Ravens go against convention in selection of QB

Oregon State's Anderson not known as scrambler

April 25, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens may have followed their draft board in choosing the highest-rated quarterback in the sixth round yesterday, but they certainly veered from the typical NFL script.

While many teams want third-string quarterbacks to be scramblers, the Ravens went for a pure drop-back passer in Oregon State's Derek Anderson. Anderson, the Ravens' third pick of the day behind North Carolina center Jason Brown (fourth round, 124th overall) and Montana fullback Justin Green (fifth round, 158th), comes with a strong recommendation from new quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel, who coached against Anderson while at Washington.

"Having Rick here, we have a familiarity with some of the guys out in the Pac-10 now, and we're looking forward to bringing Derek in," general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

The Ravens picked a passer with all the physical tools to make it in the NFL. His 6-foot-6, 239-pound frame should allow him to see over the defensive line with ease, and Anderson has one of the strongest arms and quickest releases in the draft.

It is what happens after the pass is in the air, though, that kept Anderson available until the second-to-last pick of the round. Anderson has a reputation for making mistakes at critical junctures of games, specifically tossing interceptions or fumbling when his team can least afford it.

In his junior year, Anderson passed for a career-high 485 yards against Southern California, but four interceptions kept the Beavers from springing the upset over the eventual co-national champion. That same year, Anderson threw five interceptions in a two-point loss at Fresno State.

Still, the Ravens like Anderson's upside, even if he will be of little help readying the defense, the primary job of a third-string quarterback, when a mobile passer is on the schedule.

"There are different versions of mobility," coach Brian Billick said. "If I'm not mistaken, this kid was Mr. Football and Basketball in the state. This is a heck of an athlete. He's not a scrambler per se, but he can move around.

"That aspect doesn't seem to be a question mark. It has to do more with working within a structure. He's thrown some interceptions reading coverages, that type of thing. I don't think [anything physical] is the question; it has more to do with the mental aspects."

Anderson will take most of his preseason snaps from Brown, widely considered one of the top three centers in the draft.

Brown, a three-year starter, is the only other center on the roster behind Mike Flynn and could be the eventual successor at that position. Brown also has played tackle and can play guard.

"As we talked about over the last three days, we wanted to get the infusion of some young guys on the offensive line," Newsome said. "Jason fits into that. Two of our former Ravens associates both called after that pick to tell us how they had the person rated, and that they thought it was a good pick."

Green, who was a running back at Montana, has put on 25 pounds to give the Ravens a different type of fullback than starter Alan Ricard and backup Ovie Mughelli. Green, 5-11 and 251 pounds, is a skilled runner who is also a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

"The thing that we find about fullbacks with our guys having to go up in the thick of it all the time, they have a tendency to get beat up and banged up, and it's tough in the latter part of the year," Newsome said. "Now we bring in another guy we think will fit right in with Ovie and Alan. This guy will push Ovie, push to make him a better player or push him off the roster."

The Ravens also drafted Texas Tech linebacker Mike Smith in the seventh round (234th overall) to work primarily as a special teams player. Smith was an All-Big 12 Conference selection, a player whose potential drew surprisingly high praise from Newsome.

"Mike Smith is one of our red star guys that, at the least, will be a very good contributor on special teams, then hopefully will work his way to one day being a starter for us," Newsome said.

Ravens' 2nd-day picks

Jason Brown

Round: Fourth (124th overall)

Position: Center

Size: 6-3, 313 pounds

School: North Carolina

Hometown: Henderson, N.C.

Career statistics: Allowed three sacks in 44 games, none over the past two seasons. Amassed 49 downfield blocks.

Quote: "Jason Brown is a very solid guy, a good player who can run block and pass block." - Eric DeCosta, Ravens' director of college scouting

Quick notes: Is married. ... Majored in communications. ... Is a coin collector and singer.

Strengths: Good technique. Rarely loses one-on-one battle with defensive tackle at point of attack.

Weakness: May struggle getting to linebackers.

Projected role: Will be a backup interior lineman.

Justin Green

Round: Fifth (158th overall)

Position: Fullback

Size: 5-11, 251 pounds

School: Montana

Hometown: San Diego

Career statistics: Green carried 412 times for 1,784 yards and 22 touchdowns in 27 games. He also made 15 catches for 93 yards.

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