The chances of the Ravens moving down from their No. 4 position in the NFL draft increased yesterday with owner Art Modell having preliminary trade discussions with the St. Louis Rams, who have the No. 6 selection.
Details of the discussions were not available, but a league source said the Rams also talked with New York Jets head coach Bill Parcells about trading up to the No. 1 position to draft Ohio State offensive tackle Orlando Pace.
Modell said there are several other teams that have spoken with the Ravens about trading down, including the Lions, who have the No. 5 pick. The move down by the Ravens would save the team about $1 million in signing bonus and provide them with another pick in the draft.
"I spoke with Rams president John Shaw and these were preliminary as far as trade talks go," said Modell, who is involved in discussions with his coaching and scouting staff about whether to keep the fourth pick if Florida State defensive end Peter Boulware is available. "It was a feeling-out process. I don't know if we're going to do something yet or not. If we do trade down, the money saved would be used to get one or two more players, either through the draft or free agency."
The Rams, under first-year coach Dick Vermeil, would prefer the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Pace with either Boulware or Texas cornerback Bryant Westbrook as a second option. But the Lions also want Westbrook, which presently puts the Ravens in a favorable position.
The Rams reportedly have offered the Jets their first-, third- and fifth-round picks, but the Jets want a No. 2 instead of a No. 3 pick. There is speculation Parcells wants any possible deal completed by tonight, or all trade talks would end involving the Jets.
"Before Saturday, you're going to see some posturing and re-positioning," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president pro personnel. "A lot of teams are eager to see what the Jets do with their No. 1 pick before they make a move."
"The other morning the most clear thing I had on my mind was the possibility of moving to No. 4 and coming out with a pass rusher," Vermeil said last night. "The next day it didn't seem like it was going to be a viable thing. So it varies from day to day."
Ideally, the Ravens would like to trade down to one of the teams selecting five through 10 in the first round, and then get an additional second-round pick that would give them three in that round. But the team has backed off and will take a relatively high pick in the third round. St. Louis is believed to be offering one of its two fourth-round picks.
Houston and Miami also have some interest in trading with the Ravens, but their positions at No. 13 and No. 15 in the first rounds might be too low for the Ravens to draft one of the three outside linebackers they covet most, Dwayne Rudd of Alabama and Virginia's James Farrior and Jamie Sharper.
Pub Date: 4/17/97