Ravens won't drop pass if wide-out falls to them

But another break needed to draft the likes of Woods

April 21, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

When Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome wrapped up his news conference last week with an impassioned speech on how his team will address its receiver situation one day, the implication was it would not be Saturday in the second round when his team makes its first pick.

That, though, is under the assumption that the Ravens will not get a third dose of draft-day good fortune.

Because if luck goes the Ravens' way again - as it did three years ago when Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap fell to the 31st pick and last year when defensive Rookie of the Year Terrell Suggs fell to No. 10 - then Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods will be bypassed by teams who have more pressing needs and fall right into the Ravens' lap.

The odds of that happening grew longer Monday when Southern California receiver Mike Williams was declared ineligible for the draft, theoretically pushing all receivers under him up a notch on teams' draft boards.

But the Ravens may still have a shot at landing the two-time Big 12 receiving yards leader simply because other teams may not have Woods rated as high.

"It's a guessing game as to how everyone else in the league has players ranked," Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said. "You may look at the board and think we have a receiver that we want that is 25th on our board. So ideally, there are 50 players taken before him and he falls to us.

"There is always somebody that has a view of another player that we don't have. That's the $64,000 question, who are they evaluating more than we are? Or less? There is a lot of sitting and waiting and keeping your fingers crossed."

If Woods, generally regarded as the seventh-best receiver available, makes it out of the first round, the Ravens would likely have to move up from their 51st pick in the second via trade to get him. Newsome already has considered that possibility.

The key might be an extra fifth-round pick the Ravens received after their trade for receiver Terrell Owens fell through in March. The Ravens could dangle that pick plus one of their other compensatory picks to move up a few spots if Woods is available.

Woods, though, probably clinched a spot in the top 40 with the ouster of Williams. "There was some skepticism as to how fast he is," said Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta. "But he would be a guy, based on his production in college, his big plays in big games, [who] would be of interest to us."

A more realistic scenario if the Ravens are determined to draft a receiver has the team staying put and looking at a couple of players with very similar backgrounds.

Either LSU's Devery Henderson or USC's Keary Colbert should be available when the Ravens select. Both have the distinction of being second-fiddle receivers for their respective teams, which split the national championship.

Henderson led the Southeastern Conference with 11 touchdown receptions last year but was behind teammate and probable first-round pick Michael Clayton in receiving yards, catches and attention paid by opposing defenses.

Colbert, who played alongside Williams with the Trojans, also had the advantage of having a first-round talent draw the attention of the defense. But Colbert is the Trojans' all-time receptions leader (207).

"Keary Colbert probably benefited in some ways in having Mike Williams play next to him," DeCosta said. "Teams would rotate their coverages toward Mike Williams. But what you really look at is what does a guy do when he gets the ball thrown to him? And that is where Colbert makes a name for himself because he's played big in big games, like the national championship game and Senior Bowl, when he caught a touchdown."

Chances are neither Henderson nor Colbert will develop into the game-breaking receiver the Ravens need. Woods may have that potential but seems to be more of a long shot with each passing day.

"What we have to do is to value the receivers on the board at the time we pick vs. some of the receivers we think will be in the market and who can help us the soonest and give us the longest impact," Newsome said. "That's the way we approach it. We try to compare apples to apples at that point."

Receiver outlook

A look at the receivers who may be available for the Ravens' second-round pick (51st overall):

Name School Ht. Wt. Skinny

Devery Henderson LSU 5-11 196 Closed the gap between him and fellow Tigers receiver Michael Clayton with strong offseason workouts

Keary Colbert USC 6-0 205 Opinions vary on his potential. Playing opposite Mike Williams helped and hurt his cause

Rashaun Woods Okla. State 6-2 200 Won't be there, but if he slips, the Ravens get a steal

Ernest Wilford Virginia Tech 6-3 223 Great physique but below average 40-yard dash time (4.67 seconds) makes him a reach

Later-round picks

Chris Collins, Mississippi; Devard Darling, Washington State; P.K. Sam, Florida State; Maurice Mann, Nevada; Kendrick Starling, San Jose State; Romby Bryant, Tulsa.

Catching a draft

A look at the Ravens' history of drafting receivers.

Player Year Rd

Jermaine Lewis 1996 5th

James Roe 1996 6th

Patrick Johnson 1998 2nd

Brandon Stokley 1999 4th

Travis Taylor 2000 1st

Ron Johnson 2002 4th

Javin Hunter 2002 6th

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