With 3 picks, trade, Ravens use 2nd day to bolster offense

WR Stokley is selected

guard/center Lindsay acquired from Vikings

April 19, 1999|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

They feel stronger on the offensive line and at wide receiver, they may have stolen a defensive gem in the final round and they ended the day by talking about adding two veteran running backs in the near future.

All in all, while the second day of the Ravens' fourth NFL draft did not yield a blue-chip player approaching the level of cornerback and first-round pick Chris McAlister, it featured the addition of some much-needed depth on offense.

First, the Ravens grabbed Southwest Louisiana receiver Brandon Stokley in the fourth round. At the end of the same round, they drafted Arizona lineman Edwin Mulitalo, whom they project as a solid backup at guard. Next, they traded their sixth-round choice to Minnesota for veteran lineman Everett Lindsay, who is expected to challenge for a starting job at either left guard or center.

Then, they concluded the day by taking a seventh-round shot at Virginia safety Anthony Poindexter, a three-time All-American whose stock dropped sharply due to a serious knee injury he suffered last fall.

And after failing to draft a running back, the Ravens expect to talk to Errict Rhett this week about re-signing here. They also could have free-agent back Steve Broussard in for a visit as early as today.

"I feel very good that we've impacted our football team in 1999," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel. "I'm hearing a little rumbling that we've shelved the 1999 season and we're just looking forward to 2000.

"I'm too competitive, Brian [Billick, coach] is too competitive, Phil [Savage, college scouting director] is too competitive, and I know the owner is too competitive to shelve a season while looking ahead to the future. Everything we did today was done to better our team this year. And we're not done yet."

The Ravens clearly are looking to the future regarding Poindexter, whom they figured would have been a first-round pick had he finished his sterling collegiate career without tearing three ligaments in his knee.

Poindexter, 6 feet 1, 223 pounds, went down in the season's eighth game and had reconstructive surgery shortly thereafter. He has made enough progress in his rehabilitation to make the Ravens believe he could be a force by 2000.

Despite the injury, Poindexter earned All-America recognition for the third time.

"I told [Poindexter] I'm looking at the year 2000. Anything we get out of him in 1999 is going to be a plus," Newsome said. "If he can get himself into a position to compete for a starting position when we get to training camp in the year 2000, Phil and I will have achieved what we wanted when we drafted him in the seventh round."

"I've had a chance to watch him for four years," Savage added. "The seventh round is always an `if' round. If this guy is able to come back and play, we got a top 20 talent in the seventh round. I think he's going to be that good if he comes back. He's a warrior."

The Ravens feel the same way about Stokley, whom they ranked higher than Tennessee's Peerless Price among a thin crop of rookie receivers. They opened their fourth round by selecting the Southwest Louisiana star to fill a pressing need.

They hope Stokley can challenge for the No. 3 receiver position. They already love his ability to produce consistently, even against the likes of top-flight opponents such as Florida, Tulane, Southern Mississippi and Texas Tech. Stokley finished his career ranked 10th all-time on the NCAA Division I-A list with 241 career receptions and ninth with 3,702 yards.

He averaged 100 yards receiving per game in the three years he was healthy. He went down midway through the 1997 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, but returned triumphantly in 1998 to produce a school-record 1,173 receiving yards. He lacks blazing speed, but is not lacking when it comes to sure hands and crisp routes.

"I think I'm a very sure-handed receiver. I can make the big catch late in the game. That's when I want the ball," Stokley said.

The Ravens completed their fourth round by grabbing Mulitalo, a steady, two-year performer at Arizona who played left tackle, but will be shifted inside to guard in Baltimore.

One day after trading their second-round choice and leaving themselves with just one pick on the draft's first day -- an organizational decision that did not sit well with Savage -- the Ravens were pleased to see Stokley and Mulitalo still available when they were on the clock in the fourth round.

"Had we traded down and picked late in the second and third round [on Saturday], there's a real good chance we would have taken those two [Stokley and Mulitalo] anyway," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "As it turned out, they were still there in the fourth round, and we still ended up with them, plus we have Atlanta's No. 1 pick [in 2000]. Ozzie rolled the dice, and it turned out to be a brilliant move."

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