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2013 NFL Draft: Final Review Press Conference

Posted Apr 27, 2013

General Manager/Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh,  

Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta & Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz

 

Ozzie Newsome opening statement: “We just concluded with our 10 picks in this year’s draft. I think the thing that has happened over the course of probably the last – I think [the scouts] start their spring cross-checks in June – so, over the course of nine months, the amount of work that has been done … But I think what’s happened now in that the four of us now we have, I think, we just went through our sixth draft together. So, I think the process is a little smoother. I think we all understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to putting the board together. But I think the biggest thing is we have a great understanding of the type of football players that John [Harbaugh] wants in his locker room, that he and his coaching staff want to work with. And I think when we come together, the four of us, with all those things in mind, that we’re able to put together a draft class just as we have done over the past three days that we feel very good about. We feel very, very good about what we’ve added to our football team for the 2013 season. We talked about getting stronger up the middle; we did that early with our first three picks. Then today, we were able to come back and pick up some other really, really tough guys that really love the game in [John] Simon and [Kyle] Juszczyk, added those guys, and then we went back and we always like to get some offensive linemen. We feel like with the coaching staff that we have there, they do a very good job of developing those guys. This year we took a defensive lineman [Kapron Lewis-Moore] that tore his knee up in the National Championship game, so he’s a guy that we’re going to bring along and rehab, and if we get something out of him in 2013 it’s a plus. But more or less, we’re just looking at him to the future. So, from my assessment, it’s a very, very good class. You throw in the receiver [Aaron Mellette] that we got, who was highly, highly productive … And then there’s one thing that we never have enough of, and that’s corners, so to finish up with Marc Anthony as a corner. In our mind, it’s been a very productive three days. We like all of the guys that we have brought into this class, and we’re just looking forward to now getting them here and letting John and his staff work with them.”

 

John Harbaugh opening statement: “I’d just like to thank all of the coaches and the scouts for the job they did. As Ozzie said, I thought everybody worked together really well, and the amount of work that goes into it, it paid off, and it was just a joy to be a part of this process. I know Joe [Hortiz] heads up all the scouts and just did a great job. And also congratulations to the 10 draft picks – the 10 new Ravens. We’ve talked to all those guys, and I can tell you, every one of them is really, really excited to be a Raven. There was a lot of cheering and celebrating going on in the background, and I think it was a special thing when they got the call from the Baltimore Ravens and to become a part of this team, and you could tell they meant it. So, congratulations to those guys, and thanks to the scouts and to the coaches.”

 

Eric DeCosta opening statement: “The scouts and coaches did a great job. We won the Super Bowl and we asked our coaches to go on the road right away, go to the Combine, and they had no time off basically. I think we’ve had three or four scouts that have had babies in the last two or three months. So, we’ve asked a lot of these guys and they’ve delivered. It’s just a great day, and we’re very excited about the process.”

 

Joe Hortiz opening statement: “Not a whole lot to add. [There is] a lot of excitement, and like everyone said, the scouts and the coaches, a lot of hard work went into it. A lot of communication, a lot of conversations, and I feel really excited about the 10 guys we picked up these three days.”

 

Are there any areas around the depth chart that you wanted to address, but there wasn’t any quantity or quality there that you felt good about? (Joe Platania)

(NEWSOME) “No, I think … I’m trying to think … We got some offensive linemen, we got a center. We got some defensive linemen, we got a corner, we got a safety, we got a receiver. Maybe a tight end. A tight end. And that’s what we’re working on right now. When I came into this auditorium, I was just thinking [about] the contract that Dannell Ellerbe just got going to the Miami Dolphins; he’s an undrafted college free agent that we picked up. So, that’s how good I feel about our ability to now go into that tight end market and hopefully get a player that’s going to be a productive player for us this year.”

 

Ozzie, with the drafting of the fullback from Harvard, do you see him complementing Vonta Leach or do you see this as maybe having to come to a decision with one or the other? (Aaron Wilson)

(NEWSOME) “With us, we like to take … By the end of tonight we’re going to have 90 football players, and we don’t have to make any decision. We want to make decisions based on how guys perform out on the football field. We’re going to get Kyle [Juszczyk] in here, and the thing we like about Kyle other than his ability to play on the offensive side is we expect him to be a very good special teams contributor. So, could there be a place for both of them? Yes, there could be. Because as John and I try to put our 53-man squad together, we want to keep the best 53 players.”

