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Ravens liked what they saw when scouting small schools

Kyle Juszczyk AP

You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Ravens draft picks Brandon Williams, Ryan Jensen and Aaron Mellette. For that matter, you can be forgiven if you’ve never even heard of the schools they attended.

Baltimore drafted Williams out of Missouri Southern State, Jensen out of Colorado State University at Pueblo and Mellette out of Elon. Throw in Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk, and the Ravens dug deeper beyond big-time college football than any team in the draft this year. Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta says that’s all about the team’s continuing efforts to find the best players in the draft, no matter how far they have to go to look.

“For a long time we didn’t draft any small school guys, or a very, very few,” DeCosta told the team’s website. “In the last couple of years we have drafted more. I think one of the reasons is because we really draft best available player.”

Williams, a third-round pick, was the only Division II player selected in the first two days of this year’s NFL draft. But Williams, who was chosen as the defensive player of the year in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association last year, says he has never had any doubt that he could play with the best.

“I always knew I could play at that talent and level,” Williams said. “I just had to prove to the NFL that I could do it. I always believe in myself every step of the way.”

The Ravens are now giving him the chance to prove it.

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37 Responses to “Ravens liked what they saw when scouting small schools”
  1. jjthesportsguy says: Apr 30, 2013 11:26 AM

    Really makes you wonder how many great players slip through the cracks and never even get a shot at an NFL roster. For ever Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, or Robert Griffin…there seem to be 8-10 guys on the other end who made the most of the smallest opportunity.

    Just think of how many guys never even get that opportunity, and move on to spend their life doing other things.

  2. mobuccsfan says: Apr 30, 2013 11:30 AM

    Who hasn’t heard of Missouri Southern? Lol I guess I’m a homer since I don’t live but about an hour away from the school. Nice to see some kids from the smaller schools get a shot to represent in the NFL. It could work out great and I know I personally will be rooting for Williams in particular to succeed as with Randy Richards the OL signed by San Diego as part of their un-drafted Free Agent class.

  3. morganstan100 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:32 AM

    Mellette is going to have the Steelers’ exhausted secondary huffing and puffing up and down the the field. With Jones, Smith, and Doss also in the mix, Ravens are going to make what happened in Denver seem like a cakewalk compared to what the Steelers will face in 2014. Yikes.

  4. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 30, 2013 11:35 AM

    I like the FB pick a lot, he’s going to be a good one and I wanted him on my team.

  5. ppdoc13 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:02 PM

    This is why they have made the playoffs five years in a row. They are not afraid to go to the small schools and get a Ladarius Webb. It doesn’t always work. But then how many great QBs out of USC turned out to be great. Ozzie has his scouts looking at every school in their area and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on day 1 or 2 of the draft. This is why the bengals continue to be mired in mediocrity with one of the smallest staffs in the NFL.

  6. weizdumm says: Apr 30, 2013 12:17 PM

    Some of these guys that come out of the lower ranks were big time D-1 talents but end up at smaller schools because of academic or other issues in high school.

  7. kahnsbushymustache says: Apr 30, 2013 12:29 PM

    Isn’t that what former GM Gene Smith of Jacksonville was crucified for – drafting small school players? But Ozzie is a genius for doing the same thing…

  8. shaggytoodle says: Apr 30, 2013 12:38 PM

    I think everyone likes to point at the level of competition when someone is drafted out of a small school.

    That’s why you have the combine, because there are kids at small schools that can run under a 4.4

    I think that if a player fits what the team tries to do whether it be a WR in a kind of spread offense, or you can draft linemen with good size and strength. Doesn’t matter what school they go to, some of these guys can still ball with the Pros.

  9. crownofthehelmet says: Apr 30, 2013 12:38 PM

    @morganstan,

    Unless of course Batch plays.

  10. hart089 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:40 PM

    mobuccsfan says:Apr 30, 2013 11:30 AM

    Who hasn’t heard of Missouri Southern? Lol I guess I’m a homer since I don’t live but about an hour away from the school. Nice to see some kids from the smaller schools get a shot to represent in the NFL. It could work out great and I know I personally will be rooting for Williams in particular to succeed as with Randy Richards the OL signed by San Diego as part of their un-drafted Free Agent class.

    I played with Brandon Williams for 2 years at Missouri Southern and Graduated from the school. Brandon is a monster in person and is ridiculously strong. As for Missouri Southern, it’s in Joplin, and I wouldn’t doubt if you didn’t live in the 4 state area or in Missouri in general, you never would have found out it was even there. Brandon is the latest MOSO grad to enter the NFL after others Rod Smith and James Thrash and a few lesser known names. Small schools have talent and I am glad teams like the Ravens are checking them out.

  11. mobuccsfan says: Apr 30, 2013 12:51 PM

    Ozzie has most hits than misses? I would say that is probably why people think he is a genius. Even then–draft and un-drafted free agent signings are always a crap shoot/hit and miss. You just won’t really know. Like that 30/30 on the Elway and Marino special. You think the Jets wouldn’t want to do that over; the Chiefs? Pittsburgh, when Bradshaw ended up hurt and then their draft pick only played six games before ending his career in a drinking and driving accident.

