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4 Takes: Who Are The Draft Gems?

4 Takes: Ravens Who are the Draft Gems?

The Baltimore Gridiron Report staff give their take on who they think are the ‘draft gems, ‘sleeper picks’ and rookies to ‘outperform expectations.’

Gene Winner:

One player to keep an eye on is Asa Jackson, CB, from Cal-Poly-SLO (5th rd. pick) he could be a draft gem.  He’s got great speed and could really add a new dimension to the return game. Also has solid coverage skills as a corner, the only knock on him was his height (5-10) and that he played for a smaller school who faced ‘lesser opponents.’ It’s a talented depth chart for Ravens corners, so his return skills could earn him a spot on the team.

Sleeper pick: Christian Thompson, safety.  The Ravens had Thompson on their radar early on in the draft process and can learn from one of the best ever in Ed Reed. 

Ozzie Newsome usually doesn’t miss very often drafting running backs and I can see rookie Bernard Pierce to outperform expectations.  Pierce had a decorated career at Temple and has a nose for the endzone. He could see action backing up Ray Rice. 

Matt Jergensen:

My gem of the draft is Courtney Upshaw. Teams shied away from him due to him being a tweener in terms of size but he was a monster in college and produced against the top competition in the country. The Ravens needed another pass rusher and they got him in Upshaw.

My sleeper is Christian Thompson. He’s already forged a bond with Ed Reed and I’m sure he’ll be attached at the hip to the future Hall of Famer from the start of training camp. He has great natural ability and just needs to adjust to the pro game.

I envision Bernard Pierce to be a solid contributor and even outperform expectations by his second season. He appears built for the AFC North.

Jonathon Scruggs:

My sleeper pick is undrafted free agent Guard Jack Cornell out of Illinois. Cornell started at guard for the Illini and was the team’s Captain his senior season as well as the Red Grange award winner.  The Ravens have a long history of picking up talented undrafted players and I have a gut feeling Cornell may evolve into something special.

My Gem of the draft is Gino Gradkowski. I’ve been preaching the need for a center prospect for what seems like ages. Matt Birk won’t play forever and if reports are accurate Gradkowski was on the radar for a lot of teams and probably would not have lasted to much longer after the Ravens snagged him. 

 Bernard Pierce is my pick to outperform expectations in the future. Having seem him play a number of times, the kid is a bruiser and can potentially be a stalwart back to muscle the ball down the field for years to come. His running style reminds me very much of Jamal Lewis. That is, Jamal Lewis without the same explosive side step.

Ben Zinman:

Gem:  Courtney Upshaw: With Terrell Suggs probably out for the season, there is going to be pressure on the rookie defensive end providing early indication of how he handles the position.

Sleeper: Tommy Streeter. Ravens take shot on a wide receiver’s highly rated height, weight, speed combination . In all other categories he is about average.

Outperform Expectations: Asa Jackson has average height, weight  and speed.  His durability could become a concern.  He was selected to be the team captain in his senior year His play is consistent on the field.  He could be a welcome surprise.

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