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With NFL combine at hand, these 10 prospects could be top Ravens targets

With the No. 22 overall pick in the NFL draft, the Ravens will not be selecting Nick Bosa. Or Quinnen Williams. Or Dwayne Haskins Jr.

The teams picking ahead of the AFC North champions are there for a reason. The Ravens have needs this offseason, but so do other organizations, and trading away picks and players is an unlikely solution in Baltimore. The franchise will have to do without a top-five prospect.

There are impact players to be found elsewhere. Over 300 players were invited to next week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and general manager Eric DeCosta will get a good look at everything from first-round talents to late-round sleepers.

With DeCosta yet to comment on potential Ravens targets, a list of players to watch at the combine amounts to guesswork. But these 10 could thrust themselves into contention for the No. 22 pick.

Mississippi WR D.K. Metcalf

Size: 6 feet 4, 230 pounds

Stats: 26 catches for 569 yards and five touchdowns in 2018

Skinny: A season-ending neck injury limited Metcalf’s redshirt sophomore year to just seven games, but he’s since been cleared to return to football activities. Few prospects have attracted as much attention in the lead-up to the combine as Metcalf, whose jacked physique in recent workout photos drew comparisons to that of The Incredible Hulk. Metcalf is still raw as a route runner, but with his freakish athleticism and rare potential, he’ll have a rapt audience inside Lucas Oil Stadium. If his added strength hasn’t hurt his speed, he can separate from the draft’s pack of quality receivers.

North Carolina State WR Kelvin Harmon

Size: 6-3, 214

Stats: 81 catches for 1,186 yards and seven touchdowns

Skinny: Harmon’s production steadily improved in each of his three years with the Wolfpack, and he showed everything teams covet in a wide receiver: efficient footwork, impressive body control, ideal hands. Well, almost everything. Harmon dominated Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, but did so without top-end speed or after-the-catch elusiveness. If he runs a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash, it’d be hard for a wide receiver-needy team to say no.

Mississippi WR A.J. Brown

Size: 6-1, 230

Stats: 85 catches for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns

Skinny: Brown finished seventh in receiving yardage in 16th in total receptions in the Football Bowl Subdivision as a junior in 2018 — and that might not have even been his best season for the Rebels. With his ability to run routes and rack up yards after the catch, there’s seemingly little doubt that Brown could thrive as a physical slot receiver at the next level. If he can show the athleticism teams want out of a No. 1 wideout, there’s no telling how much he could raise his profile in Indianapolis.

Arizona State WR N'Keal Harry

Size: 6-4, 216

Stats: 73 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns

Skinny: Harry’s back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons might not have been enough to convince some teams that he’s worthy of a first-round pick. His workout videos this month have been impressive — 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, a 42-inch vertical leap — but scouts will be more interested in his 40-yard dash, shuttle run and three-cone drill. For all the impressive ball skills and open-field ability he showed in his three years in college, his explosiveness (or lack thereof) will shape his draft stock.

Alabama RB Josh Jacobs

Size: 5-10, 216

Stats: 120 carries for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns; 20 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns; 14 kickoff returns for 428 yards and one touchdown

Skinny: Jacobs wasn’t the No. 1 option for the Crimson Tide as a junior last season, but he’s nonetheless regarded as the draft’s clear-cut No. 1 prospect at the position. A patient but physical runner, he’s also a consistent receiving threat and an excellent blocker. Jacobs’ relatively limited college workload — he had 120 carries in 2018, 62 fewer than Saquon Barkley’s career low for a season at Penn State — should be an advantage, not a demerit, at a position susceptible to wear and tear.

Oklahoma OL Cody Ford

Size: 6-4, 338

Stats: 14 starts at right tackle in 2018, four starts at left guard in 2017

Skinny: Ford is, for now, more powerful than he is refined as a blocker. But as a redshirt junior for the Sooners, he was an often dominant force on the nation’s top offensive line. Some wonder whether Ford will be better suited as a guard in the NFL, and his combine measurements, most notably wingspan, could clarify his future. Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr., also an Oklahoma product, hurt his draft stock with a disastrous combine last year, but Ford should be able to showcase his power and light feet without his pads on.

Mississippi State DE/OLB Montez Sweat

Size: 6-6, 241

Stats: 11½ sacks, 53 tackles (14 for loss) and one forced fumble

Skinny: A standout Senior Bowl performance propelled Sweat into top-10 consideration, but a shaky combine could drag his draft stock back down. Sweat’s size and length, including a 7-foot-plus wingspan, are guaranteed to impress. Still, he needs to show teams considering him as an outside linebacker that he has the lateral mobility to cover receivers in space.

Louisiana Tech DE/OLB Jaylon Ferguson

Size: 6-5, 269

Stats: 17½ sacks, 64 tackles (26 for loss), two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered

Skinny: Ferguson, the NCAA’s all-time sacks leader, was uninvited from the combine because of a league policy that banned players who were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony charge involving violence. (Ferguson was found guilty of simple battery as a freshman.) Now Ferguson reportedly has been re-invited, but his participation will be limited to medical exams and team interviews. His on-field production speaks for itself: Ferguson broke Terrell Suggs' record of 44 career sacks in the final game of his redshirt senior season, finishing with 45.

Florida DE/OLB Jachai Polite

Size: 6-2, 242

Stats: 11 sacks, 45 tackles (17½ for loss) and six forced fumbles

Skinny: Polite’s smaller frame should keep him from the very top of the draft. It could also scare off teams hoping to plug him in as a 4-3 defensive end. But his elite acceleration, if it wasn’t already obvious from the disruptive tendencies he showed as a junior, will be evident in speed and quickness drills. With improved strength and decent measurables, Polite can ease front-office concerns about his future as an every-down edge rusher.

Delaware S Nassir Adderley

Size: 6-0, 200

Stats: 87 tackles (1½ for loss), four interceptions, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered

Skinny: The two-time All-American is just the eighth Blue Hens standout to be invited to the scouting combine, a group that includes tight end Nick Boyle (2015) and quarterback Joe Flacco (2008). Adderley proved he could dominate at the Football Championship Subdivison level, and he impressed coaches at the Senior Bowl. In Indianapolis, he’ll be asked to show he’s as athletically gifted as some of the top FBS prospects. A solid performance should cement Adderley’s first-round projection.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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