 

There is a lot talk of about the high-quality guys that you were able to draft. This may be a question for another day, but does the fact that you have filled some needs with those kinds of guys affect the Rolando McClain situation at all? (Peter Schmuck)

(NEWSOME) “No. I think what you have to do is to, going back to what I said, right now we have 90 football players, and he is one of the 90. We’re going to make the determination, starting tomorrow, who we think is going to be on our top 53. We’ll start making those decisions. It’s going to be some tough decisions, but as of right now, Rolando is still a part of our football team.”

 

John, do you feel a lot better about the defense now than you did three days ago? A lot of guys have been added and there are many potential starters (Dave Ginsburg)

(HARBAUGH) “It’s good to see the draft shake out. It’s one thing to have draft picks and have prospects and guys you are evaluating. It’s another to have Ravens, to have players on your depth chart. One of the things I do during this process is kind of fill out the depth chart as we go, and it’s a lot stronger, it’s a lot deeper right now. We have competition at most spots. So, the answer is yes. I am really excited about our personnel generally, and I am really excited about these 10 guys.”

 

John, does John Simon remind you of Jarret Johnson a little bit? He says he tries to emulate Mike Vrabel, his position coach at Ohio State. Does he remind you a little bit of Jarret with the toughness and his style? (Aaron Wilson)

(HARBAUGH) “Yes, toughness and style. I think work ethic, attention to detail, guys that love ball. Those two guys would be a great … John Simon is a guy that you just hear it all the time. I think Urban Meyer has a thing on YouTube – have you seen it? – where he talks about John Simon. It’s worth pulling up and taking a look at it. It probably says it all. He is our kind of guy. Jarret Johnson was a Raven, and he always will be. So, it’s probably a good comparison.”

 

Eric, you talked before the draft that there were about 185 draftable players. How does the board look now heading into the free agency market? (Garrett Downing)

(DeCOSTA) “I think last year we had the entire 150 wiped out. This year, I think we have about 15 or 20 guys still left on the front board as draftable prospects, so our scouts are doing a great job of recruiting those guys, trying to get those guys to come. They’ll start as soon as the draft is over, officially, hitting the phones and getting those guys in. Hopefully, we can get four or five or six of those guys who we think are draftable prospects. If we do that, one way of looking at it is we had the 10 picks, and we can get four or five of those [draftable] types, it’s really like we had 15 picks in our mind.”

 

With the small-school offensive lineman, Ryan Jensen, do you expect him to play inside or will he also play some tackle? (Aaron Wilson)

(HARBAUGH) “We expect him to play inside. He is a guy that played more guard. He is a guy we are going to try at center. We are going to start him at center, right Ozzie? (Newsome: “Yes.”) We are going to start him off at center. Juan Castillo worked him out in Colorado and worked him out as a center, so that was something we thought he has a chance and potential to do.”

 

(NEWSOME) “He also played center in high school.”

 

What has you excited about [Jensen’s] skill set? (Matt Zenitz)

(HARBAUGH) “I saw him, and I’ll defer, but he can bend, and he is a physical guy.”

 

(HORTIZ) “He is a good athlete. He played really well, obviously, at his level of competition, but then he went to the Texas vs. The Nation [Game], played tackle in that All-Star game and did a really good job through the week of practice. I think it was [assistant director of pro personnel] Chad Alexander who was [scouting the] O-line there, and he was his No. 1 offensive lineman out there during the week. He played well in the game. Good bender, like John said. Good athlete – gets up to the second level. He can run. Smart kid and tough kid.”

 

Just curious to get your take on Aaron Mellette in the seventh round. Some people had him projected to go higher. What’s your take on him? (Matt Zenitz)

(HORTIZ) “He is a big athlete – I know that. He is kind of a subtle route runner. You don’t realize he is as fast as he is when you watch him on film. He is really smooth. He has quick feet after the catch and at the top of his routes. He catches the ball well. If you watch him, our scouts noticed it and recognized it during the meetings, he has played against a lot of stepped-up competition. Appalachian State is obviously one of the top teams in that conference, but he has played against North Carolina, he has played against Vanderbilt last year, and then you go back into his sophomore year, he has had games against other Division I teams. Against Vandy, I think he had 180 [receiving yards] and two touchdowns last year. So, he has always stepped up. He has torched [Appalachian State] for over 500 yards in the past three years, so big competition doesn’t bother him. He has played well. He went to the Senior Bowl and had a good week down there.”

