First and foremost, Ravens may make a connection with Boller

Cal QB might be team's choice with No. 10 pick

Ravens

April 11, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

In the first week college players can visit NFL team facilities, the Ravens brought in the player many mock drafts have projected as their first pick.

California quarterback Kyle Boller toured the Ravens' training complex yesterday, along with guard Montrae Holland (Florida State), running back Rashard Lee (Middle Tennessee State), defensive end Antwan Peek (Cincinnati) and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (Tennessee).

Boller, by far, has the highest profile among those players. He was originally projected as a middle-round pick, but his stock has risen as much as any player after strong offseason workouts and an impressive showing at the NFL combine.

Now, a number of draft experts have predicted Boller will go to the Ravens with the 10th overall pick, as possibly the third quarterback selected behind Southern California's Carson Palmer and Marshall's Byron Leftwich. Such a scenario would sit well with Boller.

"It was awesome," Boller said of his visit. "I love the coaches. I really love the area. I'd love to be a Raven."

This will not be his only stop, though. Boller has met with the Jacksonville Jaguars' staff and left to meet with the Chicago Bears last night.

He did, however, say he formed a connection with Ravens coach Brian Billick after Billick, general manger Ozzie Newsome, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and player personnel director Phil Savage attended a workout on Boller's home campus 16 days ago.

"It was good to be able to be here. I love Coach Billick," Boller said. "If I can play for him, I feel like I can be happier than ever."

Chris Redman's successful offseason back surgery is still a concern, so the Ravens are in the market for a young quarterback. Team officials attended a workout for Leftwich on Monday, one in which the quarterback proved he had recovered from a broken leg suffered last season.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who own the draft's top pick, the Bears and possibly the Dallas Cowboys also are interested in Leftwich, and there is a better chance Boller will be on the board when the Ravens select.

Boller's senior year, when he threw for 2,815 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, was his only impressive one. While his arm strength is unquestionable (he can throw 70 yards on the run), Boller was 7-21 as a starter, never completed more than 50 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (38) than touchdowns (36) his first three seasons. That is not scaring off the Ravens.

"He's a good kid, very talented, and we'd be lucky to have him if it turned out that way," Billick said.

NOTES: The Ravens remain in negotiations with unrestricted free agent linebacker Jamir Miller, and the sides could agree to a contract as early as today. "It's just a structural fight, which is a good sign," Billick said. Ravens officials also expect a decision by the end of next week from free-agent receiver Frank Sanders.

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