No snap decision, Ravens had an eye on late-rounder Maese

Among team's last 4 picks, N. Mexico's long snapper is expected to fill a void

NFL Draft

April 23, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Of the four players the Ravens selected in yesterday's later rounds of the NFL draft, the one with the weakest credentials has the best chance at making the team.

The Ravens selected long snapper Joe Maese, a former walk-on from New Mexico, with its sixth-round pick (194th overall). The Ravens also chose Western Illinois middle linebacker Edgerton Hartwell in the fourth round, New Mexico State running back Chris Barnes in the fifth and Northwestern defensive end Dwayne Missouri in the seventh.

Hartwell, Barnes and Missouri were easily the best players on their college teams. Maese, though, is virtually the one with the job to lose now as a professional. He was the Ravens' highest-rated long snapper after he was used in only that manner at New Mexico. Maese will look to replace last year's duo of Frank Wainright and John Hudson, whose veteran price tags might be too steep for the Ravens.

"We've been impressed with the young man," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of player personnel. "What this allows us to do now is be able to carry him through minicamps and on into the preseason games. If he continues to throw strikes like he did in college, he can be our long snapper. If not, then we've got two or three guys on hold who we have some history with who we think can come in and be able to do it.

"But with us taking Joe with the sixth pick, we think he will be the guy to come in and get it done for us."

After Maese, Hartwell appears to have the best chance at contributing next season. He led the nation last year with 191 tackles and was a unanimous Division I-AA first-team All-American selection.

Hartwell (6 feet, 244 pounds) won the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the nation's top Division 1-AA player and set a school record with 512 tackles in three seasons.

"We've drafted a true [middle linebacker] who can be a guy that can call the signals," Newsome said. "When we were dealing with the Ray Lewis situation last year, we were talking about whether we can find a guy who can get the other 10 guys lined up and make the plays he has to make. That is exactly how Hartwell is."

Barnes, as of now, stands to be the backup to Jamal Lewis after Priest Holmes signed with Kansas City last Friday. The 6-foot, 209-pound Barnes is a bruising back who rushed for 1,131 yards and five touchdowns last season.

The Ravens will likely pick up a veteran running back and a couple of rookie free agents before training camp, but with a draft pick invested in Barnes, he would be the ideal backup.

"We would have not taken him with the fifth-round pick if we didn't [think he could be the backup]," Newsome said. "He's come out of the state of Florida. Florida produces a lot of real good football players. He gives us a chance to be able to have a viable backup to Jamal Lewis.

"Are we still trying to secure other people? Yes, but we got Chris to give him that opportunity first."

Said Ravens coach Brian Billick: "We're hoping for a bit of a surprise, like Denver when they were picking in the sixth round with [Mike] Anderson and Olandis Gary. You always hope to get lucky and hit a guy in the later rounds."

If not for a number of compensatory picks, Missouri could have been Mr. Irrelevant, the title awarded the last player chosen. He will try to earn the Ravens' the final defensive lineman spot after registering nine sacks for Northwestern last year.

"There were 138 players we felt were draftable for the Ravens," Newsome said. "Dwayne was within that number and not very close to being at the bottom.

"With the loss of Keith Washington, with Adalius [Thomas] only being in his second year, with [Michael] McCrary suffering the hand injury in the Super Bowl and [Rob] Burnett having the shoulder problems, we felt like we needed some depth at the defensive end position. We think Dwayne brings that to us."

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