Can The 2013 Undrafted Class Contribute To Ravens History?Posted on May 14, 2013
By Joe Platania
Football fans know how prolific the Ravens have been with the NFL Draft as they attempt to leave significant marks on their past, present and future.
For the most part, the team has done an outstanding job acquiring future players that have made significant contributions to the team's present, while leaving a mark on the team's legacy.
But even after the final draft pick, known as "Mr. Irrelevant," heard his name called at Radio City Music Hall, the organization has been hard at work ferreting out those people who, despite improved scouting coverage and the media's broadening scope during the past few decades, somehow did not land one of the coveted 250-plus draft spots.
The Ravens' roll call of star undrafted free agents is long and impressive: Priest Holmes, Will Demps, Bart Scott, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Justin Tucker and many more.
Before this year's rookie minicamp at the team's Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, the Ravens signed another 14 undrafted players. All of them are hungry youngsters, who got an opportunity during the three-day camp to show how eager they were to write their own names in Baltimore football history.
But they could do only so much running in shorts -- at half-speed most of the time -- and competing against other rookies. They will have to show more in late May and early June, when the team's organized team activity practices and mandatory three-day minicamp take place.
They will also have to ramp up their learning curve and on-field applications in late July, when training camp begins and the players don pads. As intense as head coach John Harbaugh is, even he has said the rookies' first on-field work doesn't carry a lot of weight as to how the Ravens' coaching staff evaluates their future with the team.
"There's no big thing," Harbaugh said. "It's just an introduction, really, to how we do things here. It's a chance to evaluate a little bit. There [are] a lot of things going on: evaluation, teaching, indoctrination into the way we do things. [It was] very productive. They came a long way in three days."
Which members of this year's undrafted class stand the best chance of making a Ravens roster already beset by offseason turmoil, despite its Super Bowl champion status?
Here are those who we feel could possibly stick with the team when the season begins in September, or at least get a practice-squad berth.
LB Brandon Copeland, Penn
Copeland could follow the same path undrafted players such as Scott, Ellerbe and McClain blazed for him at a position group that is still lacking a bit in depth.
A Gilman School graduate, Copeland could become one of two former Ivy League players to make this year's 53-man roster, along with drafted fullback Kyle Juszczyk (Harvard). Copeland earned three straight All-League first-team honors by having track-bred speed as well as a good sense of where the ball is going. During his senior year alone, Copeland racked up five quarterback sacks and had 8.5 tackles for losses.
Longtime Baltimore Colts fans will remember his grandfather, defensive end Roy Hilton, who played part of his 11-year career with the team while it made two Super Bowl appearances (III, V), splitting the two games.
S Brynden Trawick, Troy
General manager Ozzie Newsome is fond of saying that you can't have too many cover men, and he also said this year's crop of college players included safeties the Ravens were interested in drafting during every round. With so much talent at the position, it was inevitable that players such as Trawick would fall through the draft's cracks.
Trawick comes from Troy, a former Football Championship Subdivision school that has previously had fast, aggressive defenses; one of its former players is Dallas Cowboys sack artist DeMarcus Ware.
For his part, Trawick (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) had several interceptions and pass breakups per season, earning first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors and using pure speed to run back pickoffs 70 and 67 yards for touchdowns.
But Trawick's size hasn't held him back as far as his speed is concerned, which could be a valuable asset on special teams. In high school, Trawick blocked two extra-point attempts.
T J.J. 'Unga, Midwestern State
Talk about the ultimate sleeper: a junior-college transfer who landed at a Division II school, but, despite playing competition most observers would find inferior, led the best offensive line in school history and did so with a 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame and good physical tools.
'Unga is versatile, a coveted quality during the salary-cap era, for he played near-equal amounts of left and right tackle at Midwestern. That could come in handy if left tackle Bryant McKinnie's re-signing doesn't work out, or if injuries cause another line shuffle like the one the Ravens went through late during the 2012 season.
The Midwestern State line 'Unga anchored allowed four sacks during 11 games last year and helped block for a running attack that produced 323 yards per game.
CB Moe Lee, Utah
The same college football program that produced linebacker Paul Kruger for the Ravens can boast about Lee, a 6-foot, 191-pounder with 4.61 40-yard dash speed, although he has previously been timed as low as 4.50.
Lee is a junior college transfer who had four interceptions during two seasons with the Utes, as well as a 47-yard touchdown off a fumble return against Brigham Young his senior year.
Lee was one of two players that attended the rookie minicamp and impressed the Ravens' brass so much that the team signed him to an active-roster contract days after the sessions ended.
T Jordan Devey, Memphis
Devey is a tall, rangy prospect (6-foot-6, 317 pounds) the Ravens are throwing into the mix at tackle. He has 5.24 40-yard dash speed and has recovered well from Osgood-Schlatter disease, a knee condition that kept him from playing in high school.
After passing his time playing the tuba, he got back on the field at Memphis and played at every spot on the line except center, but mostly at left guard and tackle.
Issue 185: May 2013