Former NFL great (and Baltimore area product) Antonio "Buttons" Freeman was on Keith Mills' Ravens Report (WBAL-AM) this weekend and was asked who he thought were the most NFL-ready players at the Ravens' Local Pro Day this week...
Without hesitation, Freeman named former Baltimore-area high school stars Tavon Austin and Corey Fuller.
Freeman even went so far as to name Corey Fuller the "sleeper" in this year's Draft.
The Ravens hosted 11 local Baltimore prospects at the Under Armour Performance Center Thursday morning, including Virginia Tech's Fuller and West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin.
“When I first came into the building I was in awe a little, looking at all the pictures, the Super Bowl trophies,” Fuller said. “It means a lot to me. It was a good experience and I’m just glad to be here.”
The local pro day gives the Ravens a chance to see some of the homegrown Baltimore talent up close. It also allows coaches to put the players through position workouts that they may not have otherwise been able to do at the combine or their college pro day.
Every NFL team is permitted to hold a local pro day.
Below were the participants in the Ravens’ workout:
WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Dunbar High School, Baltimore)
DL Chris Burnette, Old Dominion (Gilman School, Baltimore)
LB/DE Brandon Copeland, Penn (Gillman School, Sykesville, Md.)
S Jordan Dangerfield, Towson (Palm Beach High School, Palm Beach, Fla.)
OL Steve Demilio, Gardner-Webb (Milford Academy, Severna Park, Md.)
QB Grant Enders, Towson (Old Mill High School, Millersville, Md.)
Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech (Woodlawn High School, Baltimore)
DL A.J. Francis, Maryland (Gonzaga High School, Severn, Md.)
S/LB Josh Francis, West Virginia (Damascus High School, Damascus, Md.)
S Terance Garvin, West Virginia (Loyola Blakefield High School, Baltimore)
WR Gerrard Sheppard, Towson (McDonogh High School, Owings Mills, Md.)
Austin is projected as a first-round prospect after an electrifying season at West Virginia in which he caught 112 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran 72 times for 643 yards and three scores. He logged 572 all-purpose yards in one game against Oklahoma.
Austin, a two-time Maryland high school player of the year, impressed at the combine with a 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds.
Fuller is another speedster who was a track star at Kansas before transferring to the Hokies. Last year, he logged eight starts and caught 43 passes for 815 yards and six touchdowns. Fuller ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.
He’s a mid-to-late round prospect, but could be somebody in whom the Ravens are interested, considering the departure of wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
“I wanted to show more of my speed; a lot of people don’t think I’m as fast as I am,” Fuller said. “And I’m not just speed. I have other things I’m working with.”
It’s not all about the top prospects, however. Other players at Thursday’s workout were looking to grab the attention of the Ravens scouts in hope that they could be brought in as a late draft pick or undrafted free agent.
Brandon Copeland said some teams have been calling, and he has an invitation to this weekend’s Super Regional Combine in Dallas. All 32 teams will be in attendance.
“I’m just happy to put on pads again and impress some people,” said Copeland, who is trying to convert from a defensive lineman to linebacker.
“This is a dream come true. I go to Penn, but I always repped the Ravens. I took a lot of heat. My whole family is excited that I’m here and I’m excited. Hopefully I impressed today and we can make it long-term.”
Brandon Copeland was a beast at Penn. Chris Burnette was good as a 3-4 DE or DT. Steve Demilio has extremely long arms and displays very good foot work for either tackle spot.
Safety/OLB Josh Francis is a little small but I don't think there is a faster, more versatile LB coming out this year. He was overlooked by so many. Terance Garvin is "Bernard Pollard 2.0", bigger, faster and very smart. These two guys from WVU have "Raven" written all over them and would come at a bargain price.
No matter where these kids fall in the Draft (or later as undrafted free agents signed after April 25), it's evident that the Baltimore/Maryland suburban area is coming up as a recognized hotbed of scholastic football talent.