The Baltimore Ravens were determined to come away from the first round ofthe NFL draft with a linebacker, and they were pleasantly surprised thatformer Miami star Ray Lewis was available when it was their turn to take the26th pick.
Baltimore, which lost a chance to get Kevin Hardy when Jacksonville landedhim as the overall second pick, didn't let Lewis get away. The Ravens onlyhope Lewis develops with them as quickly as he did at Miami, where heestablished himself as a freshman middle linebacker in 1993, and went on tohave three solid seasons.
The Ravens also are hoping cornerback DeRon Jenkins is worth the pricethey paid for him yesterday. Baltimore gave up its third- and fourth-roundpicks and a seventh-round choice to Denver, then selected Jenkins late in thesecond round.
Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore's director of football operations, said theRavens' need for a cornerback, plus Jenkins' combination of speed and size,compelled Baltimore to take the 5-foot-11, 183-pound former Tennesseestandout.
Lewis, 6-0, 235, isn't especially big for his position. But in coach TedMarchibroda's mind, the proof is on the film. There, Marchibroda saw a guy whorelentlessly fought through blocks and pursued ball carriers and had the kindof speed to run them down from all angles. Then, there is Lewis' demonstrativedemeanor.
"He has the football temperament that we were looking for. When you watchhim on film, he catches your eye, and you love to watch him play," Marchibrodasaid. "He was a guy we didn't think would fall this far, but we're thankfulthat he did. He's going to be a big help in an area where we had to have it."
The Ravens, who considered taking running back Leeland McElroy or tightend Jason Dunn before choosing Lewis, see him as a versatile type who can playoutside in their base 4-3 alignment or move inside in the 3-4 set.
"He commands respect when he steps into the huddle. He's all business. Heknows what his profession is, and he's going to attack it. He's very much likeGreg Lloyd," said Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who coachedlinebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers before coming to Baltimore. "As ayoung player, he was a great player at Miami. He wasn't intimidated. Heintimidated people with his attitude and persona."
In three seasons with the Hurricanes, Lewis made 388 tackles, fifth on theschool's career list. In 1993, he became the first freshman to start for Miamiin five years, and had 76 tackles. As a junior last year, he was a consensusfirst-team All-America choice after making 160 tackles (95 solo).
"The way I play the game is like a dog," Lewis said. "You take food awayfrom a dog and run from him, he's going to come and get you. That's the way Iplay when a man has the ball in his hands.
"I just love to play the game. I love the competition, just being outthere sweating, trying to beat the next man in front of you."
It was a day of mixed emotions for Lewis. Hours before being drafted, heattended the funeral of former Hurricanes teammate and roommate Marlin Barnes,who was murdered last week.
"Right now, all I can do is be happy," Lewis said. "I know he is lookingdown on me, smiling right now."
By adding Jenkins, the Ravens went through the draft's first day withoutfilling a need at running back. They even passed on UCLA's Karim Abdul-Jabbarand Minnesota's Chris Darkins by trading with the Broncos.
Owner Art Modell said the Ravens probably would get a running back throughtrade or free agency.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun