Passing on Faulk, Ravens stand pat

Team likely to stay at No. 10, Modell says

cornerback pick eyed

McAlister is top option

Receivers Holt, Boston, QB Culpepper in mix

NFL draft

April 16, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Owner Art Modell yesterday rejected trading the Ravens' first-round draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk, and said he is inclined to stay at the No. 10 overall spot tomorrow because the club can select an impact player, possibly Arizona cornerback Chris McAlister.

If McAlister isn't available, the Ravens would consider selecting North Carolina State receiver Torry Holt if he is still on the board, or then turn to Ohio State receiver David Boston or Central Florida quarterback Daunte Culpepper as third options.

Modell said Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay contacted him by phone yesterday morning making one more run to trade Faulk, but the Ravens' owner said Indianapolis was asking for too much in addition to a first-round pick. The Colts then agreed to a deal with St. Louis for second- and fifth-round draft picks.

With Faulk in the fold, there is strong speculation that the Rams will go after Holt with the No. 6 overall pick. There is also speculation that the Arizona Cardinals are undecided about whether to select Brigham Young offensive tackle John Tait or McAlister at No. 8.

A number of scenarios could unfold by draft day, but one thing was certain: Faulk was one of the league's best all-around performers last season, with 1,319 rushing and 908 receiving yards. He was expected to make $2.2 million this season and $2.46 million in 2000. The real risk now is signing Faulk to a new contract.

"They first approached us about Faulk two nights ago," Modell said. "We were reluctant to do the deal again, but Jimmy Irsay promised us one more opportunity before he would reach an agreement with another team. They wanted our first-round pick plus. One alone was enough to discourage us. Our personnel department has been successful in the past, and I'm optimistic about the draft."

With Indianapolis trading Faulk to the Rams, it appears the Colts are confident that the three top quarterbacks in the draft -- Kentucky's Tim Couch, Oregon's Akili Smith and Syracuse's Donovan McNabb -- will be taken by Cleveland, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, the teams with the first three picks, and the Colts will select Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ricky Williams of Texas with the No. 4 selection.

If that is indeed the scenario, the Ravens would probably not trade up.

"Personally, I'm very reluctant to move up, even if one of the three comes loose," Modell said. "To give up a slew of draft picks for one player, I'm not convinced that is the thing to do. It's too costly. But we could move up if one of the quarterbacks pops free.

"I'm inclined to stand pat at 10 because we believe we can get one hell of a football player. I would favor a cornerback, and there are two great ones in the draft in Champ Bailey and Chris McAlister. Bailey figures to be gone, but McAlister would have immediate impact because he would be a starter and allow us to move Rod Woodson from cornerback to safety. That's a double whammy."

Modell's preference would be consistent with the philosophy of director of player personnel Ozzie Newsome and new coach Brian Billick. Both have said in the past two weeks that they would take the best player available if they stayed at No. 10, regardless of the team's other needs at wide receiver, quarterback and running back.

The Minnesota Vikings, where Billick was the offensive coordinator for nearly six seasons, had the same approach under coach Dennis Green during the past seven seasons.

When asked if the Ravens might strongly consider Culpepper with the No. 10 pick, Modell said: "It has always been my philosophy that any first-round pick, with the exception of quarterback, had to start in his rookie season. He might be available, but I'm still getting more information on him."

Modell, though, did say he was pleased with a recent brief showing by newly acquired quarterback Scott Mitchell and was impressed with a 30-minute interview session with Rams quarterback Tony Banks, whom the Ravens may try to acquire as a backup. Modell said the team might swing a deal for Banks before the draft tomorrow, but Billick indicated the deal probably would be completed early next week. The Dallas Cowboys also are interested in Banks. Modell has soured on Warren Moon as a candidate for the backup position.

"Personally, I've lost interest in Moon," Modell said. "He has shown no interest in being here. We believe his agent is playing the waiting game, hoping that Warren can get a starting job around the league and they can demand top dollar. And if not, he'll come here. Well, he has played for Brian Billick and he knows what Brian can do. It's time for him to come aboard or for us to move on. We want someone who wants to be here."

Modell said Mitchell could be a fine starter, especially working with Billick, who has tutored Randall Cunningham, Brad Johnson and Jim McMahon.

"It was a no-rush, no-blitz drill, but Mitchell has a bazooka for an arm," Modell said after watching Mitchell throw recently. "He threw the ball around very well. In Tony Banks, you have a quarterback who has been through two coaches and three coordinators since he was in St. Louis. That's a tough and unsettling situation for any quarterback.

"I've been around this game for 39 years," Modell added. "I've only had a snapshot view of Brian Billick working with our players, but in a half-hour period he taught our quarterbacks and receivers more about passing and running routes than we've learned in recent years.

"I'm impressed with the relationship he has developed with the players in such a short time. Coaching is the not the rah-rah stuff; it's not screaming at players at halftime or delivering moving speeches. Coaching is teaching, and teaching is communicating. Brian seems to do both well."

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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