Baltimore Ravens

Assessing Every Baltimore Ravens UDFA's Chances of Making Final Roster

Shehan PeirisCorrespondent IIIMay 27, 2014

Assessing Every Baltimore Ravens UDFA's Chances of Making Final Roster

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Undrafted free agents signed by the Baltimore Ravens don't have the same expectations as they do around the league. The Ravens have a history of finding gems that fall through seven rounds because they're not big, strong, fast or skilled enough. Furthermore, the Baltimore coaching staff rewards hard work and good play, which means that all of the UDFAs on the roster right now have a chance to latch on with this team.

    It would be unrealistic, of course, to suggest that all of them make the practice squad (there isn't enough room) let alone the final roster. And with a ton of priority free agents on the roster—the by-product of an exceptionally deep draft—they are competing against each other for the reward of an extended stay in Baltimore.

    This list will break down the players' strengths, weaknesses and the roles they would fill on the team to give you an idea of what to keep an eye on during OTAs and training camp. Moreover, the players are organized by likelihood of making the team (starting with the longshots and ending with some players that stand a very good chance of making the final roster).

    Make sure you remember these names. If history is any indicator (and it usually is), at least one of these free agents will be a diamond in the rough.

     

    Note: All heights and weights are from the official Baltimore Ravens roster page

16. Jeremy Butler, WR, Tennessee-Martin

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    Vitals: 6’2”, 224 pounds

    Career Stats: 141 receptions for 1,953 yards and 20 TDs (two seasons)

    Honors: 2013 third-team All-FCS

     

    Strengths

    • Good size for the receiver position
    • Displayed solid hands at his pro day, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com
    • Dominant playmaker at the FCS level

     

    Weaknesses

    • Doesn’t boast the speed to be anything more than a possession receiver
    • How will his game translate against better competition?

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    There are plenty of young receivers on the roster, but this is a position where undrafted free agents have turned heads in the past (like Deonte Thompson and LaQuan Williams).

    Butler will really have to impress in a short window to crack the final roster and he’ll also have to show a willingness to make his bones on special teams.

    Because of his small-school background, the coaching staff could view him as a higher-upside prospect, which could earn him a spot on the practice squad, but that seems like Butler’s best chance of remaining a Raven.

15. Dexter Moody, FS, Albany State

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    TODD STONE/Associated Press

    Vitals: 6’1”, 213 pounds

    2013 Stats: 10 games, 38 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs

    Honors: 2012 first-team All-SIAC

     

    Strengths

    • Good size for safety position
    • Led SIAC in INTs in 2012, so he has ability to make plays on football

     

    Weaknesses

    • Didn’t build off a very good 2012 season
    • Playmaker in coverage but questionable range and speed

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    As a converted linebacker, Dexter Moody projects best at strong safety—where Matt Elam is firmly entrenched as the long-term starter—so he’s not challenging for a starting role any time soon.

    Despite this fact, he has a knack for making plays and coming up with the ball, and he’ll have to work his way up from special teams.

    In the long run, his size and ball skills make him an intriguing developmental safety but he’s raw right now so the practice squad should be his goal.

14. Jace Davis, WR, Northern Colorado

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Vitals: 6’1”, 206 pounds

    Career Stats: 43 games, 162 receptions for 2,470 yards and 16 TDs

    Honors: 2010 first-team All-Big Sky, honorable mention for 2012 All-Big Sky

     

    Strengths

    • Good size-speed combination
    • Excellent production at Northern Colorado

     

    Weaknesses

    • Like Jeremy Butler, lack of elite competition is a concern

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    It’s close between Butler and Davis, but I’ll give Davis the edge because he has the speed to be a deep threat in the NFL (he averaged 15.2 yards per catch for his career).

    Everything I said for Butler applies here, and Davis is a candidate for the practice squad since the 53-man roster looks unlikely at this point.

13. Zachary Orr, LB, North Texas

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    Vitals: 6’0”, 237 pounds

    Career Stats: 46 games, 365 tackles, 5 sacks, 25 TFL, 3 INTs, 4 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 11 passes defended

    Honors: 2013 first-team All-Conference USA, 2012 second-team All-Conference USA

     

    Strengths

    • Has a nose for the ball and is always around the play
    • Good athleticism and speed allows him to flow to the football

     

    Weaknesses

    • Lack of size so he could struggle in a 3-4 defense
    • Didn’t play great competition at North Texas

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Much like the next guy on this list, Zachary Orr’s path to the final roster will be on special teams. The Ravens have a knack for developing undrafted linebackers (Bart Scott, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe), but Orr is a project right now.

