Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz couldn't sit. He paced our draft room, rotating magic markers in his hands.
Ozzie Newsome was, well, tense.
(I've known Ozzie since 1981 when he was a Pro Bowl tight end on his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career. I can't say I've ever seen him nervous. Was he nervous last night when he waited to make our pick at the 26th spot in the first round? Maybe. If nothing else, he was tense – but focused.)
Ozzie was hoping for manna from heaven.
So many times in Ravens history, we have been fortunate to have a player we loved drop to us in the first round. It goes all the way back to our first-ever pick, Jonathan Ogden. In 1996, Jon was the highest-rated player on our board, and we selected him at the fourth spot in that draft. Great Ravens like Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs and Chris McAlister all fell to us when we had them rated much higher on our boards. Recently, Jimmy Smith floated down to us.
We wanted that last night. For a time, it didn't appear it would happen.
"By the time it got to Kansas City at the 18th spot, we had three players left that we had targeted, hoping one would drop to us at 26," Newsome said.
"The odds weren't in our favor. We were eight picks from our spot with only three players left on our 'wish list' for 26."
At the 18th slot, Kansas City took one of the three, cornerback Marcus Peters from Washington.
Seven picks left, and we had only two players we had deemed worthy of selecting at 26.
Newsome and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta fielded calls from teams wanting to move up to our 26th slot. Oz also got on the phone to call teams above us, asking if they would be willing to trade down "if our player is there at your spot."
Ozzie was getting a lot of: "If our player is there, we're staying. If not, what's your offer?"
One team called Ozzie back and wanted a firm offer. We gave our best bid.
Pittsburgh, at No. 22, grabbed Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree.
Newsome cringed. The room groaned a little. Dupree was a guy we were willing to take at 26. Only one player, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, of our original "wish list" remained. And there were three more teams picking ahead of us. Oz called the team that we had given a firm offer. They claimed they had a better deal on the table.
There were four teams calling about our 26th slot. There was much conversation in the draft room about which offer was the best, and there were suggestions about calling these teams back and asking for more in return.
Ozzie sat silently during all of this, staring down at the Ravens' draft list.
"I was thinking about all the hard work done by everyone to make a list we believed in. It seemed likely that we would have to trade out, but we still had to let things play out," Newsome said.
"Hey, if Perriman is there, we're taking him. He's still there," Oz said loud enough to be heard over those talking about trading our 26th spot. "I try to stay focused on the biggest picture. We had good offers for our spot, but one of our highest-ranked players was still there."
(Our draft list had Perriman ranked in the low teens on our board.)
At 23, Detroit traded the spot to Denver, and the Broncos selected pass rusher Shane Ray from Missouri.
We had to sweat out two more teams. Arizona was on the clock. "They're taking an offensive lineman," proclaimed DeCosta, who is uncanny at predicting what teams will do in the draft. The Cardinals did, grabbing tackle D.J. Humphries from Florida.
Carolina was on the clock. Even though the Panthers selected a wide receiver in the first round a year ago – Kelvin Benjamin – speculation was that they could take a receiver again. They had most of the top receivers come to Charlotte in the last month for pre-draft visits.
National Scout Joe Douglas, who was on a headset to the NFL Draft headquarters in Chicago, looked over at Ozzie and said: "Carolina is writing down a name. Their pick is in – it's Shaq Thompson."
"We got him," Hortiz beamed.
Ozzie was already dialing the phone. "Breshad, do you know who this is? … It's Ozzie Newsome."
Can't say I've ever seen such a smile of relief from our Wizard of Oz during his phone call with the newest Raven.
Perriman's agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who was in Baltimore a few weeks ago to complete the contract extension for Jimmy Smith.
When Drew was leaving Oz's office after the Smith signing, Newsome said to him: "We might be talking soon – we like your guy Perriman."
When Newsome and Coach Harbaugh went downstairs last night to announce the selection of Perriman to the media in our building, they ran into Justin Forsett, who had just finished a live satellite interview with CNN about our visit to the heart of Baltimore yesterday morning.
"Justin," Ozzie said, "we just got a guy out of the box for you with this receiver we drafted." Forsett smiled: "Good for us. Good for me." (Newsome's reference was that teams can't have an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to stop the run if you have receivers like Perriman who scare teams with the threat of getting beat deep.)
Manna from heaven. Good for the Ravens.
Talk with you soon,