What to expect from the Ravens nebulous nine rookies

Larry French

Rookies are always the talk of the town in Baltimore. The Ravens are ecstatic to see all of their draft picks go to work, as am I, but what are we to expect from the Nebulous Nine this season?

Rookies are always the talk of the town in Baltimore. The Ravens are ecstatic to see all of their draft picks go to work, as am I, but what are we to expect from the Nebulous Nine this season?

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama:

Depending on the matchup, either he or Arthur Brown, the Ravens’ 2012 draft pick, will start games this season. The sideline-to-sideline linebacker is a snug fit in Baltimore’s hybrid defense and although Mosley wasn’t drafted to address a glaring need, with time, we believe that the first-round pick will wreak havoc. Whether he starts all 16 games or not, shadowing Daryl Smith—who finished with career highs in sacks (5), interceptions (3) and pass defensed (19) in 2013—and learning from inside linebackers coach Don Martindale, will markedly boost the star’s potential.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State:

Prophesied as a Top 50 draft pick, the Ravens fulfilled NFL.com’s prediction by bringing him aboard 48th overall. Jernigan will make the defensive line even stouter, and the impact player will have a few good years before [bold prediction alert] the Ravens try to trade him away. ESPN’s Jamison Hensley says that Jernigan has a unique opportunity but this sobering fact also threw me off: "None of the six defensive linemen drafted by the Ravens over the previous eight years has had much of a shot to crack Baltimore’s starting defensive front."

The buzzkill is real—and I’ll side with Hensley here—this position is one that Ngata would have to lose (or if he balks on reducing his $16 million cap figure in 2015).

Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State:

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Ravens rookie free safety this offseason. HypeJimmy Smith, Matt Elam, Lardarius Webb—should increase his confidence. Bleacher Report’s Shehan Peiris claims that the rookie is the Ravens’ most intriguing draft pick due to his tremendous upside. Ravens fans will need to build their tolerance for rookie mistakes (he has bad hands), and he’d better use all five of his fingers (not three) to intercept Drew Brees on November 24.

Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State:

The selection of a developmental tight end had some scratching heads. Why though? Gillmore’s 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame makes him a monster target in the redzone. Something about the tight end’s old fashioned style struck a chord in Ozzie Newsome (a former tight end himself) enough for the Ravens general manager to bless Joe Flacco with a new instrument. Depending on how quickly Gillmore learns the playbook, I expect him to see some reps this season and overtake Owen Daniels’ (possible) vacancy in 2015.

Brent Urban, DE, Virginia:

What is 6-foot-7, weighs 295 pounds and grew up eating bacon, poutine and maple syrup for breakfast? Brent Urban, who played hockey until the 11th grade makes this tenacious defensive line a horror movie nobody wants to watch up close. He’ll fit perfectly as an end in the Ravens’ hybrid-style defense. His raw talent will be honed by defensive line coach Clarence Brooks and furbished alongside the unit’s linchpin Ngata.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina:

One-cut runners are successful in Kubiak’s system. Touted as a power back, Taliaferro is thick and will contribute most to the Ravens’ short-yardage situations. Despite his off-field troubles, reports show that Baltimore will continue to "maintain high expectations."

John Urschel, C-G, Penn State:

John Urkle Urschel is one helluva smart guy, but he’s also a scrappy, quick-footed lineman. We should expect him to start at center if Jeremy Zuttah or Gino Gradkowski are shuffled around the offensive line. Since I’m writing about what we can expect from the draft picks, I wouldn’t be surprised if Urschel drops out of the league to teach Calculus at your school.

Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State:

Wenning possesses the essentials to be a legitimate No. 2 quarterback. We’ve talked about this all offseason—unless Tyrod Taylor dazzles and pulls a Russell Wilson in the preseason, expect Wenning to #Wen the who’s-behind-Joe sweepstakes.

Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest:

Campanaro isn’t known for his speed or size, no, but the Ravens did trade a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft to snag the elusive receiver in the seventh this year. Durability is a chief concern as defensive backs are playing more physical and jamming at the line. The Maryland-native will need to put on a solid offseason performance to gain Kubiak’s and Flacco’s trust.

Will he?

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