Fearful another team would grab offensive tackle Michael Oher, the Baltimore Ravens traded up in the first round of the NFL Draft to get their man.
The Ravens dealt their 26th overall pick and their fifth-round selection (162 overall) to the New England Patriots so they could snare Oher at No. 23 on Saturday.
“Not only can he come in and compete at right tackle, but … he can jump over to the left,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “That has added value to us.”
On the next pick, Rebels teammate Peria Jerry, a defensive tackle, was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.
Baltimore needed a receiver, but building a pocket around quarterback Joe Flacco was more of a priority for a team that went 11-5 and reached the AFC championship game last season.
“It starts with protection. If we can protect Joe, we know he can make all of the throws,” Newsome said. “If we can take care of Joe, Joe will take care of us.”
Newsome said he tried to move up higher in the first round to get Oher ( 6-foot-5, 315), but finally worked a deal with the Pats after two other teams turned him down.
“You get concerned with teams behind you that can move up,” he said. “We felt like there were some teams with multiple picks in the second and third round that could use that as ammunition to get ahead of us. I guess we were just protecting our territory a little bit.”
The Falcons already made a big move two days before the draft, acquiring 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft.
Gonzalez filled a major hole on the Matt Ryan-led offense, freeing up Atlanta to pursue defensive help in this year’s draft. On Saturday, the Falcons landed Jerry to bolster a thin front line.
Atlanta must replace five defensive starters lost in free agency: tackle Grady Jackson, linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, cornerback Domonique Foxworth and safety Lawyer Milloy.
It’s the first time Ole Miss has had two first-round draft picks in the same draft.
The Associated Press