    He looks like a practice squad candidate, and he’d have to separate himself on special teams to earn a spot on the 53-man squad.

12. Xavius Boyd, LB, Western Kentucky

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6'2", 239 pounds

    Career Stats: 48 games, 258 tackles, 28.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks

    Honors: 2013 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, 2013 first-Team All-Sun Belt

     

    Strengths

    • Athletic linebacker with quickness and agility you want in modern NFL
    • Highly experienced and productive at Western Kentucky
    • Good instincts against run
    • Solid tackler when he has a free run at the ball-carrier

     

    Weaknesses

    • Undersized with a lean frame—especially for a 3-4 defense
    • Struggles to shed blockers
    • Raw in terms of reading plays and knowing assignments and gap/edge responsibilities
    • Uses hands more than feet in coverage which will draw flags and cause him to get beaten in the NFL

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Boyd is nothing more than a special-teamer and a raw developmental inside linebacker at this point. He definitely has the athletic ability to mature nicely in the Ravens system, but the glut of young linebackers means that he’s likely headed to the practice squad if he sticks with the team.

    His quickest route to the final roster would be as a core special teams player, and that’s somewhat feasible considering his athletic upside and the emphasis Baltimore places on the third phase.

11. A.J. Pataiali’i, DT, Utah State

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Vitals: 6’3”, 307 pounds

    Career Stats: 27 games, 66 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks

    Honors: 2013 second-team All-Mountain West

     

    Strengths

    • Stout frame with good size to play nose tackle in NFL

     

    Weaknesses

    • Not a lot of experience at Utah State (a small school) so it may take him longer than some other prospects to adjust

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    There are a plethora of defensive tackles and nose guards on this UDFA list, and they are all battling for the opportunity to get into the mix along the Ravens D-line.

    With so much depth at the position, it’ll be hard to crack the final roster unless an injury occurs, but Pataiali’i could be an intriguing sleeper to keep an eye on if he makes the practice squad.

10. Avery Patterson, CB, Oregon

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    Vitals: 5’8”, 191 pounds

    Career Stats: 50 games, 198 tackles, 21 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 7 INTs, 3 pick-sixes

     

    Strengths

    • Terrific tackler when he uses sound form
    • Aggressive in run support
    • Versatile defender that played at safety in 2013 and cornerback previously
    • Natural ball skills and has ability to be a playmaker in secondary

     

    Weaknesses

    • Leaves his feet too frequently to make the big hits
    • He can take poor angles in coverage and run support which cause him to get burned
    • Lacks ideal size

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Avery Patterson is competing with all the other undrafted CBs on the roster, but his speed and ball skills are impressive. At his size, he’ll have to be very technically sound to come in and contribute as a rookie but he has a lot of long-term potential.

    His lack of size hurts him on this team, however, because Lardarius Webb often kicks inside to cover the slot in nickel packages, and Patterson will be at a serious disadvantage on the outside.

9. Brett Van Sloten, OL, Iowa

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Vitals: 6’5”, 301 pounds

    Career Stats: 48 games

    Honors: 2013 second-team All-Big Ten, Academic All-Big Ten in all four years at Iowa, Team captain in 2013

     

    Strengths

    • Steady player, doesn’t make many mental mistakes
    • Strong run-blocker that gets to the second level well

     

    Weaknesses

    • Lack of foot speed will cause him to struggle against pass-rushers, so projects best at guard
    • Spent most of his career at tackle so could take some time to get acclimated to a new position

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Brett Van Sloten is a developmental lineman, and he isn’t as polished as some of the other linemen we’ll get to in the later portion of this slideshow.

    He projects as a solid backup at the next level, but even then he’ll need at least a year in the practice squad to mature physically and refine his technique, footwork and hand placement.

