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Warrick receives Ravens' attention; If he drops to No. 5, FSU star is likely pick

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Ravens are not concerned about physical workouts, 40-yard dash times or projections when it comes to Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick. They just watch the film and dream.

Warrick, 22, is the highest-rated receiver in this month's NFL draft, which is less than two weeks away, and one of the best athletes available. There are those who believe he will not be available when the Ravens select No. 5 overall, but that didn't stop Warrick and college teammate Corey Simon, a defensive tackle, from visiting the team's training complex in Owings Mills yesterday.

If Warrick slips to No. 5, the Ravens won't be able to turn in their draft card to commissioner Paul Tagliabue fast enough. It's almost certainly a done deal.

"It will be interesting," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of Warrick's possibly falling to No. 5. "It's hard not to take Peter Warrick. You can measure him, weigh him, put him in shorts all you want, but put the film on. He is an impact player and will be one in this league. I don't think anyone in the league will disagree with that.

"It will come down to need and how you rate some other people. The key is Cincinnati and their situation with [running back] Corey Dillon and [receiver] Carl Pickens."

The general consensus is that Cleveland will take Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington or Nittany Lions defensive end Courtney Brown with the No. 1 pick. The Washington Redskins will take Arrington or Brown at No. 2 and Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels with the No. 3 selection.

The Bengals have the No. 4 pick, and it appears they would take Warrick since they are trying to trade Pickens. But Cincinnati has been one of the worst-run teams in the league during the past decade, and the Bengals owner Mike Brown has a reputation for not wanting to pay big dollars for players.

The Bengals could make the pick or trade it. Who knows?

"I would be very surprised if he falls past four," Billick said of Warrick. "But I've been surprised before. Randy Moss fell to 21 in the first round and Duane Rudd went at 20. There are a number of reasons that players fall, but then when you look back, you have to ask yourself, 'How did that happen? What were we telling each other?' "

Two months ago, Warrick was the slam-dunk No. 1 overall choice of the Browns. But that was before his 40-yard dash time dropped to 4.61 last month, even though he wore outdoor track shoes on an indoor basketball court. He reportedly ran a 4.48 for the Redskins a week later.

Some scouts question his size (5 feet 10, 190 pounds) and character after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petty theft for his role in an incident last fall at a department store in Tallahassee, Fla., where he received deeply discounted clothing merchandise.

"I believe I'll go anywhere from one through four, but anything can happen," Warrick said. "It really doesn't make a difference to me. My dream was to be in the NFL, not necessarily the first pick. But if I was the first pick, I wouldn't mind.

"There seems to be a question about my speed," said Warrick, who had 71 catches for 934 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and was named Most Valuable Player in the Sugar Bowl, where Florida State defeated Virginia Tech to win the national championship.

"To be a great receiver, you don't have to have great speed. You have to run great routes, then make yards after the catch. Teams aren't drafting me to be a track star. If they want a track star, then draft one. If they want a wide receiver, then I think I'm the best in college football."

Simon is one of the players the Ravens have rated among their top six in the country, but the team has more of a need at receiver, running back and offensive line. The Ravens return both of their starting defensive tackles from a year ago in Tony Siragusa and Larry Webster as well as backups Lional Dalton and Martin Chase.

In the past, the Ravens have drafted with the philosophy of taking the best athlete available, but Billick said the quality of this year's draft gives the club a lot of options.

The Ravens could take a running back with their No. 5 pick and are particularly impressed with Tennessee's Jamal Lewis, whose speed and power make him a dual scoring threat inside the opposition's 20-yard line. The Ravens also like Virginia's Thomas Jones, Alabama's Shaun Alexander and Arizona State's J. R. Redmond, who visited the team Monday.

The Ravens want a multipurpose running back who can do for the Ravens what Robert Smith does for the Minnesota Vikings. The Ravens feel if they take a running back at No. 5, they still can get a quality receiver with their second pick in the first round, No. 15 overall. Receivers such as Florida's Travis Taylor, Jackson State's Sylvester Morris and Georgia Tech's Dez White might still be available.

Ideally, the Ravens would like to trade out of the No. 5 position and still be able to sign two quality players with two picks among the top 15 as well as earn a second- or third-round pick from the trade. The Ravens have spoken with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos about trading down. The Broncos have the No. 10 overall pick, and the Giants are at No. 11.

In the past, the Ravens often have talked about trading up or down in the first round, but haven't done so in the four years the team has been in Baltimore.

"You could see a flurry of [trades] happen on Friday or Saturday," Billick said, referring to the day before the draft and to the first day of selections. "It might happen on draft day because there is a lot of contingency involved about this player or that player being available.

"Right now, everyone is firming up their board. What does the No. 5 pick represent, what does No. 10 and No. 11 represent? Right now, everyone is saying this is a four-person draft. But clearly, as we got closer, people will have a sixth, seventh or eighth player, and there will be interest in No. 5."

There seem to be a lot of players who can fit in between Nos. 5 and 15, which the Ravens don't mind.

"If you could accurately define the No. 5 players for each team, you might get 15 different players from teams around the league," Billick said. "This is probably not as deep of a blue-chip draft as in the past, but it goes deeper in quality, maybe as far as the second and third rounds. Usually, you've got to stay with the best athlete, but this year you can make a case for a guy at seven that you might also take at 13. Fortunately for us, our needs happen to fit the strength of the draft.

"Clearly, receiver, running back and offensive line are areas we'd like to address, and in each of those areas, you can make a case for anyone from five to 15," Billick said. "I think fate has dealt us a pretty good hand. We won't have to stretch ourselves based on need."

Billick, though, wouldn't tip his hand on whom he might draft. Not yet, anyway.

"I've fallen in love with a lot of players," he said. "Right now, I'm like a kid at his first prom. There are a lot of good-looking kids out there. I have fallen in love with Jones; he is a class kid. I love Travis Taylor, and Simon was a great kid. I also love the thought of Warrick falling to us. I fall in love kind of easily this time of year."

NOTES: The New England Patriots have inquired with the Ravens about possibly trading running back Priest Holmes and reserve offensive tackle Spencer Folau, but Billick said both players are too valuable. Holmes is currently the starting running back, and Folau can play either tackle position. A source close to Holmes said trade talks might reopen on draft day.

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