 

How much does what Kyle Juszczyk did at Harvard – leading receiver and all that – factor in your decision to take him, especially where you drafted him? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(HARBAUGH) “You’re right, it does factor in because he is a very versatile player. He is a guy that can play as a fullback in a two-back offense. He is a guy who can play as a U-back or an H-back, an underneath back in the motion, second tight end, two-tight end stuff. I think you can put him on the line – it won’t be his thing – but if you had to, you could put him on the line as a tight end. And, he splits out and plays as a wide receiver a bunch for Harvard. [Harvard head coach] Tim Murphy played him pretty much everywhere there. He is a very versatile guy, so you feel like you pick up a roster spot or two when you put him on your 46-man roster, if he can earn that. On top of all that, he has already proven to be an excellent special teams player for a 250-, 255-pound guy, so that’s a big plus, too.”

 

Eric, with Ricky Wagner, he has played left and right tackle. Where do you think he’ll play for you guys and where are his strong suits? (Aaron Wilson)

(DeCOSTA) “I think he has good frame. He has played some left and right tackle, as you said. We think he can also possibly line up at guard, so he offers some flexibility positionally for us. I think he has pretty good feet, pretty good strength. Experienced guy. Stays on his feet – good balance. I think he’s very intelligent. I think he’s got toughness. We like to Midwest offensive linemen, Big 10 offensive linemen. He is a guy that’s played in a program with a lot of really good pro NFL linemen, so he’s been well-coached and had very good offensive line coaches come through there in the last four, five, six years. We think he’s going to be a great depth guy for us initially with a chance to emerge.”

 

Ozzie, I know you got a receiver in the seventh round. Were there times earlier in the draft where you guys were tempted to pull a trigger on a receiver? The 49ers drafted Quinton Patton right ahead of you, not just specifically him, but were you tempted earlier to hit that position, or did you know you liked this guy all along and you were holding out for him in the later rounds? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(NEWSOME) “To answer both of your questions, were there receivers in every round that we considered? Yes. Did one receiver get taken when we were set to take the guy? No, that did not happen at that point. As far as Aaron, when we got to that point in the draft, he was our highest-rated guy, and that’s why we decided to take him.”

 

Ozzie, is left tackle still a position where you’ll look at particularly in free agency? (Ryan Mink)

(NEWSOME) “I don’t know. We’ll get the chance to roll the ball out there this week. You just can’t go against each other. We’ll have somebody lined up at left tackle. Questions like that probably should go to John, because John determines who plays and who doesn’t play. I just try to get the players to him.”

 

Ozzie, with inside linebacker, do you still want to add more to that position, or do you think you have enough guys on the roster where things stand now?  (Aaron Wilson)

(NEWSOME) “If Patrick Willis became available within the next four or five days, I think I’d be very active in trying to get him. Guys, it’s very fluid. Up until we get this 53-man squad together before we have to get ready to play Denver, this is going to be a very fluid situation. But, I don’t turn down any good players. I just don’t. We find a way to get them.”

 

How much do you use success stories like [former Raven] Dannell Ellerbe’s when you’re recruiting some of these undrafted guys? (Ryan Mink)

(NEWSOME) “These guys are more involved (motioning to other members on the podium). This goes all way back to Priest Holmes. We have a history – Mike Flynn. We have a huge history with that – Jameel [McClain]. Each year there are guys that get the opportunity to come in and make our ball club. We utilize that as a tool when we start recruiting guys two months ago, three months ago. We have a pretty good system that Eric, [national scout] Joe D. [Douglas], Joe, and [southeast area scout] Mark [Azevedo] put together, including coach Harbaugh and his phone number, that we utilize to recruit players.”

