Southern California wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Illinois linebackerKevin Hardy, UCLA offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and Nebraska running backLawrence Phillips were projected to be the first four picks.
If Rice was the third player chosen in the draft, then Baltimore had adecision to make.
Did it take Phillips, perhaps the best athlete in the draft, who filled apressing need but was a public relations risk? Or Ogden, who had asqueaky-clean image, but would not plug any major team weakness?
After the Arizona Cardinals did take Rice with the third pick, the Ravensmade their choice -- Ogden.
The 6-foot-8, 318-pound tackle was the fourth player chosen and theRavens' No. 1 pick yesterday.
All around the Owings Mills complex there were smiles on the faces of theBaltimore front office staff as the Ravens landed the most coveted lineman incollege football, and the city's first No. 1 pick since the Baltimore Coltsselected quarterback John Elway in 1983.
But as Ogden was preparing to fly to Baltimore, Ravens starting lefttackle Tony Jones, one of the team's most recognizable players, said he wantedto be traded.
The Ravens believe Jones will back off his demand because they areprojecting Ogden as the starting left guard, which might give Baltimore one ofthe strongest interior lines in the NFL if Ogden can adjust.
"We were ecstatic when Arizona passed him up and we still had a shot athim," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of football operations. "Ithink his biggest asset is his ability to run and make blocks in the openfield. I think he is going to be an anchor for us for a long time to come."
Ravens owner Art Modell denied speculation that he chose Ogden overPhillips because of Phillips' off-the-field problems. Phillips was chargedlast fall with assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
He pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor and has gone to counseling, paidfor his victim's counseling and publicly apologized.
"I had no qualms about taking him, because I felt, based on ourinvestigation, that he was subject to quick and complete rehabilitation andthat he would have been a class-A citizen and a man the city of Baltimorewould have been proud of," Modell said.
"There was no doubt that we were going to take Ogden if he was there, butwe didn't think he would be in the fourth slot. The thing that threweverything out of kilter was Rice going early."
Only in the last 10 days did Rice's stock start to rise.
On Friday, Newsome, Modell, executive vice-president Jim Bailey anddirector of college scouting Phil Savage worked out 15 possible combinationsof the two possible remaining players if Rice was chosen in the top three.
One scenario was Ogden vs. Phillips.
It wasn't an easy decision. Modell wanted Phillips. Newsome preferredOgden. Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda liked any of the top four, so he deferredto the remaining staffers.
Ogden won out.
"There was Phillips vs. Johnson, Phillips against Hardy, and Hardy againstJohnson," Modell said. "Hardy and Phillips would have been a tough call."
Newsome agreed. Finding a linebacker was one of the Ravens' biggest needs.
"Hardy and Phillips? That was a real tough one," said Newsome. "It wouldhave been Hardy."
The Ravens didn't have to make that choice, but they had some temptingoffers to trade up before their pick.
Each team is allowed 15 minutes to make its choice in the first round, andwhile Jacksonville was debating its No. 2 pick, the Jaguars kept phoning theRavens about trading up to Jacksonville's slot.
Arizona had similar thoughts. The Cardinals called Baltimore aboutswapping the third and fourth picks, and reportedly offered the Ravens twomid- to late-round picks. The Ravens declined, but Arizona was not finished.
Newsome said the Cardinals' table was next to Baltimore's at the draftheadquarters in New York. The Cardinals wrote Phillips' name on theirselection card and announced it loud enough for the Baltimore contingent tohear.
The Ravens didn't fall for the bluff.
Once the Cardinals chose Rice, Baltimore did some bluffing of its own. TheRavens waited until two minutes were left before announcing they were choosingOgden.
"No one called us during our time, and we didn't call out," said Modell."Every team uses their 15 minutes in the hopes they think some team will callup and offer their piggy bank [a better deal]. No piggy bank."
"He was the cleanest of all the guys on the board," said Newsome in a rareslip.
Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said: "We think Ogden is very rare. As big ashe is, he can run. This is the finest lineman I've seen block down field,especially for his size."
The addition of Ogden gives the Ravens one the biggest offensive lines infootball. Jones weighs 295, center Steve Everitt is 290, right guard JeffBlackshear at 323 and right tackle Orlando Brown is 340.
"If they want to spend the fourth pick on me being a guard, I don't careas long as I'm playing," said Ogden. "I've been a tackle my entire life, but Iknow the line is solid right now, and I'm sure they have plans to move me totackle eventually."
Jonathan Ogden, OT
Round: 1st, 4th pick overall
Size: 6 feet 8, 318 pounds
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Statistics: Played in 42 games in his career, including starting all 23 ofthe Bruins' games in the past two seasons. In 1995, he played in 12 games,with 872 plays, 159 pancake blocks, 11 touchdown blocks, 27 downfield blocksand one sack allowed.
Quote: "Clearly, if you see footage of him, you know he is the best. Hemay give us the heaviest and most dominating offensive line in the league." --Ravens owner Art Modell.
Ray Lewis, ILB
Round: 1st, 26th pick overall
Size: 6 feet, 235 pounds
Hometown: Lakeland, Fla.
Statistics: Ranks fifth on the school's career list with 388 tackles,including 19 for 63 yards in losses. He finished with 238 solo tackles and hadsix sacks. In 1995, he had 160 tackles, 95 solos, two interceptions and twosacks.
Quote: "This fills a need and he was the best athlete available. We didn'tthink he would be available." -- Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda.
DeRon Jenkins, CB
Round: 2nd, 55th pick overall
Size: 5 feet 10, 183 pounds
Hometown: St. Louis
Statistics: Had 145 tackles in his career, including 110 solo. He also had12 interceptions. In 1995, he had 53 tackles, including 45 solos, and fourinterceptions.
Quote: "We feel like we got a guy who cannot only cover in this league,but a big guy who can run." -- Ravens director of football operations OzzieNewsome.