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Eisenberg: In Ozzie You Trust?


In Ozzie you trust?

A lot of Ravens fans are fond of talking that talk, signaling their unyielding belief in General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who has built winning rosters for two decades.

Well, it's time to walk the walk after the Ravens used their highest first-round draft pick in 15 years to select Ronnie Stanley, an offensive tackle from Notre Dame.

It might turn out to be a brilliant pick; the Ravens believe it will. But it's not the electric defensive playmaker they talked about adding. It's a tackle. I'm pretty sure some fans hoped for a more exciting selection. The Ravens certainly had other options.

After the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars took Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey, the draft's top defensive playmakers, before the Ravens picked, I really thought Newsome might trade back a few slots and pick up several additional picks, one of his favorite moves. He didn't because, as he said, "the phone didn't ring."

The Ravens also could have elected to bolster their defense by taking DeForest Buckner, a rugged end who went to the San Francisco 49ers right behind the Ravens, or Myles Jack, an athletic inside linebacker who could have stepped in for Daryl Smith. They could have taken Laremy Tunsil, an offensive tackle who was rated the top player in the draft at any position by some analysts.

Instead, they stayed put at No. 6 and took Stanley.

Newsome and the team's other decision-makers were adamant about it being the right move, saying they got one of their four highest-rated prospects. As Newsome pointed out, with the team having just invested big money in Joe Flacco, there's nothing wrong with giving their quarterback quality blind-side protection for years to come.

In Ozzie you trust, right?

It might not be an exciting pick, but it's a quintessential Newsome pick, focusing on the team's gray foundation rather than its glittery fringes.

A safe pick.

The Ravens passed on Buckner because they had Stanley rated higher. They passed on Jack because of concerns about the knee injury that ended his 2015 season and caused him to drop out of the first round Thursday night.

They passed on Tunsil, whom I thought they might take if available, because of character red flags that caused him to drop from the likely No. 1 overall pick a few weeks ago to the No. 13 overall pick Thursday night, the third tackle to go. Those red flags went viral just as the draft began when a bizarre video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong was briefly posted to his Twitter account.

As news of the video racketed around the Internet and invaded draft war rooms, Newsome didn't deny that the Ravens took it into account. But he also intimated that the Ravens already had some doubts about Tunsil.

"Our scouts do a great job and get a lot of information" about players, Newsome said. "When things happen, all the time we're not surprised."

Stanley had no such red flags, no injury history to reckon. He comes highly recommended as a class act who is always on the field, a product of a big-time program that employs a sophisticated pro-style offense. Newsome and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta both praised his intelligence and predicted he would start "for a long time."

I don't think there's any doubt the Ravens coveted Bosa and Ramsey. Newsome confirmed that they "talked to a team" about trading up, surely to get one of those two. Either would have filled the bill as a defensive playmaker.

But as with their attempt to trade back, the Ravens' attempt to trade up went nowhere.

In the end, they just looked at the top of their draft board and took Stanley. Exciting? Maybe not. But after watching their first-round pick fail to get on the field because of an injury last year, they think they've acquired a strong, smart, healthy puzzle piece who can step right in and make a difference.

One way or another, that's what you're supposed to get at No. 6, right?

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