OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — After missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, the Baltimore Ravens finally have a draft pick in the first round worth coveting.
The Ravens have the 17th overall selection, their best position since they nabbed five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at No. 12 in 2006.
Although general manager Ozzie Newsome will have plenty of tantalizing players to choose from when Baltimore is on the clock Thursday night, it wouldn’t be surprising if he deals away the pick.
“If we move back four, five or six spots, we might still have the opportunity to get one or two of those players and get the additional pick,” Newsome said. “So that’s how we look at it. Can we pick at 17? We’ll be prepared to pick at 17, but also we’ll be entertaining trades to be able to move back if we have to, if we want to.”
Baltimore has eight selections, half of them compensatory picks.
Eight is nice. More is better.
“Our whole philosophy is to get as many picks as you can and pick as many players as you can,” Newsome said.
This will be Newsome’s 19th draft with the Ravens, and no one in the NFL will argue his prowess at plucking talent. He set the tone by selecting Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis with his first two picks in 1996, and some of his more recent gems include tight end Dennis Pitta at No. 114 overall in 2010, and wide receiver Torrey Smith at No. 58 in 2011.
“It’s a partnership,” coach John Harbaugh said, “and I think we do the best job. It’s collaboration, it’s consensus, but it’s also decision making.”
Five things to know about the Ravens’ draft:
SAFETY FIRST: Baltimore needs someone to replace the departed James Ihedigbo, who started all 16 games as strong safety last year. Calvin Pryor of Louisville and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama will probably be gone before the Ravens are on the clock, but there are other options.
Director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said, “I’d say as a whole, the (safety) class is pretty solid. You’ll get some guys at the end of the first and second round, and then there will be some guys who come off in the third, fourth and fifth who will help teams.”
A year ago, Newsome selected safety Matt Elam in the first round. Elam started 15 games as free safety, but he’s better suited at strong safety.
TACKLE ELIGIBLE: Whether via the draft or through free agency, the Ravens have to get an offensive tackle to replace Michael Oher, a 2009 first-round pick who didn’t really pan out.
Newsome re-signed left tackle Eugene Monroe during the offseason but made no effort to retain Oher.
At this point, the only two options at right tackle are last year’s fifth-round pick, Rick Wagner, and Kelechi Osemele, who played left guard last year before going on injured reserve.
BACKUP BACK: With Ray Rice coming off a lackluster year and a troubling offseason — he was charged with assaulting his fiancé in Atlantic City — the Ravens might look for a running back Friday or Saturday.
“We’ve been talking about adding one, maybe two running backs to our team,” Newsome said. “And this was before the incident that happened in Atlantic City. We felt like we needed to add some depth at that position coming out of the 2013 season. And even in free agency, we’ve been in on some backs. We haven’t been able to actually get one yet, but we’ve been in on some pretty good backs.”
AMPLE COMPENSATION: Baltimore’s four compensatory picks are tied with the New York Jets for most in the NFL.
Since 1994, the Ravens have had 41 compensatory picks, eight more than runners-up Dallas and Green Bay. Newsome would rather add to his roster through the draft than through free agency, and getting a compensatory pick eases the pain of losing a player.
“We take some stress — a lot of stress — during free agency,” Newsome said. “But we like picks.”
TRADING UP: What happens if the Ravens see a player they really want available at No. 15? Would they trade up and give away a draft pick to get him?
“I’d have to say no because we don’t have a lot of ammunition this year,” Newsome said. “We’ve only got three picks that are tradable; the other four are compensatory picks. So, it would be hard to do.”
“If one or two players start getting really close to us, we’d be clamoring (with owner Steve Bisciotti), trying to go up and get them,” Newsome said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.