Ravens manuever for Suggs, Boller

OWINGS MILLS - Between the combustion of a noisy auction, the reality of modern technology and a rush to the podium that resembled a stampede, a wild sequence unfolded. And the Baltimore Ravens benefited heavily from the Minnesota Vikings' misfortune in the first round of Saturday's NFL draft as a verbal agreement for a trade exchanging the Vikings' seventh overall pick for the Ravens' No. 10 selection along with additional choices was never finalized with the league office.

The Ravens were definitely serious about the trading business and almost pulled off a gambit to obtain Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich when the Vikings called five minutes before the deadline.

Ultimately, Baltimore wound up grabbing Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs with the 10th overall pick. Later, the Ravens acquired Cal quarterback Kyle Boller with the 19th pick by trading their second-round choice (No. 41) and next year's first round pick to the New England Patriots.

"It's strange how things happen," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "You can't predict what others are going to do, so you just have to have the ability to react. We think it's a banner day."

Trade discussions with Baltimore, the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England dragged into the final minutes of the Vikings' 15-minute deadline.

The verbal deal with Baltimore was struck with 32 seconds left on the clock, according to Vikings coach Mike Tice. With Newsome attempting to consummate a trade that included the Ravens giving Minnesota a fourth and a sixth-round pick, league executive Joel Bussert's line was apparently busy.

That snag put the Vikings in the unenviable situation of having to pass on their selection for the second year in a row, delaying their choice. Much to the irritation of Tice. And Jaguars vice president of player personnel James Harris, the Ravens' pro personnel director until a few months ago, swooped in to nab Leftwich immediately after the Vikings were forced to pass.

Then, the Carolina Panthers selected Utah offensive tackle Jordan Gross eighth overall before Minnesota was finally able to make its pick (Oklahoma State defensive lineman Kevin Williams) at No. 9.

That was one pick before Baltimore obtained Suggs, the ultra-quick pass rusher who set an NCAA record with 24 sacks last fall. Meanwhile, Minnesota was caught with egg on its face and subsequently pointed fingers at Baltimore for not finishing the trade. The Ravens insisted that they earnestly worked to execute the trade, but heard a constant busy signal in repeated attempts to dial up Bussert. "I'm not really pleased with not being able to consummate the trade and get some more picks, but we did get our guy," Tice told reporters in Minnesota. "We had a timeline and that's the way it went down."

Tice said he didn't even realize that Baltimore was unable to finalize the trade until the Jaguars announced their selection. He said the Panthers simply beat them to the punch when they submitted Gross' name.

"The deal wasn't consummated," Newsome said. "A deal is not a deal until I talk to Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert."

While Baltimore obviously coveted Leftwich, a towering pure pocket passer, the way the scenario unfolded drew no complaints. Ravens owner Art Modell, presiding over his final draft before likely selling his majority share to minority owner Steve Bisciotti next January, praised Newsome's wheeling and dealing. "Today was his finest hour," Modell said of Newsome. "His performance was superb, dealing with other teams, racing against the clock. He came out a winner."

After all the intrigue surrounding the Vikings' trade that never happened, the Ravens were still able to get Boller, the strong-armed mobile Cal passer, by haggling successfully with New England coach Bill Belichick. When he was head coach of the original Cleveland Browns, Belichick worked with Newsome and Ravens director of player personnel Phil Savage.

"When Boller dropped to his knee and threw the ball through the goalpost, I said, 'Hey, that's the chocolate sundae with the cherry on the top," said Savage, noting a premonition while jogging through the raindrops Saturday morning of picking up at least one of their top-rated players. "That last pick was the cherry on the top for an eight-year run."

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