Ravens define needs, prospects

Team interviews Faulk, receivers Boston, Holt

April 07, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Two of the nation's top wide receivers, Ohio State's David Boston and North Carolina State's Torry Holt, and Louisiana State University running back Kevin Faulk visited the Ravens' practice facility in Owings Mills yesterday.

With the draft scheduled for April 17, the Ravens and the NFL's 30 other teams are conducting personal interviews in final preparations. The Ravens have the No. 10 pick overall and have identified their top priorities as quarterback, running back, wide receiver and cornerback.

In the past few months, coach Brian Billick and Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, have said they would like to draft a quarterback to work behind starter Scott Mitchell and possible backup Warren Moon if the Ravens sign the veteran.

There is speculation that Central Florida's Daunte Culpepper, who visited the Ravens about three weeks ago and is generally regarded as the fourth-best quarterback in the draft, might slip to the Ravens in the first round. But there is concern about Culpepper playing at a small school and his ability to read sophisticated defenses if he is rushed into action too quickly.

There is a split in the Ravens' front office as well as other teams' about who to select in the top 10 slot, which is usually for the impact-rated players. The internal debate among the Ravens is expected to become more intense next week.

Several of the Ravens' front-office staff would prefer the Ravens draft an impact player like Holt, Boston or Arizona cornerback Chris McAlister in the first round, then select a quarterback such as Washington's Brock Huard in the later rounds. The 6-foot, 190-pound Holt is generally regarded as the best receiver in the draft and the 6-3, 205-pound Boston is No. 2.

"I honestly feel I am the best receiver in this draft, and I feel I proved it week in and week out," said Holt. "I definitely put in my time and my hard work, and it's definitely paying off for me."

Holt said his game is not one-dimensional.

"With the offense at N.C. State, you had to do a variety of things," said Holt. "You had to block, go across the middle, go deep, run reverses. I wanted to be an all-purpose receiver and I was able to show everything I could do this past year."

Boston said: "Big players are supposed to make big plays in big games and I've done that. When you play a whole season with guys like Orlando Pace, Shawn Springs and Eddie George [ex-Ohio State players now in the NFL], you see what is needed to become a first-round draft pick and you work all summer long to make that happen."

McAlister, 6 feet, is rated No. 2 behind Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey, but Bailey isn't expected to be available when the Ravens select. McAlister, though, may be the best athlete in the secondary group and would give the Ravens another solid cornerback opposite Duane Starks, whom the Ravens drafted with their No. 10 overall pick a year ago.

If the Ravens drafted McAlister, then veteran cornerback Rod Woodson would be moved to safety. Newsome confirmed yesterday that he had spoken with Woodson about the change at the end of last season, and Woodson agreed to the move if it could help the team.

Besides Boston, Faulk and Holt, the Ravens are expected to interview West Virginia running back Amos Zereoue today, McAlister and Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb tomorrow and Huard on Friday.

The Ravens have talked to Indianapolis and St. Louis, which have the No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks, about possibly trading up, but any deal would likely be made on draft day. Newsome said it is unlikely the Ravens would trade down in the first round because he felt most teams could get an impact player if they stayed within the No. 15 overall slot.

Pub Date: 4/07/99

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