8. Ayodeji (Deji) Olatoye, CB, North Carolina A&T

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Vitals: 6’1”, 198 pounds

    Career Stats: 21 games, 78 tackles, 5 INTs, 18 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries

     

    Strengths

    • Intriguing size and length—the type of corner everyone is looking for nowadays
    • Played some free safety and brings some versatility to the table

     

    Weaknesses

    • Transferred from Colorado after being suspended indefinitely so potential for off-field concerns
    • Weak competition means transition could be difficult

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    With only four cornerbacks on the roster right now, the best (and most ready) UDFA corner has an excellent chance of making the roster.

    It’s unlikely that any of them are ready for the prominence of a No. 3 role, but Olatoye’s size and athleticism make him an exciting long-term prospect. If he can’t make the final squad, his size gives him more upside and therefore a slight advantage over the other cornerbacks when it comes to making the practice squad.

7. Sammy Seamster, CB, Middle Tennessee State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6’0”, 200 pounds

    Career Stats: 46 games, 56 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defended, 4 fumbles forced, 2 fumbles recovered

     

    Strengths

    • Big frame is a trait teams are coveting in their cornerbacks
    • Excellent athlete with tremendous speed and agility for his size

     

    Weaknesses

    • Raw and was not a full-time starter in college
    • Questionable eyes and anticipation
    • Needs a great deal of technical refinement

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    As a prospect, Seamster seems like the rawest one of the UDFA cornerbacks, but he has impressed so far in training camp, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun.

    If Seamster can wrap his head around the technical aspect of the game, he’s the favorite of all the CBs to make the roster thanks to his tantalizing physical tools.

    A lot of coaching is necessary, but it would be surprising to see him not make the practice squad at the very least.

6. Levi Brown, DT, Temple

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6’2”, 310 pounds

    Career Stats: 43 games, 72 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

    Honors: Team captain in 2013

     

    Strengths

    • Thick build and very strong in both upper and lower body
    • Can anchor against double teams in the middle of the trenches
    • Good agility and a quick first step for his size

     

    Weakness

    • Short arms that hurt his ability to disengage from blocks
    • Plays too high and doesn’t bend very well
    • Doesn’t provide anything in the way of a pass-rusher

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Brown is best suited to play nose tackle—like Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan and Terrence Cody. The depth at the position means that he’s a long shot to make the roster. He’ll need to show an awful lot in the minicamp/training camp process to convince the coaching staff that he’s strong enough to warrant a spot on the final roster.

    He used a good pro day workout to catch the eye of NFL scouts, but he’s still a raw player with limited upside.

    That said, if he can prove that he’s a sturdy nose guard against the run, he could challenge Cody for the role of a two-down run-stuffer to clog the middle of the line. The practice squad is the more likely option if he stays with the team, but there are a few other undrafted nose tackles with better chances of impressing the coaches.

5. Parker Graham, OL, Oklahoma State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6’7”, 308 pounds

    Career Stats: 41 games (31 starts)

    Honors: 2013 first-team All-Big 12 (AP and Coaches’ Polls), three-time academic All-Big 12 honoree

     

    Strengths

    • Excellent size and length to play tackle
    • Versatile player that started at left tackle, right tackle and right guard at Oklahoma State
    • Smart (at least academically) which should mean he’s able to pick up blocking scheme and assignments quickly

     

    Weaknesses

    • Doesn’t have a particularly strong base and gets pushed off line of scrimmage too frequently
    • Lack of great footwork means he projects better at guard than tackle
    • Average athleticism limits his upside

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Although there is a vacancy at right tackle, Graham doesn’t seem to be a candidate for the opening—that falls on another UDFA we’ll get to later.

    Graham needs some work, but his intelligence and versatility are traits the Ravens covet in their linemen. As such, he may be resigned to the practice squad this season but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the roster as a reliable backup in future years.

4. Richie Leone, P, Houston

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6’3”, 211 pounds

    Career Stats: 51 games, 219 punts for 9,430 yards (43.1 average)

    Honors: Semifinalist for Ray Guy award 2011-13, 2013 Second-team All-AAC, 2012 First-team All-Conference USA

     

    Strengths

    • Tremendous leg strength
    • Versatility (handled punt, kickoff and place-kicking duties for the Cougars)

     

    Weaknesses

    • A non-factor in punt coverage
    • Could stand to decrease his wind up and release

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Sam Koch was inconsistent at the start of the 2013 season, and he was a trendy pick to be a cap casualty this offseason thanks to a cap figure of $2.8 million this year and $3.1 million in 2015, via Spotrac.

