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Byrne Identity: Here's What Happened In Ravens Draft Room Last Night


The first thing I do when I enter the Ravens' Draft Room is look for prospects with a red star sticker on their name card. These are players that members of our personnel/scouting department select who they believe most possess what we want a Ravens' player to be.

Each scout gets to pick one player to place his sticker on a card. This anointing takes place in a meeting once our draft board is set. 

Thirteen different scouts make their selection, and then the room discusses others who may deserve it. Twenty-five players earned stars this year.

Vincent Newsome, our pro personnel director, who has been a member of the Ravens' personnel department since Day One – and before that as a scout for four years with Art Modell's Browns – placed his star on Ronnie Stanley, the big tackle from Notre Dame we took in the first round last night.

"I want to place my red star on one of the top players on our board," Vincent told me soon after we made our selection. "I look for the cleanest player among the best of the best. Ronnie is that. He has all the skills and physical attributes to be an outstanding NFL player. He kept improving at Notre Dame. He's a good person, and there are no blemishes in his history. He's what we want a Raven to be. That's why he earned my star."

The Tunsil Video

As always, the lead up to our selection was fascinating.

First thing I noticed on the Ravens' board is that our highest-rated players paralleled many of the mock listings we've seen over the last two months. That has not always been the case over the years.

Soon after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed the crowd in Chicago and announced that the Los Angeles Rams were on the clock, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta handed his phone to Ozzie Newsome and calmly said, "Look at this."

Owner Steve Bisciotti, seated to Newsome's left, moved over to take a peek. "Who's that?" Bisciotti asked. "Tunsil," Eric replied.

It was a video posted on Twitter that showed the big tackle from Mississippi wearing a gas mask attached to a bong filled with smoke.

"This is blowing up all over social media," DeCosta said while looking at his phone and computer.

Right after other scouts and coaches in the room looked at the video, my eyes went to the large sign above the door to our draft room. It reads:

                  "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior."

(Going into the draft, some media members had Laremy Tunsil as the top player available. He was in the Ravens' top 15. He was eventually selected at the 13th spot by the Dolphins.)  

After the Rams and Eagles opened the draft by taking quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively, DeCosta predicted the next selection.

"San Diego is taking [Joey] Bosa. Bosa was on the phone for two hours on Tuesday night with [Chargers Owner] Dean Spanos," DeCosta told the room.

"How good is that information?" John Harbaugh asked.

"Guy who told me has not been wrong through the years," DeCosta replied.

Dallas was up next. "They're listening to offers," Newsome offered. Oz and the Cowboys had talked prior to the draft. Newsome called the Cowboys. "Still interested in moving?" When Oz received an affirmative, he made an offer. Dallas wanted more. Oz said, "No, we won't go there."

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was then picked by Jerry Jones.

Jacksonville was next. "They're taking Jalen Ramsey," DeCosta said. (Ramsey and Elliott were near the top of our list.)

We were on the clock, and we used our time. A number of teams had talked with Newsome and DeCosta prior to the draft about moving up to our spot. "We have our guy (Stanley); let's see if we get an offer that makes us blink," Newsome said.

"Six minutes," Player Personnel Assistant Joey Cleary announced to the room. (Cleary was tethered to a phone line connected to our reps at NFL Draft Headquarters in Chicago.)

"Five minutes." No phone calls. "Four thirty."

Ozzie Calls Ronnie Stanley


"I'm calling Ronnie," Newsome said, and when he had him on the phone, he nodded to Cleary to have our reps turn the name in to the NFL in Chicago.

"Did I make the right decision?" Newsome said to the newest Raven. I could tell by Oz's smile that Stanley gave the right answer.

Coach Harbaugh did not hide his enthusiasm for the pick when he talked next with our No. 1 choice: "We're excited. Are you excited? Are you in shape? Are you ready to go? Get ready to be tough and rough and mean and nasty and disciplined. That's the Ravens, right?"

Juan Castillo, our highly-respected offensive line coach, then talked with Stanley: "Hey, you said we were going to talk again, right? It's awesome man. I bet your parents are excited. … That's great. I'm fired up, too. This is great. Now it's time to set new goals, but enjoy this moment. I'm so happy for you. I'm so excited."

Ozzie and the rest in the room then watched ESPN announce Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley as our choice – the sixth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Chris Berman proclaimed: "When the Ravens have an early pick, they hit it."

When Newsome later met with the media assembled at our facility last night, he told an interesting story: "Every year, about October, once the tapes start to come in, Eric [DeCosta] will give me players to watch. If I'm correct, I think the first tape that I had a chance to look at was the Notre Dame offense, and I kept noticing the left tackle [Ronnie Stanley]. I walked down to Eric's office, and I go, 'Is that left tackle a senior?' And he goes, 'Yeah, he's a pretty good player, isn't he?' I go, 'Yeah, at least we see it the same way.'" Newsome added: "We value our board, and he was the highest player on our board when we picked."

Fun and exciting night. Looking forward to meeting Mr. Stanley today, and we'll have him at M&T Bank Stadium tomorrow for our "Ravens Flock Festival." You can meet the first-round choice there, where he'll meet the guy he will protect, Joe Flacco.

Talk with you soon,


P.S. On Wednesday afternoon I stopped in Ozzie's office. "What are you reading?" I asked the Wizard, who had a stack of paper in front of him. "Tweets from the college players. Some of these guys aren't very smart. Part of our research." Here's some advice: Future employers can easily check your social media accounts. Be careful with your Tweets, Snaps, Instagram and Facebook posts, etc. Big boss is watching.

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