The Ravens chose to sit out the NFL supplemental draft this year, which is definitely a common practice around the league.
But the supplemental draft has recently been very generous to the purple and black. One only needs to look to Joe Flacco!(/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco")'s left, where tackle **Jared Gaither** – a supplemental draft prospect himself – protects the young quarterback's blind side.
The Ravens selected Gaither in the fifth round of the 2007 supplemental draft, and now, what could have been considered a risk has solidified a critical position for years.
With Jonathan Ogden on the cusp of retiring, Baltimore's personnel department knew there would be a massive void left by the 6-foot-9, 345-pound Hall of Famer.
That is where the 6-foot-9, 330-pound Gaither came in. A star at the University of Maryland for two seasons, Gaither entered the supplemental draft after being declared academically ineligible.
Because Gaither hailed from southern Maryland, the Ravens only needed to travel down I-95 to conduct their due diligence on the talented left tackle, a difficult task considering Gaither officially entered his name on June 28, 2007, the rare time coaches and scouts take their offseason vacation.
At the time, Ravens director of player personnel **Eric DeCosta** was lounging on the beach with his family and general manager **Ozzie Newsome** was in Alabama.
"Jared was a player that jumped off the tape," said DeCosta. "He had tremendous size, and we also had a legitimate need at the tackle position when he was available.
"It was a fine job of (the Ravens' current director of college scouting) **Joe Hortiz** and (area scout) **Joe Douglas**, who gathered a lot of background information. Our trainer, Bill Tessendorf, arranged a physical on really short notice. It was a team effort. I was at the beach, where I actually did the tape work. Ozzie was out of town. We needed all hands on that one."
DeCosta said he received updates on his Blackberry as the rounds passed and the waves crashed. To make a pick in the supplemental draft, a team must submit the round in which they would like to select the designated player because it would sacrifice that same pick in the following year's draft. Gaither basically fell to the Ravens in the fifth.
"It's almost like a silent auction," DeCosta explained. "It was after the '06 season, so we were at the end of each round. That meant we would give up our fifth-round pick for what was basically a sixth-round pick because it was so late in the round.
"The rounds just kept going by without anyone being selected, and there was Jared."
There is a reason players enter the supplemental draft, however.
For Gaither, it was academic issues.
Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, whom the Washington Redskins took in the third round Thursday, was in it because he was suspended for the 2009 NCAA season after testing positive for a banned substance.
"Maybe it's off the field, it could be eligibility, character or durability," noted DeCosta. "It's a red flag, really. We've had very little involvement with the supplemental draft over the years other than Jared Gaither. That was a big move for us, but it's a risky thing giving up a draft pick not knowing what that crop of players is going to be like."
The Ravens' fears were allayed after extensive talks with Maryland coach Ralph Freidgen and others close to Gaither.
Since that draft day two years ago, Gaither has developed into a reliable left tackle that the Ravens hope will keep pass rushers off Flacco well into the future.
"With Jared, you're basically taking nine months of work and condensing it into three weeks," said DeCosta. "That's what we had to do, and obviously it's working out."