Shopping at corner market could prove fruitful

ON THE RAVENS

NFL draft

April 12, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

Word around the NFL has the Ravens possibly taking Troy cornerback Leodis McKelvin with the No. 8 pick in the NFL draft later this month. There are some who would consider that a stretch, but McKelvin does have a favorable upside.

Because of his versatility, McKelvin is the kind of player Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome likes. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound McKelvin is also a returner who averaged 17.4 yards on punts and 23.2 yards on kickoffs last season.

Of course, his primary function with the Ravens would be as a corner, either as a starter or a nickel back behind Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.

McKelvin fits the prototype for the Ravens because he is athletic and can succeed in any scheme. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, which allows him to stay stride for stride with any receiver.

He is a hitter but needs to improve his technique as far as tackling. The Ravens are expected to have him at their training camp soon for a visit, but so is another team that reportedly covets him - the New England Patriots.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, New England picks at No. 7. If the Patriots take McKelvin, the Ravens might have some other options at corner in South Florida's Mike Jenkins or possibly Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Hands-on Harbaugh

First-year coach John Harbaugh will leave the play-calling to coordinators Rex Ryan (defense) and Cam Cameron (offense), but Harbaugh will be in control.

He might be a rookie, but he's no dummy.

"I'm going to be involved in every part of our team, know as much as I can within reason of our systems," Harbaugh said. "I'm going to be fluent in our language, so to speak, so I'll be able to guide the personality of our team, and our strategy and attack on game day.

Ogden playing coy

Ravens left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times in his 12 NFL seasons, visited Baltimore recently for an autograph session during a 2000 Super Bowl team reunion.

Ogden hasn't informed management yet, but he did tell some of his former teammates that he was going to retire before the start of the 2008 season.

That's no surprise, but it's about time Ogden let team officials know about his decision. But knowing Ogden, and his desire to stay out of the limelight, he might let Newsome know through a text message.

All in the family

Remember a few years ago when the Ravens had Ogden and his little brother, Marques, on the roster? Marques got a tryout, more or less, as a courtesy to his big brother.

Well, will that apply to Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis? His little brother, Keon Lattimore, is projected as a mid- to late-round pick. Lattimore, a running back, played high school football at Mount St. Joseph before moving on to the University of Maryland.

If he doesn't get a shot with the Ravens, some team will sign him. Lattimore has potential.

Don't back down

I liked Ravens place-kicker Matt Stover taking on NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw. Word leaked out that Stover, like many other players, wants new representation in place of Upshaw.

But soon afterward, Stover backed down a little once his view became public and Upshaw became upset.

I think Stover should just man up and continue to say what's on his mind. There are a lot of players, former and current, tired of Upshaw's bullying methods.

M. Ryan's stock down?

If Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan falls to No. 8 in the draft, Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting, won't be totally surprised.

DeCosta, though, won't say whether the Ravens would select him.

"You know, I think there is a phenomenon," DeCosta said. "I've seen it now for the last three or four years, where the top quarterback, for whatever reason, starts taking on water and starts receiving a lot of criticism. [Ryan] ... might drop down a bit."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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