Thanks for joining us Jason! Busy couple weeks for the Ravens getting their rookie mini-camps under way. We appreciate you stopping in to fill us in on your initial thoughts on Derrick Hopkins and his opportunity with the Ravens. Let's get started!
At what d-line position does Derrick Hopkins project for the Ravens?
Hopkins appears to be someone that can play the three-technique or nose tackle spots in this defense. However, it appears that with the undrafted guys, AJ Pataiali'i is the one they want primarily at the nose tackle position. So I'd think Hopkins would wind up as a three-technique lineman, perhaps on the practice squad - if no one else plucks him - due to the depth at the position group. With Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, DeAngelo Tyson and Kapron Lewis-Moore looking for time at the spot, it could be an uphill battle for Hopkins to make the 53-man roster. Even at the five-technique position, Chris Canty, Brent Urban and even Tyson and can play those spots. And then at the nose, Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Williams and Jernigan are all options there, making Hopkins' chances difficult.
Why do you think Hopkins went undrafted?
At 6-0, Hopkins is a bit undersized height-wise for the defensive line, which could make it tough to defend the pass and bat balls down. He also doesn't have that burst or ideal speed that other defensive tackles on the roster showed, forcing the team to take them in the draft. It didn't seem much buzz was created for him before the draft and it evidently showed with him becoming a free agent. But he definitely had enough suitors post-draft to force a $10,000 signing bonus.
Was the high signing bonus any kind of indication on his viability?
Signing bonuses for undrafted free agents can indicate two things: 1) The NFL team is high on the player, and 2) there were enough teams that wanted to bring him on that his agent could negotiate a higher bonus. I'd say it's probably a combination of the two for Hopkins. By all accounts, he had a solid rookie minicamp this past weekend and will hope to carry that momentum into OTAs. It sounds like Virginia Tech fans are really high on his ability and consider Hopkins as an overachiever. That's definitely a trait looked highly upon in Baltimore.
What attributes of his made him an attractive UDFA signing?
Like any undrafted player, there's not much risk involved in bringing him on. In the grand scheme of things, a $10,000 signing bonus is nothing for an NFL club. So giving away that kind of money is very little risk for a player that ultimately doesn't pan out. But it could also be a situation where the Ravens gave him this money to hopefully earn his trust, so that he'll want to stay as a practice squad player instead of heading elsewhere.
Who will Hopkins compete against for a roster spot? What are their strengths & weaknesses?
It will be hard to think that Hopkins makes the 53-man roster. Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore are guaranteed to have roster spots. That's six right there, with the Ravens possibly taking one more. If that's the case, you're looking at Hopkins having to beat out both Terrence Cody and DeAngelo Tyson. Cody could be doable, given he's had two disappointing seasons in a row. Tyson, though, is the kind of player that has somehow gone under the radar the past two years despite providing some solid production. He had two sacks and an interception as a reserve player last year and has improved plenty since his rookie season in 2012. It just seems like a tall order for Hopkins to come in and beat out Tyson and Cody for the final defensive line spot.
Are the Ravens tiring of Tyrod Taylor? If so, why?
I don't think they're getting tired of Taylor, but I think they're well aware of the need to have another backup familiar with Gary Kubiak's system in 2015. Taylor is a free agent after this season and will probably try to head somewhere else to compete for a starting job. The Ravens know this and wanted to ensure that a quarterback was in place just in case. Now, if Keith Wenning outperforms Taylor in camp, then Taylor could wind up searching for a team this year, considering it's been a while since the Ravens carried three quarterbacks on their roster. The coaching staff has long admired Taylor's abilities as a quarterback. It's more a matter of making sure there's a reliable backup option in years to come than trying to find a way to get rid of the former Virginia Tech quarterback.
Great insights Jason! Thanks for taking time out to give us a more well-rounded perspective into our Hokies' situations up there in Baltimore. Hopefully Hopkins works out there, the Ravens interior line is always a strength and his make-up would be a good match. Hopkins motor just keeps running.
You can follow Jason and Baltimore Beatdown on Twitter @BMoreBeatdown.
This will be the last football Q&A for a bit. We've exhausted the format, but as a "completist", our set is now complete, with all new NFL Hokies accounted for. Hopefully all the Hokies will earn these NFL jobs, but in the event they don't, we'll be back with news of their next destination, here at Gobbler Country.
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