Their roles have changed, but their relationship remains unique. Eric DeCosta can count on Ozzie Newsome anytime, especially during the next few weeks with the Ravens preparing for the draft.
This will be DeCosta's first draft as general manager, but Newsome remains a trusted resource, still in the building, still watching tape and involved with decision-making. DeCosta loves it that way. The draft process has always been a collaborate effort and DeCosta wants Newsome's input, even though he has stepped aside as general manager.
Newsome has still yet to be assigned an official title, but he's remaining active – especially this time of year.
"He's watching a ton of tape," DeCosta said. "He's probably watched more tape this year than he has the last couple of years. He's not working on as many of the administrative things. I think he's really enjoying it. He had a great time at the Combine. He's really been a valuable resource for me in terms of just discussing players, what do you see. I think he's just having fun with it."
It's fun, but it's serious business. This draft will have a direct impact on how well the Ravens perform both next season and beyond. Getting the most out of every pick is vitally important, but this is nothing new for DeCosta. In his previous role as assistant general manager under Newsome, DeCosta has run the pre-draft meetings for more than a decade. He thoroughly enjoys the high stakes involved, including the deception and gamesmanship that goes on.
"I love it," DeCosta said. "That's one of the fun things about the draft throughout the course of history – the strategic aspect. I love that. As a kid, I loved to play Risk, I loved to play Monopoly – all those games. To me, this is a game, but it's not a game we can afford to lose."
Since assuming the role of general manager, DeCosta said he has not felt any differently preparing for the draft. But there is no denying that responsibilities have changed. When the draft actually begins, Newsome will be still be in the war room, but DeCosta will be in the driver's seat.
Harbaugh believes the change will be seamless.
"I don't think it's going to be too much different, because as we said, we've all been doing it for so long together," Harbaugh said. "Nothing has really been different from before. Ozzie is watching tape. We still talk about players. In the end, though, it will be Eric's call and that's good. I think Eric has had a huge impact on the draft up until now. He's been a big part of it. Ozzie's and his relationship is very unique, very special."
Asked if Newsome would be in the war room for every pick, DeCosta smiled and said, "That's a good question. I don't know if he'll be in there every single pick. Maybe not in the seventh round, because he likes to go work out."