Alabama defensive end/outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw has been a consensus top 20 draft pick in most mock drafts for months now.
However, questions about whether he will be more effective with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end or in a 3-4 as an outside linebacker have caused his stock to fall a bit, and some mocks have been projecting Upshaw as low as a No. 29 pick to the Baltimore Ravens.
While getting past pass rusher-hungry teams like New England and Green Bay may make this scenario seem less likely, it does seem a bit more feasible when you consider how many hybrid outside linebackers are projected towards the end of the first round.
Boise State's Shea McClellin has recently seen his stock shoot up into the late first round, and pass rushers like Nick Perry (USC), Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) and Andre Branch (Clemson) are all projected around those picks as well.
So if Upshaw does make it all the way to the Ravens at the end of round one, what are the chances they take him?
Judging by Ozzie Newsome's latest comments about Alabama defensive players in this draft, I'd say the chances are pretty good.
“It’s a credit to that organization down there and their ability to go recruit players and then develop them – same things we try to do here,” Newsome said. “I don’t want to tip my hand, but they are good players,” Newsome said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch them for three or four years. If one’s there, it could make our decision tough.”
It's not even out of the realm of possibility to think that the Ravens could entertain the idea of trading up two or three picks to snag Upshaw, should he be available, before New England or Green Bay has a chance.
While much remains to be seen before Thursday, one thing's for sure, if Courtney Upshaw ends up in purple and black, the Ravens will figure out a way to utilize him.