In Ravens rarity, J. Brown could throw lead block, if left at No. 22

Focus : Offensive Line

Nfl Draft

SATURDAY-SUNDAY * TV: ESPN, ESPN2 * Ravens' first three picks: 22nd, 53rd, 84th

April 19, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Despite their strong draft history, the Ravens could be going against it Saturday.

One of their top prospects is Oklahoma offensive tackle Jammal Brown, a rarity for the Ravens not only for the first round but the entire first day.

In their nine years of drafting, the Ravens have only taken two offensive linemen- offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (1996) and center Casey Rabach (2001) - in the first three rounds.

But ...

"That could change this year very quickly," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "It's not that we push offensive linemen down. It's just the way it shakes itself out, based on the other players on the board."

The Ravens' board for offensive tackles appears clear-cut.

According to a league source, Brown is the only one that the Ravens want to take with the 22nd overall pick. Other teams rate Florida State's Alex Barron as the best tackle and some mock drafts predict the Ravens will select Washington's Khalif Barnes because of his ties with new quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel.

But the Ravens envision Jammal Brown as a lineman who could press aging right tackle Orlando Brown for playing time immediately and perhaps could shift to the left side when Jonathan Ogden decides to retire.

Not as athletic as Barron or Barnes, Jammal Brown is known more for his power. Oklahoma coaches credited him with 337 knockdown blocks for his career. In his final two seasons, he surrendered just one sack and committed four penalties.

What separates Brown further from the other linemen is his nasty streak.

"That's the game," Brown said. "There's nothing nice about playing on the line. Every down you're hitting somebody in the mouth, so you have to have some attitude - you can't be a nice guy about that."

The problem for the Ravens is that Brown is not expected to fall out of the top 20.

In an unusual draft for tackles, it's believed none will be chosen among the first nine picks. The Detroit Lions (10th), Houston Texans (13th) and St. Louis Rams (19th) are considered to be looking for linemen.

Most pre-draft prognostications have the Rams taking Brown, which means the Ravens would have to find a way to jump in front of them if they covet Brown enough.

Another tough scenario for the Ravens would be to watch Brown go earlier in the first round and Barron drop to their spot.

Barron has the size and athleticism to become a star, but there are questions about his aggressiveness and intensity.

The same description could be applied to Barnes.

Known for being the most agile tackle prospect, Barnes sometimes struggles with his concentration. Some scouts believe he also needs to add more strength to play at the pro level.

The Ravens likely see him more as a second-round pick, which means a reunion with Neuheisel probably won't happen. Four years ago, when he was the head coach at Washington, Neuheisel decided to shift Barnes from defensive end to offensive tackle.

At first, Barnes resisted the move.

"They were like, `We think you'll end up making a lot of money doing this,'" Barnes said. "I told them that I didn't care about making money and wanted to play defense. They said if I didn't like it, you can switch back. They didn't switch me back. And I've been playing there ever since."

If the Ravens are unable to address offensive tackle in the first round, it would be surprising if they don't land one in the second or third round.

Their top backups are guard Brian Rimpf, who impressed a few team officials in his limited action last season, and tackle Tony Pashos. But thinking long term, the Ravens are probably at a point where they need to groom a prospect with a bigger upside.

"I definitely can say this year, based on where our team is, that we need a good influx of good, young offensive linemen," Newsome said, "and we could get some on the first day of the draft."

Offensive tackle outlook

A look at the offensive tackles who may be available for the Ravens' first- and second-round picks:

First round (Pick No. 22)

Name School Ht. Wt. Skinny

Jammal Brown Oklahoma 6-5 315 Prototypical, nasty right tackle; excels in run blocking

Alex Barron Florida State 6-7 322 Athletically gifted but some scouts question his desire

Khalif Barnes Washington 6-5 302 Quick feet but has reputation of being too hot and cold

Second round (Pick No. 53) Chris Colmer N.C. State 6-5 313 Battler; missed 2003 with rare viral infection

Adam Terry Syracuse 6-8 328 Hard-working prospect has marginal agility

Marcus Johnson Mississippi 6-6 321 A project; has raw ability to play guard or tackle

Later-round picks

Wesley Britt, Alabama; Michael Munoz, Tennessee; Michael Roos, Eastern Washington; Daniel Loper, Texas Tech; David Stewart, Mississippi State; Ray Willis, Florida State.

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