Newsome gets emotional during last draft with Ravens
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Working the phones and making shrewd picks that addressed the present and future needs of the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome conjured one final fascinating draft for a team that has relied on his intuition since its inception.
After making six trades and selecting 12 players, Newsome declared Saturday night: "The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team after the past three days."
Newsome is stepping down as general manager after this season. He has owned the final say in the Ravens' draft room since 1996, when he chose future Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round.
The 2018 draft may not turn out to be as successful, but coach John Harbaugh - who'd heading into his 11th year with Baltimore - wouldn't bet against it.
"I told Ozzie just as we finished this thing up, I feel like this is his best draft since I've been here," Harbaugh said. "Heck, maybe the best ever."
Denying last month that he was carrying any nostalgic feelings into the draft, Newsome insisted he was focused solely on filling holes on a team that's missed the postseason for three straight years.
He did just that. For trivia buffs out there, his final draft pick was at defensive end: Zach Sieler of Ferris State in the seventh round.
His work done, Newsome was about to hang up the phone when he realized the significance of the moment.
"Yes, it was emotional," he acknowledged. "The kid told me he was going to make me proud."
Newsome will be succeeded by assistant GM Eric DeCosta. This may have been Newsome's final draft, but his work is not done.
"Even though there's a finality with that, there's not finality for what I'm going to continue to do with the Baltimore Ravens," he said.
Newsome was at his finest this week. He moved back twice in the first round before selecting South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25, providing quarterback Joe Flacco with a downfield threat from the slot.
Then, Newsome made a bold move that ultimately will determine the success of this draft. He swapped three picks to choose at No. 32, where he snapped up Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the multifaceted 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
The Ravens insist Flacco will remain the starter this season, but it might be hard to resist for long the temptation of playing an athlete who accounted for 119 touchdowns in three college seasons.
On Day 2, after two more trades, Newsome turned his attention back to the 2018 Ravens by taking right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. -whose father played with Baltimore - and tight end Mark Andrews of Oklahoma.
For his last day as Baltimore's draft guru, Newsome had eight choices. Each was made with intense consideration, as always.
"A lot of work has gone into this, starting back last June," Newsome said. "I really, really feel very good about this class and how it came to be."
Some items of note from the Ravens draft:
HERE'S THE CATCH: The theme of this offseason for Baltimore has been to overhaul the receiving corps, and Newsome continued the process in the draft.
After signing free agent receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead in recent weeks, Newsome collared two tight ends in the draft and on Saturday used two straight picks on receivers: Jaleel Scott of New Mexico State in the fourth round and Jordan Lasley of UCLA in the fifth.
Scott and Lasley both topped 1,000 yards receiving last season and each scored nine TDs.
ON THE DEFENSIVE: After using the first two days of the draft to improve the Ravens' offense, Newsome turned his attention Saturday to the other side of the ball.
He selected Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett at 118th overall, UCLA inside linebacker Kenny Young at No. 122 and Texas safety DeShon Elliott at 190 and then, finally, Sieler.
HOLD THAT LINE: Extending his effort to make life easier for Flacco, Newsome attempted to shore up the offensive line in the draft.
After the Ravens lost right tackle Austin Howard and center Ryan Jensen during the offseason, they grabbed a few potential replacements.
In addition to Brown, the Ravens took tackle Greg Senat from Wagner, a 6-foot-6, 305-pounder who also played on the basketball team. In the seventh round, Newsome again tapped his alma mater, selecting Alabama center Bradley Bozeman.
STILL NEED: The Ravens are fine with running back Alex Collins but hoped to find at least one backup in the draft.
DeCosta said that just as Baltimore was ready to pounce, another team stepped in and took the Ravens' choice.
"There will be more opportunities for us," he said.
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Updated April 28, 2018