Ravens' idea of perfect 10: landing a QB

More set on holding spot in first round, team keeps sights on Leftwich, Boller

Ravens to watch what Jags do

At No. 8, Jacksonville wrinkle in Ravens' plans

Nfl Draft

April 26, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

A strong likelihood exists that today's NFL draft could end a dubious 20-year drought for this city.

After their final pre-draft huddle yesterday, the Ravens appear set to take a quarterback - whether it's Marshall's Byron Leftwich or California's Kyle Boller - with the No. 10 pick. No Baltimore NFL team has drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1983, when the Colts picked John Elway first overall and then traded him to the Denver Broncos.

Other possibilities include Utah offensive tackle Jordan Gross, Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs, but they are all expected to be taken before the Ravens pick.

The more likely scenario has the Ravens staying put at No. 10 and selecting a quarterback. They will either have a chance at Leftwich, who would need to fall past the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 8, or take Boller if their top nine rated players are off the board.

"If you got 10 players, one thing that can't happen is all 10 can't go in the top nine," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "One of those players is going to be there, so we'll be prepared to pick."

The Ravens seem locked at the No. 10 spot because they aren't inclined to trade up for Leftwich and aren't comfortable about trading down beyond No. 13 for fear of losing out on Boller.

It is believed that the Ravens have Leftwich ranked seventh or eighth on their draft board and Boller at No. 10. With such a slight difference in marks, team officials appear unwilling to give up a third-round pick to move ahead of the Jaguars and secure Leftwich.

Optimally, the Ravens wanted to fall back into the middle of the first round to select Boller and collect extra draft picks. But the Chicago Bears yesterday traded back from No. 4 (acquiring the 13th and 22nd picks from the Jets) and could grab Boller, the fast-rising quarterback prospect, if the Ravens drop behind them.

"This quarterback group is one of the tightest I can remember in a long time," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We probably won't have to make a choice, but we could if we had to. If one presents itself, we wouldn't hesitate in taking one."

The decision whether to draft Leftwich has led to an interesting one-on-one game between Newsome and James Harris, the Jaguars' vice president of player personnel. It was only three months ago when Harris was the Ravens' pro personnel director and had an office just down the hall from Newsome.

Now, Harris and Newsome are both intrigued with Leftwich.

Jacksonville is looking for a replacement for the aging Mark Brunell, but Leftwich may not be best suited for the Jaguars' West Coast offense. Leftwich, who primarily worked out of the shotgun in college, could have trouble adjusting to a system that is predicated on three-step timing throws.

Newsome said he planned to call Harris last night but doesn't expect to find out if the Jaguars' interest is a smokescreen.

"He has a very good poker face," Newsome said. "There's going to be some cat-and-mouse going on. It will also be informative. I trust him and he trusts me that we'll be able to talk through some things. But there will also be some mixed signals that will be sent back and forth."

When the Jaguars are on the clock with the eighth pick, the Ravens' draft will truly begin.

The draft's top five prospects - Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer, Michigan State receiver Charles Rogers, Miami receiver Andre Johnson, Kentucky defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson and Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman - are expected to be taken with the top five picks. The Arizona Cardinals (sixth pick) will likely select Suggs, and the Minnesota Vikings (seventh) appear set on Kennedy.

Assuming there are no trades in the top 10, here's the four most probable scenarios facing the Ravens in the first round:

The Ravens draft Boller if the Jaguars take Leftwich and the Carolina Panthers (ninth pick) select Gross.

In this situation, the Ravens would entertain offers to trade down with the Seattle Seahawks (11th), who want a defensive lineman, and the St. Louis Rams (12th), who may covet Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant. By doing so, the Ravens would still be able to stay ahead of the Bears and get Boller along with additional picks.

The Ravens draft Leftwich if the Jaguars take Trufant and the Panthers select Gross.

The Ravens draft Leftwich if the Jaguars take Gross and the Panthers select Trufant.

The Ravens draft Gross if the Jaguars take Leftwich and the Panthers select Trufant.

Draft data

Rounds 1-3: Today, noon-10 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: Tomorrow, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Ravens' picks: 10, 41, 77, 109, 134, 146, 173, 182, 223, 250, 258

Media's position

This is what the media predict for the Ravens' first-round pick (10th overall):

Vic Carucci, NFL.com: Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News: Marcus Trufant, CB, Washington State

ESPN.com: Jordan Gross, OT, Utah

Fox Sports.com: Jimmy Kennedy, DT, Penn State

Bob Glauber, Newsday: Kyle Boller, QB, California

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