Advertisement

Preston: Ravens third-rounder Chris Wormley has future leader written all over him

The Ravens introduced their 2017 rookie class Friday, and there was already bonding taking place.

Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey is alone at the top of the perch because he is the club's top draft pick. But after rooming together for a night and keeping each other awake, outside linebackers Tim Williams of Alabama Tyus Bowser of Houston are intent on forming a new 1-2 passing rush off the edge. San Diego State offensive guard Nico Siragusa could be the team's new funny man.

Advertisement

And a new team leader might be on the way in Michigan defensive end Chris Wormley.

After a 10- to 15-minute interview at the podium Friday, there were a lot of team officials smiling about Wormley. He had the square shoulders and complete upright posture. When he talked, he always maintained heavy eye contact.

Everything about his energy and vibe were positive. If you didn't know he came out of Michigan, he would've seemed straight out of Annapolis or West Point from one of the military academies.

"I heard great things about him. He is one of the guys that Jim felt very strongly about," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who received a strong recommendation from brother, Jim, the Michigan coach, on Wormley. "He believes in him as a player, believes in him as a guy. We talked about a lot of guys; he is one of about 14 guys we talked about. But he really felt highly about Chris, very highly. I do not think we would have taken him if he didn't."

Friday was the first day that rookies could work out with their new teams in what was a get-acquainted practice session and Wormley passed the eye test. Listed at 6 feet 5 and 297 pounds, he looks bigger in person and even bigger the closer he gets.

There is very little body fat. His shoe size could be anywhere from size 17 to 19. Just imagine what he will look like after a year in the weight room. The Ravens have immediate plans for Wormley, a third-round pick (No. 74 overall) in the draft.

"Well, he will play the five-technique, the same position that Brent Urban and [Bronson] Kaufusi play — the same position that Lawrence Guy played," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But he is also a guy that can stay on the field when we have to go into our sub package, because he can play down inside and give us some pass rush."

Not all defensive linemen are that versatile or that smart. Wormley has studied some of the game's best defensive linemen like the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt and Miami Dolphins' Ndamukong Suh to pick up tips.

He has already compared and contrasted the coaching styles of his line coach at Michigan, Greg Mattison, to that of current Ravens coordinator Dean Pees, and Wormley apparently wants to stay one step ahead all the time.

"When you are young, you don't appreciate Coach Mattison as much," Wormley said. "When you get older and thinking of going on to the next level, he is a great resource. He loves the game and loves to teach it. A lot of what the Ravens do here is very similar to what Coach Mattison ran when he was the defensive coordinator for [four] years at Michigan."

At Michigan, Wormley played either right or left defensive end in the Wolverines' base four-man front, and he'll probably do the same for the Ravens. Wormley doesn't show a lot of flash, but is an explosive player who isn't going to beat himself.

He is tall, but plays with low pad level, and is strong at the point of attack. He can dominate a small area with quickness and can shoot and hold gaps, but isn't going to beat offensive tackles around the corner with his speed.

Last season, he had 40 tackles, including six sacks and another nine for loss. He also had five quarterback pressures and as a rookie would fit in nicely on the Ravens defensive line.

Wormley said he is comfortable making the transition from one Harbaugh to another. Three other former Wolverines are on the Ravens' roster in defensive lineman Willie Henry, linebacker Brennen Beyer and punter/place kicker Kenny Allen.

Advertisement

"I was talking to Kenny Allen and he said if you close your eyes, you can't tell the difference," Wormley said of the Harbaughs. "They have a lot of the same mannerisms, the same sayings. They grew up together, so the tone in their voices is similar. Sometimes I chuckle when [John] says a word or makes a certain movement because he reminds me of Coach Harbaugh at Michigan."

At times, Wormley said he feels like a freshman again, and not because he has a new Harbaugh; he has to go out and prove himself again. But playing with a chip on his shoulder is not new. It's his style, along with being a team leader.

"Yes, you are kind of walking on your toes a little bit. You don't know. … You kind of stay in the back and try … especially when OTAs start next week, you try and more so be a fly on the wall and soak it all in without stepping on Terrell Suggs' toes or getting in Joe Flacco's way," Wormley said. "It is going to be a learning process when it comes to the culture of this organization, once the older guys come in, but I am excited to fit in and find my place and my role."

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

Advertisement
Advertisement