TIGHT END, O-LINE DEPTH ADDRESSED
By Joe Platania
Here are some thumbnail sketches on the players the Ravens have signed to their 2013 undrafted free agent class:
TE MATT FURSTENBURG, Maryland
Furstenburg was the only Terrapin invited to the annual Scouting Combine timing and testing sessions in Indianapolis, but he put on a good showing there by demonstrating fine blocking ability. An All-Conference pick, Furstenburg also caught 60 career passes for a 13-yard average and five touchdowns. A 6-foot-4, 245-pound New Jersey native, Furstenburg is one of two tight ends the Ravens signed after the draft, filling a position general manager Ozzie Newsome felt wasn't adequately addressed during the selection meeting.
G JEFF BRAUN, West Virginia
A Winters Mill High (Carroll County) graduate, Braun is a 6-foot-4, 309-pounder who earned honorable mention on the All-Big 12 Conference team during the Mountaineers' first season in their new league. He ran a 5.29 time in the 40-yard dash at the annual combine and has played both right tackle and left guard, even backing up at center early during his collegiate career. Braun had 49 knockdown blocks to lead the team in 2010 and had six or more such blocks during three games in 2011.
OLB/DE BRANDON COPELAND, Penn
Copeland, a graduate of Gilman School, is a 'tweener type that can either play with his hand in the dirt at defensive end or in a two-point stance at linebacker, just as many Ravens who came before him such as Peter Boulware, Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw. He is the second Ivy Leaguer Baltimore acquired during draft weekend, following Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Copeland's grandfather played for the Colts and his favorite player is Ray Lewis; not only that, Towson University football coaches recruited him.
WR GERRARD SHEPPARD, Towson
Like Braun and Copeland, Sheppard -- a McDonogh graduate -- also left the Charm City area, opting to sign with the University of Connecticut's fledgling program. But he transferred and spent his final two seasons with a resurgent Tiger program that made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in 2011. He has size (6-foot-2, 219 pounds), but he also possesses plenty of downfield speed, enough to contribute to the Tigers' high-scoring offense.
RB RAY HOLLEY, Louisiana Tech
One thing that had to appeal to the Ravens about Holley -- who plays a position at which the team is already well-stocked -- is that 23 NFL teams came to see him and his teammates at the campus Pro Day, which was held outdoors on the same kind of FieldTurf surface on which Baltimore plays its home games. A 5-foot-9, 200-pounder, Holley increased his passing-game contributions in 2012, as he caught 34 passes while rushing for more than 700 yards for his 9-3 team, a squad that scored 44 or more points during 11 of 12 games.
T ROGERS GAINES, Tennessee State
The 6-foot-6, 334-pound Gaines comes from a school known for developing great pass rushers, including ex-Dallas Cowboys legend Ed "Too Tall" Jones. But with quick feet and a 5.15 40-yard dash time at the combine, Gaines has proven adept at keeping blitzers off his quarterbacks.
SS BRYNDEN TRAWICK, Troy
Trawick is a former Michigan State standout who transferred to Troy, an Alabama-based former FCS program, to get more playing time. He is big (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and is a hard hitter in run support. Like most rookies and undrafted free agents, Trawick can boost his chances of making the Ravens -- or any NFL team, for that matter -- if he shines on special teams.
TE MURPHY HOLLOWAY, Mississippi
Holloway played in the Southeastern Conference, which not only dominated the first round of the draft, but was also the league with the most players taken during the draft. Not only that, all 14 schools were represented therein. Holloway, who was born in South Carolina, is yet another basketball-bred tight end in the mold of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
QB TRENT STEELMAN, Army
Steelman came closer than any signal caller during the last decade to leading the Black Knights to a win against season-ending archrival Navy, but a late fourth-quarter fumble stymied a would-be game-tying or -winning drive. The mobile Steelman ran for 96 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown, but Navy won its 11th straight during the series.
QB NATHAN STANLEY, Southeastern Louisiana
With Steelman likely having to serve his five-year military commitment, Stanley could well be the fourth training-camp body at the quarterback position, taking up a roster spot to mainly keep Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor from throwing too much and possibly developing arm problems; ex-Chicago Bear Caleb Hanie is the third-stringer.
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. He 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.
CB JOSE CHEESEBOROUGH, Florida International
Cheeseborough comes from the same school that produced pass-rushing linebacker Antwan Barnes, who left the Ravens for San Diego during free agency a few years ago. The Ravens have the philosophy that you can never have too many corners, so they are taking a flier on Cheeseborough, a player with a nose for the ball despite being a bit undersized.
T JORDAN DEVEY, Memphis
Devey is yet another 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.
Posted April 30, 2013