Ravens may run in new direction with pick

March 04, 2006|By MIKE PRESTON

Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams might be small, but he is making big noise in the NFL circles, so much that the Ravens might select him over Southern California's LenDale White with the No. 13 overall pick in the first round of the draft.

White may be in the mold of Jamal Lewis, but Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome likes Williams' explosiveness and big-play ability, according to several team officials. The Ravens can't lose with either, but might surprise some people by taking Williams over White if both are available.

White is more of a power, straight-ahead runner, and his style would have been perfect for the Ravens in previous years. But the Ravens don't have that kind of muscle up front anymore, and they have had problems sustaining drives.

Williams has great balance and instinct. He might lose yards on one play but break a long run for a touchdown on another. During his 44 games at Memphis, he had 31 for more than 100 yards and finished with 6,026 yards on 969 carries.

He would give the Ravens some offensive flexibility that they haven't had in years. Williams and veteran running back Chester Taylor would appear to be a good tandem, but the Ravens' current negotiations with Taylor seem to be more lip service than good faith. It seems that the Ravens are more in a rebuilding than reloading mode, but they just haven't made their intentions public.

Never has Kerry Collins looked so good.

With the quarterback pool shrinking every day, Collins becomes more of a viable option for the Ravens. Besides the possibility of adding Collins, there's Brian Griese, Chris Weinke and Patrick Ramsey. Jon Kitna? He was never in the mix, not if you watched his game film.

But this group is bad - really, really bad.

The Ravens have basically given up on Kyle Boller. Numerous officials at recent team meetings echoed those feelings. But if they can't get Collins, then Boller might be the starter for another season.

Oh gosh.

Please, please, Mr. Collins, come to Baltimore.

You figured the Ravens learned their lesson last season, but apparently not. During recent personnel meetings, the team, according to a team source (yes, he is still on the roster), said the Ravens were content to bring back the same offensive line from a year ago, with the exception of adding one via the draft.

Huh?

Maybe Newsome's selective amnesia has allowed him to block out last season. Bringing this group back intact would be a major injustice, an admission that the Ravens are throwing in the towel for the 2006 season.

Right tackle Tony Pashos and right guard Brian Rimpf improved significantly last season, but not enough to be counted on full time. Center Mike Flynn and left guard Edwin Mulitalo performed poorly, and left tackle Jonathan Ogden is on the downside of his career after 10 seasons.

According to the source, the Ravens will keep right guard Keydrick Vincent around for another season because he is under contract "and can't possibly play worse than last season." That's encouraging, spoken like a true 6-10 team.

Earth to Ravens: Collins is an upgrade over Boller, but he has no mobility. You're flirting with disaster again.

Defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu has become a major priority for the Ravens to re-sign during the offseason, but he is also drawing interest from some of his teammates.

After seeing how much love the Ravens have shown Kemoeatu lately, one of the team's defensive linemen went in to ask for another contract despite having four years left on his current deal. (Hint, hint: He's built like a refrigerator and has short arms.)

Meanwhile, it doesn't appear as if the Ravens will re-sign defensive end Tony Weaver, the team's most consistent lineman during the past couple of years.

Ravens linebacker Bart Scott played fairly well last season, replacing the injured Ray Lewis, who missed 10 games with a thigh/hamstring injury. Scott, who had 119 tackles, is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent, but no one really knows how much interest he will draw on the open market.

That's why the Ravens were willing to let him test the market.

"He can make plays," said one of the league's defensive coordinators, "and you can't say that about all players in the NFL. But then there are times when he isn't anywhere near the ball, and you're wondering what happened."

If the Browns make a significant offer, look for Scott to join general manager Phil Savage in Cleveland because Savage gave him his first chance in Baltimore. Savage might end up with Scott and Kemoeatu, who could join former Ravens safety/cornerback Gary Baxter on the roster.

Anyone seen or heard from Ravens coach Brian Billick lately? Brian, come out, come out wherever you are.

We know it's the offseason, but we haven't heard a word from Compu Coach since owner Steve Bisciotti put a muzzle on him at the end of the regular season. Shoot, even that noted groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, comes out more than Billick.

Rumor has it that it's now easier to get an interview with the pope than with Billick.

Wow. I never thought I'd say this. I really miss him ...

Squib kicks: The Ravens are still trying to dump, uh, trade cornerback Chris McAlister to any team foolish enough to take him. ... Former cornerback Deion "Part-Time" Sanders has hinted he would like to come back and coach the Ravens, but not unless the Ravens and Ray Lewis kiss and make up so there won't be any internal problems like last season. ... Newsome is still looking for a lineman who can pressure the quarterback up the middle. ... Tight end Todd Heap had a good season, but the Ravens expect him to have a great one now that he can lift weights again, which he couldn't do because of injury last offseason.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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