Did Bizarre Laremy Tunsil Video Affect Decision?
In what has to go down as the most bizarre event just 15 minutes before the start of the NFL Draft, someone apparently hacked into Laremy Tunsil's social media account and posted a video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong. It was later followed by screen shots of text messages from Tunsil asking his coach for money to help pay rent.
About an hour later, the Ravens used their sixth-overall pick on Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley rather than Tunsil, who many pundits believed was the best left tackle in the draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper had Tunsil as his No. 1 overall prospect.
Twitter then exploded with the same repeated question. Did Tunsil's controversial video affect the Ravens' decision?
No … and yes.
Let me put it this way: It's not like the Ravens had Tunsil ranked ahead of Stanley on the board, saw the video minutes before the draft, then suddenly flipped the two. General Manager Ozzie Newsome made it very clear last night that Stanley was already rated higher on the Ravens' board than Tunsil.
That said, he didn't deny that the video played a part in the decision, per se.
"That's always a part anytime you get information," Newsome said.
"But the thing that I'm so proud of – and Eric [DeCosta] talked about it earlier – our scouts get a lot of information. When things happen, a lot of the time we're not surprised. So, we took the best player, the player that was rated the highest on the board at that point. But I cannot neglect the importance of the work that our scouts do in the fall and in the spring getting information for us."
Translation: We already did our homework on Tunsil, so the behavior displayed on the video wasn't all that surprising and was already factored into our ranking before the tweet was posted.
One by one, Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Assistant GM Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz made it a point to praise Stanley for his play, character, maturity, intelligence, toughness and love of the game.
"The Ravens don't believe this was even a close call," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "According to a team source, Baltimore had Stanley ranked among its top four best players, and Tunsil was among the top 15 on its board."
That's potentially an 11-slot difference, folks.
There was one report from NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala that the Ravens removed Tunsil from their board after the video was published, but Hensley says that wasn't the case.
"A team source said Tunsil was never removed from Baltimore's draft board," he wrote.
As Hensley pointed out, it was an "easy" decision. Stanley showed maturity by choosing to return to Notre Dame for his senior year to improve his game. He performed well on psychological testing. And his biggest infraction? Parking tickets, says Hensley.
Meanwhile, Tunsil had been suspended for the first seven games of the 2015 season by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits. He is also being sued by his stepfather, who claims Tunsil attacked him and defamed his character.
Saying all this isn't meant to pound on Tunsil. Hopefully his NFL career starts off with a bang with the Miami Dolphins, who picked him with the 13th-overall pick. Rather, it's simply to show the Ravens already did their homework on the two elite left tackles and clearly liked one more than the other.
"It's difficult to blame the Ravens for taking Stanley over Tunsil," wrote Hensley. "Investing a top-10 pick in someone with baggage is risky, especially for a team that rarely is in such a position.
"[I]n the big picture, the careers of Stanley and Tunsil will be linked and compared. For now, the Ravens will rest on their track record."
Ravens Tried To Trade Up To Select Jalen Ramsey
Oh, Dallas Cowboys. You are crushing Ravens fans' hearts right now.
Baltimore tried to move up to the fourth-overall pick to select defensive back Jalen Ramsey, but Dallas wouldn't make the trade, according to multiple outlets, including the Dallas Morning News.
Why wouldn't Dallas do it? It seems they could have still gotten running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 6 and could've added an extra fourth-round pick along the way. Well, perhaps it could have opened the door for either the Jacksonville Jaguars to take Elliott at No. 5, or trade with someone else looking for him.
There's also this …
However, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec also says Ramsey was the Ravens' target.
Newsome confirmed last night that he was on the phone with another team talking about trading up, but didn't specifically say it was the Cowboys or that the target was Ramsey. He also said he had offers before the draft to trade down, but once he was on the clock, the phone stopped ringing.
Stanley is obviously a great (not just good) pick. But for Ravens fans that saw a bigger need in the secondary and fell in love with Ramsey, this is a heart-breaker. Ramsey was taken just one itsy bitsy spot ahead of Baltimore.
So close, yet so far away.
Is This The End For Eugene Monroe?
The Ravens did not declare the starting left tackle for the 2016 season last night.
When asked if Monroe would be the starter, Newsome said he was still under medical care. When asked if Stanley could be the starter, Harbaugh said he would have to earn it.
The only thing we know for sure is the Ravens want Stanley to anchor the offensive line long-term. When he can take that role over is up to him and his play.
As for Monroe …
"It's possibly the end of Eugene Monroe's tenure in Baltimore," wrote Zrebiec. "With Stanley on board, the Ravens are now in position to either trade or release Monroe."
While Monroe, 29, is entering the third year of a reported five-year, $37.5 million deal, he has struggled to stay healthy. He started and finished just three games last season and has missed 15 regular-season games over the last two years.
If the Ravens believe Stanley is capable of protecting Joe Flacco's blindside from Day 1, they could release or trade Monroe with a post-June 1 designation and reportedly create $6.5 million in salary-cap space. It would leave $2.2 million of dead money in 2016 and $4.4 million in 2017.
At the owners meetings in March, Owner Steve Bisciotti dubbed Monroe the starting left tackle for this season, but that was before the team drafted Stanley.
"Newsome was noncommittal about what Stanley's addition means for the future of Monroe," wrote Zrebiec. "Harbaugh didn't rule out having Stanley play left guard in 2015. That, however, seems unlikely."
Make No Mistake: Stanley Can PLAY And Will Anchor Line For Next Decade
That was a tweet from Stanley's Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly … and it's not hyperbole, folks. The Ravens want Flacco and Stanley to be Batman and Robin for the next decade.
And while we made a big deal in the first section about Stanley's high character, let's not forget the young man can PLAY.
Like Flacco, Stanley has a reputation for being durable, making 39-straight starts and playing in 41 college games. And you don't get a loooooong list of awards like this for nothing:
It wouldn't be fair to compare Stanley to Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden, but the inevitable has already begun. ESPN's John Gruden sees that potential.
And check out the film breakdown from NFL Network's Mike Mayock in the video below (toward the end).
Ravens Will Have Plenty Of Good Choices In Second Round
My colleague Ryan Mink is going to dive deeper into this later today, but the Ravens are going to have some pretty exciting options when they're on the clock early in the second round tonight.
Pundits believe they could target corners and pass rushers. Oh, and linebacker Myles Jack, who was frequently projected to the Ravens in the first round is still on the board. Just how far will he slide?