The secrets behind The Wizard of the Ravens' draft-day successes

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super...

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Feb. 3, 2013. (CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/Getty Images/AFP)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:56 AM ET

He’s known in NFL circles as the “Wizard,” or the “Wizard of Oz.”

He’s not a huckster. He’s not a ’fraidy-cat. And he does not use smoke, mirrors or projected images to defeat his enemies, like the famous member of the fictitious wizardry.

The general manager of the Baltimore Ravens also does not hide behind a curtain, nor does he live in an emerald city.

What he does do is render his rivals green with envy.

“Ozzie Newsome has, year in and year out, put out relevant teams and given his team a chance to win a Super Bowl,” New York Giants GM Jerry Reese told USA Today before Newsome’s perennial playoff power won Super Bowl XLVII in February. It was Baltimore’s second NFL championship in 17 years under Newsome’s tutelage.

Former Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian described Newsome’s ability to keep his team in contention most seasons since 2000 “in this day and age, in the salary-cap era,” as “the most difficult thing to do in sports.”

This year’s NFL draft is only days away -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday in New York City . It’s a good time to delve into why Newsome and his player-personnel staff have more successfully identified pro-level football talent than anybody since the late 1990s.

That is not to say Newsome has been perfect. His draft classes aren’t spectacular every year. And he has selected his share of big-name duds. Prime example: blanks-firing quarterback Kyle Boller in 2003, whose failure led directly to a brief but decided mid-decade swoon for the Ravens’ franchise.

But by and large, the Ravens’ early-round picks under Newsome have been winners, and his ability to unearth late-round or undrafted diamonds is as uncanny as it is unrivalled.

“We’re all chasing Ozzie,” Reese said.


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