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Ravens’ strategy for draft anyone’s guess

- Associated Press - Monday, April 25, 2011

OWINGS MILLS, MD. | Trying to determine what the Baltimore Ravens will do with the 26th overall pick in the NFL draft is as futile an exercise as predicting the day the lockout ends.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome could select a cornerback, perhaps Jimmy Smith of Colorado. Newsome might decide upon a pass rusher or an offensive lineman, two areas of concern for a team that had no opportunity to add depth through free agency because of the labor situation.

Or, Newsome could simply trade the pick.

More often than not, Newsome makes a mockery of mock drafts by pulling off the unexpected.

A year ago, the Ravens dealt the 25th overall choice for three selections in the latter rounds. Baltimore walked away with nothing on the first night of the draft, but the trade gave Newsome the opportunity to make some shrewd choices over the next two days.

The Ravens have nine potential selections this time around, which means Newsome will have some bargaining power after the draft gets under way Thursday night.

Three years ago, through a series of trades, Newsome took quarterback Joe Flacco with the 18th overall pick. In 2009, he moved up to snag offensive tackle Michael Oher.

When the Ravens start talking trade, that's when owner Steve Bisciotti gets involved.

"I can ask: 'OK, New England is on the clock at 17. What will it take for us to move to 17?' Somebody can give me an answer to that quickly because they've prepared themselves for that," Newsome said.

The league has an informal chart that indicates the trade value of each first-round pick, and Newsome has that information readily available in the team's war room.

"We'll utilize that trade chart, that information, to start calling teams," he said. "All of that will be talked about, and that's one of the things that Steve is very big on. He's very much a part of us trading up and trading back, and that's where he'll start to interject himself."

Flacco and Oher have been valuable starters since the first game of their rookie season. Trading last year's No. 1 pick, however, has not panned out.

After dealing their first-round selection to Denver, the Ravens took Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle in the second round. Kindle fractured his skull while falling down a flight of stairs before training camp and has not yet played a down in the NFL.

"I couldn't predict that one," Newsome said. "We will wait and see how that outcome is going to be. But that story is not completely written yet."

Newsome's success in the draft is well-documented, beginning with his first two picks in 1996, the year the Ravens came from Cleveland. After taking tackle Jonathan Ogden with the fourth selection, he snagged linebacker Ray Lewis at No. 26.

Ogden is almost certainly headed to the Hall of Fame, and Lewis' exceptional play is an indication of what might be available if the Ravens opt to keep the 26th overall pick.

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