Baltimore Ravens: Could Ozzie Newsome Draft Another Alabama Star?


A lot of people around the NFL have openly stated that Ozzie Newsome loves his Alabama guys.

Can you blame him? The history of Alabama players drafted during the Ozzie regime is an impressive one.

It started in 2003 with Jarret Johnson, the 109th selection in Newsome’s first draft, who enjoyed a terrific nine-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. After three more seasons in San Diego, the linebacker signed a one-day contract to retire with the team that originally drafted him. His career stats will never wow you, but there is no denying his impact on the ball club.

It would be four more years before Le’Ron McClain was selected in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He proved his worth while in Baltimore as a fullback and tailback, including a sophomore season in which he scored 11 touchdowns and was named an All-Pro.

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Terrence Cody was released this offseason after facing animal cruelty charges, and is the only Alabama star that Newsome has missed on. The 2010 draft as a whole was a disappointing one for the Ravens as Dennis Pitta is the lone player remaining from his draft class.

The Ravens have selected an Alabama player with their first selection in two of the past three drafts in Courtney Upshaw and C.J. Mosley. Mosley made an instant impact and was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. Upshaw has recorded just three sacks in his career, but he is not given enough credit for his impact on the running game.

The question to be asked is if there someone in this draft Alabama class that could be in a Ravens uniform in 2015?

Amari Cooper would be a perfect fit, but unless Ozzie gives up the bank, there is no chance the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner is playing in Baltimore. A lot of draft experts have him being drafted in the top-5 picks.

The remaining draft class is up for grabs, though it is not one of the deeper classes for the Crimson Tide.

Landon Collins is a terrific prospect and is rated the top safety in this year’s draft. He is aggressive in run support, and a strong hitter. He does have the tendency to make lapses in coverage and his hands are just average, which limits his playmaking ability. While the Ravens certainly love smash mouth players, what they are lacking is a ball hawk in the secondary. It would create a serious logjam at safety with Matt Elam, Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill already on the roster and expected to contribute significantly. That’s why I don’t see it happening.

T.J. Yeldon is an intriguing case because he certainly fills a need for the Ravens and could be available anywhere from the late second to early fourth round. Baltimore is in the market for a running back after the release of Bernard Pierce in March. Yeldon is an elusive back that makes defenders miss, and has good enough hands to work in Marc Trestman’s offense. The knock on Yeldon is his fumbling woes, but if for some reason he falls to the Ravens in the third round, he could prove to be a steal. 

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Xzavier Jackson is one of those tweeners that does not have a set position in the eyes of scouts. Some view him as a defensive end in a traditional 4-3 defense, while others like his work as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. You cannot argue his numbers in 2014 as he led the Tide with nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss. He is projected to be drafted somewhere in the latter portion of the draft.

Austin Shepherd was named the replacement for D.J. Fluker, the San Diego Chargers first-round pick in the 2013 draft, and started every game at right tackle in his final two collegiate seasons. He is a smart, heady player, but lacks many of the physical traits that NFL scouts covet at offensive tackle. He will most likely be transitioned to guard due to his strength limitations. If the Ravens are interested, he should be available anywhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.

While Cooper and Collins are generating much of the hype, Deandrew White and Nick Perry are also hoping to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Jalston Fowler is viewed as the top fullback in the draft. Arie Kouandjio and Trey Depriest could have their names called on the final day of the draft. It will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on Blake Sims.

Ozzie has a track record of selecting Alabama players in most of his draft classes. He could take an Alabama star in the first round for the second year in the row. If history serves us right, there is a strong possibility that Ozzie will have another Bama alum with him to say, “Roll Tide.”

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