- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

OWINGS MILLS, Md. The plight of the Baltimore Ravens can perhaps best be summarized by their initial pick on the second day of the NFL draft: punter Dave Zastudil.
"If we're going to be a football team that might struggle a little bit on offense, a punter can become a weapon for you," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations.
Having lost six starters on offense, including their quarterback and top two receivers, the Ravens yesterday used their third draft pick on Zastudil, who had a school-record 44.6-yard career punting average for Ohio University.
Zastudil will replace Kyle Richardson, one of many salary-cap casualties during this tumultuous offseason for the Super Bowl XXXV champions.
Baltimore had plenty of holes to fill most notably cornerback and offensive tackle. But Newsome contended that the left-footed Zastudil was the highest-rated player on Baltimore's draft chart when it came time to make the 112th overall pick in the fourth round.
"We could have very easily taken a corner or a tackle, but next year, we'd still be looking for a corner or a tackle," Newsome said. "I know from experience, the mistakes that are made in the draft room is when you draft for need."
Zastudil will almost certainly join both players selected by Baltimore on Saturday safety Ed Reed and defensive lineman Anthony Weaver as a first-year starter.
"We know this guy can come in here and punt from Day 1," college scouting director Phil Savage said. "The other players we were considering might need some development, and we might not be able to utilize them for another year or two."
Savage then added a very telling statement: "I think it was a mistake for people to think that we're going to fix everything in one draft. It's not realistic at all. But at the same time, we've added some guys that are going to definitely help this team."
Maybe all of them.
"The majority of players picked yesterday and today, barring injury or holdout, will be in uniform and playing when we go to Carolina on opening day," Newsome declared.
The true worth of this draft won't be known for years. But Baltimore is confident that Reed and Weaver will immediately enhance a defense that lost seven starters, including three linemen and three backs.
Reed, the 24th overall pick, was introduced to the Baltimore media yesterday at the Ravens' training complex. Minutes earlier, team president David Modell asked the safety if he wanted to touch the Super Bowl trophy.
"No," Reed replied, "I want to touch it when we win one."
Reed equated his arrival in Baltimore with his freshman season in college.
"This kind of reminds me of my first year at Miami," he said. "We went from being a bad team to being a good team, a national championship team. I'm pretty sure we'll get a championship here soon."
After picking Zastudil, Baltimore selected wide receiver Ron Johnson later in the fourth round. Johnson, the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Ron Johnson Sr., led Minnesota last year with 56 catches for 895 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Ravens hope the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder can provide quarterback Chris Redman with another option beyond Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley.
"He's a big, physical receiver," Newsome said. "He's a guy that will add to Brandon and Travis, a guy that can be a big-time target."
Baltimore took Alabama tight end Terry Jones in the fifth round. Jones caught only 31 passes in four years, but the Ravens plan to have the 265-pounder provide extra blocking on the line while Todd Heap steps up to replace Shannon Sharpe as the pass-catching tight end.
"We feel like he'll be a very good complement to Todd Heap. He comes in as a guy that can do a very good job at the point of attack," said Newsome, who played with Jones' father at Alabama.
The Ravens had four picks in the sixth round, three of them as compensation for the loss of restricted free agents. In order, Baltimore selected wide receiver/kick returner Lamont Brightful of Eastern Washington; wide receiver Javin Hunter of Notre Dame; running back Chester Taylor of Toledo; and safety Chad Williams of Southern Mississippi.
Baltimore's final pick, in the seventh round, was quarterback Wes Pate of Stephen F. Austin.

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