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Late For Work 4/25: Ravens, Steelers Targeting Same Players?

Newsome’s Crimson Tide pipeline exaggerated. Ravens should pass on WR in early rounds.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 at 9:03 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ravens, Steelers Targeting Same Players?

Last year, General Manager Ozzie Newsome admitted he fell in love with draft prospect Jimmy Smith, who the Ravens drafted in the first round.

This year, Newsome says he is trying not to fall in love with anyone at all.

Here’s why:

“There are a lot of players that I love, but I know that some of those guys will be playing with Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh,” he told BaltimoreRavens.com last week.

“I hate to sit there and think, ‘I want this player,’ and then he ends up putting that [Steelers] black and gold on.”

Not only will the other AFC North teams select five times before the Ravens are finally on the clock at No. 29 tomorrow night, but ESPN’s Jamison Hensley also reports that Baltimore and Pittsburgh could be targeting some of the same players because they have similar needs.

The AFC North blogger says both teams need help on the interior offensive line and are looking at the same guards: Georgia’s Cordy Glenn and Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler.

Both are checking out Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower to help fill a void left by the Steelers’ departed linebacker James Farrior or the Ravens’ Ray Lewis when he finally decides to hang it up. As I mentioned earlier this week, The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Cowherd pleaded with Newsome to bring Hightower to Baltimore, but the Steelers could block that move.

“A team that appears especially interested in Hightower is the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens’ chief division rivals, who pick at No. 24 overall,” wrote ESPN’s Tim Kavanagh.

Then there’s Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who could be terrorizing either Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco next season. The Ravens could possibly use Upshaw to help replace departed the Jarret Johnson, and the Steelers know that James Harrison, 33, can’t play forever.

The only way the Ravens could prevent the Steelers from taking a player they covet is via a trade.

Leave it to these two teams to bring their heated rivalry from the season to the draft.

“These scenarios should bring AFC North drama to the bottom half of the first round,” Hensley wrote. “The Steelers could take a coveted Ravens prospect at No. 24, or Baltimore could jump ahead of Pittsburgh to do the same.

“According to the trade chart, the Ravens would give up a third-round pick to move up to the Detroit Lions’ No. 23 spot.”

Newsome’s Crimson Tide Pipeline Exaggerated

With as many as five Alabama players expected to be selected in the first round of the draft, many Baltimore fans are hoping Newsome’s ties to the Crimson Tide, his alma mater, could serve as a pipeline straight from Tuscaloosa to Baltimore.

Not only have Upshaw and Hightower been linked to the Ravens in various mock drafts, but safety Mark Barron is another possibility. Running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick are the other two highly-coveted Tide prospects, but aren’t likely to end up in purple and black partly because they are expected to be off the board early.

As nice as it would be see one of the three land in Baltimore, Newsome’s tendency to target Alabama prospects may be a little exaggerated.

CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg points out that Newsome hasn’t relied on Alabama prospects all that much in recent history.

Not to ruin a good story, but fullback Le’Ron McClain and nose tackle Terrence Cody are the only Alabama players the Ravens have drafted since 2004,” wrote Eisenberg.

The school from which the Ravens have selected most in the past 16 years is Oklahoma, with seven. Miami and Alabama are tied for second with five players plucked from each school and then Georgia Tech and Oregon with four apiece.

If Ozzie does take a Crimson Tide in the first round, it will be the first time in Ravens history, Eisenberg wrote.

Hensley: Ravens Should Pass On WR Early

Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill.

These are all names you should forget about – that is if you don’t think the Ravens should select a wide receiver in the first round tomorrow night.

While Baltimore may have to start thinking about its future beyond Anquan Boldin, who has two more years left on his contract, Hensley argues that the team should target the receiver position after the first two rounds.

“Baltimore should address the wide receiver position in the middle rounds in this draft like taking Arkansas’ Joe Adams in the third round or Florida International’s T.Y. Hilton in the fourth,” he said.

Hensley believes both receivers could bolster the Ravens’ return game.

Adams was the nation’s leading punt returner, after returning five punts for touchdowns in his last 20 games. In addition to being a return specialist, the 5-11, 190-pound slot receiver is just one of three Razorbacks to record at least 50 receptions in a season more than once.

Hilton is a 5-10, 183-pound speedster who rewrote a number of school and Sun Belt Conference receiving, punt return and kickoff return records. During his senior year, Hilton caught 42 passes for 785 yards and 16 touchdowns. He added four scores on kick returns.

Quick Hits

  • Steve Davis believes this is a pivotal draft for the Ravens as they try to patch some holes, but are also in need of bargain playmakers because so much money is (and will be) tied up in Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. [WBAL]
  • PMGleason: Proof that great teams build thru the draft… Here’s who’s picked the most Pro Bowlers since ’96: NE (17), GB (16), Bal (15) & Pit (15) [Twitter]
  • Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is has been offering tips to South Carolina safety Christian Thompson, believed to be the fifth best at the position this year, as he prepares for the NFL draft and a transition to the NFL. [Scout.com]
  • SI_PeterKing: Met uber-polite Courtney Upshaw. Me: Ever been to New York?” CU: “First time, sir.” Me: “Where you from?” CU: “Eufala, Alabama, sir.” … [Twitter]
  • Jerome Simpson became the second Bengals free-agent wide receiver to leave Cincinnati this offseason after signing a one-year deal with Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday. [ESPN]
  • Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick is on the clock for Baltimore at No. 29. He believes the franchise is most in need of an interior offensive lineman, but Wisconsin Center Peter Konz is off the board. Check out who he selects, causing Steve Mariucci to groan.

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