Draft deal has Ravens at 5 and 10

Team rises five slots by trading Broncos 15th, 45th selections

Is next move down board?

5th pick may be too high to use on Lewis, Taylor

April 13, 2000|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens swapped first-round NFL draft picks with Denver yesterday, acquiring the Broncos' No. 10 pick in exchange for the Ravens' 15th selection and a second-round choice, the 45th overall.

The Ravens still have the No. 5 pick Saturday but are strongly considering trading it down between Nos. 12 and 18 in the first round, according to a league source.

This is the first time since the team moved to Baltimore nearly four years ago that the Ravens have two picks in the top 10 and the third straight year they have the No. 10 overall selection. The Ravens drafted cornerbacks Duane Starks, out of the University of Miami, in the 10th slot in 1998 and Arizona's Chris McAlister last year. The Ravens now have six total picks.

"All I know is that we will go into the draft room today and tomorrow and review our options," said Ravens owner Art Modell. "Anytime you get a chance to draft 20 percent of the best talent available, then you're in pretty good shape. This was a great trade. It gives us a lot of maneuverability. We may do something else. We may not."

The Ravens' top priorities are acquiring a running back, wide receiver and offensive lineman. According to the league source, Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, has rated Tennessee's Jamal Lewis as the draft's top running back, and the team also likes Florida receiver Travis Taylor.

Lewis, 5 feet 11 and 237 pounds, ran for 816 yards last season, gaining 4.5 yards a carry despite nagging injuries. There are concerns about his playing status stemming from a major knee injury he suffered in his sophomore year, but Lewis' stock started to rise recently after he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds while weighing 231 pounds. He also has a 40.5-inch vertical jump. Lewis is a solid pass catcher, and the Ravens hope he would revert to the form of his sophomore year, when he averaged nearly 6 yards a carry and caught 23 passes.

Taylor has 4.0 speed and played in one of college football's most sophisticated passing offenses. He would fit right in with the Ravens.

The source said the Ravens don't think either player is worth the No. 5 price tag and the team is practically assured of getting one at No. 10 and another quality receiver or running back if they stay within the top 20 range. The Ravens also would like to add a second- or third-round pick if they move back because they believe this is a quality draft.

One team the Ravens might be calling is the New York Jets, who have the Nos. 13, 16 and 27 picks in the first round.

"If you pick from No. 5 to 15, no one is going to stand up on a soap box and say it's a stretch regardless of who you pick," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "This is as multidimensional of a draft as I've ever seen. That's the beauty of having two picks. We've talked about adding depth to our team, especially at linebacker, and you can find those second-level linebackers in the second or third round. Those are rounds where we can also improve ourselves on the defensive line."

Another option would be to use the No. 10 pick to trade for disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillon. The idea didn't receive a ringing endorsement from Modell, Newsome or Billick yesterday, but it might be available if the Ravens can't get the player they value at No. 10. The Ravens were one of several teams the Bengals called recently about Dillon, but the talks never became serious. The Ravens are concerned about wear and tear on Dillon, who has spent four seasons as Cincinnati's primary weapon.

Marvin Demoff, Dillon's agent, has been involved in most of the speculation about Dillon, and the source said Demoff is trying to leverage the Ravens because he also represents Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. The Ravens are expected to begin negotiations with Ogden shortly after the draft. Ogden has one year left on his contract but has expressed a desire to sign an extension before the 2000 regular season starts.

"It's a matter of what the parameters are of the trade," Billick said about Dillon. "As usual, it's up to Cincy. If the phone rings, we'll take the call."

Some of the team's defensive line problems might be cured in the next two days. Seattle Seahawks unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams, a six-year veteran, is expected to fly into Baltimore today and meet with Billick, Newsome and Modell tomorrow after taking a physical.

Adams' agent, Angelo Wright, denied reports that his client initially was looking for a five- to seven-year deal worth $5 million a season. The Ravens, as well as the Green Bay Packers, have interest in Adams.

Ravens starting defensive tackle Larry Webster has been suspended indefinitely pending an appeal for violation of the league's drug- and substance-abuse policy. Fellow starting tackle Tony Siragusa might be a training camp holdout in July if he doesn't get a contract extension.

"I think his chances of signing here are good, real good," Wright said of Adams. "Once Sam gets to Baltimore, meets Art Modell and he sees that Sam is their type of guy, they will step up to the plate and make him a decent offer."

NFL draft

When: Saturday-Sunday

TV: Saturday, noon-7 p.m. on ESPN, 7-10 p.m. on ESPN2; Sunday, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. on ESPN, 1 p.m.- conclusion on ESPN2

Total selections: 254

Ravens' picks:

Round 1 -- No. 5, No. 10

Round 3 -- No. 75

Round 5 -- No. 148

Round 6 -- No. 186, No. 191

Top 10 picks:

1. Cleveland

2. Washington (from N.O.)

3. Washington (from S.F.)

4. Cincinnati

5. Ravens (from Atlanta)

6. Philadelphia

7. Arizona

8. Pittsburgh

9. Chicago

10. Ravens (from Denver)

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