 

What did you like in Lewis-Moore, and when you have the volume of picks that you have, does it make it easier to take a chance on a player that you know? You said 2013 would be a bonus to get … (Luke Jones)

(NEWSOME) “He got injured in the National Championship game, and I was there because of the opponent they were playing. I had already watched him on tape. He was one of the guys that Eric … Eric normally gives me guys during the fall to take a look at, and he was one of the guys that I had saw on tape. We had good grades on him. We believe in our medical staff. Now with ACLs [anterior cruciate ligaments], which is what he has – he’s the same thing that ‘Webby’ [Lardarius Webb] has – so steal a term, there is predictability in his recovery. We could have sat there … We got [Chris] Canty. We have some people that can play that position, but if we get into the middle of the season and he’s completely ready to go, there are no players on the street when you get to October and November, and to be able to pull somebody like that out of the bullpen could be a bonus for us.”

 

What is it about small school guys that you guys sometimes have this infinity for? Is it sort of like they have a longer road or a tougher road to get recognition? Or is it just maybe through your amount of scouts that travel to find some guys that other teams just don’t have as much information on? (Aaron Wilson)

(DeCOSTA) “That’s a good question. I’ve thought about that, because for a long time we didn’t draft any small school guys, or a very, very few. In the last couple of years we have drafted more. I think one of the reasons is because we really draft best available player. Honestly, I know it sounds crazy, but just about every single one of these picks was the highest-rated guy on the list, and coincidentally, some of these guys were small school guys. What I will say is that I think scouting, in general, has gotten better across the league. It has forced us to adapt. We’ve had to increase the pool of players. Where we would probably have always just drafted Pac-10, Big 10 and SEC guys, we have looked at these smaller school guys, because players will come as we’ve seen, from every area, every division, every part of the country. We’ve challenged our scouts to get more information, and to investigate every possible player to give us an advantage. I think our scouts have done a good job of doing that.”

 

(NEWSOME) “That’s something that I need to add, and I think this goes to [owner] Steve Bisciotti, and what he’s allowed us to do as a personnel staff to be able to maintain as many guys as we have our staff. It allows Eric and Joe to be able to get the coverage on all the players, because Steve has allowed us to maintain … We’ve been lucky over the last three or four years [that] we haven’t lost any [scouts]. We have good, young guys coming up that are ready to get out on the road. Also, our coverage is getting better, because of the staff that we have starting with our young guys all the way up to Joe and Eric.”

 

I know that once the draft has ended, you are going to sign undrafted free agents. Do you see any priorities going forward now? I know the rookie camp is next week. In that maybe re-signing one of your guys that’s close to free agency, maybe a [Dennis] Pitta or a [Ed] Dickson or adding a left tackle. Are there any priorities you see going forward for you now? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(NEWSOME) “I don’t know if there is a certain priority if I want to list them one, two or three – no. As we said at the draft luncheon, would we like to extend some of our guys that are restricted free agents? Yes, we would. There has been some dialogue with some of them already. If you look at our history, we picked up Willie Anderson a week before our first game. We picked up Bryant McKinnie the last preseason game. It’s so fluid. We don’t know, and I’m going to knock on wood … When John and I went to the meeting that we had with our suite holders and everything [last spring], he and I walked in together and sat down together and sat down and told Steve [Bisciotti] about [Terrell] Suggs’ Achilles injury. We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, so everything has to remain fluid.”

 

This draft class has a lot of team captains – a lot of leaders. Is that more important now than ever or has that always been a focus? It just seems to be more this time. (Joe Platania)

(HARBAUGH) “It’s been a focus for us. That’s something that is a priority. We talk about that. Team captain always comes up in the draft conversations. If a guy is not a team captain, we try to find out why. Yes, it’s very important. I’d so no more so than ever – always very important.”

 

Can you talk about the speed that you added particularly on defense and particularly with the first two picks? How big of a difference could that be for you? (Ryan Mink)

(HARBAUGH) “Yes, you want to be as fast as possible. You want to be sideline-to-sideline. You want to cover ground. Speed is important. We want a big, fast, physical, tough, smart, disciplined football team. That’s what we want to be. So, that fast part of it is really important. These guys are fast. John Simon is very fast. He’s a 255-pound man that runs a 4.6. This guy can really run. Right down the list there, ‘Juice’ [Kyle Juszczyk] is a fast guy for a big fullback/tight end-type guy. Ricky Wagner is actually a very athletic, big guy. Aaron Mellette runs in the mid-4.4s, and he’s a 220-plus guy. So, big and fast is something we do like.”

 

 

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