If there is any common thread to Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens 2009 draft it would be that his draft picks could easily been cast as extras in The Wire.
(If you haven’t figured it out by now, I miss the best show on TV – The Wire – and the Ravens tend to exemplify this show in more ways than one.)
Stab wounds, lost kidneys, school dismissals, and homelessness describe, not define, these draft picks.
In the first round, Newsome traded up from #26 to #23 to grab Michael Oher (OT, Ole Miss). Oher’s story has been the subject of a book, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.” Born to a man murdered while he was in high school and a crack-fein mother, Oher’s story is a tear-jerker that would have the biggest Tubbies in the locker room sniveling like he was watching a LifeTime movie special.
Oher has at times been touted to be the next Orlando Pace or even better for the Ravens. Jonathan Ogden, who retired at the beginning of last season. Oher’s production in 2008 was suspect at best as it saw him loosing focus and getting beat by weaker opponents. Drafted by the Ravens and surrounded by the right veterans, there is tremendous upside for Oher to produce, but he is a definite project mentally.
In the second round, the Ravens selected Paul Kruger (DE, Utah) to give them some more versatility in the 3-4 defensive scheme. Kruger’s abdomen is marked by stitches as if he was an inmate in a penitentiary documentary MSNBC “Locked Up – Pelican Bay.” these injuries, sustained in 2007, resulted from being jumped by gang members after a party, but it didn’t stop Kruger from recording 61 tackles and 7.5 sacks last season. An older than usual draft pick because of his missionary work, Kruger is not a speed guy, but he will disrupt an opponent’s offense with his intelligence and strength.
The Ravens rounded out their draft with some other Hard Knock characters:
Lardarius Webb (CB, Nichols State): dismissed from one school, but his speed and instincts apparently wowed folks at the Combine and Newsome
Jason Phillips (ILB, TCU): a Too Short linebacker at 6-1, but he overcomes a lack of height with athleticism and 315 tackles as a four-year starter.
Davon Drew (TE, East Carolina): a high school state championship quarterback who had to make the transition to TE in college.
Cedric Peerman (RB, UVA): injury prone, running back with only 18 starts, but the 4.34 speed in the 40 can’t be overlooked. Peerman isn’t as hard knock as the other draftees, but he has been hard knocked with the injury bug.
With a slate of draftees that come from backgrounds that could be featured on Oprah “Troubled Beginnings to NFL Stars” in September, the Ravens made it a point to look for a common quality – the ability to persevere after life has dealt them unthinkable circumstances and tragedies. But, Joe Flacco is wondering where and when the receiver he covets is going to show up.
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Written by Lea Anderson