At the age of 32, Phil Savage knows he's too young to be ranked with such scouting gurus as Green Bay's Ron Wolf, Pittsburgh's Tom Donahoe and San Diego's Bobby Beathard.
"You can't look like a high schooler and be a guru," the boyish-looking Savage said with a laugh last week.
But if Savage, the Ravens' director of college scouting, can keep drafting the way he has the past two years, he'll eventually make a reputation for himself.
Savage has been with the organization since 1991 and was promoted to director of college scouting by vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome after the team moved to Baltimore. He has had two excellent drafts, anchored by Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware.
Savage, though, has yet to get much recognition around the country, a fact that doesn't concern him.
"I think amongst my peers and amongst the people I work with, I think they think I'm good at what I do. A lot of it [lack of recognition] is a matter of age. I feel fortunate to even have the job I do have," he said.
He also said that recognition comes with winning, which the Ravens have yet to do.
"The bottom line is whether the team actually wins. If we win, there'll be plenty of recognition to go around," he said.
Savage is quick to point out he shouldn't get all the credit, that it should be shared by his staff and the entire organization. He doesn't have the final call because the Ravens have a committee system and reach decisions by consensus.
But Savage is like the quarterback of the draft. He's in the position to get the credit for the good picks and the blame for the bad ones.
This year, with only five picks instead of the 12 he had last year and with the No. 10 pick instead of No. 4 in the first round, Savage's job will be much tougher.
Savage figures there are only four blue-chip players in this draft -- Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, Andre Wadsworth and Charles Woodson -- which leaves the Ravens in a no-man's land at No. 10.
"This time next year, somebody taken at No. 20 will probably end up being a better player than someone taken at six or seven," Savage said.
That is why the Ravens would like to trade down, but they have to be prepared if they can't make a deal.
They could look at defensive linemen Greg Ellis or Vonnie Holliday or offensive lineman Kyle Turley if they stay in the 10th spot, although their top two priorities are cornerback and wide receiver.
Woodson is the only corner rated in the top 10 and Randy Moss, the only wide receiver rated that high, comes with a lot of off-field baggage. Moss pleaded guilty to two counts of battery when he was in high school, tested positive for marijuana in college and was arrested for domestic battery in 1996.
"Woodson is really a modern-day Jim Thorpe," Savage said. "You start comparing the rest of the group to him and there's quite a drop-off. There's holes in each one [of the others]. It's a question of which hole you can cover up the best."
At wide receiver, Kevin Dyson is the consensus second choice behind Moss. Savage said he's a top 20 player but "borderline" between 10 to 15.
The problem at cornerback is there's no consensus around the league about which player is No. 2 behind Woodson.
Corey Chavous, Duane Starks, Terry Fair, Brian Kelly and R. W. McQuarters are possible first rounders at cornerback, but in no particular order.
Savage said the Ravens have narrowed the cornerback group to a top three and are still looking at film before making a final choice.
There figures to be a lot of wheeling and dealing in this draft, but sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make.
Beathard, the San Diego general manager, found that out last year when he was trying to peddle his 1998 first-round pick for a choice late in the first round or early in the second round.
The Denver Broncos had agreed to swap the 28th pick in the first round with the Chargers. But they changed their minds when defensive tackle Trevor Pryce fell to them.
The Ravens passed on giving the fourth pick in the second round to the Chargers because linebacker Jamie Sharper was available and they wanted him.
So Beathard had to keep the pick. What he didn't know was that the Chargers would go 4-12 and wind up with the third pick in the draft. They then made a trade with Arizona for the second pick so they could draft Manning or Leaf.
All the teams that turned down Beathard at the time surely wish they knew then what they know now. Imagine if Denver had Leaf to groom to eventually replace John Elway. And the Ravens would have been happy to get Leaf.
Newsome said: "Obviously if I could have looked out there and predicted that, we would have made the trade and never thought anything about it. In hindsight, we would have had the third and 10th picks and would have been right there [to trade up] for one of those quarterbacks."
Scoping the draft