Suggs, Boller reunite here

Ravens' 1st-round picks were Pacific-10 rivals at Ariz. State, California

April 28, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The knock on Arizona State outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was his suspect speed.

Disappointing times in the 40-yard dash raised some red flags and caused the draft's best pass rusher to fall to the Ravens with the 10th overall pick. But the Ravens' other first-round pick, California quarterback Kyle Boller, can vouch for how fast Suggs is on the field.

"I know our game plan was to put three guys on him," said Boller, a Pacific-10 rival of Suggs'. "He's very quick off the edge, so you have to step up in the pocket. I'm glad he's on this side of the ball and I never have to have him tackle me again."

The Ravens' top picks arrived in town yesterday and talked about how the draft's fastest-rising and fastest-falling prospects both landed at the team's Owings Mills complex. But the Ravens believe Suggs and Boller - two of the biggest question marks of this draft - can be the answers to making them a playoff team this season.

Boller, who was projected as a fourth-round pick before the 2002 college season, showed monumental improvement last season under first-year coach Jeff Tedford, who has tutored the likes of Trent Dilfer, David Carr and Joey Harrington. After three mediocre seasons, Boller threw for 2,815 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Though scouts were always intrigued by his arm strength, the biggest criticism was his accuracy. Tedford worked on Boller's mechanics and even taped his left arm to his shoulder in a makeshift sling to keep his delivery compact. The adjustment led to Boller's first season in which he completed more than half of his throws (53.4 pecent).

Boller solidified himself in the offseason as a first-round prospect when he was clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and then launched a pass from his knees that sailed between the goal posts 60 yards away.

"I definitely think I've only begun," Boller said. "Coach Tedford did a great job of teaching me the mechanics and fundamentals. I know so much more about the game. I think it's just the tip of the iceberg."

While Boller's stock was rising, Suggs watched his plummet.

After compiling an NCAA-record 24 sacks, Suggs was told to put on more weight. The extra 10 pounds slowed his 40 time to a less-than-stellar 4.8 seconds.

"I just have to shut up my critics now," said Suggs, 6 feet 3, who wants to drop the 10 pounds and get back to 250.

Ravens coach Brian Billick said the 40 times are not a concern.

"If quarterback drops start going to 40 yards, then we're going to be concerned," Billick said. "As long as they stay in that 10-yard number, we're going to be OK."

Boller and Suggs said they didn't think they would be drafted by the Ravens.

Although the Ravens and Boller were linked in many mock drafts, Boller said he thought his chances of going to the Ravens ended when they drafted Suggs. But the Ravens traded their second-round pick this year and their 2004 first-rounder to move up to pick Boller with the 19th overall selection.

Two minutes before the official announcement, Boller received a surprising call from the Ravens.

"It was exciting, because this is really the place I wanted to be of anywhere in the NFL," said Boller, who will be the first player to wear No. 8 for the Ravens since Dilfer, their former Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

Suggs, who was expected to be taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the sixth pick, said he didn't think about being a Raven even when he recently filmed a commercial with linebacker Ray Lewis. In the segment, Lewis hazes the rookie and has him doing his laundry.

"He was telling me what he was planning on doing to his rookies. I was like, `That's cool, because I'm not going to be there,' " Suggs said. "So when they called my name on draft day, I was like, `Yeah ... oh, no. Now, that's going to be a reality.' "

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