Enemy Intel: How'd the Ravens do in the draft?

Enemy Intel: How'd the Ravens do in the draft?

By Tom E. Curran

Always good. Never great. It's been more than a decade since the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. It's been their bad luck to be in a conference with the Steelers, Patriots and Colts because - if they were hanging in the NFC - there's little doubt they'd have gone to the final game more about three times since that 2000 emasculation of the Giants. But it's always something with Baltimore - usually, a lack of outside explosiveness on offense or a lack of consistency at corner. With three picks in 2011, they tried to address those spots. In the first round, the Ravens went after Colorado corner Jimmy Smith. He's only 6-2, 211 pounds and runs a 4.4. Smith is one of those players whose draft stock fell over character concerns. He had a positive drug test in 2007 and got pinched twice for being a minor in possession of alcohol while at Colorado. If that's the extent of his missteps, you'd have to figure his character isn't much of a concern. He may be as good a pure cover man as anyone in the draft. Next, they took Torrey Smith from Maryland. He's 6-1, 204 and is a flier. He's also got outstanding character and work ethic. The downside is that he's not a polished route-runner and receiver. And the downside to that is that - no matter how fast you are or how hard you work - if you're not where you're supposed to be ready to catch, you're not much help to your quarterback. Skipping over third round tackle Jah Reid from Central Florida (6-2, 327), let's look at Tandon Doss, a fourth-rounder who may be an absolute steal. He had sports hernia issues that required surgery and missed working at the Combine as a result. And he's not a burner. But he's 6-2, 200 and he has a knack for getting open and short-area quickness. One other really outstanding choice Baltimore made was Pernell McPhee from Mississippi State. A 6-3, 278-pound defensive end who has great pass-rush potential and could bulk up some and become a 3-4 defensive end on first and second-down for the Ravens. Another great character guy who works hard. SUMMARY: The Ravens have rolled together a string of really good drafts and this one could be one of their best. They were able to hit need areas and get great value at the spots as well - Jimmy Smith, Doss and McPhee being the prime examples of that.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward


Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations


PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.