Ravens in market for a RB

OWINGS MILLS – If you take a cursory glance at their depth chart, the Baltimore Ravens would seem to be all set at running back. However, appearances can be deceiving despite the presence of Jamal Lewis, Mike Anderson and Musa Smith. A factor of uncertainty with all three backs could persuade Baltimore to draft a running back at some point during the NFL draft.

Lewis is coming off a career-low season and is basically playing under a one-year, $6 million contract because of contract language that allows Baltimore to exercise an option next year on his $5 million roster bonus and $5 million base salary.

A former Denver Broncos starter who signed a four-year, $8 million contract, Anderson is definitely in the Ravens' plans for more than one year, according to general manager Ozzie Newsome. At age 32, though, the former Marine can't play forever.

Meanwhile, Smith -- a former third-round draft pick from Georgia -- is entering the final year of his contract. He ended last season on injured reserve after aggravating a surgically-repaired broken leg he suffered in 2004.
"Being in the draft room and having a running back in the back of my mind, yes, it is," Newsome said. "We could be sitting here next year with Mike Anderson and whoever that running back is in the draft next year."

Because Lewis and Anderson are under contract, the Ravens have the luxury of not having to exhaust their first-round draft pick on a runner. Prior to their signings, the Ravens were often linked with USC's LenDale White and Memphis' DeAngelo Williams.

Now, Baltimore is most likely to consider backs that could be available between the second and later rounds. The team could use someone capable of catching passes out of the backfield on third downs since that's not Anderson, Smith or Lewis' forte.

LSU's Joseph Addai represents a versatile option. At 5-foot-11, 212 pounds, he's not very big, but has 4.4 speed and caught 66 career passes for 641 yards and six touchdowns. He had 2,549 career rushing yards and 18 scores.

"Addai is an upright runner, but he has good hands and might go in the second or third round," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said.

DeCosta gave solid marks to UCLA running back Maurice Drew, who visited the Ravens' training complex. Compact at 5-6 and 210 pounds, Drew led the Bruins with 900 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns with 29 catches for 424 yards and four touchdowns. He returned three punts for scores.

"He's short, but he's not small," DeCosta said. "Drew has big thighs and is strong and explosive."

DeCosta noted Florida State's Leon Washington (25 catches last season) and South Florida's Andre Hall (1,695 all-purpose yards) as potential third-down backs.

Brian Calhoun was ultra-productive for Wisconsin, but isn't very big (5-9, 202) or fast (4.59). The Colorado transfer rushed for 1,636 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior.

"You can't ignore what he did in the Big Ten," DeCosta said. "He wasn't playing against slouches. He competed against good linebackers like A.J. Hawk."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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