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Frost 04-27-2006 10:02 AM

delmarvanow.com: Ravens, Redskins need to think trade
 
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Part of being a so-called out-of-towner gives me the full-fledged ability to rant or rave about any local sports team in whatever way I choose.

So, with the NFL draft set to unfold Saturday, and with the Houston Texans already on the clock, I felt it fitting to take this time to offer up a few suggestions to our pals at the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.

Here's what I think they should do (all kidding aside, of course): BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-10 IN 2005, THIRD PLACE AFC NORTH). First, I'll reveal what I think Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick should seriously do with lucky pick No. 13 in the draft. Let's talk linemen. Sure, I've heard Mel Kiper's blab, and I've snooped around the Internet at many prospective mock drafts, but if you saw the Ravens play last year, even in one of their thrilling 6-3 field-goal battles, you know that that once-imposing Baltimore running game was virtually nonexistent in '05.

Now, on top of retaining Jamal Lewis, the Ravens have burly Mike Anderson stashed in the cupboard. That makes for two physical, pounding backs who have the league's respect. The problem last year was that the holes were missing for Lewis, and the pressure was always on an already inaccurate Kyle Boller.

Names that come to mind with Baltimore's top pick include Southern California's Winston Justice, Ohio State's Nick Mangold and Auburn's Marcus McNeill. Any of the big boys could immediately help pave the way for Lewis, or steady the pocket for Boller.

A little off the beaten path, meanwhile, and I'm sure this is a new one for everyone, is my other, more unrealistic idea for Newsome. That disgruntled all-world linebacker by the name of Ray Lewis, go ahead and trade him.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, let me continue. Ship Lewis to a team with a top-five pick, and get their pick in return. Use that first-five selection to snag Matt Leinart or Vince Young. Meanwhile, see if you can hold onto that No. 13 slot, as well, and take a linebacker, namely hometown boy D'Qwell Jackson from Maryland, to replace Lewis.

Think about it -- the offense automatically improves, while the defense frees up plenty of money and gets a publicly unhappy superstar out of Dodge. I know it's a stretch, but it's fun to ponder.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (10-6 IN '05, SECOND PLACE NFC EAST). When you look at all the free-agent activity that beefed up Washington's division (wake up, Philadelphia Eagles), Joe Gibbs and Daniel Snyder had better make the most of that second-round, 53rd overall selection that past draft-day trades left them with in '06.

As an Indianapolis Colts fan, I can tell you, there's still plenty of value there. The loss of LaVar Arrington opens up a whole new ball of wax for the 'Skins as they approach Saturday, and because they don't seem too concerned about a quarterback, and with most other offensive needs addressed through free agency (Antwaan Randle-El), this pick should be devoted to a defensive upgrade.

I'm thinkin' the pick has to be among the front seven, and a linebacker might be the easy target with Arrington gone. Going that route, Oklahoma's Clint Ingram, Virginia Tech's James Anderson or Miami's Leon Williams might still be available.

Or Washington could platoon linebackers, as Marcus Washington, Lemar Marshall, Warrick Holdman and Chris Clemons are all respectable enough to solidify the second level this season. Then you go after a d-lineman. Names like Alabama's Mark Anderson, USC's Frostee Rucker and Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College come to mind. All are big and strong and could bring great value as second-round picks.

And now, again, my opportunity to throw out a more bizarre and entertaining alternative for Washington. As I've told all the 'Skins fans excited about the Randle-El acquisition, you need someone to throw him the ball. I doubt Brunell is the answer.

So let's take Brunell and one of our backup running backs, either Ladell Betts or Rock Cartwright, and trade them away for a first-round pick. There, hope that Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler is still around, and give him a try behind center. I'd still call that an upgrade.

If one of my scenarios turns out right, I'll take a pat on the back. If not, I'll still feel just as smart and definitely better looking than Mel Kiper.


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