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Game officials chosen for Super Bowl

Game officials chosen for Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) In a season that began with criticism of replacement refs, the NFL found itself dealing with questions Wednesday about the qualifications of its lead official for the Super Bowl.

Jerome Boger, a member of NFL officiating crews for nine years, will be the referee Sunday in his first NFL title game amid accusations by a former official-turned-broadcaster that the league doctored his rating.

Boger has worked four divisional playoff games, including the San Francisco 49ers' victory over Green Bay this year. He entered the league as a line judge in 2004, and was promoted to referee in 2006. He is only the second black referee to work the title game, following Mike Carey five years ago.

His impending selection, which was formally announced Wednesday, was criticized earlier this week by Jim Daopoulos, who was quoted in The New York Times as saying the grading of some officials, including Boger, was altered.

Daopoulos worked 11 years as an on-field official and 12 years as a supervisor before joining NBC as an analyst.

``I'm looking at the seven guys who are working in the Super Bowl, and to be quite honest, several of them should not be on the field,'' Daopoulos told the Times.

Daopoulos told the paper he believed the league predetermined who would work the Super Bowl.

The league and the referees' union have denied such claims, citing the evaluation process. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, called the allegations ``patently false and insulting to Jerome Boger.''

Attempts to reach Boger were unsuccessful. The NFL does not make officiating crews available before games.

Under the NFL officiating program's evaluation system, the highest-rated eligible officials at each position are chosen for the Super Bowl. The officials must have at least five years of NFL experience and previous playoff assignments.

The other game officials announced Wednesday are Darrell Jenkins (umpire), Steve Stelljes (head linesman), Byron Boston (line judge), Craig Wrolstad (field judge), Joe Larrew (side judge) and Dino Paganelli (back judge).

Boger's selection was applauded by the NFL Referees Association and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches, front office, scouting and gameday NFL officials.

``This is a well-deserved honor for each member of the crew,'' said Tim Millis, NFLRA executive director. ``The Super Bowl XLVII crew, led by referee and crew chief Jerome Boger, all had an excellent 2012 season.''

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, called the criticism ``unfair, inaccurate and offensive.''

He said the league has ``an elaborate system of checks and balances, and changes to the grading only occur after careful review and agreement by nine supervisors.''

``There is an appeal process,'' he said. ``The final scoring is calculated by an outside vendor. Tampering with Boger's grades so that he would be the top referee did not happen and could not happen. After a 17-week season, Jerome came out No. 1 in the scoring system fair and square. He earned the right to be the Super Bowl referee.''

Boger worked the next-to-last game of the season between the Raiders and Panthers in Carolina. During that Panthers victory, quarterback Cam Newton bumped Boger while disputing a call. Newton was penalized but not ejected because Boger said he didn't feel the bump was enough to warrant an ejection.

``It wasn't of a malicious nature,'' Boger said at the time.

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In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

In a draft deep at CB, taking one early could be Ravens' best move

The Ravens may need to rethink their draft strategy regarding cornerbacks. They haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first three rounds since 2011, when they took Jimmy Smith with the 27th overall pick.

Smith is still the Ravens’ best corner. However, he has been plagued by injuries in recent years, and lack of cornerback depth has become a glaring weakness for the Ravens, in a league that features many explosive wide receivers.

Related: NFL Mock Draft 1.0

According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., this year’s draft is loaded with talented corners. With the 16th overall pick, the Ravens can address their need at cornerback with someone who might be talented enough to start as a rookie.

“There’s a lot of corners in this draft that are going to go in the first round,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

Many believe Marshon Lattimore of Ohio St. will be the first cornerback off the board, and will likely be gone before the Ravens can grab him. In his first mock draft, Kiper had Lattimore going No. 6 to the Jets.

However, the list of top-rated corners that could be available for the Ravens at No. 16 includes Marlon Humphrey of Alabama, Sidney Jones of Washington, Jourdan Lewis of Michigan, Teez Tabor of Florida, Cordrea Tankersley of Clemson, and Quincy Wilson of Florida.

The Ravens grabbed a promising corner in the fourth round last year in Tavon Young, who had a strong rookie season. But the Ravens may not have the luxury of waiting to take a cornerback this spring. Instead of taking the best player available at No. 16, the Ravens will have to consider taking the best corner available.

Related: Depth at running back reduces need for Ravens to trade up in draft

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Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Should the Ravens trade up from No. 16 to get an impact running back in the draft?  Not according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

The Ravens’ need for more playmakers is obvious, and coach John Harbaugh says the offense could use another back to complement Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West.

In his first mock draft, Kiper had Leonard Fournette of LSU (No. 8, Panthers) and Dalvin Cook of Florida St. (No. 12, Browns) as the first two backs off the board, with the Ravens taking Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers with the 16th pick.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Kiper says the Ravens can get a quality back in the first three rounds, with this year’s draft deep at the position.

“I don’t know that trading up for a running back the grade of Fournette will be high enough to say he’s in that (Ezekiel) Elliott stratosphere,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

“You have a lot of depth at running back too, with (Christian) McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman from Texas, and there’s a lot of other backs in this draft that I really like, and of course the Ravens got Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round last year which was a heck of a pick for them. Matthew Dayes from N. C. State, you have Jamaal Williams at BYU, De’Angelo Henderson at Coastal Carolina is an interesting kid. I don’t think there will be a team looking to trade up for the running back this year.”

West led the Ravens with 774 yards rushing in 2016, with Dixon adding 302 yards. However, every other team in the AFC North had a back with more yards than West. Le’Veon Bell (1,268 yards) led the Steelers, Isaiah Crowell (952 yards) led the Browns, and Jeremy Hill (839 yards) led the Bengals.

While the Ravens have other pressing needs like cornerback, wide receiver, and pass rusher, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a running back early.

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