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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-17

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-17

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-17
With only six picks in the draft, the Ravens will consider trading back if one of their targeted players doesn't fall to them at No. 26.

The players who would draw the Ravens' interest are Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Penn State pass rusher Aaron Maybin and Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis.

With a developing quarterback in Joe Flacco, the Ravens want to improve the weapons around him. Pettigrew is the most complete tight end in the draft and would be groomed to replace Todd Heap. Heyward-Bey would become the deep threat that the Ravens desperately need. Defensively, the Ravens are looking to upgrade their pass rush (Maybin) and add youth to their secondary (Davis).

But 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.

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

As a result, the Ravens have their fewest total draft 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 season.

"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."

The Ravens have had only one draft (2004) where they didn't have a first-round pick.

But the Ravens could drop back to the early part of the second round and still find some first-round talent. Baltimore would be satisfied with coming away with the likes of California center Alex Mack or Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt in the early part of the second round.

Mack, the top center in the draft, would anchor the Ravens' growing offensive line for years. Britt would fill the void of a big target in the Ravens' receiver group.

But if the Ravens stick with the 26th pick, they feel like they could find an impact player.

"For us to think that our team is this great team, I don't think we can say that," DeCosta said. "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."

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive end, tight end, kicker.

WR -- The Ravens have an adequate group with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams. But all three are scheduled to become free agents after this season. This is the time when the Ravens need to restock their receiving corps and find a weapon that can grow with quarterback Joe Flacco. Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rutgers' Kenny Britt would instantly improve the Ravens' size at receiver.

OT -- The Ravens looked at Orlando Pace and Marvel Smith in free agency, which shows that they are not comfortable with Willie Anderson at right tackle. This has been the weakest spot on the Ravens' offensive line for the past decade. Baltimore has tried stopgaps in the past with Anderson, Orlando Brown and Harry Swayne. The Ravens view this offensive tackle class as one of the deepest in the draft and could take one early.

DE -- It's important that the Ravens look for an heir apparent to Trevor Pryce, who might only have one season left in him. Pryce showed signs of decline last season, and the Ravens' pass rush suffered. The Ravens need to find a young offensive lineman who can complement nose tackle Haloti Ngata.

TE -- The Ravens' top two tight ends -- Todd Heap and L.J. Smith -- have a history of injuries. The Ravens have to add a young tight end that can be groomed for one season before becoming a starter the next. Even when healthy, Heap never clicked in Cam Cameron's scheme.

PK -- With Matt Stover not in the Ravens' immediate plans, they want to bring in competition for Steven Hauschka, last season's kickoff specialist. The Ravens could draft a kicker (they found punter Sam Koch in the sixth round) or add a journeyman like Nick Novak (University of Maryland), Billy Cundiff or Justin Medlock after the draft.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 17, 2009

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Mark Clayton Name: Mark Clayton
Position: WR
Age: 26
Experience: 4 years
College: Oklahoma
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