SPORTS:

Preakness ’03; Plus, the NFL Drafts a New Round of Millionaires

by Darrell Carter

Horseracing: Will the Pimlico Racetrack Survive?

The 128th Preakness Stakes will conclude its historic run at Pimlico Race Track this racing season. For one year the track will undergo renovation and the historic race will move to Laurel Race Track in Bowie, Maryland for the 2004 season.

The future of Maryland racing became a newsworthy story in 1997 when the Maryland Jockey Club lobbied state legislators for $6 million in aid. Taxpayers protested, but without success.

Track owners also cried to legislators that Delaware and West Virginia were luring customers to their states with slot machines. The slot debate continues. Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who is pro-slots, lobbied the legislators on the issue in roll call. However, his efforts failed in the final session of the year, to the dismay of the Maryland Jockey Club and its new majority owner Magna Corporation.

Wood Memorial-winner Funny Cide is this year’s favorite to win the Preakness Stakes.

The 68th Annual NFL Selection Draft

1st Round A:
Round 1 of the 2003 NFL Draft began at 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. With the tenth pick, the Baltimore Ravens selected Arizona State defensive lineman Terrell Suggs. The Ravens’ brass had hoped that quarterback Byron Leftwich would still be on the board, but Jacksonville selected the talented passer with the eighth pick. General manager Ozzie Newsome said he almost had a deal with Minnesota for the number seven pick, which would have landed quarterback Byron Leftwich. The deal wasn’t made because Newsome couldn’t get the NFL executive on the phone to pull off the deal.

Suggs, a 6 foot 3 inch, 260 pound defensive end / linebacker in college, is expected to join last-season 2nd round pick Anthony Weaver on the defensive line. Suggs, known as a relentless pass rusher, is expected to get better, bigger and stronger under the Ravens strength and conditioning program. A consensus All-America and All-Pac 10 Conference first-team selection, Suggs received the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defensive player of the year in 2002. His career total of 44 sacks and 65.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage set a school record, topping the previous mark of 41 sacks. Also, his 24 sacks in 2002 set an NCAA 1A record.

1st Round B:
A tremendous need was fulfilled on the defensive line in the first round, though quarterback was a priority in the second round. The Ravens pulled the trigger and traded for the 19th pick in the first round from New England, and landed the much-heralded quarterback Kyle Boller. The Ravens gave up the 41st pick in this year’s second round and a number one in 2004 to land Boller. He was considered by many as the third-rated quarterback in the draft, though many in the national media question his talent.

He possesses the size, strength, speed and body control that the Ravens were looking for. Boller is known to have a good touch on the ball, with a quick step up, getting a good push away from the line of scrimmage in his drops. He shows his ability to sidestep pass rushers to buy time.

Boller is a three-year starter who experienced a breakout senior year. In 42 games, he completed 622 of 1301 passes (47.8 percent), scored 64 touchdowns, and recorded 48 interceptions.

Carson Palmer (Cincinnati), the number-one pick in this year’s draft, opposed Kyle Boller twice in the past two years when Palmer’s USC Trojans defeated the California Golden Bears 30-28, and 55-14, respectively.

3rd Round
The Ravens traded away their second-round pick in the Kyle Boller trade, which surprised most pundits, when the Ravens selected half back Musa Smith from Georgia. Smith is considered a quick-twitch runner with no hesitation in his initial burst. He hits the holes with authority and has superb field vision and cuts back to the lanes with effortless grace. In 2002, Smith was named the Associated Press and Atlanta Journal constitution All-Southeastern first-team selection, adding second-team honors from the league’s coaches. He ran for 1,324 yards in 260 attempts, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry for the Georgia Bulldogs. Scouts have compared Smith to current Raven Jamal Lewis.

4th Round A
With the 109th pick in the annual draft, the Ravens selected Alabama defensive end Jarret Johnson. He has the raw upper-body power and quick first step to fire off the snap at a low pad level to gain leverage and explode off the snap. An All-American second-team choice by The NFL Draft Report, Johnson can separate, shed blocks, and disengage with his strong arm swipes.

4th Round B Compensatory Pick
Another surprise in the fourth round was fullback Ovie Mughelli from Wake Forest. Prior to the draft one, the primary needs of the Ravens were on the offensive and defensive line. The defense portion was addressed, though the offensive line wasn’t addressed until the fifth round with tackle Tony Pashos.

Mughelli is known as a strong inside runner. He shows sharp in-line agility and good body mechanics when running through the holes. He makes proper body adjustments for running pass routes, and is very adept at getting involved in complex patterns, especially on the swing-and-stop routes. Mughelli is a very athletic, strong, powerful player who is a devastating blocker in both the running and passing attack.


5th Round A
With the fifth round selection and the 146th pick in the draft, the Ravens selected defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin from Tennessee. He maintains a low center of gravity to fill the inside lanes versus the running game. He anchors and neutralizes blockers by taking advantage of his leg drive.

5th Round B Compensatory Pick
Offensive tackle Anthony “Tony” Pashos was taken with the 173rd pick in the compensatory round for the Ravens. Standing tall at 6 foot 6 inches and weighing in at 337 pounds, Pashos will give current Raven backup Ethan Brooks competition in the upcoming training camp. He has a tall frame with wide hips and long arms. He also has the foot flexibility and the leg drive to get off the line with power and shows above average lateral agility.

Pashos was selected as an All-American second-team pick by The NFL Draft Report in 2002. He earned All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors for the second-straight year.

In round six, safety Gerome Sapp from Notre Dame was chosen with the 183rd pick. In round seven, the Raven selected tight end Darrell Trent Smith from Oklahoma. Smith, a 6 foot, 5 inch 245-pound blocker with good hands, will fight for the third spot on the team, behind Todd Heep, John Jones, and Terry Jones, Jr. With the 250th pick in the 7th round Mike Mabry, a center from Central Florida, was taken. The last selection and the 258th pick in the 7th round was Utah’s safety Antoine Sanders.

All 11 selections will report to the full team mini-camp, held May 9-11, at the Owings Mills complex.




Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on May 8, 2003.