OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It was 16 years ago when Terrell Suggs ran the 40 at his pro day in a hugely disappointing 4.9 seconds, causing his draft stock to drop and the Baltimore Ravens hopes to increase.
Phil Savage, then the director of scouting for the Ravens, quickly phoned Ozzie Newsome to tell him that Baltimore had a shot at the draft’s top pass-rusher. He was right as the Ravens selected Suggs with the No. 10 overall pick, landing the steal of that draft.
Asked if the Ravens should be alarmed by Suggs’ slow times, coach Brian Billick said, “If quarterbacks started taking 40-yard drops, then I’d be a little concerned.”
With Suggs departing this offseason as the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, the Ravens could fill his spot with someone who has followed a similar path.
Florida’s Jachai Polite established himself as one of college’s top pass-rushers, recording 11 sacks in 13 games. But Polite has experienced this year’s biggest free-fall after he ran his pro day 40-yard dash in just 4.96 seconds — even worse than his 4.84-second effort at the combine (the second slowest among edge players).
The Ravens need an impact pass-rusher after Suggs and Za’Darius Smith left in free agency. Their 15.5 sacks last season represented over one-third of Baltimores’s production.
With the growing expectation that the Ravens will trade out of the first round, could Polite be on Baltimore’s radar if the team falls back into the second round? Ravens officials didn’t sound too scared off by Polite’s troubling workouts.
“I think ultimately it comes down to the film, and then, the testing results are just that,” Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said when asked about Polite. “They’re testing results on that day.”
This is more than lip service by Baltimore. In last year’s draft, the Ravens benefited from Orlando Brown Jr.’s nightmarish NFL combine.
Brown went from being a first-round pick to slipping to the third round, where Baltimore selected him. In 10 starts, Brown helped the Ravens become the league’s second-best rushing attack and didn’t allow a sack.