With training camp merely days away, it’s time to highlight what we are going to be watching closely. Namely position battles, the comfort level of players in a new scheme, and guys who have something to prove or might be ready to make a name for themselves. The Ravens did a great job this offseason at adding depth where it was needed, and now comes the time to make all the pieces fit together.
As they say, the cream rises to the top. This is the time of year teams either get to see their vision emerge triumphantly or watch as plans fall apart. Not every player lives up to their potential, for various reasons. The only way to find out is to put them on the field and coach them. Here are five players we will be watching in training camp.
1. Keith Wenning
The Ravens drafted Wenning in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, putting an exclamation point on their past criticism of Tyrod Taylor. Wenning is a fairly raw prospect coming out of Ball State, however, that lacks athleticism and arm strength. Wenning does have good size, is accurate, and demonstrates composure in the pocket. All of which are traits that could make him successful in Gary Kubiak’s offense.
Whether or not the Ravens carry three quarterbacks in 2014 comes down to how quickly Wenning develops. The team has expressed disappointment in Taylor on numerous occasions, publicly. That is never a good sign for a player’s future, and Taylor is clearly on the hot seat. The team has to be secretly hoping that Wenning will show well in training camp and pick up the offense quickly.
2. Sammy Seamster
Seamster is an intriguing prospect that happens to play at a position that is a huge need area for the Ravens right now. The cornerback competition is wide open and training camp begins the battle for depth behind Ladarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. Seamster is a bit of an underdog but we aren’t going to sleep on him.
Possessing ideal size for a press corner at 6’0″ and 205 lbs, Seamster has good speed as well. Seamster played sparingly in college after being touted as a prized recruit coming out of high school and lacks ideal experience. This, of course, is why he went undrafted. But he certainly wouldn’t be the first late bloomer the NFL has ever seen if he seizes the opportunity in front of him.
3. Brent Urban
Urban is another player who was deemed a bit raw coming out of college after he grew up in Canada and has only been playing football for five years. What he does have is impressive size at 6’7″ and 298 lbs, along with serious athleticism. Urban is clearly motivated to prove all the naysayers wrong and has made it known that he disagrees with his pre-draft assessments.
Urban has already started his mission to prove everyone wrong by showing up strong in minicamp and making some explosive plays in the backfield. The opportunity in front of Urban is undeniably huge. He is currently playing behind Chris Canty, who was largely unimpressive last year and may actually be in danger of getting cut.
4. Michael Campanaro
The Ravens don’t typically waste draft picks. They also don’t usually cut guys the same season they draft them. All of which are a good sign for Campanaro’s chances at hanging around on the final roster. But the seventh rounder has a lot of good competition in front of him, so his battle for snaps is one of the uphill variety.
Campanaro is a smallish, slot receiver type with good athleticism and speed. His rookie year contribution may be limited to special teams, where he projects as a solid returner. But the opportunity exists for him to crack the receiver rotation as an explosive third option, and he demonstrated that he has a pair of steady hands while setting a school record for receptions at Wake Forest.
5. John Simon
Simon recently proclaimed that he is bigger, faster, and better in pass protection after spending a full year with the Ravens. Following his selection in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, Simon played sparingly his rookie year. At Ohio State, Simon was counted on as a pass rusher and run stuffer, but rarely dropped into coverage. Simon also played with his hand in the dirt in college as a defensive end, so he needed time to make the transition to linebacker.
There is a lot of depth in front of Simon at the outside linebacker position, but much of that depth is getting up there in age. The Ravens need young linebacker prospects for the future, especially ones that have solid pass rush skills. Simon has demonstrated that he has those skills, showing off some nice moves in limited snaps. We are expecting good progress this season, with the possibility of serious playing time in the next two years.
What kind of impact do you think these players will make in 2014? What players will you be watching in training camp?
Tags: Baltimore Ravens