Team may try to turn corner in the draft Trade talks have cooled with Panthers over Poole

Ravens notebook

March 21, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

As the Ravens turn their focus to next month's NFL draft, the cornerback position figures prominently in their minds, especially since trade talks involving Carolina veteran Tyrone Poole have cooled.

The Ravens are one of at least three teams inquiring about Poole, a four-year veteran entering the final year of his contract. To get Poole, the Ravens would have to give him a multi-year contract extension and probably would have to part with their second-round draft pick.

Giving up such a draft choice makes the Ravens uncomfortable, particularly after they parted with this year's third-round pick while swinging last month's trade with Indianapolis for quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

One scenario has the Ravens swapping second-round picks with Carolina, while also giving the Panthers their fourth-round pick. The Ravens own the first choice of that round, which happens to be the first pick of the draft's second day -- a coveted position.

"You have all night [instead of the normal 15 minutes allowed between picks] to think about that choice, which makes it tough [to give up]," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said.

If the Ravens fail to trade for a veteran starting cornerback to complement the recently acquired Rod Woodson, obtaining a cornerback becomes the top priority in the draft.

The Ravens have the 10th overall selection, and own five picks overall. Since they would love to recover their third-round choice, look for them to trade down in the first round, where they feel good about the chances of obtaining one of four cornerbacks they like -- Southern California's Brian Kelly, Miami's Duane Starks, Vanderbilt's Corey Chavous or Tennessee's Terry Fair.

The team's fixation on the cornerback slot underscores its doubts about DeRon Jenkins. The Ravens gave up three choices to grab Jenkins of Tennessee in the second round of the 1996 draft, and Jenkins heads into the final season of a three-year contract with much to prove.

After a disappointing rookie year, Jenkins showed signs of progress as a nickel back in 1997. He eventually took over for the injured Eugene Daniel and started the final four games on the right corner.

Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said it's up to Jenkins to maintain his position as a starter.

"That's why [Jenkins] was drafted. Now, it's time to do it," Lewis said. "He's always had an inflated opinion of himself. I think he left here [after the 1997 season] knowing he was a starting cornerback. Now, he's got a chance to erase the question marks [about his ability]."

Jenkins is expected to join the team's off-season conditioning program by the end of the month.

Lewis, Boulware in training

Linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware also are expected to be in Owings Mills by the end of the month. Each has been working out on his own. Lewis has hired a trainer to improve his quickness and reflexes.

"There are weightlifters who want to be football players, and there are football players who happen to lift weights," Marvin Lewis said. "I'm not worried about either one of those guys."

Less Green, more green

Ravens tight end Eric Green is not revealing any numbers, but suffice it to say that he has trimmed some noticeable pounds during the off-season.

Green, 6 feet 5, was listed at 285 pounds last year, when he played in all 16 games for the first time since 1993 and caught 65 passes for 601 yards and five touchdowns. He appears to be fully recovered from a knee injury that hampered him for much of 1997.

Green recently signed a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. It includes a $300,000 signing bonus, a $50,000 workout bonus and weight clauses worth another $50,000.

New jobs for veterans?

The team is expected to offer Daniel a job coaching cornerbacks. The Ravens already have offered Earnest Byner a job that would combine community relations work, player personnel duty and coaching the team's running backs.

Pub Date: 3/21/98

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