Reporter Aaron Wilson talks about a dozen players from the Baltimore area or local colleges at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens met with Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherrf at the NFL scouting combine, talking with one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft.
Scherff is a consensus All-American and Outland Trophy Award winner who has drawn comparisons to Ravens Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, a fellow former Iowa standout. He also has been compared to Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin, a first-round draft pick last year from Notre Dame who played offensive tackle in college.
Scherff, 6 feet 5, 320 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds. He may project inside to guard because of his size.
Known for his strength as a drive blocker, toughness and technique, Scherff returned to play in a game after suffering a torn meniscus. He practiced the day after undergoing surgery and played in the next game against Iowa State.
Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo met with Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith, a former blue-chip recruit from Owings Mills High School.
"I sat down, chatted it up a little bit," Smith said. "It would be great to play for my hometown team. Baltimore is where I live, right down the street."
Smith, who declared early for the draft after his junior year when he graduated, also met with the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was given a return to school recommendation by the NFL advisory committee because they didn't project him to be picked within the first two rounds. He's rated as a middle-round draft target.
Smith was a preseason Outland Trophy candidate who wasn't named All-Big Ten Conference last season.
"You have to be confident in yourself," Smith said. "I went with my gut after talking it over with my family and made my decision on my own."
Smith, 6 feet 6, 341 pounds, was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, starting 31 games. A U.S. Army All-American in high school, Smith chose Penn State over scholarship offers from UCLA, Maryland and North Carolina State.
Smith has bench pressed 400 pounds and squatted more than 500 pounds, impressive strength for a position in which he'll need all the leverage he can find.
"I'm very confident in my play and what I can do," Smith said. "It's the competitiveness in me and my ability to compete. You have to be confident in yourself and your skill.
"In the NFL, you have to be consistent with your technique and whatnot, hands, feet and whatever the offensive line coaches teach me in terms of footwork."
At Penn State, Smith dealt with the hardships of sanctions against the program stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno's death and the coaching change from Bill O'Brien to James Franklin.
"It made me into the man I am today," Smith said. "I learned to go through adversity. It taught me life is not easy. You have to be able to adjust and adapt. It definitely taught me a lot."