Ravens players and coaches aren't the only ones getting better during training camp.
Behind the scenes, General Manager Eric DeCosta is also sharpening his scouting department's skills, and he's been doing so for several years.
In 2019, the Ravens launched an offseason speaker series in which DeCosta brings in highly successful professionals from all walks of life to speak with his staff before scouts hit the road for fall scouting.
Last week, CNBC finance TV personality Jim Cramer and recently retired WBAL-TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller spoke to the entire scouting department. Miller did so from the Ravens' draft room.
"We started the series because it was clear to me that there are many intelligent and curious people from all different backgrounds who can impact our scouting team with their knowledge and life experiences," DeCosta said. "In any business, you can get so caught up doing the same things the same way all the time and that can hinder growth. That's what our series is intended to address."
The Ravens had two other guest speakers earlier this offseason, Alex Garwood (Director of the Pat Tillman Foundation) and Chris Soto (Director of Colby Personality Lab). Here are the other guests in previous years:
Sal Paolantonio, ESPN sports reporter
Jonathan Lenzer, Chief of Staff of FBI
Dr. Kiki Leutner, London-based psychologist
Kate Murphy, Journalist and author
2020: (limited because of covid)
Ryan Holiday, Author
Brandon Scott, Mayor of Baltimore
Shayne Buchwald and Maurice "Mo" Tolliver, FBI agents
Mallory Rubin, Editor and podcaster
John Linehan, T. Rowe Price Portfolio Manager
Joseph and Michele Rigby Assad, former undercover officers in CIA
Craig Rothenberg, strategic communications executive
"It's really cool to see them talk about their jobs and how they're using principles and techniques, whether it be to find potential employees, try to get information, build sources," Director of College Scouting David Blackburn said.
"It's a lot of things that tie into what we do as scouts. I also just think it's cool to hear people's stories, how they speak passionately about what they do. I don't know what it's like with other teams, but it's one of the benefits of this place. It's not just about football. It's about professional development, personal development."
Miller began her talk by talking about her experience in Baltimore dated back to the Colts' departure in 1984. She largely spoke about some of the issues facing the city, including its toxic perception and how racial division has contributed to the problems.
As an investigative reporter, she answered questions about interview techniques, source handling, credibility, and more. For example, what agenda might a source have?
Cramer took an hour to speak about the leadership he sees from CEOs he's constantly talking to – their passion, relentlessness, resourcefulness and more. Cramer, and the successful CEOs he speaks to, will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, while also not hiding from their failures along the way.
Cramer emphasizes outworking everyone, relaying that he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. every morning, works out, prepares for the day and shows up to every show with passion.
"A lot of these people have the same commonalities. There's no question as to why they were successful," Blackburn said. "The past two with Cramer and Jayne – passion, drive, relentlessness, work ethic, attention to detail, integrity. Those types of drivers. You can feel it when they talk. They're kind of older in the game but you still feel like they have so much more to accomplish and there's a lot of drive in them to still push in this late stage of their careers."