Of the more than 100 college football players who accepted invitations to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in January, 83 were drafted in last month’s NFL Draft. The Ravens selected five of those players.
Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl and ESPN draft analyst stopped by Glenn Clark Radio May 2 to discuss the five picks and how they’ll fit into the system in Baltimore.
Former Lousiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson (Round 3, Pick 85) set the FBS sack record with 45, a mark once held by former Ravens sack king Terrell Suggs. During his career with the Bulldogs, the 6-foot-5, 271-pound Ferguson notched 66.5 tackles for a loss and garnered Associated Press third-team All-American honors in 2018.
Nagy: “I was shocked when he fell to the third round because to me a lot of times … media people like to do player comparisons and when you’re on the scouting side for a team, you do that a little less. You don’t force the comparison unless it really fits. The body type has to be really similar, the measurables, the test numbers, the tape. It all has to kind of align for there to be a player comp when you are scouting in the NFL.
“When I was [scouting] Jaylon, the guy that really I thought that he was similar to was the guy the Saints picked in the first round at No. 14 [in 2018]: Marcus Davenport. … Jaylon is a very similar player, heavy-handed power rusher. … He really has a knack to get to the quarterback.”
Former Oklahoma offensive lineman Ben Powers (Round 4, Pick 123) was a three-year starter and consensus first-team All-American who was part of a line that won the Joe Moore award for the best offensive line in college football in 2018. Powers (6-foot-4, 307 pounds) played left guard for the Sooners but could add versatility along the line by playing center.
Nagy: “If Ben started right now, by the time we got to the football season he might be serviceable enough [at center] … and give him some flexibility in a pinch if they had to. But he’s a guy at least as a rookie I would see as a guard-only type player for them but a guy that is going to start in the league.
“… He was really an easy guy to scout. He was good at both phases of the game. He can pass protect. He was good in the run game. So do I think he can play center eventually? Yeah, I do but if I were the Ravens, I would think of him as a guard first and to me, he’s a guy that can push for a starting job right away.”
Former Southern California cornerback Iman Marshall (Round 4 Pick 127) was a four-year starter at USC, earning USA Today Freshman All-American honors with 67 tackles and three interceptions as a true freshman. Nicknamed “Biggie,” Marshall (6-foot-1, 207 pounds) had 36 career pass breakups and six interceptions.
Nagy: “Yeah, they’ve been down a little bit, but to be a four-year starter at any FBS school, let alone a West Coast power like USC, says a lot. From a scouting perspective, where that has value is this kid came out of high school and it wasn’t too big for him. He was ready to get on the field right away.
“What we’ve found over the years is that guys that make that transition and get on the field as true freshmen in college usually have pretty good odds of doing that as a pro. They won’t really need that redshirt year to be on the 53-[man roster] but not active on game day. This should be a guy they can activate on game day, at least play on special teams.”
Former Texas A&M defensive tackle Daylon Mack (Round 5, Pick 160) appeared in nearly every college game during his first three years in College Station, Texas, including 13 as a true freshman. After two down years as a sophomore and junior, Mack (6-foot-1, 336 pounds) started all 13 games as a senior, notching 10 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He finished with 108 career tacks — 27 for a loss — and eight sacks.
Nagy: “Daylon was a guy that got better over the course of the year. I saw them play early in the season up at Alabama and really wasn’t blown away by anyone on their defense. … They had a new coordinator so a lot of it was early in the season a lot of guys were unsure what they were doing.
“… He really put it all together this year as a senior and he came down and helped himself in Mobile as much as anyone. … He’s got heavy hands and is really explosive and even in the early-season tape when he wasn’t at his best he could blow things up.”
Former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (Round 6, Pick 197) was a three-time All-Big Ten selection for the Nittany Lions after bursting onto the scene as a sophomore when he was named MVP of the Big Ten title game.
In three years, McSorley showed a mix of running (1,697 rushing yards) and passing (9,899 career pass yards) ability while becoming the leader of the team by the time he was a senior in 2018. He led the FBS in yards per completion as a sophomore (16.1) and ran for nearly 800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior.
Nagy: “You can say what you want about size and arm strength and arm talent and all that stuff, but Trace is just a baller and you can’t undervalue guys that get on a football field and win games. I know it might sound cliché, but he’s the dude you want to pick on the sandlot. I think if he’s the backup, they can still run all the same stuff they’re running with Lamar.
“… You never want to get in a situation where your starter goes down and you have to totally shift gears offensively. Trace would allow the Ravens to be consistent in what they’re doing schematically. He’s also the type of kid — being around him and seeing the type of competitor he is — he’s going to win those veterans over really quick.
“If he ever got forced into a game, the guys would have belief in him, they would play for him. To me, that’s a great sixth-round pick picking up a guy that brings as much to the table as Trace does.”
For more from Nagy, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of USC Athletics