Q&A with The Sun's Jamison Hensley

Ravens writer discusses the upcoming NFL draft

April 20, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

Jamison Hensley has been a reporter at The Sun since 1999. He has covered the Ravens for the past four seasons.

Larry, Baltimore: Who do you think the Ravens' first pick will be and why?

Jamison Hensley: Looking into my Mel Kiper-approved crystal ball, the Ravens' first pick will be (in order of likelihood) is a defensive back, defensive lineman, offensive lineman or receiver. The player they would love to be at that spot is Iowa safety Bob Sanders. His height (5 feet 8) keeps him out of the first round but he has Raven-type qualities in that he loves to run to the football and hit.

Jason, Baltimore:Are the Ravens going to really stick to their "best player available" policy in the early rounds of this year's draft or will they reach a little to grab a receiver? I know they've stated that they are sticking to the aforementioned policy, but is that just a little pre-draft smoke to mask true intentions?

Jamison Hensley: General manager Ozzie Newsome has one of the best poker faces in the league but he's not bluffing this time. The Ravens believe they can get better value at wide receiver in the third or fourth round.

Chris, Atlanta: Do you think that there is any chance of the Ravens trading up this year to get a receiver or will they stay put and draft the best player available?

Jamison Hensley: It's a unpopular response to a popular question: Trading up for a receiver is not an option. The only way I see the Ravens moving up - and it wouldn't be very far - is to take a defensive back or defensive lineman. My bet is they stay put in the second round.

Edward, Ocean Pines: Will the Ravens be looking to pick a third string RB in the later rounds if Lewis isn't available for the regular season?

Jamison Hensley: If the Ravens select a running back late, it will be to address depth on special teams and not Jamal Lewis' situation. The Ravens remain confident that Lewis will be starting for them this season. Two things you can't question about the Ravens franchise: its success in drafting and its loyalty to players in crisis.

Joe, Appleton, Wis.: It appears that the most successful free agency strategy in the NFL today is to first make an effort to retain your own key contributors before attempting to sign players from other teams. In light of this and the Ravens' favorable salary cap position, are the Ravens attempting to sign some of its young defensive talents (i.e. Ed Hartwell and Gary Baxter) to extensions before they hit free agency?

Jamison Hensley: Do you wear purple up there in Cheesehead-land? Thanks for writing. To answer your question, the Ravens will start negotiations with Hartwell on a long-term after the draft. Another potential unrestricted free agent who could get locked up during the season is fullback Alan Ricard.

Charles, Reisterstown: Much discussion has been made about the Ravens' need to take a wide receiver in the draft, but who do you foresee the Ravens looking at as June free agent cuts to also fill the receiver role?

Jamison Hensley: Upgrading at receiver isn't a need, it's a necessity. And the Ravens will look immediately after the draft at cuts or trades to get another receiver. But don't get your hopes up because, at best, the veteran will be a middle-tier, Marcus Robinson-type player.

Will, York, Pa.: Do you believe the Ravens could trade Peter Boulware to a team in the top 20 first-round picks and take a top receiver?

Jamison Hensley: Trading Boulware to get a receiver would help their opponents' passing game more than their own. Without Boulware getting constantly double-teamed on passing situations, other Ravens - namely Terrell Suggs - wouldn't get favorable matchups and their pass rush would not exist. The days in 1996 when the Ravens could pass at will but couldn't stop it either weren't much fun.

Matt, Owings Mills: Jamison, though this receiver draft is considered to be deep, it seems the Ravens will likely be reaching for one at No. 51. Instead, is it more logical to expect the second round pick will be used on a defensive back like Iowa safety Bob Sanders or a defensive lineman like Tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson of Washington?

Jamison Hensley: That's the same logic coming out of the Ravens' draft room. The Ravens would be more than satisfied if they came away with either Sanders or defensive linemen like Texas' Marcus Tubbs or Maryland's Randy Starks in the second round. Defense would be less of a gamble than receiver at that point in the draft.

Jimmy, Jarrettsville: Is there an offensive lineman that could start this season that would be around at No. 51?

Jamison Hensley: The one job that could be up for grabs is right guard, but it would take a big rookie to budge 345-pound Bennie Anderson from that spot. Alabama's Justin Smiley and Boston College's Chris Snee probably would be the only picks who would be given a chance to start on the offensive line if drafted.

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