Ravens taking OL with 29th pick not unprecedented
History could repeat itself for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL
The last time the Ravens had the 29th overall pick, they
selected guard Ben Grubbs in 2007.
Grubbs became a starter as a rookie and helped the Ravens make
the playoffs in each of the last four years. General manager Ozzie
Newsome desperately tried to re-sign Grubbs during the recent
offseason, but the two-time Pro Bowl alternate accepted a $36
million deal with the New Orleans Saints.
So now there’s a good chance the Ravens will use the 29th pick
Thursday to snare another offensive lineman, someone who can open
holes for running back Ray Rice and protect quarterback Joe
The player just has to be worth it.
Newsome insists he won’t draft to fill a need if there’s a more
talented player available.
But the Ravens offensive line is thin. This could be the final
season for center Matt Birk, who turns 36 in July, and there is no
depth at guard beyond Marshal Yanda. The best linemen in the draft
will likely be gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock, but
their options could include David DeCastro of Stanford and
Wisconsin big men Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz.
”All those guys, you figure they get picked in the latter half
of the first round, the early part of the second round,” said Eric
DeCosta, the Ravens director of player personnel.
Baltimore’s success over the last four years has forced Newsome
and DeCosta to make the best of drafting in the back end of each
round. Yet they still managed to secure starters Michael Oher,
Lardarius Webb, Terrence Cody, Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith and the
tight end tandem of Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
The Ravens enter the draft with eight selections, none more
valuable than the first, although each pick will be given the same
amount of thought and consideration.
And then, while Baltimore is on the clock, it might be traded
away. For the Ravens, it’s not so much their draft number but the
number of draft picks. After all, Webb, Dickson, Pitta and
up-and-coming defensive end Pernell McPhee were all taken in the
third round or later.
”We want as many picks as we can get because I think the draft
is all about luck,” DeCosta said. ”The more picks you have, the
better chance you have to get lucky. We need players at every
position across the board. The more picks we have, the better
chance we have to hit on a few guys. That’s really where we are
Newsome has pulled off a trade in each of the last 10 drafts,
more often than not to get extra selections. Two years ago, for
instance, he dealt his first-rounder to Denver for three picks.
”There’s nobody that covets picks more than the Baltimore
Ravens,” Newsome said. ”And so, the notion of giving up a pick is
pretty distasteful for us unless the player is pretty darn
if Konz or some other notable offensive lineman is available,
the Ravens might select someone rated higher on their board.
”We have said this for 16 years: We will not take need over a
real good player at another position,” Newsome said.
Baltimore could use a linebacker to replace departed free agent
Jarret Johnson or someone to groom as a down-the-road replacement
Ray Lewis, who turns 37 next month. They might seek a wide receiver
to go with Smith, or a safety to provide stability in the back end
of the defense with Ed Reed, who turns 34 in September.
”I try to come up with a theme every year before the draft. My
theme this year is deep depth,” DeCosta said. ”It sort of goes
back to Branch Rickey, quality out of quantity, a lot of picks just
to get as many players as you can. I think we need a lot of good
young players. Last year, we thought we needed playmakers and we
brought in Torrey Smith, we brought in Jimmy Smith. We got some
guys like that.”
Newsome and DeCosta must be doing something right, because the
Ravens are the only team in the NFL to win a playoff game in each
of the last four years. But despite reaching the AFC title game
twice during,. that span, Baltimore hasn’t been to the Super Bowl
since winning it all during the 2000 season.
The hope is that this will be the year.
”I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” DeCosta said. ”We’re
just trying to get better. We look at the team as clinically as we
can and try to address what we think are the most important issues.
That’s what the draft is about, that’s what free agency is about.
We’re just trying to improve so that next year when we’re in that
same position, we’ll win the game.”