After looking at the NFL combine this weekend, I made one conclusion: these guys need to eat a little something.
There were guys weighing in 163 pounds. The Baltimore Ravens have speed threats already with Torrey Smith and Deonte Thompson to take the top off of the defense. What Baltimore needs is a tough grinding possession receiver, someone who isn’t afraid to line up on a bigger defender. One guy that was brought to my attention was Coastal Carolina product Matt Hazel.
I watch the tape on Hazel and while he hasn’t broken into the 200-pound weight class, he plays big. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound receiver has sure hands and an uncanny ability to get into open space. The two-time first-team All-Big South player does very well against the “Jam” and uses his size for position. He does get a little “handsy” downfield which might cost him at a higher level, but for the most part he is good at getting open.
Hazel’s 40 time was not ideal at 4.50, but as I said before, Baltimore is not looking for another burner. What I was more interested in was his vertical. Hazel was about average with a 36.5-inch vertical jump. Baltimore is in need of a guy who can go up for the ball and make the tough down field catch. This is something WR Coach Bobby Engram will need to address should the Ravens draft him.
Hazel seemed very eager to run block. The physicality of this guy is impressive. What I have noticed about some of these WRs is that when it is a run play or when the ball is not in their hands, they seem to take the play off. This is not the case with Hazel, which is why even with the knocks I am about to mention, he is still a solid fit for the Ravens because he has heart and is coachable.
Now time for the knocks on Hazel. When looking at the tape, I saw that his routes were lazy; at the next level, players are expected to be crisp on routes to ensure defenders won’t creep underneath and cause the QB a headache. While decent at making the catch, he does next to nothing once he has it.
Engram needs to teach this guy how to stiff-arm, juke or something to get pass the first defender at least. It makes no sense to make an amazing catch only to be taken down by a 5-foot-9 defender when said defender is only player holding him back from the end zone.
Overall, the Ravens would have their work cut out for them in bringing in this guy. Drafting him late in the fifth round sounds reasonable considering his ability. Once they get this guy, they need to send him straight over to Haloti Ngata’s house so he can learn how to eat.