Ravens pick punter, stick to philosophy

Team takes best player left at 112: Ohio's Zastudil

NFL Draft

April 22, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

One lesson was reinforced on Day 2 of the NFL draft.

Stubbornness is the cornerstone of the Ravens' philosophy.

Resisting the temptation to fill needs along the offensive line, defensive line and at cornerback, the Ravens used their first pick of the fourth round (112th overall) on Ohio University punter David Zastudil.

The team stood by its credo of best available player regardless of position despite how puzzling a selection it appears.

"I think one thing with Ozzie [Newsome, senior vice president of football operations] we found out is that he truly will go by the board," Ravens director of college scouting Phil Savage said.

The selection proved timely considering former punter Kyle Richardson agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Vikings yesterday. While Zastudil was projected by at least one major mock draft to go in the fourth round, the Ravens were not thought to be the team that would take him that high.

"[Special teams coach Gary Zauner] went and worked out Zastudil last week and came back with a rave review of the kid," Newsome said. "If we're going to be a good football team that might suffer a little bit on offense, a punter can become a weapon, a punter who can kick it deep or kick it to the sideline.

"You have to stay with your board. We do have needs. We could have very easily taken a corner or a tackle, but next year, we'd still be looking for a corner or a tackle. So you take the value. There are other ways to get players on this football team. The last thing we need to do in the draft room is start taking out the depth chart and saying that we need this, we need that."

The Ravens used their second pick of the fourth round (123) on University of Minnesota receiver Ron Johnson. Alabama tight end Terry Jones, Jr. was selected in the fifth round (155), followed by four sixth-round choices in Eastern Washington receiver/returner Lamont Brightful (195), Notre Dame receiver Javin Hunter (206), Toledo running back Chester Taylor (207) and Southern Mississippi safety Chad Williams (209).

Stephen F. Austin quarterback Wes Pate was the Ravens final selection in the seventh round (236).

Johnson, at 6 feet 2, 225 pounds, is a physical receiver who was Minnesota's Most Valuable Player last season when he caught 56 passes for 895 yards and nine touchdowns. While his lack of speed is a concern, Johnson could work himself into a position to compete for a starting spot with a strong training camp.

"A lot of people in the Big Ten would compare him favorably with [Michigan's] Marquise Walker, who went in the third round," Savage said.

Brightful also has a good shot at helping the team immediately because of his return ability. With a body in the same mold as ex-return man Jermaine Lewis, Brightful (5-9, 160 pounds) scored five touchdowns on kickoff returns for Eastern Washington.

Taylor will compete with Jason Brookins to back up Jamal Lewis. Taylor rushed for more than 4,000 yards at Toledo.

"Chester can be a three-down back, and I think that is important because nobody knows how well Jamal is going to progress," Newsome said.

Newsome also said the Ravens could re-sign another running back before this weekend's training camp, presumably Moe Williams.

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