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*Now that the full contingent of Ravens coaches and scouts are back at team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., the 2010 Scouting Combine can officially be put to rest.
But before we get too far away from the Combine, BaltimoreRavens.com caught up with head coach John Harbaugh to ask him about the upcoming class of prospects. Here is what we learned…
It's a good year to draft a high-character player.
Coach Harbaugh: "There was a very, very high percentage of first-class guys. They were highly motivated and had their heads screwed on straight. It was probably the highest percentage of really sharp guys that I've seen in my 13 years going to the Combine."* *
Not having to scour the prospects for a franchise quarterback is a positive.
Coach Harbaugh: "We haven't had to do that as much the last two years. When we went through the process with Joe Flacco, we spent a lot of time watching the quarterbacks. Maybe I didn't focus on them a lot this year, especially since certain guys didn't throw. But we were watching [Tim] Tebow and some of the other guys, how they carried themselves. The one thing you have to think about is that the Combine is segmented. When it's quarterbacks and receivers, you're involved 100 percent. They're both out there. But then when it's time for linebackers, there aren't any quarterbacks on the field. One area where that could have helped is in the interviews. We didn't have to interview any quarterbacks, which gave us a chance to talk to a few more guys at another position."
Players are coached up in their interviews, meaning that the Ravens must get right to the point at times.
Coach Harbaugh: "You're not going to get to the core of a player in 15 minutes. To me, it's a meet and greet. You see a guy, shake his hand and get to know him a little bit. You can build a first impression. In all cases, our scouts have done a thorough background check on him, so we know what questions to ask and we can get right to the heart of it. The interviews let us determine if we know a guy well enough, or in most cases, whether you need to know a guy more. Then, we'll bring him back if we need to or see them on campus.
"The interviews are very well organized, though. For certain guys, you have to get right to character issues, other guys you can get into football more. You have to touch on their background, ask questions to determine what type of professional and teammate they're going to be, and then you get into football. Those are the three elements you try to pound them with. I would say it's a pretty intense 15 minutes."
USC safety Taylor Mays may have been downgraded in the 40-yard dash from 4.24 seconds to 4.43, but that will still get the job done.
Coach Harbaugh: "My first reaction was, 'Wow. That's really fast.' My second reaction was, 'That's still fast enough.' With the 40, I think most people put it into perspective. Everybody – to varying extent – puts a different value on the physical measurables and actual game speed. To me, it's a minor difference. Without game tape, the guy's not a football player, and the measurables move him one way or the other."
Even though some of the NFL Network talking heads said coaches don't like the WR gauntlet drill, coach Harbaugh believes it is a good gauge of a wideout's skills.Coach Harbaugh: "I love it. It's my favorite drill because it shows you two important things you want to see in a receiver – hands and body control. We can tell if a guy caught it or not. They've got to drop the ball quickly anyway, because there's another one coming rapid-fire. It evaluates those things very clearly."
The Ravens' "process," as helmed by general manager Ozzie Newsome and director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, is alive and well.
Coach Harbaugh:"I think Ozzie and Eric do a great job in the way they structure everything. Obviously, the Combine is a big part of that, the draft is a big part of that. They're very thorough, and that helps us. Ozzie is very methodical. He follows that proven procedure he believes in. Eric and all the guys that come up under Ozzie have trained that way, even though they've added their own fingerprints to it. It's a thorough process that has been successful."
Can you tab one player that really stood out to you over those 13 Combines?
Coach Harbaugh: "One player that I remember standing out was Sebastian Janikowski," coach Harbaugh added with a laugh. "He was pounding field goals out there. It was in a dome, so he didn't have the elements. And at the time, he was probably the biggest kicker in the history of football, so that was a different animal than we've ever seen before." * *