With only six picks, Ravens might seek strength in numbers

Why To Trade Down

April 02, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Picking toward the bottom of the first round has never been a problem for the Ravens.

Ranking near the bottom in total number of draft picks ... well, that isn't an ideal situation for the team's scouting department.

The Ravens' six picks in this year's NFL draft - which are tied for the sixth fewest in the league - could influence what the team does with the 26th overall pick in the first round.

"We will be prepared to pick at 26 ... but if the opportunity presents itself that we could move back and acquire more picks, the way the board is stacking up right now, that would be something that we would really consider," general manager Ozzie Newsome said Wednesday during the Ravens' pre-draft luncheon with reporters.

The Ravens have only a half-dozen draft picks because they traded their seventh-rounder to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (as compensation in last year's deal for defensive lineman Marques Douglas, who was released in February) and didn't receive a compensatory pick for the first time since 2002.

As a result, the Ravens have their fewest selections since 2000. They have averaged 8.7 picks over the past eight drafts.

Only the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints have fewer picks than the Ravens this year.

"We always think about trading back. I like to say we're in the pick business," said Eric DeCosta, who is in his first season as the team's director of player personnel after six years as the director of college scouting. "The more picks you have, the better chance you have on hitting on guys. Anytime we can trade back and we think we can still get a player that we really like, we'll do that every single time."

This year might be the right time for the Ravens to slide down. Because it's considered a top-heavy draft, there could be better value in the second round.

But the Ravens aren't prepared to give up their first-round pick for just any offer.

Unlike most NFL teams, the Ravens have enjoyed success picking late in the first round. Linebacker Ray Lewis (26th overall), tight end Todd Heap (31st) and safety Ed Reed (24th) have gone to multiple Pro Bowls. Wide receiver Mark Clayton (22nd) and guard Ben Grubbs (29th) have combined for 75 career starts.

DeCosta said he believes this trend could continue this year.

"For us to think that our team is this great team, I don't think we can say that," DeCosta said during the one-hour news conference. "There's a lot of good players out there. We probably have five or seven players that we think have a realistic chance to get at 26 who can come in and contribute Year One."

Mock drafts have linked the Ravens to tight end Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State), who visited the Ravens on Wednesday; wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland), Percy Harvin (Florida), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina) and Kenny Britt (Rutgers); linebackers Rey Maualuga (Southern California) and James Laurinaitis (Ohio State); cornerback Vontae Davis (Illinois); and offensive tackle Eben Britton (Arizona).

The Ravens have so many options because they filled their needs during an active free-agency period.

"If we had to play a game today, we could line up and play," Newsome said, "and I think we'd have a good chance of winning."

Notes: Newsome acknowledged that there is still a chance the Ravens could sign free-agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who has since visited the Chicago Bears. ... The Ravens are "involved in some discussions" with cornerback Samari Rolle, Newsome said. The team cut Rolle last month after he requested to be released. Rolle's talk with Newsome and coach John Harbaugh last month "broke a lot of barriers," Newsome said. ... Newsome said he is planning to return a phone call from veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal, who is a free agent after one season with the Ravens. "I don't know what the nature of that call is about," Newsome said. "I know he did talk about what he would like to do when his football career is over. I don't know what his plans are."

LOOKING AT YOU

A list of the college players the Ravens have expressed an interest in drafting:

Player ................. Pos. ........... School ............... Type of visit

Robert Ayers ..... OLB-DE ..... Tennessee ............... Team visit

Kevin Barnes ........ CB ............. Maryland ................ Team visit

Kenny Britt ............... WR .............. Rutgers ........ Private workout

Andre Brown ......... RB ............. N.C. State ............... Team visit

Louis Delmas .......... S ................ W. Mich. ............... Team visit

Tyronne Green ........ G ............... Auburn ................. Team visit

Percy Harvin .......... WR .............. Florida .......... Private workout

D. Heyward-Bey ... WR ............ Maryland ........ Private workout

Cornelius Ingram .... TE ................ Florida ......... Private workout

Alex Mack ................. C ............... California ................ Team visit

Hakeem Nicks ....... WR .................. UNC ................... Team visit

B. Pettigrew ............ TE ............ Okla. State ............... Team visit

Lawrence Sidbury . OLB-DE ...... Richmond ................ Team visit

Sean Smith ............ CB ................. Utah ..................... Team visit

Mike Teel ................ QB .............. Rutgers .................. Team visit

Greg Toler .............. CB ............ St. Paul's ....... Private workout

Chris Wells ............ RB ........... Ohio State ................ Team visit

Pat White ............ QB-WR ...... W. Virginia ................ Team visit

NFL DRAFT

April 25-26

TV: ESPN,

NFL Network

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