‘Special’ draft class

The newest Ravens are expected to make impact covering kicks and blocking them

April 27, 2010|By Jamison Hensley | The Baltimore Sun

When the Ravens interviewed Sergio Kindle at the NFL combine two months ago, one of the first questions they asked the Texas linebacker about was special teams.

"And he lit up," general manager Ozzie Newsome said of his future first pick of the 2010 draft.

It will take a few years before the Ravens know whether this draft class is special, but they know this group will make an immediate impact on special teams. This doesn't come as a surprise considering coach John Harbaugh's expertise in that area.

From their second-round pick (Kindle) to one in the fifth round (Utah wide receiver David Reed), Harbaugh can envision the newest Ravens running down the field on coverage teams, returning kicks and even blocking them.

Kindle made a name for himself at Texas by sacking the quarterback, and he used that same aggressiveness on special teams, albeit with less publicity. He made 14 special teams tackles and blocked a kick for the Longhorns.

"Sergio Kindle's going to be able to run down the field on kickoffs," Harbaugh said. "He's a physical, hard-hitting kind of guy, and he's fast and he's big and he likes to play."

Even 360-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody, the second of the Ravens' two second-round picks, should have a role on special teams, although Harbaugh isn't penciling him in next to Kindle on kickoff coverage.

"He can block field goals," Harbaugh said. "He can run over offensive linemen; he's done that in the past."

In fact, Cody blocked two field goals for Alabama last season, including one that preserved a win over Tennessee.

"I didn't really get off the ground," Cody said after the game. "I just reached my arm up. That's how I got it. I knocked [the blocker] back. He was on his back."

Reed, the first of two fifth-round picks for the Ravens, could find his way onto the field as a returner.

As a junior, Reed averaged 25.4 yards on kickoff returns, third in the Mountain West Conference. With Lardarius Webb (knee) possibly out for the start of the regular season, Reed might compete with Jalen Parmele to be the primary kickoff returner.

Director of college scouting Joe Hortiz referred to Reed as "a receiver who can return kicks."

Asked about his return ability, Reed said: "I love having the ball in my hand. I feel like I can make people miss. That's what I love to do."

The Ravens' two drafted tight ends — Oregon's Ed Dickson and BYU's Dennis Pitta — are both known for their pass-catching abilities in college. But these two big and athletic players will be expected to contribute on special teams.

As a freshman, Dickson made seven tackles on special teams. Likewise, as a freshman, Pitta had a punt block that led to a touchdown.

"Football players like to be on the field and they like to play, and you've got some guys that have some unique abilities," Harbaugh said. "What's exciting to me, that you've got a bunch of guys that bring something to the table as far as size and speed that can play special teams."

Note: Weber State's Josh Morris, an undrafted rookie cornerback who was invited for a tryout with the Ravens, decided to join the Philadelphia Eagles.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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