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With Ryan gone, Ravens trade twice and get Flacco

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Thwarted in their bid to trade up and pick Matt Ryan, the Baltimore Ravens worked a pair of deals to get the second-best quarterback on their board: Joe Flacco.

Flacco, who led Delaware to the NCAA Championship Subdivision title game, was taken with the 18th overall pick in the NFL draft on Saturday. He was the second quarterback selected.

Ryan went third overall, to the Atlanta Falcons. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome had conversations with the St. Louis Rams in an effort to secure the second pick in the draft, but the Rams wouldn't budge.

"Teams in front of you do so much work, when they wake up Saturday morning, they wake up saying, 'This is our guy,'" Newsome said. "It's hard to get them to move away from that."

So Newsome waited until it was time to pick at No. 8 before pulling off his first trade of the day.

Baltimore was on the clock when Newsome dealt the selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 26th overall choice, two third-rounders (71st and 89th overall) and a fourth-round pick.

Rather than risk losing Flacco to another team, Newsome dealt the first-round choice he received from Jacksonville, along with the 89th overall selection and a sixth-rounder, to Houston for the No. 18 pick.

Then, with much delight, the Ravens chose Flacco.

"We decided it was time to pull the trigger on the quarterback that we felt like was the guy to lead our football team into the future," Newsome said.

The retirement of Steve McNair earlier this month left the Ravens with only two quarterbacks on the roster -- the inconsistent Kyle Boller and an inexperienced Troy Smith. Now Flacco is part of the mix, and all three are lined up side by side on the depth chart.

"The quarterback job is going to be an open competition," first-year coach John Harbaugh said. "The best quarterback is going to be the guy who plays. We're not ruling anything out."

Baltimore coveted Ryan, a standout at Boston College, but knew they would have to give up plenty to move up to get him. That ploy failed, but the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Flacco was much more than a mere consolation prize.

"He's a big kid, which is important, he's got a rocket arm, he's highly accurate," said Eric DeCosta, Baltimore's director of college scouting. "We love the kid. He's very smart, took Delaware to the national championship game, played in the Senior Bowl and did very well. He passed every test."

Flacco started his college career at Pittsburgh but left after two seasons in which he attempted only four passes. At Delaware, he threw for 7,046 yards and 41 touchdowns with only 15 interceptions.

Now he's taking the next step up, to the NFL with the Ravens.

"To get the phone call from them and have them tell me they were going to pick me was a good feeling," Flacco said.

Knowing that Newsome traded up to get him let Flacco know just how much he was coveted by the Ravens.

"I don't know what's more important than that. It just lets me know how much a team actually wanted me," he said. "I can't wait to get down there and work hard and prove to them that they made the right pick, made the right decision in moving up to get me."

One good thing about being picked by the Ravens is that Flacco will need only drive two hours down I-95 to get to Baltimore from Delaware.

"Obviously all my family will be able to come down and watch the games," he said. "That will be good for them, but it's just a great opportunity for me to play football, to compete, and prove to people that I'm a good quarterback. I can't be more excited."

Baltimore continued its dealing in the second round, sending the 38th overall pick to Seattle in exchange for the Seahawks' second-round pick, 55th overall, and Seattle's third-round pick. The Ravens used that second-round pick to select another player to boost the offense, Rutgers running back Ray Rice.

The Ravens still have plenty of holes to fill, but the additional choices obtained from Jacksonville and Seattle will help get some of that done this weekend.

"We've got a football team that needs an influx of talent," Newsome said. "With the depth of the board, we think we will be able to answer a lot of the needs."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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