5 Things We Learned From Pre-Draft Presser
Ozzie Newsome doesn't give away many secrets this time of the year.
The Ravens general manager is known for keeping his cards close to the vest, and it's tough for the media to get much information out of him even during a 38-minute press conference.
Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz all met with the media Wednesday, but the team's decision-makers "didn't provide any revelations during the Ravens' annual pre-draft luncheon at the Under Armour Performance Center," wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.
But with the NFL Draft just 21 days away, their comments did give some indication about what the Ravens are thinking.
Here were the key insights the media gleaned from yesterday's press conference:
1. No Added Pressure To Draft Receiver
The Ravens have a hole at receiver with the departure of Torrey Smith and release of Jacoby Jones, but the team's brass reiterated that filling the need in the draft isn't necessarily a top priority.
Harbaugh and Owner Steve Bisciotti have already stressed that the Ravens have a talented young receiving corps even if they don't add a high draft pick to the mix, and that message was driven home again.
"With a young core of receivers already on the roster, there's no added pressure to enhance the talent at that position in the wake of Torrey Smith's departure for the San Francisco 49ers," wrote Jon Meoli of The Sun.
2. No Desperation For A Cornerback
Cornerback has been another popular projection for the Ravens in mock drafts, but the Ravens downplayed the need to add another high pick to the secondary. Just like the Ravens won't force a receiver early in the draft, Zrebiec believes the Ravens may hold off on a first-round corner.
"The Ravens seemingly have the same attitude at cornerback," Zrebiec wrote. "Despite the group's struggles last season, the Ravens don't feel desperate for another cover corner."
With Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb both returning healthy, the secondary will already be much improved from its injury-riddled 2014 campaign.
But Zrebiec did say* *the Ravens may change their tune if certain prospects are available when they get on the clock.
"They'd certainly have to consider prospects like Washington's Marcus Peters, Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson (River Hill) and LSU's Jalen Collins if they were available either in the first or second round," he wrote.
3. Ravens Doing Homework On Players With Character Concerns
The Ravens did surprise some people when DeCosta told reporters that some first-round prospects with off-the-field issues visited Baltimore during the pre-draft process.
Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Washington's Marcus Peters and Nebraska's Randy Gregory all came to the Under Armour Performance Center so the Ravens could get more information on them.
"Visiting with these players does not mean the Ravens will draft them," wrote Comcast SportsNet’s Clifton Brown. "In fact, I'd be very surprised if the Ravens drafted Green-Beckham, considering what they went through with Ray Rice.
"However, doing thorough background work is part of any team's draft preparation."
4. No Preference On Defense vs. Offense
The Ravens have gone defense in the first three rounds in each of the last two drafts.
But don't expect Newsome to flip to the offensive side simply to mix it up with this year's early picks.
"I don't go in with any preference as to what side of the ball [we choose]," Newsome said.
The Ravens emphasized that they'll stick with the best player available philosophy, but Zrebiec noted that the Ravens know they have work to do to replenish the offense after key offseason losses.
"Newsome and other team officials understand that the team's offense has taken several hits in the offseason after a season in which the Ravens set franchise records for points (409) and yards (5,838)," he wrote.
5. Ravens Won't Hesitate To Take Offensive Lineman
The offensive line was one of Baltimore's strengths last season, as the group paved the way for running back Justin Forsett to lead NFL running backs with 5.4 yards per carry.
All five starters will return in 2015, and the line is expected to be a foundation for the offense. The group even has talented young backups that proved they could step into the lineup if needed. But even with that depth, Newsome may address the position for future years if a highly-rated player falls in his lap.
Potential Options For Upcoming Roster Move
One of the more interesting hints during the press conference was when Newsome mentioned an upcoming roster move. He opened the press conference by saying he has "another deal I'm close to right now," and that almost went without notice until a reporter followed up on that topic later.
Newsome elaborated only by saying that the deal is with a player who was on the roster last year, but "up until it's done, I won't say anything."
So who is it?
"Jeromy Miles, Antoine Cason and Jah Reid are still out there," Zrebiec noted.
Miles, 27, saw action in 16 games last year including two starts. He finished the year with 28 tackles, a pass defensed, an interception and a forced fumble. He would give the Ravens some veteran depth in the secondary, and could compete for a starting job like he did last year. Miles is also a leading special teams player.
Reid, 26, was a third-round pick in 2011 who went into free agency after hardly playing last year. He saw action in just four games and hasn't started since early in the 2012 season.
Cason, 28, is a veteran cornerback who the Ravens added late last year to help offset the losses in the secondary. Cason spent most of last season in Carolina, where he started 11 games before being cut. He worked in a reserve role during his four games with the Ravens.
No reports have linked any of the players back to the Ravens, but Newsome's comments suggested official word may come soon.
Ngata Trade Hit Twitter Before Caldwell Knew
News moves fast in the NFL these days.
So fast, that sometimes head coaches don't even know information before it hits social media. That was the case when the Ravens traded defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions in exchange for draft picks.
The news broke on Twitter before Lions General Manager Martine Mayhew even had a chance to call Head Coach Jim Caldwell.
"We literally finalized the (Haloti Ngata) trade with Baltimore; Martin Mayhew and I are on the phone in my office," Lions President Tom Lewand told The Detroit News.
"We hadn't even told Jim yet, and we're on the phone to (vice chairman) Bill Ford Jr., letting him know that the trade was finalized. And it pops up on Twitter as we're telling the owner we had just finalized it. We hadn't even told the head coach yet."
TE Housler Visits Browns
A potential free-agent acquisition for Baltimore is checking out other options in the AFC North.
Former Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler reportedly met with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. He also previously met with the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.
The Ravens have shown interest in Housler and even offered him a contract, Wilson reported, but his free-agency tour has continued without a deal at this point.
Housler, 27, spent the first four years of his career in Arizona, where he made 105 catches for 1,133 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target could help fill the void that Owen Daniels left in Baltimore as a pass-catching tight end.
"Given Housler's size and athleticism, the pass-catcher could turn into gold in the right scheme," wrote NFL.com's Kevin Patra.