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The 8th man

The Baltimore Sun

So this is what you do in January during the NFL playoffs when the home team finishes 5-11 and everybody else is stewing over Mike Holmgren returning to Green Bay, the chances of Terrell Owens playing and whether Jessica Simpson will be at the Dallas Cowboys game. Instead, you look for a new coach, ponder free agents and start thinking about the draft three months before the thing happens.

If you don't know by now, the Ravens will draft eighth in the first round. So what will that mean? At this point, who knows? But we can sort out what it has meant the past few years.

We went back over the past eight drafts to see which players were selected in the No. 8 slot. The results are in the accompanying chart. You'll notice that for the past six drafts, five defensive players have been chosen and that four of them have been defensive backs.

The good news is that most of them are starters, and there are two Pro Bowl players in this group: Cowboys safety Roy Williams (drafted in 2002) and Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall (drafted in 2004). The 2001 pick, wide receiver David Terrell, has been the only true bust of this group so far.

So what might the Ravens do at No. 8? If you look at the mock drafts, you see the Ravens taking a quarterback (and not always the same one), but that's probably because of the view from the outside of a problematic position.

But how about a trade? I'm talking down, not up. What can the Ravens expect if they do that?

One measurement is the so-called draft pick value chart that assigns a numerical value to each draft position. Let's say a draft position is worth 500 points, and you trade down. Then in return, you should get some combination of selections whose combined numerical values add up to 500. It's not an exact science, but it's at least a guideline.

So, the No. 8 pick is worth 1,400 points on the chart I consulted (some charts vary, but on this one, the No. 1 overall is worth 3,000 points, and the last pick of the seventh round is worth 2). So if the Ravens traded down to, say, the 16th-20th spots, where the points ranged from 1,000 to 850, they could also expect a second-rounder or some combination of current and future third- and fourth-rounders. It depends on the draft position of the team you make a deal with.

It's interesting stuff to noodle over, but on the whole, I'd rather be talking about a rematch with the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.


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