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Harbaugh: Ozzie Newsome's last draft might be finest

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Ozzie Newsome acknowledged getting "emotional" as he phoned in the final draft pick of his storied career as Baltimore's general manager.

Time will tell if Newsome has set the stage for the Ravens' return to playoff contention under longtime assistant Eric DeCosta, but coach John Harbaugh couldn't be more pleased with the latest draft haul.

"This is my 11th draft with Ozzie, and Eric, and [director of college scouting] Joe [Hortiz], and I told Ozzie just as we finished this thing up I feel like this is his best draft since I've been here," Harbaugh said, via the team's website. "Heck, maybe the best ever."

Although Newsome has been general manager for the past 16 years, he has overseen the Ravens' draft process since the franchise's birth in 1996. It's going to be tough to top that debut draft class, which featured Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and All-Pro kick-return specialist Jermaine Lewis.

Newsome deserves extra credit for talking former owner Art Modell into Ogden at the expense of troubled Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips.

For the first time since building the organization's first Super Bowl team in 2000, Newsome has watched the Ravens miss the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. As is often the case when Newsome's outfit disappoints, the offense has been the primary culprit.

Newsome has done an impressive job of executing a comprehensive offseason plan to fix the manifold problems, starting with a complete overhaul of an anemic receiving corps. After signing Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead in free agency, he drafted a pair of playmaking tight ends (Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews) to go with late-round fliers on wideouts Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley.

With Joe Flacco's future in question, Newsome provided the most intriguing alternative possible in electric playmaker Lamar Jackson. Before turning to the other side of the ball in the draft's middle rounds, Newsome addressed the offensive line with Orlando Brown, son of a franchise icon and once viewed as a potential first-round talent.

A Hall of Fame tight end in his own right, Newsome will be remembered as one of the premier front-office architects of the past three decades. Even better, he's been an inspiration and a successful signpost for minorities with dreams of running their own NFL front offices.

For his final act, Newsome has put the finishing touches on a dramatic offseason makeover, giving DeCosta and Harbaugh a fighting chance at a return to glory.

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