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Draft Day 1: First-Round Review

Posted Apr 25, 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: “As you probably have been watching, with the 32nd pick, we took Matt Elam, safety out of the University of Florida. Even though it was a position of need, whether you all believe it or not, he was the highest-rated player on our board. And the thing that I think we all like about Matt is his speed. He’s probably one of the better tacklers that we’ve seen play the position, and the other thing we look to is he enjoys practicing, he enjoys playing the game of football. He’ll come in, I assume he’ll get into the starting lineup – that’ll be on John [Harbaugh] – but he’s a guy with the type of speed and the way he plays the game, he can be a presence on special teams right away for us. But Matt Elam is our guy. I think if you would have asked any of the four of us what one player we would have liked to have had today, I think each one of us if we would’ve wrote a name down on a sheet of paper, we would’ve said Matt Elam.”

 

John Harbaugh opening statement: “I guess I probably did write the name down. (laughter) I talked to my wife this afternoon, and she said, ‘Who do you hope to get?’ And it was Matt Elam. So, I couldn’t be more excited about it. Ozzie said it all: He’s a great person, he comes from a great football family since his brother already plays in the National Football League. He’s got ties with us with [secondary coach] Teryl Austin coaching him in Florida and [assistant head coach/special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg is very close with the family from his days at Boston College. [He is] just a good guy who loves ball, and we just can’t wait to get him in here and get started.”

 

Eric DeCosta opening statement: “[We’re] just very excited. He’s a player that we saw quite a bit of tape on. We have a good connection with the Florida coaching staff, and he’s just an infectious kid on the playing field – tough, aggressive, good coverage skills, he can play in the slot, he’s a great special teams guy, and we’re excited to have him.”

 

Joe Hortiz opening statement: “Man, not a whole lot to add. [We’re] just really pumped. Versatile kid, tough as they come, and I think he’ll add a lot. He fits our profile for a player and plays like a Raven, so we’re really excited to get him.”

 

Last time you were coming off a Super Bowl, you stayed pat at the end of the round and ended up with Todd Heap. Did this first round play out the same way that one did? (Joe Platania)

(NEWSOME) “Yes, it probably did. The phone did not ring. We had gotten some calls before the draft started that people might want to move up to our spot, but our phone did not ring while we were on the clock. That’s why we waited, to make sure. And I guess if you say this was a repeat of what happened then? Yes.”

 

Ozzie, there was speculation that you might take Manti Te’o out of Notre Dame. Was Elam just simply the better choice for this team? (David Ginsburg)

(NEWSOME) “Matt was the higher-rated player between the two of those guys.”

 

Do you guys see Elam as having the ability to be interchangeable between free and strong, or is he primarily a strong safety? (Aaron Wilson)

(DeCOSTA) “I think he can do a lot of different things. He can cover very well, he’s played high, he’s played low, he’s got good ball skills, he’s tough, he tackles extremely well. I think the thing when you talk about Matt Elam that we all recognized early, is this guy is a physical guy who can tackle. A lot of these guys missed tackles. This is a guy who quite honestly just about every chance he had to get the guy down, he did, with physicality. And he finishes plays in coverage. So, he’s an exciting guy for us, he’s going to help coach Rosburg on special teams quite a  bit, and we’re ecstatic about him.”

 

I guess the only thing is he’s not as tall. In terms of scouting, is that the only thing not ideal pretty much with him? (Aaron Wilson)

(HORTIZ) “Pretty much.” (DeCOSTA) “Well I’m not tall, so … ”

 

You talk about expressing the ability for the potential for him to start immediately. I know that’s going to be a decision made out of training camp and how he performs … (Jerry Coleman)

(HARBAUGH) “Right, he definitely has a chance to do that. He’ll have to earn it. We have some veteran safeties – one veteran safety in there and some young guys that will be competing for [the starting spot], as well. We always play the best guy, and if that’s the guy that’s playing the best, I think Matt Elam will be right in the middle of that fight, and [I] expect him to be.”

 

Ozzie, did you have any talks with anybody about moving up at all at any point in this draft? (Stan White)

(NEWSOME) “Yes, we did. We had some conversations with a couple of teams ahead of us. There were some players that were sliding down the board that [were] attractive to us. We had some conversations, but other teams decided to pick players that they liked. So, they decided to stay. So, we put our hands in our pockets and kind of waited, and we were able to get Matt.”

 

Do you have some general thoughts on what’s available tomorrow? Are you surprised by what’s available tomorrow? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)

(DeCOSTA) “We’re never really surprised, because a lot of times teams will just draft players that we don’t expect. In general, there are a lot of good players still available. We will come back in the morning and meet with the scouts and restack the board [and] come back with a new order of players for tomorrow. There’s probably 20 players, 30 players that we would be excited to get at the end of the second round tomorrow. I think we have a lot of potential to help this team – a lot of good players at a lot of different spots. I think luck will fall in our way again.”

 

Can you talk about Matt’s attitude on the field – his personality – and how much that played into the pick? (Ryan Mink)

(NEWSOME) “When you put the tape on – as I did … I always get an assignment from Eric [DeCosta] when I go down to Naples for Competition Committee meetings for a position I have to watch. [Safety] was the position. John [Harbaugh] had his assistants do a very good job putting tape together. During the time I was down there, I started to watch Matt [Elam], and I’ve never been so excited. It was fun watching him play. I’ve never … It’s been a long time … To watch a player on tape and play after play you just go, ‘Wow! Oh! Wow!’ John did a good job with the tape. (laughter) He was just somebody that the way he played on tape is the way you have to play in the AFC North.”

