Ravens Draft Oher with First Pick


For the most part, NFL executives refuse to give up any valid information regarding their plans for the draft.

But, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome practically put all his cards on the table hours before he selected Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher![](/team/roster/michael-oher/216c0a9c-c171-4ecf-8ab5-94e4c8f40736/ "Michael Oher").

"If we can find someone that can be a right tackle for us for the next 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 years, then we've helped Joe Flacco out," he said during a radio interview on Saturday afternoon. "You have to protect the QB before you can throw it."

Later that day, Newsome traded the 26th- and 162nd-overall picks to the New England Patriots to move up three spots and nab Oher at No. 23.

Multiple draft pundits rated Oher as the fourth-best tackle in the Class of 2009. Some mock drafts put him in the top 10.

Needless to say, the Ravens were surprised the All-American and All-SEC prospect fell as far as he did.

Once Oher did fall, Newsome had to take his shot.

"Quite honestly, we didn't expect Michael Oher to fall down that low," said Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta. "It was one of those situations where all of a sudden you see his name. None of us like to give picks away but when the player is that good and it's such a need and it's a perfect DNA match, you do it. It fell that way and we were ecstatic to get him."

Newsome said he wasn't as worried about the teams in front of his position at 26. Rather, it was the teams behind him, which included the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers, all of whom could use help on the offensive line.

In fact, Newsome attempted to move up even further from 23, but found no takers.

"We felt like there were some teams with multiple picks in the second and third round that could use that ammunition to get ahead of us," the GM explained. "So that's why we were protecting our territory a little bit."

Oher comes with exquisite credentials.

A sturdy 6-foot-4, 309 pounds, Oher was inserted into Mississippi's starting lineup after the second game of his freshman campaign. He never relinquished that role, starting 47 consecutive contests throughout his career.

Known for his work ethic and mauling style, Oher was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation's best blocker.

In addition to his on-field exploits, Oher was also coveted for his high character.

Coming from a rough neighborhood in Memphis, Oher never knew his father, and his mother was addicted to drugs.

He bounced around various foster homes until a couple that had a daughter at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis allowed him to live with them.

His experiences were well-documented in the book "The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game," which made the New York Times' best-seller list.

"I think a lot of the great players have a chip on their shoulder," DeCosta said. "They've overcome a lot, particularly Michael Oher. He's had a lot of adversity. He's tough-minded. He comes from a tough background, and he's overcome a lot – a lot more than most of us. He's determined, he's tough, and I think he's going to be a great Raven."

The Ravens really fell in love with Oher after he visited with team officials earlier this April.

Once the pick was made, coaches such as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, offensive line coach John Matsko and assistant Andy Moeller were ecstatic.

"They burst into the room, and they were high-fiving and jumping around," admitted head coach John Harbaugh. "They want to start walk-throughs tomorrow when Michael comes in.

"It just couldn't work out any better for us on offense with Michael Oher."

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