Ravens double their glee

Getting rusher Suggs at No. 10, Ravens trade to nab QB Boller at 19

Busy signal blocks Leftwich deal

Newsome's `finest hour,' Modell says

both sides of ball reap first-round lift

Nfl Draft

April 27, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

In a span of a dozen picks, yesterday's NFL draft turned from chaos to celebration for the Ravens.

Unable to pull the trigger on a last-minute trade for coveted Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich, the Ravens recovered to hit two bull's-eyes in a dizzying first round, picking the draft's best pass rusher in Arizona State's Terrell Suggs and a quarterback for the future in California's Kyle Boller.

Known for their drafting expertise, the Ravens were shrewd operators once again, coming away with two players rated in their top 10 and finishing with perhaps the best first round of any team in the league.

Minutes after a deal with the Minnesota Vikings fell apart, the Ravens were elated to use the 10th pick on Suggs, who was rated No. 6 on the team's board. Still determined to land a young quarterback, general manager Ozzie Newsome worked the phones to move from No. 41 in the second round to New England's No. 19 overall pick - trading the second-round pick as well as next season's first-rounder - to nab Boller, their 10th-rated prospect.

"Ozzie's been with me for 25 years and today was his finest hour," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "His performance was superb in dealing with other teams and racing against the clock. He came out a winner as he always has been."

The Ravens' fate would have been different if not for a busy signal. At one point, the Ravens were within a connected phone call of handing in a card with Leftwich's name on it.

The Vikings, who had the No. 7 pick, contacted the Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars with five minutes left in their 15-minute window to see which team would give the most to trade up and select Leftwich. Minnesota, though, waited too long to get the best deal.

With 32 seconds left, the Ravens agreed to make the jump in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round picks but couldn't inform the NFL of the deal. When the Ravens phoned league headquarters in New York, they got a busy signal as time - and their chances to draft Leftwich - expired.

"The deal was never consummated," Newsome said. "A deal is not a deal until I talk to [NFL senior director of football operations] Joel Bussert, and I never talked to him."

With Minnesota off the clock, the Jaguars wasted no time to select Leftwich with the next pick, and the Carolina Panthers soon followed by taking Utah offensive tackle Jordan Gross. The Vikings, who had missed two turns, quickly moved to pick Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams and the Ravens were right behind to take Suggs.

This mad rush of four picks happened in less than four minutes. As soon as the dust settled, the Vikings were blaming the Ravens for the fiasco.

"We did consummate a trade with Baltimore," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "We turned in our end of the trade to the league. It's my understanding that they didn't turn their end in time.

"I'm [ticked]. I don't know what to tell you."

The Ravens' first-round decisions caused a ripple effect for quarterback Chris Redman and free-agent linebacker Jamir Miller.

Redman, who was 3-3 as a first-year starter last season, will open next month's minicamp with the first team, but the addition of Boller means there is no guarantee he will keep the starting job. When asked if Boller would have a chance to start this season, coach Brian Billick said, "I wouldn't rule that out."

The drafting of Suggs filled the void for a pass rusher and may have closed the door for Miller. The former Pro Bowl linebacker has been weighing offers from the Ravens and Cleveland Browns for a month and has been giving both teams the silent treatment recently.

"I haven't heard from him in two weeks," Newsome said, "[and] I won't be calling him tonight either."

The Ravens had a feeling that Suggs - who was expected to be taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the sixth pick (they traded it to the New Orleans Saints instead) - could drop to them after he failed to improve his disappointing 40-yard dash times.

Suggs' impact will come in passing situations, when he will shift to defensive end to improve a lackluster rush. Last year, Suggs registered an NCAA-record 24 sacks; the Ravens managed just 33 as a team.

"He and [outside linebacker] Peter Boulware can be a force," Newsome said. "We're able to put pressure on the quarterback and that's one of the things we wanted to get done in this draft. We really think we can get after the passer."

After selecting Suggs, the Ravens believed they had a good shot at Boller and talked with six teams about trading back into the first round, going as high as the Kansas City Chiefs (16th pick) and as low as the Indianapolis Colts (24th).

Ravens officials were willing to part with next year's first-round pick to move up 22 spots to get Boller because they projected him to be a top-five pick in next year's draft (although he is now a senior), which is expected to have a weak quarterback class.

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