Ravens load up on Canadians

Ravens load up on Canadians

The Baltimore Ravens figured prominently in what was a record day (four Canadians selected on the same day) for Canadian content in the NFL.

The Ravens selected Virginia defensive lineman Brent Urban, a six-foot-seven, 295-pound native of Mississauga, Ont., in the fourth round, No. 134 overall, before picking Winnipeg native John Urschel, an offensive lineman at Penn State, in the fifth, No. 175 overall.

“We feel like we’re getting a potential starter down the road as a five-technique defensive end,” Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said of Urban in a piece by Ryan Mnk on Baltimoreravens.com http://www.baltimoreravens.com/news/article-1/Round-4-Ravens-Draft-DE-Brent-Urban/ac761789-4c13-4737-b64f-9f0c13c46cc0.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome told Mink the Ravens started talking about Urban in their war room during the second round. So they were thrilled to get him in the fourth.

“He’s a guy that we really liked throughout the whole process,” Hortiz told Mink. “Starting in the fall, scouts went in there just recognizing the size of him. … He’s put together, he’s chiseled.”

Mink suggests that the Ravens will likely immediately use Urban to try to block kicks and punts on special teams. He could also be used as a nickel pass rusher during his rookie season while the coaches try to improve his technique. Canty is a technician who can also help mold Urban.

“He’s a raw pass rusher,” Hortiz said. “He’s got the physical traits, in terms of the burst, speed and quickness. He’s going to have to develop his hand play and pad level. The potential is there to give you an inside pass-rush presence.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh had given Urban a second-round grade before the draft and was surprised to see him still available in the fourth.

“He’s a guy when I first watched him thought second round at the latest,” Harbaugh told NFL Network. “This guy is a guy who fits our scheme perfectly, a big, strong guy who fell to us so we couldn’t be more happy with him.”

The six-foot-three, 313-pound Urschel was born in Manitoba but played at Canisuis High School in Buffalo, N.Y. He was the winner of the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s premier college football scholar athlete. It’s the NCAA’s highest athletic-academic award.

He earned a Master’s degree in mathematics with a 4.0 GPA and graduated in three years. Urschel then taught two undergraduate courses, Integral Vector Calculus Trigonometry and Analytical Geometry, during the fall and spring semesters.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told Mink he once asked a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former coach what the most important trait is for an offensive lineman. He said being smart.

“This kid that we just got is at the top of the charts,” Newsome said told Mink.

The next Canadian selected was Notre Dame receiver T.J. Jones — another Winnipeg native — who went in the sixth, No. 189 overall, to the border club Detroit Lions.

Jones’ father, played six games for the Detroit Lions in 1992 and was a defensive end on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team. His godfather is Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, a star receiver for Notre Dame from 1988-91 who started his career with the Canadian league’s Toronto Argonauts.

While Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are the starting receivers, and backups include Kris Durham, Jeremy Ross and Kevin Ogletree, the scout’s take from Nolan Nawrocki’s Draft Report on Detroitlions.com suggests that Jones is “ideal in the slot. . . . that’s where he’ll make his mark.”

Detroitlions.com’s Mike O’Hara suggests that the “fact that Jones had production in a major program gives him a chance. His family’s football background could be a help. There’s an opening for a backup with sure hands. He has a chance to grab it.”

Fellow Lions analyst Tim Twentyman suggests that “Jones has terrific hands, just like new teammate Golden Tate, who also went to Notre Dame. Jones joked on his conference call with reporters that good hands is a Notre Dame thing. He has to get stronger, but he’s a guy who can play in the slot and be productive.”

The fourth Canadian selected on the day was McGill Redmen offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who went in the sixth round, 200th overall, to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs Area Scout Pat Sperduto spoke about Duvernay-Tardif.

“We really found Larry at the East-West Shrine Game,” Kansas City Chiefs Area Scout Pat Sperduto said. “He went down there and played. It was very surprising how big and athletic he was, and he was physical. He really just surprised us at how good of an athlete he was for such a big man.” http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/article-2/Kansas-City-Chiefs-Pick-T-L-Duvernay-Tardif-/ffcefc3f-3795-46ca-be64-0a7feb0f65a4

In 2013, Duvernay-Tardif, a co-captain with the McGill Redmen, earned the Metras trophy, given to the most outstanding lineman in CIS football.

“For sure, it’s a long time to wait … but at the same time I was saying to myself, ‘There’s not much financial advantage to being drafted at that point, it’s more to get a good fit with a team,” Duvernay-Tardif told the Canadian Press during a post-draft conference call. “When I went to Kansas City I really enjoyed my time there and think I developed a good chemistry with the coaches so I was really happy the Chiefs got me.”

In 2013 Rice tight end Luke Willson, a native of LaSalle, Ont., was the lone Canadian drafted, going in the fifth round to the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks. In 2012, four players from Canada were selected.

Brent Urban, courtesy Virginiasportstv.com

Brent Urban, courtesy Virginiasportstv.com