First-Round Draft Pick Michael Oher Press Conference Transcript



General manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome’s opening statement:

"This is the first opportunity that we get to welcome Michael to Baltimore, officially. I talked to his agent last night, and I understand they had a real nice dinner. Jimmy [Sexton] reminded the family, as he told me out at the Owner's Meeting, the only reason he allowed Michael to come to visit us this spring was because of our relationship. And, thank God he did, because then he ended up being our pick. I've heard from a lot of people, especially in the Southeastern Conference, that have a lot of respect for Michael. Not only have they been talking about Michael the player, but they've been talking about Michael the person. As we talked about yesterday, not only are we getting a real good football player, but I think the city of Baltimore is getting a real good person. I think over the course of his career, we're going to be able to enjoy both of them."

Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta’s opening statement:

"I just think we got a great player. When Michael came to visit us I had the chance to spend some time with him. I've been doing this now for five or six years, and I just got a sense that this kid really was going to be a great fit here from Day One. From the first moment he came in, I saw the passion and the toughness and determination – all those qualities that we look for in our players. [The qualities] that coach [John] Harbaugh has been able to instill in our players, Michael has. And, at that point I felt like he'd be a great pick for us. Ozzie and I talked about it over and over the last couple of weeks. We just didn't think there was any way that he was going to be there for us, as I said yesterday, and it's just a great feeling. We've improved quite a bit, and I'm excited to see us out on the field next week."

Head coach John Harbaugh’s opening statement:

"From a football perspective, obviously, we talked about this yesterday, but you start building a football team upfront. And, it starts with the offensive line and the defensive line. We'd be dishonest if we didn't say that we were surprised that [Oher] was there [for us to pick]. I know I was. When you look down a sheet of paper and all of the sudden we saw Michael Oher's name there, that was pretty exciting. I just have to credit Ozzie and Eric for figuring out a way to go up and get it done because there were plenty of people that were going to try to jump up there and get this young man. He's a tremendous person. He's a competitive, tough, hardnosed football player. Everybody here knows that that's what we look for here and that's how we're building our football team. We have a chance to have a tremendous offensive line. It gives us flexibility, it gives us depth and it gives us some competition. So, we're ready to go to work, right?"

Ravens first-round draft pick Michael Oher’s opening statement:

"I just want to thank the coaches and Ozzie for giving me an opportunity to play in the National Football League. It's always been a dream of mine. I'm a competitive player. I'll be the player they want me to be. I can do a lot of things. I'm passionate about the game, and I'm really ready to get started and start playing."

Do you feel that the veteran players on the team will be able to learn anything from your personal story?

*(OHER) *"From my story? I don't know, because a lot of people have a lot of stories. I'm just coming in. I'm trying to learn myself and I'm going to give it my all and just do everything I possibly can to beat Pittsburgh."

Is there a particular offensive tackle that you have tried to emulate?

*(OHER) *"I used to watch Walter Jones a lot and Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden, too. I always tried to do what those guys did. It seemed like they were getting it done pretty good, so I tried to do the same."

Where did you really think Oher would be chosen and why do you think he was still available for the Ravens to pick at 23?

*(DECOSTA) *"I just think that every team has different things they're looking for. I think [there are] a lot of good players in this draft. Particularly, the crop of players between 10 and 25, they're very similar probably across the board. We thought, quite honestly, Michael would be picked in the top 15 or 10 players. From an ability standpoint, from a talent standpoint, we felt like he was one of the elite players in the draft at his position. And, we were just very fortunate to get him where we did."

Is your goal to be a starter with the Ravens right away?

*(OHER) *"Of course it's my goal, but I've got to come in and compete and earn the trust of my coaches and my teammates as well. I've got every tool I need to start and compete right away. If I get the opportunity to start, I'm going to take care of my business."

What was today like for you considering your personal story and how far you have come to play in the NFL?

*(OHER) *"It's been a long road for me. I've come a long way from where I grew up. [I grew up] in a rough neighborhood, and I had a rough upbringing. For me to be a part [of the NFL is what matters]. I don't care [that] people say I [should have been picked] here and there. But as long as I got drafted [I was happy], and I'm going to spend a long time in the NFL."

Do you think there were any particular questions teams had about you that caused you to drop in the draft selection?

