NFL DRAFT: Unwanted luxury: Ravens' 6th pick after down year
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) It isn't often the Baltimore Ravens are presented the opportunity to make a Top 10 selection in the NFL draft.
Because of Baltimore's success over the past dozen years, general manager Ozzie Newsome usually ends up digging for a gem in the back end of the first round.
Not this time. As a consolation prize for their dismal 5-11 season - the team's worst since 2007 - the Ravens will have the sixth overall pick on April 28. That sure makes things easier.
''When you're picking in the Top 10 of the draft,'' Newsome said, ''you have a chance to be a lot more successful than it is when you're picking anywhere from 20 to 32.''
The Ravens need to get it right. Although they filled a few holes via free agency by adding safety Eric Weddle, tight end Benjamin Watson and wide receiver Mike Wallace, the retooling process is far from over.
''Getting those three players, it won't adjust our board,'' Newsome said. ''Because we still believe in taking the best players available, regardless of position.''
That philosophy has worked for Newsome beginning with the Ravens' first draft in 1996, when he selected offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden at No. 4 and linebacker Ray Lewis with the 26th pick. Ogden is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Lewis eventually will be.
When choosing in the Top 10, Newsome rarely fumbles. Standout linebacker Peter Boulware came at No. 4 in 1997; shutdown cornerback Chris McAlister was the 10th player chosen in 1999; record-setting running Jamal Lewis was selected fifth overall in 2000; and the franchise sacks leader Terrell Suggs was taken at No. 10 in 2003.
Some things to know about the Ravens' draft:
FEELING NEEDY: At the top of the Ravens' list of needs is a pass rusher, followed by an offensive tackle, and then maybe a running back.
The last time Newsome had a Top 10 pick, he took Suggs. Now, with Suggs seeking to rebound from a torn Achilles tendon, the Ravens are looking for someone else to pressure the quarterback.
''Pass rushers, I would say, would really help us,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''We're all determined to get that done.''
Joey Bosa of Ohio State, DeForest Buckner of Oregon and Myles Jack of UCLA are all possibilities.
TRADE WINDS: It's possible, but highly unlikely, that Newsome will trade the top pick. He will probably make a deal later in the draft, as has become his custom.
The Ravens have 11 picks, including the 36th overall in Round 2, and three compensatory selections.
DEFENSE A PRIORITY: Early in the draft, Baltimore will seek to fortify a defense that last season yielded 401 points - more than 25 per game.
''We're at a position at six where we think we're going to get a very, very good player,'' assistant GM Eric DeCosta said. ''Defensively, you've got pass rushers, you've got corners. Those are playmakers, guys that can sack the quarterback, guys that can intercept passes.
''There are four or five guys that we feel comfortable taking at six on the defensive side. As we get into the second round, again, we see a lot of those kind of guys. So, it does shape up very nicely for us.''
PROTECTING FLACCO: With quarterback Joe Flacco on the mend following knee surgery, the Ravens are adamant about providing him with solid protection in 2016. After losing left tackle Kelechi Osemele to free agency, the only remaining option at the position is the oft-injured Eugene Monroe.
Laremy Tunsil of Ohio State and Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley are the best two available, but it's likely the Ravens will be forced to address that need with someone else.
''There are tough, physical guys that can play left tackle beyond the top two in the draft,'' said Joe Hortiz, the team's director of college scouting. ''We feel pretty good about those guys.''
LIAR'S POKER: The Ravens' first-round pick will probably be influenced by what happens before they're on the clock. The Titans and Browns have already traded their selections, so anything goes.
''I have some friends up in front of me that I know are lying to me right now,'' DeCosta said. ''All you can control is the pick you make.''
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