Here's the latest perspective on the Ravens getting offensive tackle Michael Oher with the 23rd pick in the first round last spring: If the NFL "redrafted" the 2009 class today, Oher would go in the top four picks.
That's the opinion of Gil Brandt, a longtime personnel man for the Dallas Cowboys and more recently the personnel brains of NFL.com.
Brandt loves Oher's physical style and mental toughness. He drew an analogy with a former Maryland great who went on to star for Brandt's Cowboys: "This is Randy White playing offensive line."
Brandt knew Oher's makeup was special when the NFL began inviting the top prospects to New York for last April's draft. When he invited Oher, Brandt told him he would probably be the last player in the "green" room (where players wait to be picked). Oher's agent, Brandt said, tried to discourage Oher from going because it had the potential to be embarrassing.
Oher's response: "I'd just be happy to be there."
Through 13 games, Oher has distinguished himself, as much for his physical play as for his ability to go from the right side to the left. Brandt said there is so much discussion in the league about Oher right now that he thinks he can make the Pro Bowl this season.
How did Oher fall to the Ravens? There were questions about his ability to adapt to a pro style system (since proven to be unfounded), and then there was Al Davis. When the Raiders' owner selected Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, it triggered a freefall for wide-out Michael Crabtree and for defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
Brandt thought the Packers might have taken Oher with the 9th pick, but Raji filled a major need and wasn't expected to be there. The 49ers were next at 10 and that was another potential landing for Oher. But the availability of Crabtree was too enticing. They passed on Oher.
Oher has outplayed every lineman taken in front of him: Jason Smith (2 to the Rams), Andre Smith (6 to the Bengals), Eugene Monroe (8 to the Jaguars) and center Alex Mack (21 to the Browns). The Ravens wound up with the steal of the draft.
Says Brandt: "He's a special, special guy."