Ravens consider trading down

Team could deal No. 13 pick to add first-day selection in deep draft

April 21, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Other than acknowledging the need to find a starting safety in this year's college pool, the Ravens provided another morsel of information at yesterday's pre-draft luncheon.

They are clearly prepared to move down from the 13th spot in the first round and acquire more picks.

Director of college scouting Eric DeCosta did little to hide his displeasure over the Ravens having two picks on the first day of a deep draft.

"I wish I had six," he said.

In fact, the Ravens have only two selections among the first 110 picks in this year's draft, which will be held April 29-30. Only the Washington Redskins have fewer in that span.

If the Ravens drop from the 13th pick to somewhere in the low 20s, they probably would receive an additional third-round pick. This strategy is a logical one because the Ravens have several depth issues and likely can get a quality safety or cornerback (which would fill a need) in the bottom third of the first round.

General manager Ozzie Newsome even said the Ravens could be enticed to give up the No. 13 pick before they are on the clock.

"If we have three or four guys that we really like and we have the opportunity to move back, get one of those guys as well as an additional pick, I think that would be the right thing to do from an organizational standpoint," Newsome said.

According to a league source, the Ravens' two most coveted players are from the University of Texas, safety Michael Huff and quarterback Vince Young. But neither is expected to slip past the top 10.

If players such as Oregon nose tackle Haloti Ngata, Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley or Southern California offensive tackle Winston Justice are available at No. 13, it will be interesting to see whether the Ravens are open to moving down because they are all considered top 15 prospects.

If the top choices are Tennessee safety Jason Allen, Florida State cornerback-safety Antonio Cromartie, Virginia Tech safety Jimmy Williams or Florida State outside linebacker Ernie Sims, it likely would be advantageous for the Ravens to fall back because one should be available later in the first round.

"The top eight players are probably the same in everybody's draft room," Newsome said. "But once you get between nine and 20, it's going to be a picker's choice. What we might have as our 10th-best player may be the 20th-best player on someone else's board and vice versa."

The Ravens don't believe finding a trade partner will be difficult.

"I think teams in the 20s would love to be at 13," DeCosta said. "Everybody always wants good players. When we're on the clock at 13, there's going to be a player that other teams covet and you have to weigh the player you want to take vs. what you can get."

At this point, the Ravens appear to covet a third-round pick.

"If you have a third-round pick this year and stack the board correctly, I think you'll get a good player," DeCosta said. "I think the players you'll get in the third round - the players between picks 50 and 80 - will be significantly better than last year's players taken in that same range."

The Ravens, who have 10 picks overall, could use more on the first day because they have several vital roles to fill.

They need another quarterback, a No. 3 receiver (Clarence Moore or Devard Darling would fill that spot now), a nickel back, more size at defensive tackle and perhaps a young running back to groom.

The biggest priority, however, remains safety. Newsome said there is no one left in free agency that could start at safety, which likely means they will have to use a first-day pick on one.

"We've had success with drafting people and allowing them to start," Newsome said. "Then again, once the draft is held, some other people are going to be kicked out on the street. There might be a safety on another team that could be starting for us when we open up against Tampa."

The Ravens don't usually enter the draft with such a sizable void, but this year is different for another reason.

Unlike any other draft, this one will be unusual for the Ravens because they must pick immediately after the Cleveland Browns and their general manager Phil Savage, who ran the Ravens' college scouting department for nine years.

"When Phil picks at 12, he's going to pick one of the 12 people that we would have taken," Newsome said. "It's a detriment."

DeCosta offered one solution.

"I would love nothing better than to jump up over [Savage] and pick his pocket," he said.

Still, based on how the Ravens were talking yesterday, the smart move might be dropping down in the first round.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

SLIM EARLY PICKINGS

Of the first 110 picks - through the early part of the fourth round - the Ravens have the second-fewest selections with two. A look at the fewest picks in that opening span:

Team ................ Picks .......................... Place overall

Washington ......... 1 ............................ 53rd

Ravens ................. 2 ............................ 13th, 44th

Miami ................... 2 ............................. 16th, 82nd

Seattle .................. 2 ............................. 31st, 63rd

RAVENS' PICKS

Round ........................ Overall

First ............................ 13th

Second ....................... 44th

Fourth ........................ 111th, 132nd*

Fifth ........................... 146th, 166th*

Sixth ........................... 181st, 203rd*, 208th*

Seventh ...................... 219th*

- Compensatory selection

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