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Jimmy Garoppolo, Kelvin Benjamin, Keith McGill, Khairi Fortt visiting Ravens, per sources

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The Ravens are hosting Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, Utah cornerback Keith McGill and Cal outside linebacker Khairi Fortt for official visits Tuesday, according to league sources.

It's an interesting group at team headquarters, especially Garoppolo.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh emphasized during the NFL owners meetings that the team intends to plan ahead for the future as backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor enters the final year of his rookie contract.

The Ravens held discussions with quarterback Brandon Weeden before he signed with the Dallas Cowboys to back up Tony Romo, according to sources.

Garappolo is a rising draft prospect who has worked out privately for the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers.

He excelled at the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine game and the NFL scouting combine.

Garappolo is known for his live arm, timing and mobility, evident in this highlight video, but lacks ideal size and arm strength at 6-foot-2, 226-pounds.

He broke all of Romo's career passing records in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Garoppolo won the Walter Payton Award as the top FCS player in the nation last season, passing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He was named an All-American.

For his career, Garoppolo finished with 13,156 yards and 118 touchdowns.

Benjamin is an imposing wide receiver at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds with a huge catch radius.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, where he met with the Ravens.

Benjamin grew up in Belle Glade, Fla., a football hotbed where he grew up chasing down rabbits out of the sugarcane fields.

“Everybody chased rabbits,” Benjamin said during the combine. "They were good to eat. They’re really good if you’ve never had them before, but that also helps you with speed and agility and stuff like that."

Benjamin is one of the biggest wide receivers to enter the NFL since Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson. He caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore last season, including the game-winning touchdown against Auburn in the BCS national title game.

“I just try to be physical, dominate at the highest point,” Benjamin said. “I try to play small and let my size take care of the rest.

"I watch a lot of receivers. I don’t just watch the big guys, I try to watch the little guys, too. You watch the smaller guys to imitate their quickness off the line."

Benjamin is drawing late-first-round grades.

Questions have been raised about Benjamin's maturity and work ethic, but he's hoping to assure teams he's ready to be a professional.

"Just growing up and being a man, I’ve learned to do the things you have to do to be a man," he said at the combine. "Before, I was basically just being a kid, doing kid things, not putting in the work you need to put in to be a great receiver."

McGill is in the mold of large cornerbacks like Seattle Seahawks standout Richard Sherman.

The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the combine and registered a 39-inch vertical leap and a 10-9 broad jump.

McGill was an honorable-mention All-Pac-12 selection after being a junior college All-American.

McGill is regarded as a strong tackler adept in press coverage. He had shoulder surgery that sidelined him in 2012, but he had 28 tackles, 12 pass deflections and an interception last season.

He's drawing third-round grades from draft analysts.

Fortt is a middle to later-round draft target who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds at the combine and improved his time to 4.66 seconds at his Pro Day.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pounder bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times at the combine and had a 36-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot broad jump.

A junior who declared early for the draft, Fortt transferred from Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He had 64 tackles, 3.5 for losses, and a half-sack last season.

He missed the 2012 season at Cal after undergoing knee surgery. For the Nittany Lions, Fortt had 50 tackles, seven for losses and 2.5 sacks.

The Ravens were among the teams that attended the Cal Pro Day where Fortt had a short shuttle time of 4.35 seconds and a three-cone drill of 7.12 seconds.

Among the Ravens' other official visits were: North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Washington State safety Deone Bucannon and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.

awilson@baltsun.com
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