Ravens add a mountain in Alabama's Cody

Newsome reaches back to alma mater for help, comes up with run stopper

April 24, 2010|By Ken Murray | The Baltimore Sun

Whether he can't help himself or just appreciates Alabama players, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome went back to his favorite haunt late in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night.

He came away with a huge defensive tackle with an affinity for late-night snacks and crunching running backs. Terrence Cody, whose weight has ranged from 250 to 400 pounds in the past three years, is only the fifth player Newsome has drafted from Alabama, even if it seems like he's taken more.

"Everyone knows, on Saturday afternoon I'm watching Alabama football," Newsome, one of the school's most successful alums, said after putting some bite back into his defense.

"Because I'm so involved [at Alabama], it can be a detriment."

It won't be a detriment unless Cody, considered a first-round talent, eats his way out of the league. At 6-feet-3 and 354 pounds, he played nose guard at Alabama the past two years, and in 26 starts, no opposing running back gained 100 yards.

That's similar to the 39-game streak the Ravens' defense had until Cedric Benson (twice) and Adrian Peterson went over 100 yards last season. By taking pass rusher Sergio Kindle and Cody in the second round, the defense got some love.

By taking big, athletic tight end Ed Dickson of Oregon with the team's third-round pick (No. 70 overall), the Ravens got quarterback Joe Flacco another target and Todd Heap a heir apparent.

"He's very athletic," Eric DeCosta, director of player personnel, said of Dickson. "He ran a sub-4.6 [40-yard dash] at the combine. He can stretch the field, he has good hands, he's a big target. I think he's got loads of promise as a tight end. He's often detached from the line of scrimmage, but we think he's a three-down tight end. And he's got a great guy to learn from in Todd Heap."

In 52 college games (39 starts), Dickson had 124 catches for 1,557 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per catch. He was originally recruited as a defensive end.

Cody already was developing a chip on his shoulder when he spoke with Baltimore media after sliding late into the second round.

"I felt it was my weight and stuff that dropped me to this late," he said. "I mean, a lot of teams missed on a lot of things because I'm not just a run-stopper. I can do more than just that.

"I can push the pile. I can make the quarterback run outside the pocket and stuff. I can collapse the pocket. I show flashes of rushing the passer, but through my career at Alabama, I really couldn't show it. But I did show flashes of it."

Cody had six sacks in two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast College but only half a sack in two years at Alabama.

"We've had success over the years with these massive run-stuffers," DeCosta said. "Terrence is that guy."

Newsome said former Raven Stevon Moore was at Mississippi Gulf Coast College when Cody was there and supplied some background. Newsome also knows Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose 3-4 defense is similar to the Ravens'. And after Cody's visit to Baltimore last Saturday, Newsome is confident he will keep his weight under control.

"He was at a [high] weight at the Senior Bowl," Newsome said. "He was at a reduced weight at the combine, and he was at a reduced weight at his pro day. I saw him last Saturday, so I rechecked it. It's coming south.

"I think he understands that. I think he understands for him to have longevity in the league, it's as important to him as it is to us."

With Cody clogging the middle, the Crimson Tide ranked second in the nation in total defense in 2009, when it won the national championship.

Cody will compete with veteran Kelly Gregg at nose tackle this year. Having lost defensive tackle Justin Bannan to free agency, the Ravens have added Cody and free-agent Cory Redding since the end of the season.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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