Quick feet to fill big shoes?

Nimble Clady could be Ogden's successor

Ravens

April 25, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

As Ryan Clady walked onto the practice field at the Ravens' complex in Owings Mills during minicamp one afternoon last week, few paid attention to the offensive tackle from Boise State in the tan business suit.

That could change tomorrow.

If the Ravens take Clady with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft, he could replace Jonathan Ogden, the 12-year anchor on the left side.

More significantly, it might also be an indication that the experiment of turning second-year tackles Jared Gaither or Marshal Yanda into Ogden's successor has ended.

Clady doesn't possess the gargantuan size of Ogden (6 feet 9, 345 pounds) or Gaither (6-9, 350), and probably isn't as strong as Yanda. But because of the 6-6, 319-pound player's quickness, many general managers and scouts are thinking the former Broncos star, who declared for the draft after his junior season, can be an NFL starter for a long time.

"He's a huge guy who's got great feet," said former Dallas Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt, who now works for the NFL. "He's going to be a really good player."

A defensive tackle in high school whose profile rose along with the college program he played for, Clady had his biggest moment at Boise State in the biggest game in school history.

On the now-famous Statue of Liberty play that freed running back Ian Johnson for the two-point conversion to beat Oklahoma, 43-42, in the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago, Clady sealed off the last potential tackler.

"I still get goose bumps when I see that play," Clady said at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February.

Boise State's season is being made into a movie, and six players from that team were invited to last year's combine.

Clady is likely to become the first Boise State player drafted in the opening round.

Asked at the combine whether his steady rise from a marginal Division I prospect to a potential top-10 NFL draft pick is stunning, Clady said: "A little bit. I just try to stay humble and thank the Lord for the situation I'm in, just being blessed."

There are some who wonder whether Clady can succeed outside Boise State's zone-blocking scheme. Clady's performance at the combine was also scrutinized, even criticized, as much as that of any offensive tackle there.

The biggest issue with Clady was his score on the controversial Wonderlic test given to rate a person's intelligence.

Clady's mark of 13 (out of 50) on the 12-minute test was far below those of other offensive linemen, including Michigan's Jake Long (26), Southern California's Sam Baker (27), Pittsburgh's Jeff Otah (28) and Vanderbilt's Chris Williams (32). According to Paul Zimmerman, author of The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football, the average score for an offensive lineman is 26.

Of that group, only Long is expected to be drafted earlier than Clady.

Brandt, who got to know Clady during a three-day photo shoot in Arizona for last year's Playboy All-America team, was "kind of shocked" to hear that Clady had scored so poorly on the Wonderlic.

"I think in three days you can find out a lot about a person, whether he's quick or slow. This guy is a very bright guy," Brandt said this week. " ... I was very impressed with him."

Not that Brandt thinks that Clady is perfect.

"Probably the only deficiency he has is strength, and you can make guys stronger. You can't make their feet quicker," Brandt said.

Brandt said the Ravens' interest in Clady is an indication that Gaither will be groomed as a right tackle.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is not yet conceding that Ogden will retire and said last week that the team doesn't plan to draft a left tackle unless that player is the best available at No. 8.

"We have an interesting situation with Gaither being here," Newsome said. "We have him on campus right now, and we got Yanda, so we've got some guys that already have been into the wars and are prepared to go ahead and play. That makes it easy for us to just set the board based on who the best players are and don't have to go out to draft. Jonathan may or may not retire. That doesn't have to factor into the equation."

But does Clady?

Notes -- Ogden has not yet told the team whether he has officially decided to retire. The 11-time Pro Bowl player previously said he would inform the team before the draft. ... The Ravens have declined to update the injury status of tight end Quinn Sypniewski, who was carted off the field during last week's minicamp. It appeared that he injured his left knee. The team doesn't want to give out information because it could put it at a strategic disadvantage heading into the draft. ... The Ravens were scheduled to hold a private workout this week with University of Miami middle linebacker Tavares Gooden. ... The Ravens attended Clemson defensive end Philip Merling's workout yesterday, along with several other NFL teams. ... The Ravens cut kicker E.J. Cochrane, who was signed this offseason.

don.markus@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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