    I agree with the first commenter. How many great players do slip through the cracks? There is lots of talent out there–just got to go find it.

  12. morganstan100 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:54 PM

    crownofthehelmet says:
    Apr 30, 2013 12:38 PM
    @morganstan,

    Unless of course Batch plays.

    @Clownwifahelmet,

    I actually respect Charlie Batch. Reminds me of George Blanda. I’m certain that if the Steelers had played Big Ben, we would have annihilated him like we did ALL during 2011. And though the Ravens also manhandled Batch when Big Ben was being punished for immoral behavior, Batch is still your best QB in my opinion.

  13. ravensdominate says: Apr 30, 2013 12:54 PM

    THE BEST

  14. southpaw2k says: Apr 30, 2013 1:01 PM

    kahnsbushymustache says:
    Apr 30, 2013 12:29 PM
    Isn’t that what former GM Gene Smith of Jacksonville was crucified for – drafting small school players? But Ozzie is a genius for doing the same thing…

    ————————————————-

    I think he’s been crucified more for drafting a punter in the third round of the 2012 draft more than anything else.

  15. occamssabre says: Apr 30, 2013 1:01 PM

    “kahnsbushymustache says: Apr 30, 2013 12:29 PM

    Isn’t that what former GM Gene Smith of Jacksonville was crucified for – drafting small school players? But Ozzie is a genius for doing the same thing…”

    The difference is Ozzie and Co. are GOOD at drafting small-school players…

  16. getyourownname says: Apr 30, 2013 1:16 PM

    kahnsbushymustache says:
    Apr 30, 2013 12:29 PM
    Isn’t that what former GM Gene Smith of Jacksonville was crucified for – drafting small school players? But Ozzie is a genius for doing the same thing…

    ****************
    Big difference is Ravens draft at the end of each round, Jags at the beginning where more, better big school players are available.

    Also, they don’t waste high draft picks on kickers from any school (see Justin Tucker, UDFA).

    But ultimately, these assessments are all premature, we won’t know for a couple years how well any team drafted in 2013.

  17. ahostiletakeover says: Apr 30, 2013 1:16 PM

    Brandon Williams will be the Ravens’ starter at nose tackle before the season is over. I know it was against Div II competition, but he left Missouri Southern State as their career leader in sacks. Dude is a 335 lb defensive tackle so that is impressive at any college level. He’s only 6’1″ and he already shows a lot of knowledge on tape as far as using that height and leverage to get under o-linemen, and he did 38 bench reps at the combine, so plenty of strength to match that size. With borderline-bust status Terrence Cody as the only guy ahead of him on the depth chart, he should get his chance sooner rather than later.

    Was scratching my head initially on the Juszczyk pick as well but he is definitely more of a “James Casey” type than a traditional fullback like Leach. He had 700+ receiving yards and more than a handful of TDs at Harvard last year so I would imagine he’ll make the team as their third TE behind Pitta and Dickson with the versatility of a FB when needed, nice pick ups.

  18. johnelwayishorsefaced says: Apr 30, 2013 1:20 PM

    Um Colorado State is not a small or unknown university. It has nearly 30,000 students. The city of Fort Collins, where CSU is located, has a population of almost 150,000 and has been voted the best place to live in America by Money Magazine. And Harvard? Really? Another small, unknown school. Right.

  19. objectivefan says: Apr 30, 2013 1:21 PM

    crownofthehelmet says:
    Apr 30, 2013 12:38 PM

    Unless of course Batch plays.

    _________________________

    Anyone else find it hilarious that Steelers fans have the audacity to joke about losing to bad QBs?

    You lost a PLAYOFF GAME to TIM TEBOW! He shredded you!!! Over 300 yards passing, 2 passing TDs and no interceptions from a guy who is clearly unfit to play QB at the NFL level! It was one of the most hilarious, most embarrassing (for you) games I have ever seen!

    Only certain pathetic Steelers fans will cling to the memory of the Ravens losing a regular season game to Charlie Batch. EVERYONE will remember Tim freaking Tebow carving up the Steelers in a prime time postseason game. To this day I chuckle when I think about it.

  20. crownofthehelmet says: Apr 30, 2013 1:31 PM

    And you know what makes me chuckle, a 4th & 29 check-down. Ravens should have looked at a small school to find a better option at QB.

  21. objectivefan says: Apr 30, 2013 1:39 PM

    You chuckle when you think about the Ravens pulling off a miraculous play? Ok…you should be able to come up with something better than that.

  22. anybodyinhere says: Apr 30, 2013 1:43 PM

    @crownofthehelmet

    Yeah, you’re right. University of Delaware is HUGE!

  23. morganstan100 says: Apr 30, 2013 1:46 PM

    @clownwifahelmet,
    Your denial of the Elite Joe Flacco’s immense talent is equalled only by the joy we experience knowing that, with each expertly delivered ball, you are most definitely eating your heart out.

  24. genericcommenter says: Apr 30, 2013 1:48 PM

    This is what “Moneyball” is all about.

