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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2009-04-27

A year after finding their franchise quarterback, the Ravens had a major goal for this draft -- find another bodyguard for Joe Flacco.

That's why the Ravens aggressively moved up three spots in the first round to select Mississippi's Michael Oher with the 23rd overall pick. Oher is expected to beat out Willie Anderson for the starting right tackle spot.

Right tackle has historically been a trouble spot for the team. The Ravens have had 13 linemen start at least one game at right tackle over the past 10 seasons. The list began with Harry Swayne in 1999 and continued through last season with Anderson.

"When I looked at our football team, I felt securing a tackle for the future was No. 1," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Anytime I would talk with the personnel staff, the coaches or the owner, I would talk about getting this tackle thing straightened out because of our quarterback. He is the franchise and you have to take care of that."

Midway through the first round, the Ravens had two targeted players -- Oher and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

When Pettigrew was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 20th pick, the Ravens immediately made calls to move up from the No. 26 spot. The Ravens were worried that the Bills, who recently traded away offensive tackle Jason Peters, would try to trade up ahead of them from the 28th pick and grab Oher, who was rated in the Ravens' top 15.

"Quite honestly, we didn't (expect) Michael Oher to fall down that low," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of player personnel. "None of us like to give picks away but when a player is that good and he's such a need and it's a perfect DNA match -- you do it. It just fell that way, and we're ecstatic to get him."

The one problem with the Ravens' draft is they failed to improve Flacco's weapons in the passing game.

The Ravens didn't select a wide receiver with any of their six draft picks. They didn't trade for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin. And they took a pass-catching tight end in the fifth round, but Davon Drew is a converted quarterback.

Asked why the Ravens didn't take a wide receiver, Newsome said, "We went to the AFC championship game with the guys that we had, and Demetrius (Williams) was not healthy. The way Joe (Flacco) can throw it, the way our running backs can run it and the way we play defense and special teams, we'll be around at the end of December and January just with the team we have right now. I feel very good about that."

Beyond Oher, none of the other five picks are expected to compete for starting jobs this season. But many have interesting backgrounds.

Defensive end-linebacker Paul Kruger (second round) lost a kidney in a car accident at age 13 and was stabbed in January 2008. Defensive back Ladarius Webb (third round) was dismissed from Southern Mississippi after two seasons for a violation of team rules. Inside linebacker Jason Phillips (fifth round) had knee surgery in February.

"This is a draft about toughness," DeCosta said. "Most of these guys have had some sort of adversity that they've overcome.

"We have a tough team. We're in a tough division. We've got tough coaches. We demand a lot from our players. We got tougher across the board at every position."

BEST PICK: Michael Oher wasn't the first offensive tackle off the board, but the Mississippi product should make an immediate impact at right tackle. There have been questions about his ability to pick up the offense, but Oher is a physical, determined lineman who will maul defenders.

COULD SURPRISE: Lardarius Webb, a cornerback drafted in the third round, was compared by some analysts to Bob Sanders. He plays bigger than his size (5-10) and is versatile. He can make an impact as a cornerback, safety or returner. Webb has intriguing upside.

A closer look at the Ravens' picks:

Round 1/23 -- Michael Oher, OT, 6-4, 309, Mississippi

The Ravens never expected Oher to fall into the second half of the first round. Team officials had rated him among the top 15 prospects in the draft. Thinking the Buffalo Bills might jump over them to get Oher, the Ravens traded a fifth-round pick to the New England Patriots to move from No. 26 to No. 23. Oher slipped because some questioned his intelligence, but the Ravens stressed that he is tough-minded. He will compete with Willie Anderson for the starting right tackle job.

Round 2/57 -- Paul Kruger, DE/OLB, 6-4, 265, Utah

There was a temptation to trade their second-round pick and acquire more selections on Day 2. But the Ravens placed too much value on Kruger, who will immediately impact the Ravens' pass rush. His high motor and determination drew the Ravens to him. Kruger has some medical issues -- he has one kidney and was stabbed in January 2008 -- but the Ravens said he was cleared by team trainers.

Round 3/88 -- Lardarius Webb, CB, 5-10, 180, Nicholls State

This is a risky pick because Webb lacks size and has a character issue. He was dismissed from Southern Mississippi after violating team rules. The Ravens missed on a small-school cornerback in the third round in 2006 (David Pittman), but they feel Webb is more physical and tenacious than Pittman. Webb will have time to develop behind starters Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth.

Round 5/137 -- Jason Phillips, ILB, 6-1, 240, Texas Christian

A tackling machine, Phillips stood out for his effort and intelligence. He's not an elite athlete but he will help immediately on special teams. His stock fell when he arrived on his Pro Day on crutches. He tore the meniscus in his knee during position drills at the Scouting Combine. Phillips could compete for a starting job in the future.

Round 5/149 -- Davon Drew, TE, 6-4, 260, East Carolina

This was a surprise pick because the Ravens passed on highly rated tight end Cornelius Ingram and selected Drew instead. Drew was suspended for the final two games of 2005 season for initially refusing to move from quarterback to tight end and leaving practice without telling a coach. But he has the size, pass-catching skills and athleticism to develop into a solid tight end. Drew, though, doesn't have great upper-body strength and could struggle at blocking. He will have time to develop this season behind Todd Heap and L.J. Smith.

Round 6/185 -- Cedric Peerman, RB, 5-9, 220, Virginia

He started only 18 games in his college career, but he caught the Ravens' attention because of his special teams play. Peerman is a hard-nosed performer who has great character and known for leadership skills. He is an ordained deacon.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 27, 2009

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Anwar Phillips Name: Anwar Phillips
Position: CB
Age: 25
Experience: 1 years
College: Penn State
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