The Ravens’ general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome is known simply as, “The Wizard.” The name was bestowed upon him for his amazing playmaking ability throughout his hall of fame career as a Cleveland Brown. Newsome’s given nickname must have been foreseen because of what he has been able to accomplish as general manager for the Baltimore Ravens’ organization.
Largely due to the retirement of offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden, quarterback Steve McNair and the release of cornerback Chris McAlister to free up more cap room, Newsome was able once again to wave his magical wand. The Ravens signed local, (Maryland Terrapins) talented free agent cornerback from the Atlanta Falcons Domonique Foxworth and six-time pro bowler to anchor the offensive line Matt Birk from the Minnesota Vikings.
Cornerback Samari Rolle, released several weeks ago, was resigned. Outside linebacker, Terrell Suggs, had the franchise tag slapped on him once again (the Ravens and Suggs are still trying to work out a deal) while free agent tight end from the Philadelphia Eagles, L.T. Smith was acquired. The major news was that Newsome and the Ravens were able to resign future first-ballot hall of fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis to a deal that will keep the Ravens’ all-time great in place until he retires.
Newsome, the Wizard, is best known for his drafting prowess. Newsome is famous for selecting the best player on the board at that time, but if his thoughts could be read, this is what he probably would think the Ravens need.
1. solid first rounder that can help right away
2. blocking tight end, a third down back
3. pure pass rusher
4. offensive lineman
5. Slot receiver
First round pick should be wide receiver Hakeem Hicks, from North Carolina, because he played in a more pro-style offense under head coach, Butch Davis. Darrius Heyward-Bey is an excellent receiver and he’s faster than Hicks, but Hicks has better hands.
A pure pass rusher – linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, from South Florida, is a talented pass rusher and led the country last season in sacks. McKenzie would be a perfect Raven, but during the combine, he pulled his hamstring and tested poorly. Linebacker Jason Williams from Western Illinois is faster at 6-1, 241 pounds and would probably be a better fit.
A third down back – running back Ray Rice is an awesome back, an X-factor. Rice converted big third down plays last season but if the Ravens needed tough yards and if fullback LeRon McClain is banged up or tired, Clemson’s running back James Davis is someone that can go inside and outside. Plus, he’s use to sharing the backfield.
The Ravens need a blocking tight end because all team’s tight ends have something in common, injuries. L.T. Smith hasn’t been plagued with injuries like tight end Todd Heap. Tight end Quinn Sypniewski is returning from knee surgery and is more of a blocking tight end. With a healthy Smith and Heap, plays can now come from the tight end position. A capable blocking tight end would be helpful to backup Sypniewski and tight end James Casey from Rice could be the one.
The Ravens could always use another offensive lineman to push tackle Jared Gaither, who is still a project, and offensive lineman Phil Loadholt, from Oklahoma. Offensive lineman William Beatty from Connecticut would be a good fit as well.
The decent slot receiver can’t hurt. Wide receiver Austin Collie from Brigham Young had 106 catches, 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Collie has a good frame, comes from a pass happy system and runs great routes.
Newsome wasn’t called the Wizard for nothing and next Saturday the yellow brick road will lead more potential athletes into his castle again. Thank God that this year’s draft doesn’t require a quarterback.