Ravens' rush order: Russell or Boulware But if neither lineman is available, team will trade No. 4 to Giants

LB would be taken at No. 7

M. Lewis sells Modell on FSU star's versatility

April 19, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens want to select Southern California defensive tackle Darrell Russell or Florida State defensive end Peter Boulware today with their No. 4 overall pick in the NFL draft, but have reached an oral agreement to trade down three spots with the Giants and get New York's third-round selection if neither player is available.

Russell is not expected to be on the draft board by the time the Ravens select in the first round, but Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis has persuaded owner Art Modell to take Boulware if the top-rated pass rusher in college football is available.

"If either one of them is there at No. 4, we're taking him," Modell said. "If they're both gone, then in all probability there will be a trade down. The odds of both of them being available in the fourth slot are about 1,000-to-1. Russell may be the best player in the entire draft. He is the Orlando Pace defensively in this draft.

"The coaches have convinced me beyond a measure of a doubt that he could make a major, major impact on this team the way they intend to use him," Modell said.

"Hopefully, we'll put to bed this constant refrain that I keep reading and hearing about that cash is a consideration behind what we do, that the cost of the fourth pick is a deterrent. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Boulware, 6 feet 4 and 255 pounds, was not an easy sell for Lewis to Modell. Some experts consider Boulware too small to play defensive end in the Ravens' 4-3 alignment, and there was )) hesitation from Modell and other members of his staff about Boulware's transition from end to outside linebacker.

There was even speculation in recent days that if Russell wasn't available, the Ravens might consider trading down. But Lewis apparently would use Boulware in a way similar to how the Steelers deployed outside linebackers Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd, two players Lewis coached in Pittsburgh.

The Ravens would use Boulware as an outside linebacker on first and second downs, and as a rusher on passing situations. He could line up anywhere along the line of scrimmage to cause offenses problems.

Boulware finished the 1996 season with 68 tackles, 20 for 104 yards in losses, including 19 sacks.

"We need a pass rush," Modell said. "I like what he intends to do to maximize Boulware's production. He is a very creative coordinator."

Boulware's right knee also passed the team's medical examination at the scouting combine in Indianapolis nearly two months ago.

"It looks a lot better than the word says out on the street," Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf said. "He is not favoring it. We saw him within 24 hours of his workout. I can't say it was perfect, but we didn't see any swelling that would indicate a problem.

"Our feeling is that it's well on its way to healing. There are guys who have significantly worse knees than Peter's playing on this team."

If Russell somehow slips to No. 4 along with Boulware, the team probably would choose Russell. Modell and most of the Ravens' coaching staff like the idea of having the 6-4 1/2 , 322-pound Russell possibly playing beside 6-3, 320-pound Tony Siragusa, the Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle the Ravens are pursuing through free agency.

"If we can get Russell and Siragusa, we've got ourselves quite a combination in the middle," Modell said. "If that happens, I want to play a game tomorrow. Start the season now."

The worst scenario for the Ravens would be for Ohio State offensive tackle Orlando Pace, Russell and Boulware to be gone with the first three picks, and the Ravens being faced with picking an outside linebacker, such as Virginia's James Farrior or Alabama's Dwayne Rudd, whom they feel are unworthy of being paid as the No. 4 selection.

The Ravens believe one of those players, along with Virginia's other outside linebacker, Jamie Sharper, would be available with the Giants' pick at No. 7.

Modell says he has a conditional agreement with Giants owner Wellington Mara, who then would trade up and probably choose Florida State offensive tackle Walter Jones.

"We don't want a corner," said Modell, in reference to cornerbacks Shawn Springs of Ohio State and Texas' Bryant Westbrook, the remaining two of the top-five-rated players in the draft.

"We have agreed to the offer, but only if certain players are unavailable. The Giants want to make a deal now, and it's not conditional on Jones' being available. The fact is, we don't want to make a deal now, if at all."

There is speculation that Florida State running back Warrick Dunn could slip through to the second round, and it would be interesting to see whether the Ravens would take him. They are looking for a fast, shifty runner, especially on passing situations.

Draft facts

What: 62nd NFL draft.

L Where: The Threater at madison Square Garden, new York City.

When: Noon, today, (rounds 1-3); 11 a.m., tomorrow, (rounds 4-7).

Procedure: Representatives of the 30 NFL clubs by telephone with their general managers, coaches and scouts.

Time limits: 15 minutes per team for round 1; 10 minutes per team for round 2; 5 minutes per team rounds 3-7.

TV coverage: ESPN, today (noon-7 p.m.); ESPN2, today 7 p.m.-conclusion); ESPN, tomorrow (11 a.m.-1 p.m.); ESPN2, tomorrow (1 p.m.-conclusion).

Ravens draft picks

Round 1: 4th pick, fourth player overall

Round 2: 4th pick, 34th player overall 28th pick, 58th player overall-x

Round 3: 4th pick , 64th player overall

Round 4: 22nd pick, 118th player overall-y

Round 5: 4th pick, 134th player overall

Round 6: 4th pick, 167th player overall 31st pick, 194th player overall*

Round 7: 4th pick, 205th player overall 33rd pick, 234th player overall* 35th pick, 236th player overall* 37th pick, 238th player overall*

* -- compensatory selection; x- from Denver; y-from Dallas

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