pollack at the Ravens' training complex. "One thing we know about him, whenever we get into our passing situations, we know he could be one of our rushers."

Observing how Newsome has operated during free agency may indicate what he'll look for in the draft.

Although Baltimore wasn't able to sign Kevin Carter or Seth Payne, they contacted agents for both defensive linemen. The Ravens tried to work a trade for Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Corey Simon, but contract talks with his agent hit an impasse.

Plus, the Ravens' entire defensive line totaled only 11 sacks last season with the 1 ½ from nose guard Kelly Gregg representing the only pass rush from the interior line. Baltimore didn't re-sign end Marques Douglas, who led the defensive line with 5 ½ sacks.

In a planned shift to the 4-3 from the 3-4, Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who led the team with 10 ½ sacks, will start at left end with Tony Weaver moving to right end.

Which brings us back to Pollack, who plays in a perpetually angry mood as if he's disturbed that people doubt him.

"He's a great player," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "The thing that separates Pollack from a lot of players is he plays extremely hard every play.

"I don't want to compare him to Michael McCrary, but to me he's got that type of competitiveness. He becomes a fan favorite because he's so tenacious."

Pollack even has a key to the Georgia weight room.

"You have to play like your hair is on fire," Pollack said.

Georgia defensive ends coach David Fabris described Pollack as a devout Christian who transforms once he's on the field.

"On the field, he's an Old Testament Christian," Fabris said. "He believes in an eye for an eye."

Florida State defensive tackle Travis Johnson is a 6-3, 298-pounder regarded as the headliner of a thin defensive tackle class.

Johnson has been linked to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 17, but he might warrant a move up or being picked at No. 22 if he's there.

"I think in terms of defensive tackles, Travis Johnson is the marquee guy and there is a good chance he goes before we pick," DeCosta said. "I wouldn't say it's a great year for defensive tackles. That's not a deep, deep position."

The Ravens plan to start Gregg at one defensive tackle spot and have Maake Kemoeatu and Dwan Edwards compete in training camp.

Like other franchises, the Ravens are likely to push down defensive tackles like Wisconsin's Anttaj Hawthorne (positive marijuana test) and Northwestern's Luis Castillo (admitted steroid use), on their draft board.

Other players the Ravens would likely have an interest in during the first day include: Oklahoma defensive end Dan Cody, USC tackle/end Shaun Cody (no relation), roughneck Iowa defensive end Matt Roth or Iowa defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.

Dan Cody, who registered 22 sacks over the last two seasons, left the Sooners football team in 2001 to seek treatment for clinical depression.

"The death of my grandma a few months before that, I think could have easily triggered it, we were pretty close," Cody said. "I feel like it's something that has been conquered."

In particular, Roth and Dan Cody appear to have the aggressive mentality and pass rushing ability that the Ravens covet.

"Dan Cody is a warrior," DeCosta said. "Matt Roth would be in that same vein."

NOTE: Wide receiver Kevin Johnson, who led the Ravens last season with 35 receptions, signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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