*(OHER) *"I don't think I dropped. I'm where I'm supposed to be."

Is picking players that can help the Ravens beat the Steelers in the back of your mind when you make your selections?

*(NEWSOME) *"The reason that [the Steelers] are the team we have to shoot at [is that] they have the Lombardi Trophy right now, and that's our goal – to get another one of those trophies in this building. And in that [the Steelers] have it, that's what we have to shoot for."

Do you see Oher playing on the right or left side of the offensive line?

*(HARBAUGH) *"The good thing about Michael Oher is that he can play on both sides. Obviously, we're very excited about Jared Gaither and his development at left tackle. We like Willie Anderson at right tackle. But, Michael comes in and competes at right tackle and learns from Willie and develops. Eventually, you've got a right tackle who can play left tackle, which is really unusual in this league. So that's what we're talking about in terms of building some flexibility into our offensive line."

Will it be a big help for you to learn the game from Pro Bowlers Willie Anderson and Matt Birk?

*(OHER) *"Of course. They're proven players. They've been in the league a long time, and they've been through it. So, whatever I can do to learn from those guys, I'm going to be watching them closely and doing the exact thing they're doing."

How much has your family meant to you in terms of how far you have come in reaching your goal to play in the NFL?

*(OHER) *"They've meant a lot to me. I don't think I'd be here without them. They showed me a lot of things. They taught me a lot. I owe them everything."

Would you like to introduce your family?

*(OHER) *"My dad, Sean Tuohy in the first seat, my mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy. My brother Sean, and Collins, my little sis."

Does the addition of Oher help abate some of the Steelers' strengths on the outside?

*(NEWSOME) *"It's a start. Having three tackles, four tackles when you're counting Adam Terry, and some of the things that Cam does with the unbalanced (line) and putting the extra offensive lineman in the game [all helps]. Cam has a lot of ways to neutralize our opponents. But, to be able to walk out there and have two guys that can seal down the edges, like we have the capabilities of doing now, [is very helpful]. And the reason I feel so good about it is that I can look long term of where Jared's going to be two or three years from now [and] where Michael's going to be two or three years from now. We've got some guys that have the opportunity to do a lot to protect Joe [Flacco]. So, our ability to protect against [LaMarr] Woodley and protect against [James] Harrison and [Lawrence] Timmons [is improved]. They bring them from all places – you know – and we feel very good about that."

Can you talk about the level of competition you faced at the SEC level?

*(OHER) "*To me, it's definitely the best conference in college football. They have great players coming out of the SEC every year, and I'm going to be playing against a lot of those guys on Sundays. But, the NFL is a big jump, and I know I'm going to have to work extremely hard to get on these guys' level."

What do you know about the Ravens?

*(OHER) *"The Ravens win a lot of games. They always have great defense. And, they have a great tradition here. They won the Super Bowl, and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

What does it mean for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to have a player like Michael Oher when they plan their offensive schemes and pass protections?

*(HARBAUGH) *"We think we were a pretty good pass protection team last year. Cam, he's the mad scientist back there, right? He's rubbing his hands together right now working up formulas. So, Michael could be a tight end, he could be a running back, wide receiver. Greg's [Mattison] has some ideas for you on defense, too. That's how we like to do it. No, you're right, anytime you have a chance to extend your front through two long tackles on either side, that's a valuable thing."

Do the Pittsburgh Steelers now take the place of Alabama as arch rivals for you?

*(OHER) *"I guess so. You've got to get past those guys here."

Was Oher one of the first to visit the Ravens?

(DECOSTA) "I think he was in the middle. We brought in, I think, 26 guys this year. That has really no significance, in terms of when we bring them in. That's just a scheduling thing between the agents and us. He was in the middle, I think."

After your meeting here, what was your impression of the team? Did you get a sense that if they had the chance they were going to take you?

(OHER) "I knew I had a great visit with the coaches, and I knew if I was there they might take me. Here I am, so I guess everything worked out for the best."

How much difference does it make coming into a team that's contending for the Super Bowl compared to where you might have come in with a team that's rebuilding?

(OHER) "It's big, because I know that I'm going to have to come in and work. Work, work, work, because they're trying to get to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be able to help them do it."

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