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Ozzie Newsome remembers landmark 1996 draft for mistake he made, too

Even though he hit a home run in the first round, the Ravens' Ozzie Newsome says he learned some lessons from the 1996 NFL Draft.
Even though he hit a home run in the first round, the Ravens' Ozzie Newsome says he learned some lessons from the 1996 NFL Draft. (Unknown / AP)

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said earlier this week that he probably wouldn't reminisce much today on the 20th anniversary of the team selecting offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and inside linebacker Ray Lewis with its first two picks in the 1996 draft.

And if he did, don't assume that Newsome is thinking all good thoughts, either.

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Always the perfectionist, Newsome is still bothered by a mistake he made in the second round while running his very first draft.

The Ravens wanted to come out of the second round with a tight end and they had their eye on Eastern Kentucky's Jason Dunn. In order to get in position to take him, Newsome traded third, fourth and seventh-round picks in the 1996 draft for the Denver Broncos' second rounder at 55 overall. The trade was agreed to before the Ravens were even on the clock at pick 55.

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As Newsome waited his turn, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Dunn at pick 54 directly in front of the Ravens. The Ravens settled on cornerback DeRon Jenkins, a player they liked but not one they would have been willing to trade three picks to get in position to take.

The Ravens haven't traded up in the draft since unless the team that they are trading with is on the clock and the player that they want is available.

"A lesson was learned," Newsome said. "You hear us talk about it now, 'If my guy gets there, we will make this trade.' That's now how the conversation goes."

Dunn had an 11-year NFL career, playing three seasons with the Eagles and eight with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 119 games (25 starts), Dunn had 41 catches for 353 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jenkins, meanwhile, started 30 games for the Ravens over four seasons and had two interceptions.

Three rounds after the Dunn-Jenkins mishap, Newsome was again in a bind. The Ravens were on the clock in the fifth round with the 153rd overall pick. They wanted to select University of Maryland wide receiver/kick returner Jermaine Lewis. The only problem is that they couldn't get a hold of him. They spoke to Lewis' family, but they didn't know where he was.

"The rule of thumb is you need to talk to that person," Newsome said. "Anything could happen, an accident, something criminal. But [owner Art Modell] said, 'Go ahead and turn it in.' Probably 20 minutes later, Jermaine called and told us where he was."

As it turned out, Lewis had gotten so frustrated that he hadn't been picked yet that he left his house and went to the movies for a distraction.

It was worth the wait for both sides. Lewis played six seasons with the Ravens and made the Pro Bowl twice as a return specialist. His career highlight was an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Ravens' 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV.

Twenty years later, it remains unlikely that Newsome will draft another player again without first speaking to him.

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