Quinn's free fall lets Ravens pull strings

Commentary

April 29, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn fell so far in the first round of the NFL draft that the Ravens almost reached out to catch him.

When Quinn slipped from a projected top-five pick to the low 20s, offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel picked up the phone and gave him a quick call, though opinions differ on whether there was genuine interest in trading up from the 29th pick to get him.

"We did talk to Brady," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said, "but we talk to a lot of players during the draft. We definitely had interest in Brady. We think he's a very good player, but there were other players we had rated as high as Brady."

So which was it? Were the Ravens showing legitimate interest in moving up or were they creating a market so the division rival Cleveland Browns would have to give up more to move into the 22nd slot yesterday.

Club officials indicated that the Ravens would have been interested at the right price, but that didn't jibe with general manager Ozzie Newsome's contention earlier in the day that they did not feel like they had enough "ammunition" to make a decisive move up in the first round.

That's a pretty good indication the Quinn contact was routine draft gamesmanship, though there's no way to know if the Ravens succeeded in making Browns general manager Phil Savage ante up more for one of college football's matinee idols.

Quinn was expected to go third, but the Browns took Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas with that pick, then jockeyed to get Quinn later. In between, Quinn became the running story of the draft, the ESPN cameras finding him after every agonizing pick.

The Ravens were in the market for a quarterback to develop behind Steve McNair, but there was no guarantee they would have taken Quinn if he had fallen all the way to 29th.

DeCosta seemed to be hinting that Newsome may have had Auburn guard Ben Grubbs (whom the Ravens picked at No. 29) and Central Michigan offensive tackle Joe Staley (who was taken 28th) higher on his draft board.

Quinn's journey

Two hours into the draft, Quinn had morphed into quarterback Matt Leinart, who fell from the top of the draft to No. 10 last year. So, everybody refocused on the Miami Dolphins, but they chose Ohio State receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and Quinn devolved into quarterback Aaron Rodgers, another projected early pick who fell to No. 24 a few years ago before the Green Bay Packers drafted him.

In this case, however, Quinn ended up where a lot of people thought he would. He's just going to get a lot less money.

Schilling's lament

Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was understandably upset that the legitimacy of his great performance in the 2004 postseason came under scrutiny again because of one offhand comment by MASN broadcaster Gary Thorne, but I hope that doesn't turn him against Baltimore.

He might be a nice addition to the Orioles' starting rotation next year, after his contract with the Red Sox expires, though he was cryptic when approached about the possibility.

"Talk to me in October," he said.

Just a hunch

I'm guessing Schilling will be busy in October, so we may have to wait until early November to get an idea where he'll end up. The Red Sox already have declined to negotiate a contract extension, so he probably will become a free agent.

Of course, based on the performance of both Schilling and the team so far, the Red Sox will end up going deep into the postseason and everybody will end up all warm and cuddly.

Historic draft pick

My favorite little story of the week was the news that the new Israel Baseball League held its first draft and one of the teams used its final pick to select 71-year-old Sandy Koufax.

The pick was a tribute to the man who refused to pitch a World Series game because it fell on Yom Kippur.

Koufax won't be coming out of retirement, which is just as well. At his age, he probably wouldn't be able to average more than seven or eight innings a start.

Clear channel?

I may have to take my new high-definition television back to Circuit City. Whenever I watch the Orioles on MASN, the picture is kind of fuzzy. Must need the tuner adjusted.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

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