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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-05-01

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-05-01

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-05-01
The Ravens will allow first-round pick Michael Oher to compete for the starting job at right tackle.

Oher, who was rated as the fifth-best prospect on the Ravens' draft board, surprisingly fell in the first round, where the Ravens traded up to No. 23 to select him.

The Ravens are privately banking on Oher to beat out Willie Anderson, continuing the team's tradition of rookies making an immediate impact.

Six of the Ravens' past seven first-round picks -- from Ed Reed in 2002 to quarterback Joe Flacco in 2008 -- have started at least nine games in their first seasons. The one exception in that span was defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs, who won the NFL defensive rookie of the year as a situational pass rusher.

A day after being drafted by the Ravens, Oher said it's his goal to become a starter immediately.

"I got every tool I need to be a starter," he said. "I'm going to come in and compete right away. If I get the opportunity to start, I'm going to take care of my business."

One reason why Oher slid to the Ravens at the 23rd overall pick is the concern over his ability to assimilate to an NFL offense.

There has been some question whether Oher will be able to absorb an NFL playbook. First-year Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson told reporters that they "tried to keep it simple for him" but acknowledged Oher will work hard to be successful in the NFL.

Sean Tuohy, Oher's adoptive father, pointed out that Oher has never been lost on the field despite adjusting to three offensive coordinators in four seasons. Each time, Oher had to learn a new system.

"He has two missed assignments in four years," Tuohy said, "and he argues about one of them."

Tuohy also explained that football has been a learning experience for Oher because he only started playing the game as a junior in high school.

Oher was taught how to block by lining up the Tuohys' kitchen and dining room chairs as defenders.

"It wasn't the case that he wasn't smart," Tuohy said. "He just didn't know what you were talking about. He's got a great memory. It's almost sc

ary how good he recalls."

Oher has repeatedly had to defend his intelligence.

After being adopted by the Tuohys, he raised his raised his IQ to 110 and improved his high school grade-point average from a 0.6 GPA to 2.65. At the combine in February, Oher proudly said he was 18 hours short of graduating from Ole Miss with a degree in criminal justice.

"I was on the honor roll a couple of times," he told reporters. "I'm a smart guy. I'm very smart."

The Ravens don't see Oher as a risk and considered Oher an "elite prospect."

"I've been doing this for six years, and I got a sense that this kid really was going to be a great fit from Day One," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of player personnel. "From the moment he came in, I saw the passion, toughness and determination."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 1, 2009

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