2012 NFL Draft: UF's Howard Could Be Great Late Option for Baltimore Ravens

Alex Guy@@AWGuy19Correspondent IFebruary 28, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL -  NOVEMBER 5:  Defensive tackle Jaye Howard #6 of the Florida Gators sacks quarterback Jordan Rodgers #11 of the Vanderbilt Commodores November 5, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

With just the defensive backs left to take the field at the 2012 NFL Combine, it is hard not to think about the most highly-rated players on the board.

Obviously, guys like Melvin Ingram and Matt Kalil showed why they are elite, and several players (Michael Floyd, Zach Brown, etc.) made their cases for first-round selections with strong performances.

But what makes good front offices and scouting departments, is a unique ability to scrounge up talent after the 2nd round.

Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens do this more consistently than the vast majority of teams in the NFL. Nabbing players like Lardarius Webb (3rd round) and Pernell McPhee (5th round) has become a habit for Newsome and his staff.

Defensive lineman Jaye Howard could be the latest steal to put on the purple jersey. Originally projected in the 6th round, Howard's combine numbers were solid and his stock will rise slightly. 

Howard ran a respectable 4.82 after weighing in at 301 lbs. He is quick off the snap and is a powerful interior defensive linemen.

He was inconsistent at times with the Gators, but this was due to poor technique. With the right coaching, the Ravens staff could turn him into a reliable player. He would be a great pick for the Ravens in the 5th round.

Howard has an extremely quick first step that allows him to rush the passer, in the Ravens 3-4 defense, he is of the Cory Redding mold and could sit in nicely as a backup for some of the Ravens' good young defensive linemen.

While defensive line is hardly a pressing need for Baltimore, Howard's status as a proverbial "value pick" makes him important.

Assuming the Ravens go after an offensive lineman, linebacker, or wide receiver in the first and second rounds, the later rounds of this year's draft could be vital to establishing depth at positions that appear solid.

Howard is not coming to be a star in the NFL immediately, but his explosion would be well-suited on the Ravens' pass rush.