 

What was he like in interviews? What was he like when you talked to him? (Aaron Wilson)

(NEWSOME) “[Secondary coach] T.A. [Teryl Austin] coached him his freshman year [at Florida]. When he walked in the room, there was eye contact between the two of [them]. And of course, the relationship with [assistant head coach and special teams coach] Jerry Rosburg … But, he understood football. [University of Florida head coach] Will Muschamp does a great job down at Florida teaching those guys how to play defense. Joe [Hortiz] could talk about that a little bit more. When he came in and the way he talked about football – his football IQ – it matched up to the way he played on tape.”

 

Could you share any part of your conversation you got to have with him for a few moments on the phone? (Garrett Downing)

(HARBAUGH) “Those conversations usually are pretty … You don’t get a whole lot communicated, because everyone in the background is screaming and yelling. They are excited. It’s kind of like, ‘What did you say? I couldn’t hear you.’ But, he’s fired up. I think he was kind of hoping all along to be here. He’s watched a lot of football. He’s watched his brother play against us a bunch of times. I think he feels like he fits our defense really well. He’s fired up. I can’t wait for you guys to meet him tomorrow. You are going to see a guy who really likes football. He has a great personality.”

 

Ozzie, have to ask you a question about Rolando McClain. Where do things stand with him? And why wasn’t he in and went to Decatur [Alabama] when telling you he wasn’t. Your reaction to that … (Jerry Coleman)

(NEWSOME) “I knew he was going back to Decatur, but that’s still a process. We’re still working our way through it.”

 

Was he required to be here for conditioning or not? (Jerry Coleman)

(NEWSOME) “You can’t require anybody to be here. It’s all voluntary.”

 

  

S MATT ELAM CONFERENCE CALL

 

On his reaction to being drafted by the Ravens and what he brings to the table: “I feel like I am going to bring a lot of competitiveness, a lot of energy, and I am going to bring a lot of energy to a great defense already. I am just so excited just to have an opportunity. Just coming in, after a great player like Ed Reed was back there before, that’s a lot of big shoes to fill, but I am just coming in and trying to do all I can and help win championships.”

 

On if he had a vibe he would be a Raven: “I really didn’t think it would be … I just knew all my family ties with the Ravens and things like that and with [secondary coach] T.A. [Teryl Austin] and things like that. But, I really didn’t have an idea that I would go to the Ravens, so that wasn’t really on my mind.”

 

On where he thought he would be selected: “Cincinnati was giving me a strong look – Carolina and Cincinnati. [Those] teams really got my attention, because they gave me a lot of attention, so they made me feel like that was going to be my pick.”

 

On if he talked to Baltimore at the Combine: “Yes, sir.”

 

On if he visited with the Ravens prior to the draft: “No, I didn’t do a private workout nor visit with them.”

 

On how much learning from his brother, Abram, will help his transition to the NFL: “I feel like it can give me an advantage because my brother has a lot of experience, and he played in the league, and he knows what it takes. He has been giving me a lot of advice like covering and the way to train and the way to take care of my body and just being a pro – that’s what he taught me the most and maturity. So, I think that gives me an advantage.”

 

On if he is coming in with a chip on his shoulder: “Yes, sir. That really makes me want to go out and work because you know I’m the third safety taken, and I just want to go out and prove it and make people realize why I feel like I was the best college safety coming out. So, I have a big, big chip on my shoulder. I’m going and working, and I’m going to show it.”

 

On being downgraded because of his height: “I just feel like my size really doesn’t matter, because when you turn on the film, I’m a great competitor, I am flying around, I am hitting guys, I am hitting guys bigger than me, so I feel like size really doesn’t matter. I feel like [if] you turn on the film, it tells it all. I feel like I competed well, and I will compete well because of the heart I have and how I work.”

 

On his tackling ability in the Southeastern Conference: “That conference is one of the best conferences in college football. Like I said, it’s an advantage playing against the players every weekend and going out and competing against the best players every week. I feel like it gives me an advantage going into the league.”

 

On his expectations coming to Baltimore: “I have a lot of expectations. I know they expect me to come in there and do great things, and I am going to work, and I am going to work on making sure that happens. I am going to make sure I don’t let my coaches down. I am going to come in and work and just continue to learn and improve and be that great pick for the Ravens.”

 

On how much more he appreciates being selected with the personal tragedy he and his family has gone through: “It’s very important to me, just seeing the smiles on my family’s faces after so many frowns, so many losses. It just gives me a relief in my heart because now my family is smiling and everybody is happy. I just proved to everybody that it can be done, and you can go through things and overcome them and have courage and continue to get better and don’t let it be a negative and make it into a positive and make it motivation to do great things.”

 

On how much he is looking to make big hits on ball carriers: “I just feel like I am going to come down and do my job. I am going to make the receiver be scared that he’s not going to come my way next time. That’s my job description.”

 

On how much he has followed the Ravens over the years: “I’ve been a Ravens fan because I like Ed Reed a lot, and I love the aggressiveness of [Bernard] Pollard and Ray Lewis. And then with Deonte Thompson, me and him being from the same city and things like that. So, I have been asking a lot about it. I have been looking at the Ravens, and I know much about the Ravens. I am excited about going in and being a Raven.”

 

On the relationship between his brother, Abram, and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg: “My brother has great ties. My mom has great ties with Rosburg and my brother playing with [defensive coordinator Dean] Pees, with Pees giving my brother a second chance. I’ve been around great people with T.A.; I know him [from] before [at Florida], so he won’t be anything brand new, and we’ll be working again and [working to] win championships.”

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