Now that some of the excitement has finally subsided from the Super Bowl victory, the Ravens are in full-on draft mode.
The coaching staff and personnel department all took off for Indianapolis Wednesday, descending on Lucas Oil Stadium for the annual scouting combine. Over the next week, they will get a chance to watch, meet and assess some of the top prospects in this April’s draft.
“It gets a lot of people exposed to the players who haven’t been exposed to them, psychically, seeing them in person,” said Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz.
The Ravens college scouts have been pouring over film and going to the various all-star games like the Senior Bowl over the last several weeks. But the coaching staff just recently turned the page to the draft because their focus had been on the postseason.
With the coaches now fully in the mix, they will be able to add their input to the evaluations.
“Especially this year with making the run we’ve made, the coaches have not really had chances to go to the Senior Bowl and get that first exposure to the bulk of the players,” Hortiz said. “It gives the coaches the chance to see the guys – how they look on stage, how they look out there on the field.”
The evaluation process will begin Thursday, with some of the position groups going through the measurements and medical examinations. During the measurements process, the prospects all crowd into a room in their underwear with hundreds of scouts looking on. For some of the prospects – especially the juniors – this is the first opportunity for NFL scouts to see if they truly measure up to the size they’re listed at in their college media guides.
“They all come in with kind of an unknown,” Hortiz said. “We think they’re 6-1, 220, or 6-1, 200 – we think that. That’s what they’re listed as, but this gives us a chance to really see them.”
One of the key benefits of the combine is that it brings nearly all of the top college talent to the same place, and puts all the players through the same series of physical and mental tests.
“We all get to see them work out in a setting that’s equal to everybody,” Hortiz said. “There is no questionable field surface. They’re all doing what they’re doing in the same exact environment.”
The actual on-field workouts don’t begin until Saturday, so the prospects spend the first few days going through the examination process and also conducting media interviews. All of the players fulfill their media obligations before they actually get on the field to workout.
For the Ravens staff, Thursday and Friday will be spent going through meetings and getting another look at college film before the workouts. The workload then builds as the weekend hits. The Ravens will then begin player interviews Friday night, as each team can conduct 60 15-minute interviews. Those interviews begin around 6 p.m. and last until about 11 p.m. each night.
“It picks up as the week goes on,” Hortiz said. “Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the grind days.”
The last day of player workouts is Tuesday, with the defensive backs being the last group to get on the field. Once the personnel and coaching staffs come back to Baltimore, they’ll have another round of meetings to further cement the draft board.
“There is a little bit of tweaking off of this week,” Hortiz said about the draft board. “You’re going to have a bunch of reports coming in on all these players that help set the board, so to speak. On top of it, you’ve seen the workout, you’ve interviewed them. You’re just gathering more information and getting more looks.”