For the 33rd year in a row the Virginia football program had one of its players selected in the NFL Draft. This year, the Baltimore Ravens selected cornerback Maurice Canady in the sixth round. To get some insight on Canady's pro potential, I recently reached out to Nathan Beaucage at Baltimore Beatdown. Here's what Nathan had to say about Maurice and the Ravens.
Streaking the Lawn: Were there any pre-draft signals from the Ravens that they were interested in taking Canady? What's the reaction within the Ravens' community so far to the Canady selection?
Baltimore Beatdown: We knew that the Ravens were going to come out of the draft with some cornerbacks, no doubt about that. However, we didn't know who those defenders would be. I thought that the Ravens would snatch a higher-rated cornerback before drafting Tavon Young in the fourth round, but obviously the Ravens were happy with the value and see something they like in both Young and Maurice Canady.
In general, the feeling towards Canady has been positive. The Ravens are in dire need of cornerback depth, so it's hard not to like the pick. Many fans see Canady as a high-ceiling player who fits the description of a late-round gem, something the Ravens have found a lot of in recent years.
STL: What's the scouting report on Maurice? Are there particular things he needs to improve to be a successful NFL corner? Are there particular things he does well already?
BB: Canady seems like a guy who has lots of potential, but will need to develop for a a few seasons. I have a gut feeling that he may have slid a round or two too far. He has prototypical size for a cornerback and he's the kind of guy who can line up anywhere on the field for a defense.
But the red flags loom large as well. Canady has questionable press coverage skills, as he was roasted for 6 touchdowns last season. After watching some of his tape, I think scouts are also justified in questioning his tackling skills. I'll concede that these perceived weaknesses may be a bit overblown, as I've read that Virginia's defensive scheme often put Canady in single coverage against top opposing receivers, which isn't any good for a guy who really can't be that "shutdown" corner. If Canady can brush up in those two areas, he might make some scouts look silly.
STL: What's the outlook for Canady in the Ravens' defensive backfield? How would you rate his chances for making the final roster and contributing as a rookie?
BB: I think that he's pretty close to a lock to make the roster. I can't emphasize enough how much the Ravens need depth in the secondary, as the unit was devastated by injuries last season. Canady can easily stick around with his skill set. I don't see the young corner getting a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign, but that's life in the NFL for a Day 3 selection. Right now I'd project him as the Ravens' fifth or sixth corner come Week 1.
STL: During his senior season, Virginia also used Canady as a punt returner. Are the Ravens already set there? Or is it possible Maurice gets a shot?
BB: My understanding is that another rookie, sixth-round selection Keenan Reynolds, is the guy to look out for at returner. The Ravens also have Kaelin Clay on the roster currently, and he was a decent returner last season. I'm sure that Canady will probably field a few kicks and punts during camp, but I imagine the Ravens will be more focused with Canady at the cornerback position.