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News » Ravens' GM Newsome prepares for more draft magic

Ravens' GM Newsome prepares for more draft magic

Ravens' GM Newsome prepares for more draft magic
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - Because Ozzie Newsome is so adept on draft day, the Baltimore Ravens general manager often must wait until late in the first round before making his first selection.

Such is the price of success.

The Ravens advanced to the AFC championship game last season, thanks in part to many of the players Newsome selected in years past. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Baltimore's No. 1 pick in 2008, quarterback Joe Flacco, all played key roles in the Ravens' 11-win season.

The quintet had some company. Nearly 42 percent of Baltimore's opening day roster last season was comprised of players Newsome secured in the draft since 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only Indianapolis and Houston had a larger percentage.

From his very first draft, in 1996 when he selected Jonathan Ogden and Lewis in the first round, Newsome has displayed a knack for doing the right thing when the Ravens are on the clock. Although it's difficult to predict who he will pick with the 26th overall selection in the NFL draft on Saturday, there's a very good chance that player will end up being a contributor.

To Newsome, drafting in the bottom third of the opening round is never an obstacle.

Lewis went 26th in 1996, Reed was 24th in 2002, Todd Heap came as the 31st overall pick in 2001 and center Ben Grubbs was taken 29th in 2007. Newsome is so good at this, he's considering trading the 26th selection to secure additional picks.

"We will be prepared to pick at 26, there's no doubt in my mind, but if the opportunity presents itself that we can move back and acquire more picks, the way the board is stacking up right now, that would be something that we could really consider," he said. "The way our football team is, to be able to add an influx of good, young talent is just going to make us stronger."

Then again, Baltimore could trade its top pick for a completely different reason. The Ravens are eager to add a big-play wide receiver, and Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals is available. A draft-day swap is not out of the question, although Boldin would come at a steep price and would put a deep dent in Baltimore's salary cap.

The Ravens currently have six picks, one in each round but the seventh. If Newsome based his draft on filling current holes, he would probably look solely for a receiver, strong safety, linebacker or offensive lineman. But that's not usually his style.

In 2001, Baltimore drafted Heap when he already had Shannon Sharpe at tight end. Although Heap was used sparingly during his rookie season, the two-time Pro Bowler is the Ravens' career leader in catches and yards receiving. So, when it comes time for the Ravens to make their first pick Saturday night, they'll probably be scouring their board for the best remaining athlete.

"There are a lot of good players out there," director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said. "We probably have five or seven players that we think we have a realistic chance to get at 26, who can come in and definitely contribute year one."

If the Ravens don't get Boldin, they might go after receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) or Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina). Although Newsome doesn't necessarily draft for need, he abandoned that approach last year when he traded up to get Flacco.

The Ravens also like Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who could end up getting his name called if he falls to No. 26.

Another possibility is Southern Cal linebacker Rey Maualaga, who would help Baltimore get over the loss of free agent Bart Scott to the New York Jets. Really, it could be just about anyone but a quarterback or a kicker (although the Ravens still must address the possibility of playing without free agent placekicker Matt Stover).

"I don't think we feel we're in a position where we have to chase needs," coach John Harbaugh said. "And if we don't have to do that, now we can build a draft class. Take the six best football players and make our football team better. Then we'll figure out how to use them - if we get the right kind of guys."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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