  25. onthewarpath28 says: Apr 30, 2013 1:52 PM

    I am not a Steelers or Ravens fan, but there is no comparison between the 2 franchises. Steelers have won 6 SBs and the Ravens have won 2……and it takes about 28 Ravens fans to get a full set of teeth.

  26. mobuccsfan says: Apr 30, 2013 2:06 PM

    @hart089

    You are probably right–that and one of my high school class mates went to school there for college. And yes, I’m aware that Smith and Thrash are from there…pretty awesome to see smaller schools turn out some big talent IMO.

    And yes, being in Southwest MO is probably the only reason I had heard of MSSU. My ex-gf’s daughter goes to school there too!

    Back to Williams–I would of loved for Tampa to add him to their D-Line and think the Ravens got a great pick there–and that fullback from Harvard as well.

  27. mobuccsfan says: Apr 30, 2013 2:17 PM

    @hart089

    Ex’s daughter goes to school there or did–and buddy from high school went to college there too in 1999-2000. Dang, showing my age I guess ha ha. But yes, I was familiar with Smith and Thrash.

    Honestly, I thought/kind of hoped that Tampa would take him to put on their DL. I think he will be a great player–and the FB from Harvard and the receiver from Elon (I watched his highlights, he is not quite polished but I saw shades of Q’s replacement) he definitely could become a nice replacement for Boldin.

    And yes, you are right. If I didn’t live in Southwest Missouri, I probably would of never heard of MSSU.

  28. ahostiletakeover says: Apr 30, 2013 2:39 PM

    @onthewarpath28, since the Ravens came into existence, both team have won 2 Super Bowls and the Steelers have lost another. The Steelers were a perennial doormat for their first 30+ years of existence when they were competing against half the amount of teams in todays’ NFL. The Ravens have won the big game both times they’ve made it (and coincidentally are now the only team in the NFL with a perfect Super Bowl record in multiple appearances) and have done so in 18 years, without being a perennial doormat against the much tougher. modern game. Thanks for playing “Annihilate That Troll With Facts”, now onto the next contestant.

  29. crownofthehelmet says: Apr 30, 2013 2:40 PM

    “with each expertly delivered ball, you are most definitely eating your heart out.”

    Something tells me I’m going to go hungry this year.

  30. Nofoolnodrool says: Apr 30, 2013 3:07 PM

    ahostiletakeover

    I guess being the original Browns means nothing. Oops you failed NFL history for the fifth time. Lol

  31. flaccodelic says: Apr 30, 2013 3:11 PM

    crownofthehelmet says:
    Apr 30, 2013 2:40 PM
    “with each expertly delivered ball, you are most definitely eating your heart out.”

    Something tells me I’m going to go hungry this year.

    —–

    Congrats. Admitting you have no heart is the first step to Troll Recovery.

  32. morganstan100 says: Apr 30, 2013 3:16 PM

    Ravens fans,
    onthewarpath28 is a Redskins’ fan. His team mortgaged the house, car, kids, everything for a Ferrari of a QB and then totalled it driving it out of the showroom. Every year they self destruct! They get a home playoff game against the Seahawks, build up a nice lead, and then BLOW IT! You can’t make this stuff up.

  33. scoobies05 says: Apr 30, 2013 3:51 PM

    so steeler fans can ignore the history of the colts bears and packers and the rest of the league until the superbowl era but when ravens fans point out their history started in 1996 we are somehow in the wrong? interesting. as far as the theme of the thread the ravens have done a great job of finding small school guys…part of why they have been so successful

  34. randomcommenter says: Apr 30, 2013 4:07 PM

    Mellette was terrible in senior bowl practices. He was easily covered by the better CBs and he’s a body catcher . Raven fans think they got a late round Anquan Bolden. They got Limas Sweed

    Flacco will be in trouble without bolden.

  35. ravenunitas says: Apr 30, 2013 6:53 PM

    randomcommenter
    You obviously did not watch the senior bowl. Anyway,I’ll trust the Ravens scouts decision making over your obvious jealous opinion any day. Thanks for commenting.

  36. critter69 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:08 PM

    When I was in college (at the time the NFL and AFL merged), I attended an NAIA school.

    The football team was lucky to win 50% of the games it played.

    And yet, one of the linebackers, though undrafted, was the last player cut by the Oakland Raiders (probably only because he came close to a clothes-line tackle of a veteran receiver). The next week, he was invited to the Cincinnati Bengals training camp, and was the last person they cut.

    I find it interesting that some are calling a Division II school ‘a small school’, and forget that there is a Division III, and two divisions of NAIA below Division II.

    But in any case, the Ravens are better at getting the good players that other teams don’t even consider. And to do that, Ozzie Newsome and Co. are not afraid to go out of the way to find those good players. Other teams? Not near so much.

  37. pdidit09 says: May 5, 2013 12:51 AM

    Where did Ozzie go to school. Let us not forget the greatest receiver to ever play the game came from a small school.

    The receiver that created the need for double coverage went to a small college.

    First Black QB to win a Super Bowl was from a small school!

    This stuff did not just start.
    Great players go to school everywhere. More great ones never get to play as well

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