By Matt Vensel
11:00 AM EDT, April 18, 2011
After serving as the Ravens’ head coach for nine seasons, Brian Billick is kind of familiar with the way Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and his staff operate in the offseason. And in a recent video for FOXsports.com, Billick said the NFL lockout could force Newsome to change his philosophy for next week’s NFL draft.
This offseason, with the collective bargaining agreement expired and the players locked out, the NFL will hold its draft before free agency. Normally, it’s the other way around. “There are a lot of people that have been in this league for a long time [that] have wanted that to happen,” Newsome said of the change at the team’s season-ending press conference back in January.
Billick, now an analyst for FOX, said the switch will affect how the Ravens do business.
“Ozzie Newsome is a firm believer in addressing your needs in free agency so that you’re not forced into reaching in the draft and can truly take the best player available,” Billick said. “Well, they’re not going to be able to do that this year, so they’re going to have to address some of their needs, beginning with the 26th pick in the draft.”
But Billick expressed confidence that the Ravens will again have success selecting a player in the first round. “Ozzie Newsome and his group, no one does it better than they do,” said Billick, who named Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Ben Grubbs as standout players the Ravens have drafted late in the first round. “They’re going to do well with this pick.”
As for the Ravens’ specific draft needs, Billick mentioned the offensive line, wide receiver and a couple of key areas on defense. The Ravens haven’t selected a defensive player in the first round since Haloti Ngata in 2006.
“They desperately need to address their back end in the secondary,” he said. “Ed Reed obviously played last year and may be on the back end of his career. They could lose Dawan Landry at the safety position. The 26th pick of the draft, I don’t know that there's a safety that would be a good pick in the first round. But going for another corner -- a nickel corner [makes sense]. That secondary was a little problematic for them last year.
“The other big need on defense, they’ve got to have an edge rusher to complement Terrell Suggs, someone that can come off that edge so they don’t have to bring secondary pressure [or] linebacking pressure.”
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