- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

BALTIMORE The Baltimore Ravens expect Art Modell's last NFL Draft as owner to be a memorable one.
After 42 years as an NFL owner, the 77-year-old Modell will preside over his last war room before he turns the team over to multi-millionaire Anne Arundel County businessman Steve Bisciotti.
With the 10th overall pick and 11 selections in the seven-round draft and given the Ravens' unparalleled draft success since moving from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996 Modell understands what it takes to score big in the draft.
"If you look over the history of the National Football League, you'll find the teams who had the greatest success on the field through the draft were teams that drafted players in the first round, other than quarterback, and put them right in and they played," Modell said.
Modell says every draft is a crapshoot. If so, the Ravens are rolling sevens. Of their nine first-round draft picks, only cornerback Duane Starks is no longer with the team. The eight remaining first-rounders are all starters and impact players. Four of those former first round picks linebacker Ray Lewis, tackle Jonathan Ogden, tight end Todd Heap and linebacker Peter Boulware have been named to AFC Pro Bowl teams.
If the Ravens don't trade up or down today, the team undoubtedly will get a player who should contribute right away. And history suggests they'll select a cornerback at No.10.
Starks (1998) and Chris McAlister (1999) were taken with the 10th overall pick. The Ravens addressed many of their needs this offseason in free agency, signing cornerback Corey Fuller, offensive tackle Orlando Brown and wide receiver Frank Sanders.
Perhaps the biggest need for the Ravens is at quarterback. With starter Chris Redman returning after offseason back surgery and Anthony Wright penciled in as backup, the Ravens really need some help at that position.
Southern California's Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer, already has signed a seven-year, $49million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Ravens are to trade up to grab Marshall's Byron Leftwich, it probably will cost them the 10th pick plus their second round selection (41st overall). The Ravens love Leftwich, a District native who played at H.D. Woodson High School. But in their seven previous drafts, the Ravens have never traded up or down on draft day.
"One of the things that has been the strength of our group is that we will have 10 players that we like," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "If you're picking at 10, you're likely to get one of those 10. We feel when we turn the card in and we don't move up or move back then we'll come away with a player that will impact our football team."
This time, though, the Ravens might trade down to get a quarterback. Some mock drafts have them taking California's Kyle Boller with the 10th pick. The thinking among the Ravens' brain trust is that the 10th pick may be too high for Boller, and if they trade down, Boller could still be on the board anywhere from the 12th to the 20th pick.
The Ravens also could use a defensive tackle, and this draft is loaded with them. Kentucky's Dwayne Robertson, Penn State's Jimmy Kennedy, Georgia's Johnathan Sullivan, Oklahoma State's Kevin Williams and Miami's William Joseph are expected to be first-round selections, with the 6-foot-1, 324-pound Roberston and the 6-4, 322-pound Kennedy being the best bets.
The Ravens' 2003 schedule features a smorgasbord of the best running backs in the game, making the need for a run stopper even more important. Baltimore will face Corey Dillon (twice), Jerome Bettis (twice), William Green (twice), Ricky Williams, Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Shaun Alexander, Garrison Hearst, Charlie Garner, Marshall Faulk, Fred Taylor and Clinton Portis.
"How 'bout that that's going to make my offseason now," Ravens coach Brian Billick said jokingly. "I'm looking forward to it."



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