    Leone was a good punter in college and also handled kickoff and field-goal duties for Houston and though that won’t be necessary in Baltimore he would provide some nice insurance if Justin Tucker gets injured.

    Additionally, those weaknesses aren't glaring ones (especially the first one—that could be said of most of the NFL punters)

    If Leone is at all comparable to Koch, it would make financial sense to go with the younger, cheaper option so he has a decent chance of making the roster—better than most on this list.

3. Jamie Meder, DT/DE, Ashland

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    Vitals: 6’2”, 304 pounds

    Career Stats: 44 games, 247 tackles, 14 sacks, 35 TFL

    Honors: Two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2013 American Football Coaches Association first-team All-American

     

    Strengths

    • Good functional strength allows him to hold his own at the line of scrimmage
    • Violent and effective use of hands to move blockers and make plays
    • Excellent balance and leverage means that he is rarely out of position
    • Competitive, tough, versatile and a leader
    • Dominated at Division-II level

     

    Weaknesses

    • He physically dominated his competition at Ashland. Can he do the same in the NFL?
    • Limited burst and first-step explosiveness
    • Not much of a pass-rusher at this point (but has potential)

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Jamie Meder figures to be a factor in the intense competition for roster spots along the defensive line. His Division-II experience may mean that he’ll need a year or two to get acclimated (both mentally and physically) to the professional game.

    He doesn’t have the ideal length for a 3-4 defensive end, but he’s capable of lining up as a tackle or end if required.

    Meder is probably destined for the practice squad this season so he can hone his craft, but he has a lot of talent and has a shot to impress and work his way onto the final roster.

2. Derrick Hopkins, DT, Virginia Tech

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6’0”, 321 pounds

    Career Stats: 53 games, 165 tackles, 13 sacks, 25.5 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries

    Honors: 2013 second team All-ACC, 2012 Honorable Mention All-ACC

     

    Strengths

    • Stout build with lower body strength to hold ground and play with leverage
    • High motor
    • Good burst off the line of scrimmage allows him to penetrate and make some plays in the backfield
    • Contributor on special teams

     

    Weaknesses

    • Lacks ideal frame (height and arm length)
    • Controlling his weight is a concern

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    Much like Levi Brown, Derrick Hopkins’ way onto the roster will be to prove that he’s strong enough to be a two-down run stuffer at the very least.

    His energy, ability to get into the backfield and special teams contributions give him a better chance than Levi Brown and Jamie Meder of making the final roster, but he’ll have to beat out Terrence Cody and it’s hard to compete with his sheer size.

    Hopkins has more upside than the other two, so his spot on the practice squad will likely come at their expense.

1. James Hurst, OT, North Carolina

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Vitals: 6’5”, 296 pounds

    Career Stats: 50 games

    Honors: 2012 & 2013 first-team All-ACC, 2011 second-team All-ACC, 2010 Freshmen All-American

     

    Strengths

    • Good size and length to play tackle in the pros
    • Highly decorated and very productive lineman in college
    • Smart and instinctive player (won starting job as a true freshman) and displayed good awareness to pick up stunts and blitzes
    • Has a mean streak and good drive in the running game

     

    Weaknesses

    • Average athletic ability means that the right side is where he’s suited in the NFL
    • Not light on his feet so can struggle with speed rushers and counter moves
    • Has some trouble getting to the second level and blocking in space which will be an issue in the zone-blocking scheme
    • High metabolism means he has trouble keeping weight on (was the lightest O-lineman at scouting combine)

     

    Hypothetical Role on Roster

    James Hurst has the best shot of any undrafted free agent to make the roster because of talent and need.

    Hurst was considered a mid-round prospect before his broken fibula prevented him from working out at the combine and caused him to go undrafted.

    With a hole at right tackle, Hurst has an outside shot at the starting job, but at the very least his size and intelligence means that he stands a good chance of making the team as a backup—and he will challenge Jah Reid in the process.

      

    Shehan Peiris is B/R's Lead Featured Columnist covering the Baltimore Ravens and a co-host of Ravens Central Radio, a weekly podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network that focuses on all things Ravens-related. For the latest Ravens news, draft analysis and links to episodes of Ravens Central Radio, follow me on Twitter:

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