Ravens set to pick 6th over­all in Thurs­day’s NFL Draft

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— The last time the Bal­ti­more Ravens owned a spot in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, they made the de­ci­sion to move back, trad­ing the eighth over­all se­lec­tion in the 2008 draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars, be­fore even­tu­ally se­lect­ing quar­ter­back Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in the first round.

Cur­rently the own­ers of the No. 6 pick in Thurs­day’s 2016 NFL Draft, the Ravens may uti­lize a sim­i­lar strat­egy when they find them­selves on the clock. Oth­er­wise, they will take their first Top 10 se­lec­tion since draft­ing out­side line­backer Ter­rell Suggs with the 10th over­all pick in 2003.

OWINGS MILLS

“I think we’ve al­ways – whether we’re pick­ing four, six, 10, what­ever – we’ll have six play­ers graded. So, if the phone rings or doesn’t ring, we’ll be pre­pared to pick at the sixth pick,” Ravens gen­eral man­ager Ozzie New­some said dur­ing the pre-draft press con­fer­ence ear­lier this month at the team’s prac­tice fa­cil­ity. “Will we be open to lis­ten? Yes. But, you have to be pre­pared to pick, and we will be pre­pared to pick at No. 6.”

Bal­ti­more has se­lected only seven play­ers in the Top 10 since its in­au­gu­ral draft in 1996. Five of those play­ers, in­clud­ing Suggs, went on to earn at least one Pro Bowl nom­i­na­tion, while tackle Jonathan Og­den – se­lected with the fourth over­all pick in 1996 – went onto be elected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first round in­cluded, the Ravens have se­lected a to­tal of 17 play­ers in the NFL Draft who have gone on to earn Pro Bowl nom­i­na­tions. Re­tired line­backer Ray Lewis, a first-round pick in 1996, and re­tired safety Ed Reed, a firstround pick in 2002, are both fu­ture Hall of Famers.

How­ever, since 2008, Bal­ti­more has drafted only one player who has gone on to ap­pear in the Pro Bowl – line­backer C.J. Mosley in 2014.

“I guess it would be easy to say, if you look at these [re­cent] drafts com­pared to ’96 to 2004, I would say that they didn’t mea­sure up to those drafts. From ’96 to 2004, we drafted three Hall of Famers, but I will also say that time, early on when you’re pick­ing in the Top 10 of the draft, you have a chance to be a lot more suc­cess­ful than it is when you’re pick­ing any­where from 20 to 32, which [are] the po­si­tions we’ve been in,” New­some said. “Un­for­tu­nately, we lost 11 games [in 2015]. Now we’re back in the Top 10 again. But I would say it was not up to my stan­dards, was not up to [as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager] Eric [DeCosta’s] stan­dards and not the Ravens’ stan­dard when you com­pare to what we did very early on.”

The Ravens will not have to wait very long to pick in the sec­ond round, ei­ther. Bal­ti­more cur­rently owns the 36th pick in the draft – just five se­lec­tions af­ter the end of the first round.

“We feel the pres­sure, hon­estly, re­gard­less if we’re pick­ing sixth or 32. We’ve picked both. I think the play­ers are bet­ter, but we still feel the same pres­sure. We felt pres­sure last year when we picked 26th last year; we felt the same pres­sure,” DeCosta said. “Hon­estly, we’re look­ing at a dif­fer­ent level of abil­ity in some re­spects. I’m ac­tu­ally prob­a­bly feel­ing more pres­sure at pick 36 than I am at six. I feel like if you’re pick­ing sixth, you re­ally only have to look at four or five play­ers, and you’re just go­ing to have to iron those guys out and you rank those five play­ers. At 36, there’s a lot more volatil­ity. There’s a lot more dif­fer­ent play­ers you’re go­ing to be look­ing at, a lot more com­bi­na­tions. So, I’ve been spend­ing a lot more time think­ing about 36 ac­tu­ally in the last cou­ple of weeks, be­cause there could be a lot of dif­fer­ent play­ers.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whi

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