Eric DeCosta Has Ravens Set Up to Be One of the 'Most Successful, Consistent' Teams Over Next Three Years
Eric DeCosta is universally regarded as one of the best general managers in the NFL. In the opinion of two of The Ringer's analysts, DeCosta is in the top two.
Steven Ruiz placed DeCosta at No. 1 in his 2022 GM rankings, while Ben Solak had DeCosta at No. 2.
Ruiz noted that before DeCosta took over as GM in 2019 when Ozzie Newsome moved into the executive vice president position, he played a key role in the front office for years as Director of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager.
"From 2011 on, 2010 on, I think Eric DeCosta has his fingerprints all over that roster, and the Ravens are good every year," Ruiz said on "The Ringer NFL Show" podcast. "Last year they were the most injured team ever and still probably should've made the playoffs."
Solak, who ranked DeCosta behind only the Buffalo Bills' Brandon Beane, said: "Both Beane and DeCosta did an unbelievable job building around precisely who their quarterback was. Both have done a tremendous job maximizing their [QB's] strengths and masking the weaknesses. Both have done an excellent job fulfilling the needs of their defensive coordinator with body types and certain roles. The Ravens, especially, I've been impressed by their willingness to move on from certain players [such as] Matt Judon in order to let a younger guy step in and keep the cap healthy. Right now I'd say the Ravens have a healthier cap than the Bills and that's to their advantage as they and the Bills look down the barrel of these huge second-contract quarterbacks."
Solak also praised DeCosta for getting great value in trading for Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters as well as setting the Ravens up for success over the next several years.
"All the stuff that other GMs can hang their hats on, it feels like DeCosta can hang his hat on every single one of them," Solak said. "Would it be nice if we hang a championship game appearance for Lamar Jackson to really put our chest into it? Sure. I think we're going to get there. I feel comfortable and confident putting DeCosta into this spot and saying over the next three years the Ravens are going to be one of the most successful, consistent, 'don't even have to worry about it, we will be a good football team,' and it's because of how well they built the roster. "
Surprisingly, The Ringer's Kevin Clark did not have DeCosta in his top 10.
"If I'm going by my parameters, which is the last two years plus the year going forward and maybe a dash of 2024, DeCosta is a good GM, not a great GM," Clark said.
Still, Clark said DeCosta would be at the top of his list of GMs he would hire tomorrow if he was an owner.
"The job that Eric DeCosta and Ozzie Newsome did building around Lamar Jackson is one of the best team-building jobs I've ever seen in modern football, since the merger," Clark said. "They changed everything and they produced an MVP and a team that's going to be successful moving forward."
Kyle Hamilton on What It Means to Be a Raven: 'Winning the Super Bowl Is the Only Thing That Matters Here'
First-round safety Kyle Hamilton talked about his NFL experience thus far on the "Inside the Garage" podcast, which he hosts with former Notre Dame teammates Cam Hart, KJ Wallace, and Conor Ratigan. Here are some of the highlights:
On being a Raven and expectations: "Just from being in meetings and hearing Coach Harbaugh talk, the vets talk, and I'm sure it's not the same in every NFL locker room just in terms of expectations and stuff like that, but you see Super Bowl championships on the wall every day. … You see guys who have been there and who've done it, and they preach every single day that we're striving towards the Super Bowl, that's the only thing that matters here. Win the division, win the conference and win the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, you can't even try to complain that it's tough because we understand that getting to that point in the NFL takes a lot. You obviously have to give a lot to get a lot."
On the transition from college to the NFL: "I was talking to Daelin Hayes and I thought I didn't have a good day at practice. I was like, 'Damn, I should've practiced better.' Daelin was like, 'Everybody at this level is good. You're going to get done up in practice a few times. You're not going to be perfect in practice every day. Dudes in the league get beat on a weekly basis. You have to understand where you're at and try to fix the mistakes that you made.' Lamar shows up and hasn't missed a beat. You see in person, up close, a top five quarterback in the NFL, he can really spin it —arm angles, and then obviously when he gets out of the pocket, it's over with. You see how precise you have to be on defense."
On playing in Baltimore: "In terms of the city and the people in it, you can tell people go to work every day. It's a grind city but it's still really nice and the city loves the team, so that's a plus, too. … Kyle is Kyle. I don't feel like I'm a big deal at all. Then I go through the airport and I have to plan to get to the airport like 30 minutes earlier now because I'm getting stopped every three minutes for pictures and stuff like that. I check into my hotel and every time I walk into the building the guy at the front desk is like, 'How was practice? How's Lamar looking?' "
Isaiah Likely Makes Strong Impression on Local Pundits
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely is getting rave reviews for his performance in minicamp. Here's a sample of what some local pundits are saying about the fourth-round pick:
Ebony Bird's Justin Fried: "There was no bigger standout for the Ravens this spring than Isaiah Likely. Perhaps his impressive minicamp was slightly overshadowed by the Lamar Jackson headlines, but make no mistake about it, Likely showed up to play. Likely was perhaps the most productive receiver of the week hauling in numerous passes, including multiple one-handed grabs on Thursday that earned some praise from his quarterback. The former Coastal Carolina star is competing for snaps in a deep and revamped tight end this summer, although his athleticism and receiving pedigree makes him more versatile than your typical tight end."
Baltimore Positive's Luke Jones: "Taking nothing away from fellow fourth-round rookie tight end Charlie Kolar, who had his own moments this spring, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Likely made more standout plays, including a couple one-handed grabs during minicamp. That upside becomes even more interesting with his reputation of being more of a 'tweener' and the lack of depth at wide receiver."
Baltimore Beatdown's Joshua Reed: "One player that ended the last portion of the team's offseason program with a bang was rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. The fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina made one impressive catch after another, including some one-handed snags or catches just before the ball hit the ground. He received high praise from his coaches, as well as several of the team's veteran players."
Russell Street Report's Ronald Toothe: "Likely is one of the more smooth receiving options on this team, which is a rare find in a body frame as massive as his. His physical traits and athletic prowess are such a rare combination that some are already asking if he'll be switched to wide receiver at any point this season. That idea is probably doubtful, but what's much more likely (sorry, had to do it once) is that two tight end sets featuring him and Mark Andrews will cause matchup nightmares for opposing secondaries. There isn't a group of linebackers in football who can cover those two on a consistent basis. Additionally, if the only option for defenses is to start pulling down safeties into the middle of the field to compensate, there are going to be a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities being created for those young receivers on the outside. Likely is going to be a major contributor for the Ravens in 2022 and beyond."