The Baltimore Ravens had mapped out their NFL draft strategy a day in advance, and University of Illinois defensive end Simeon Rice was the wild card.
Southern California wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Illinois linebacker
Kevin Hardy, UCLA offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and Nebraska running back
Lawrence Phillips were projected to be the first four picks.
Did it take Phillips, perhaps the best athlete in the draft, who filled a
pressing need but was a public relations risk? Or Ogden, who had a
squeaky-clean image, but would not plug any major team weakness?
After the Arizona Cardinals did take Rice with the third pick, the Ravens
made their choice -- Ogden.
The 6-foot-8, 318-pound tackle was the fourth player chosen and the
Ravens' No. 1 pick yesterday.
All around the Owings Mills complex there were smiles on the faces of the
Baltimore front office staff as the Ravens landed the most coveted lineman in
college football, and the city's first No. 1 pick since the Baltimore Colts
selected quarterback John Elway in 1983.
But as Ogden was preparing to fly to Baltimore, Ravens starting left
tackle Tony Jones, one of the team's most recognizable players, said he wanted
to be traded.
The Ravens believe Jones will back off his demand because they are
projecting Ogden as the starting left guard, which might give Baltimore one of
the strongest interior lines in the NFL if Ogden can adjust.
"We were ecstatic when Arizona passed him up and we still had a shot at
him," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of football operations. "I
think his biggest asset is his ability to run and make blocks in the open
field. 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 over
Phillips because of Phillips' off-the-field problems. Phillips was charged
last fall with assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
He pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor and has gone to counseling, paid
for his victim's counseling and publicly apologized.
"I had no qualms about taking him, because I felt, based on our
investigation, that he was subject to quick and complete rehabilitation and
that he would have been a class-A citizen and a man the city of Baltimore
would have been proud of," Modell said.
"There was no doubt that we were going to take Ogden if he was there, but
we didn't think he would be in the fourth slot. The thing that threw
everything 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 and
director of college scouting Phil Savage worked out 15 possible combinations
of 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 preferred
Ogden. Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda liked any of the top four, so he deferred
to the remaining staffers.
Ogden won out.
Ravens opt to line up with Ogden
Team surprised he's available with fourth pick; RB Phillips passed up; Tackle at UCLA, he'll start off at guard
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