Ravens fans’ refrain: In Ozzie we trust

Greg Bianco, wtop.com

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Ask many a football fan about whom he wants his team to pick in the NFL draft, and he will rattle off names of quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers.

Ask a Baltimore Ravens fan the same question, and the response is usually four words.

“In Ozzie we trust.”

For the second time in three years, fans will have to be a bit more trusting. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome traded the team’s first-round pick to Minnesota for a second-round pick (35th overall) and fourth-round pick (98th).

“We have some guys that if we were stuck at No. 29, we could have picked. One of those guys is still available for us,” said Newsome.

Two notable players that have been linked to the Ravens are Wisconsin center Peter Konz and Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

After the trade, Newsome was pleased with the results from the eventful, yet uneventful, night.

“To have the ability to go back, still get another player and the one that you probably would have taken at that pick, it’s good business for us,” he said.

The Ravens missed out on linebacker Dont’a Hightower from Alabama. The Patriots traded up with Denver to the 25th pick to acquire a player many analysts predicted would land in Baltimore as the heir apparent to veteran Ray Lewis.

In 2010, the Ravens traded their 25th overall pick to Denver — which chose quarterback Tim Tebow — and eventually acquired linebacker Sergio Kindle early in the second round.

Since the Ravens came to Baltimore, Newsome and brass have diligently tried to select the best player available, not the best player suited to fill a void.

Like most teams, the list of first-round success stories is strong: Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher and Jimmy Smith.

While first-round picks are usually the cornerstones of a team, the Ravens now have nine picks in the remaining six rounds, and have had significant success outside of the blockbuster opening round.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back Ray Rice were drafted in the second round.

Offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and cornerback Lardarius Webb were drafted in the third round. With Webb’s six-year, $50 million contract signed earlier this month, both are now under long-term extensions.

Departed linebackers Jarret Johnson and Adalius Thomas were drafted in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively.

Last season, 15 of the Ravens’ 22 regular starters were drafted by Baltimore. Since 1996, the Ravens have drafted 15 Pro Bowl players, tied for third-most in the league.

In the first year under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, exactly half of the first-round selections were made from slots that weren’t a team’s original, including six straight from the second through seventh picks. Last year, there were seven swaps.

The first round also featured streaks of selections. The first five selected are players on offense, including quarterback Robert Griffin III to Washington. Twelve of the next 14 chosen play defense.

The second and third rounds of the NFL draft start at 7 p.m. Friday.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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