JUDGE: Ravens rarely miss in first round

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Clark Judge



Nobody does the draft better than the Baltimore , and they've been kind enough to offer us another demonstration. The not only gained the best pass rusher in this year's draft, they also gained one of the best passers. That's not what you call smart. It's highway robbery, with Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome taking a curtain call. At the 10th spot, the shouldn't have had a chance to choose Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs, who set an NCAA record last year with 24 sacks. But they did. OK, OK, so they tried to trade up to the seventh spot, but the deal fell through and they stayed where they were. And got Suggs. I don't understand it. Each year something like this happens to Baltimore. A year ago, they sat still and drafted Miami safety Ed Reed. He starts. The year before it was Arizona State tight end . He starts. The year before that it was wide receiver and running back . They start. Notice a trend here? The are to the draft what General Electric is to corporate earnings. They rarely miss, with , , , Heap and Lewis among their recent first-round bull's eyes. Of course, this year they had help from Arizona, which passed on the opportunity to draft Suggs when it traded out of the sixth position. But the draft is all about making the most of your opportunities, and Baltimore keeps offering clinics. The acquired Suggs without making a move, then traded up to choose Cal quarterback Kyle Boller — whom the club loved, but not at the 10th position. Sure, the price was steep: Baltimore sacrificed its second-rounder this year and its first-rounder in 2004, but the had a conviction about the guy and moved to get him while they could. I like that. For years the trademark of the San Francisco was their ability to identify and draft the player they wanted — even if it took mortgaging the future. They did it with , and it worked. They did it with , and it didn't. Hey, you take your chances. Baltimore did, and the did not. Shame on Arizona. I know they need players, but they traded away the chance to take a premier pass rusher — a guy who's sitting in their backyard — and opted instead for wide receiver Bryant Johnson and defensive end Calvin Pace? Please. "I heard (Friday) night that they might do it," Suggs said. "I knew they had lost some people and that they really needed players. So I kind of knew they were going to trade down." What he didn't know is that he would go somewhere he will be teamed with and and where he will be coached by Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary. As I said, I don't know how the do it, but each year they keep reminding us that this is the way to run a draft. "Who better to learn from than ?" Suggs said. "I'll get a chance to go out there and play with him and Boulware, and it's going to be fun. And (Singletary) ... I didn't even know he was coaching there. That's news to me. This day is just getting better and better." You don't need to remind Baltimore. They looked at Boller as more than an insurance policy against quarterback , who bowed out last year after six games with a back injury; they looked at him as a potential starter ... but not at the 10th position. So they took him with New England's choice at 19. Now they have two young quarterbacks, a 1,000-yard rusher, a magnificent tackle, a premier pass rusher and the best linebacker in the game. As the man said, it just keeps getting better and better. Senior writer covers the NFL for and can be reached at his e-mail address:
Tagged: Raiders, 49ers, Ravens, Cardinals, Jerry Rice, Chris Redman, Travis Taylor, Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware

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