After waiting several hours and seeing a number of their potential first-round targets still on the board, the Ravens decided that their best move was to fall back.
In a decision that was hardly surprising, the Ravens traded out of the first round of the NFL draft late Thursday night, sending the No. 29 overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings. In return, the Ravens got the Vikings' second-round pick (35th) and their fourth-round selection (98th overall).
"We had a couple of teams call us and we had several players that we liked that are still available for us [Friday]," said Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome. "To be able to pick up that 98th pick from Minnesota, we think that's just going to be another good player, or we could take that pick and use it to move back up in the second or the third to go get another player.
"We still have players that we like and that's one of the reasons we felt very good about moving back, still thinking that we could get one of those players."
It was the second time in three years that the Ravens haven't made a selection in the first round of the draft. In 2010, the Ravens traded the 25th overall pick to the Denver Broncos for three draft picks, including a second-rounder. With those picks, the Ravens selected outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Meanwhile, the Broncos used the Ravens' first-round pick on quarterback Tim Tebow.
They will have the third pick in Friday's second round, which gets underway at 7 p.m. The third round will also take place Friday while rounds four through seven will be held Saturday afternoon, starting at noon.
The Ravens now have nine total picks over the final two days of the draft, including two each in the second, fourth and fifth rounds, though Newsome acknowledged that the team could package some picks to move up in the third round.
"It was [productive]," said Newsome when asked about the night's activity. "You can't control what's going to happen. When you watch the board come off like it did today, to have the ability to go back and acquire another player and still get a player that you probably would have picked at your pick is good business for us."
Several players that the Ravens were connected to with their original first-round pick are still on the board after Round One. That list includes wide receivers Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) and Rueben Randle (LSU), guards Cordy Glenn (Georgia) and Amini Silatolu (Midwestern State), tackles Jonathan Martin (Stanford) and Mike Adams (Ohio State), center Peter Konz (Wisconsin) and defensive ends Andre Branch (Clemson) and Courtney Upshaw (Alabama).
"Like I said, we have some guys that if we were stuck at 29, we could have picked," Newsome said. "And one of those guys is still available for us and could be available at that 35th pick."
As the players came off the board Thursday leading up to pick No. 29, the Ravens' decision became easier. If the theme of the first round was the rash of trades, a definite subplot was the number of offensive linemen that dropped, which certainly affected the Ravens because that's their top need."
Iowa's Riley Reiff, the second-ranked tackle in the draft after Matt Kalil, dropped all the way to the Detroit Lions at pick No.23. Stanford's David DeCastro, the top-graded guard, went one pick later to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two potential Ravens targets then went off the board in short order as the New England Patriots, who had already drafted Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, the younger brother of Ravens defensive tackle Art Jones, made a trade to get in position to select Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower with the 25th pick. Hightower was viewed as a potential heir apparent to Ray Lewis.
Then, two picks after he was taken, the Cincinnati Bengals added Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, who certainly would have gotten consideration from the Ravens if he was still available at 29 and they kept the pick.
At that point, the Ravens began working the phones in an attempt to trade back, in part because they felt the value of the prospects remaining on their board didn't match that of the 29th pick, but also because they admittedly covet draft picks.
Asked if he considered trading up to be in the draft to get in position to draft somebody like Hightower, Newsome said, "We talked about it. There were a couple of players that we felt like we could trade up for, but it can get expensive. There were a lot of trades in today's draft and we felt better about going back. After a certain number of players went off the board, we felt that going back would be a better benefit for us."
The Ravens are expected to use at least one pick on an offensive lineman after losing Ben Grubbs in free agency. They also plan to add a wide receiver and are targeting edge pass rushers. They could use depth at safety, linebacker, defensive line, and running back.
The Ravens have now traded their first-round pick five times in the past seven years. In 2009, they moved up three spots to select offensive tackle Michael Oher. In 2008, they made two trades in the first round before landing quarterback Joe Flacco. And in 2006, they swapped picks with the Cleveland Browns to draft defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Baltimore has now made at least one trade in 11 consecutive drafts and 15 of 17 overall.
Linebacker Ray Lewis (first round, 1996), running back Ray Rice (second, 2008), and guard Marshal Yanda (third, 2007) are among the most notable Ravens players selected with picks acquired from other teams. Each of those three made the Pro Bowl last season.