Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says team could take pass rusher early in NFL draft

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciott is shown during the team's 2014 season review and 2015 season preview press conference.
Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciott is shown during the team's 2014 season review and 2015 season preview press conference. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

The consensus is that when the Ravens are on the clock with the 26th overall pick in the NFL draft later this month, they will select either the top available wide receiver or cornerback.

That, however, wouldn't necessarily be the case if team owner Steve Bisciotti made the final decision. During a conference call with Ravens' season ticket and personal seat license holders Wednesday night, Bisciotti said he would be excited if the team came out of the April 30 first round with a third pass-rushing threat, joining Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.


"I'm with you all, I hope it's a corner. But I wouldn't be too upset if it was a pass rusher," Bisciotti said, citing the importance of filling the void created by the departure of outside linebacker/defensive end Pernell McPhee. "Everybody says that you need two edge rushers and that's true. But we saw in the year that we had Trevor Pryce, we had three of them. That was the other year we had 60 sacks. You can't go with two anymore. These offenses are too good at pushing [outside rushers] wide.

"I would be just as pleased with a pass rusher. I think it's probably the quietest need that we have if we're going to get there. If we can take a half-second off [the quarterback's] available time to throw, then we will find some corners in the second, third and fourth round that can play up to that."

Under Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have had great success taking the best player available, rather than drafting for need. Bisciotti, who gives Newsome and the front office the final say in making the selections, said that philosophy will continue.

However, the owner did indicate that he views finding another pass rusher as a priority. He expects to add a cornerback, too, but he thinks the healthy returns of Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson will be the biggest key to repairing what was a vulnerable pass defense last year.

While he'd like to add a speedy wide receiver — Torrey Smith left the team in free agency — he doesn't view it as a top need, an opinion that runs contrary to the belief of many NFL pundits and Ravens' fans. Instead, Bisciotti expressed confidence in the continued development of Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro (River Hill) and Kamar Aiken, and talked about the success that other teams, like the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, have had in drafting wide receivers in the middle rounds.

"We absolutely need a tight end. We don't absolutely need a wide receiver," Bisciotti said. "I've got my guys very high on our wide receivers. … We need a wide receiver … but you can get some fliers in the third round, guys that can take the top off the defense. We have a lot of good possession receivers in [Campanaro] and Steve Smith and Aiken and Marlon. I'm not desperate for a wideout."

As for tight end, Bisciotti said he doesn't see the Ravens taking one in the first round, but he cited the middle rounds as potential opportunities to land one. Bisciotti also isn't ruling out Dennis Pitta returning from his second hip surgery in as many years.

"I'm praying that Dennis comes back and he's healthy enough ... and he feels comfortable," Bisciotti said.

During the hour-long conference call, Bisciotti also touched on a variety of other topics:

• He said that the team has offers out and will continue to negotiate with right guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Jimmy Smith and kicker Justin Tucker. All three are eligible to be free agents following the 2015 season.

Bisciotti said that an extension for one of those players could free up some much-needed salary cap space and allow the Ravens a little more flexibility in adding free agents in the weeks ahead.

• In a comment that could draw attention to NFL officials as a potential violation of league tampering rules, Bisciotti didn't rule out re-signing defensive tackle Haloti Ngata if he becomes a free agent next year. The Ravens traded Ngata to the Detroit Lions last month after the team and the player couldn't agree on terms of a contract extension.

"As far as I know, he could be a free agent a year from now and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata," Bisciotti said. "Who knows? I never give up hope that we couldn't get him back."

• Bisciotti expressed confidence that the team will be able to work out a new contract with quarterback Joe Flacco next year. Flacco's salary cap number rises to over $28 million for the 2016 season, which would be difficult for the Ravens to carry.


•The Ravens have yet to play in one of the league's "International Series" games in London, but Bisciotti expects that to change in the near future.

"I would absolutely love going to London," he said. "I'm all for it. I think it would be a blast. I don't want it to be a home game. I would say probably there's a 75 to 80 percent chance that it will happen over the next four seasons and an 80 percent chance that it will be a road game."

The Ravens have made clear that they don't want to go to London if it means losing one of their eight home dates.


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