A Peek Inside Ravens' Prospect Interviews

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There's only so much tape can say about a player. What often leads to a player being successful in the NFL is their personality, temperament or character.

For example, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has long put more stock in a player who loves football than one who runs a fast 40-yard dash.

But in order to find that out, those critical details about a prospect's character, you have to ask the right questions.

During Wednesday's pre-draft press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz talked about what questions the team asks prospects. They gave insightful answers that allow a peek inside the Ravens' scouting operation.

The Ravens get 60 interviews at the combine. They get another 30 during private visits to their team facility. They have many more casual chats with prospects, such as at the Senior Bowl, and their college coaches.

"I'd say one-on-one, when we're bringing them into the combine in the room as a group, you try to draw the kid's personality out," Hortiz said.

"You ask him questions that loosen him up and see where he goes with it, how he carries himself, how he interacts with you, and how he communicates."

For Harbaugh, he said the main thing he wants to find out is what kind of "heart" the player has. He wants somebody that can take coaching.

"Is he willing to accept instruction, and then is he able to apply instruction to the way he plays the game or the way he lives his life?" Harbaugh said. "You want to find out who this guy is, and am I going to be able to deal with this guy, coach this guy, help him become the best he can be? Or not?"

Hortiz said leadership is often something the Ravens are looking for. A common question is to ask the prospect to give them an example of how they're a leader.

"That's one just to figure out how they're interacting with their teammates," Hortiz said. "We just get a feel for the guy and if he feels like he will fit in our locker room with our coaching staff and within this organization."

Some prospects require more direct questions.

Maybe they've had some off-the-field trouble that the Ravens want answers to. Maybe they've got an injury history, or a tumultuous past. Maybe their production mysteriously changes (for good or bad) in their final season.

"It's really not one question specifically to all the players, but you have a question for each guy," Harbaugh explained.

"So, if a player hasn't played a position or you're concerned about his mental makeup or football IQ, you're going to ask questions in that direction. You might want to try to figure out how much he knows, or how he processes, or how quickly he learns, just how football-smart he is, for instance. Other guys have other issues. You're going to try to come out of that meeting finding out about that one thing that you need to know about."

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