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NFL Draft: First-Round Presser Transcripts

Ozzie Newsome Opening Statement:
"Thanks for coming out. Every year, about October, once the tapes start to come in, Eric [DeCosta] will give me players to watch. If I'm correct, I think the first tape that I had a chance to look at was the Notre Dame offense, and I kept noticing the left tackle [Ronnie Stanley]. I walked down to Eric's office, and I go, 'Is that left tackle a senior?' And he goes, 'Yeah, he's a pretty good player, isn't he?' I go, 'Yeah, at least we see it the same way.' That started my process, but the process with the scouts and their evaluation that came out with conference calls, with the meetings we had in December [and] then the meetings that we had in February, this was a guy that has been right at the top of our board. The opportunity to improve the offensive line, someone that … With Joe [Flacco], we just invested a lot into Joe for the next six years. We feel like Ronnie comes in with an opportunity to compete, but at some point will be a starter and a starter for a long time with the Baltimore Ravens."

Eric DeCosta Opening Statement:
"I just want to thank the scouts and coaches. We put a lot of work in on Ronnie. We spent a lot of time with him, worked him out [and] interviewed him at length several different times. [We] saw him play in the fall live; we saw him in practice. He's a guy that's always been very, very, very high on our list. I go back to an interview I heard a couple years ago: Tony LaRussa [longtime Major League Baseball manager] was on the radio, and he said, "When your best players are also your best guys, you really have something." I think in my time with Ronnie, [I learned] he's very smart, he's a great kid, and he's an excellent athlete who is going to be a great player for us. We know left tackles. We've been around some Hall of Fame left tackles [like Jonathan Ogden], and we think Ronnie has a chance to come in here and compete early on, and he'll make us a better offensive line and a better team."

John Harbaugh Opening Statement:
"Just to echo, we're excited about it. Ozzie talked about the start of the process. Maybe it's fitting to mention something about the end of the process. After we watched all the tape, we started making some phone calls, and one of my very best friends in coaching is Harry Hiestand, the offensive line coach at Notre Dame. I talked to Harry a long time one night, all about Ronnie Stanley, and he couldn't speak highly enough to his character, to his intelligence, to his toughness, to how much he loves and what kind of football player he's going to be. So, you have people you trust in the profession, and that goes a long way. This is a really, really fine young man and a really good player."

Joe Hortiz Opening Statement:
"Not a whole lot to add. [Stanley is] just a guy that we followed and our scouts have followed throughout  his career as a freshman and have watched him grow and get better every year, every game throughout the year. And if you watch him this year, you just see him progress even more throughout the season. [He] was in some battles with some great players this year and certainly held his own, if not coming away the victor in every game. [We're] really excited to get him here."

With the well-known citing of all the defensive depth in this draft, did you feel it was more important to go offense now and wait for a defender? (Joe Platania)
(NEWSOME) "Well, no, we valued the board. When we got to that pick, we got the highest-rated guy that was there, and it just so happened that it could potentially fill a need for us."

Ozzie, did you rate Ronnie Stanley above Laremy Tunsil, obviously then? (David Ginsburg):
(NEWSOME) "Yes."

So, the so-called Twitter thing [with Tunsil's video] had nothing to do with this? (David Ginsburg)
(NEWSOME) "That's always a part anytime you get information, 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."

Ozzie, were there any trade-back offers on the table when you made the selection? (Ryan Mink)
(NEWSOME) "It was before the draft started. Then, once the draft started and once we were at our pick, no, the phone did not ring."

Ozzie, was there any thought about moving up in this? (Jamison Hensley)
(NEWSOME) "We had some conversation in the room, and I would say we talked to a team."

Ozzie, I know he's still on the roster, does Eugene Monroe remain in your plans for 2016? (Luke Jones)
(NEWSOME) "Right now, Eugene is still under medical care; he's still working with the trainers on a daily basis. Up until he becomes a healthy football player … He's like [Terrell] Suggs and Steve Smith [Sr.] and Joe [Flacco] and those guys; they're under medical care right now."

John, how do you see left tackle panning out? (Jamison Hensley)
(HARBAUGH) "I think it'll pan out the way it pans out. Good coaches, we love competition. So, I say we throw them all in there and let them compete, and may the best man win, and we'll see who that is."

Joe, a lot has been made of offensive tackles making the transition from college to pro. What did the scouts see from Stanley that makes you confident that he can make a quicker transition than other Top 10 tackles we've seen in the last six or seven years? (Luke Jones)
(HORTIZ) "Most certainly, they play a lot of pro-style techniques there, and John mentioned his coach [Harry Hiestand], who has coached a lot of pro offensive linemen that have succeeded and done very well. When you watch his maturation throughout his career and his ability to adapt to the different things they do, you just feel confident in his ability to be able to pick things up. They run a multiple offense, they do a lot of different things, and they change it up in the middle of the games and series of what they're doing. [Stanley] really adjusts well. I think from intelligence, maturity and the way he's grown, he gives you confidence going forward."

Eric, were you surprised how the three, four and five picks played out? There were a lot of questions about the Chargers and what they would do, but did you guys have a good handle of what was going on in front of you? (Jeff Zrebiec)
(DeCOSTA) "I think so. We go through every scenario. I have been, for the last couple of weeks, scribbling notes probably driving John and Ozzie crazy running down to their offices with different things. It's like a Rubik's Cube, there's about 10 quintillion different combinations that you're looking at. You just go through them all, and we knew that there was certainly a chance that it would play out that way. I think the biggest thing for all of us is we went to bed last night very confident and comfortable that we were going to get an outstanding football player, because we basically knew the two quarterbacks were going to go, and we had four outstanding players behind them that we knew would be great players – not just good players, [but] great choices for us. So, that's a good feeling."

John, when [Jonathan] Ogden came in, he was actually used as guard because the Ravens had a good tackle. Is there a chance you would consider using Stanley along those lines if he couldn't start at left tackle right away? (David Ginsburg)
(HARBAUGH) "Sure. There's a good chance we could do it that way or another way. It's kind of too early to say. We're always going to want to try to put the best five linemen on the field. He has a chance, there's no question about it. Where he's picked, he has a chance to be in that starting lineup. We're going to coach him; Juan [Castillo] is going to coach him. He's smart; he's been in a program where he's been coached at an NFL level. The offense and those kinds of things that Joe [Hortiz] was talking about, those are really good points. We're going to have high expectations for him, [but] it's going to be up to him to get the job done. He has to win the job just like anybody else would have to, and those guys that are here right now, they're not going to give those jobs up too easily. So, to me, that's what makes everybody better. They'll work together as a unit, they'll help each other out, they'll accept him in, [and] they'll coach him up. That's what football players do, but it'll be highly competitive, it'll be fun, and we have high expectations for him."

Eric, did you have Stanley as the best run-blocking left tackle in this draft? A lot of people raved about the pass blocking of [Laremy] Tunsil and Stanley, but they said Stanley had an edge in run blocking. How did you see that? (Ryan Mink)
(DeCOSTA) "I just think he's a really good player. He's got great feet, and he's got great balance. He's got great balance, he's a big guy, he's a strong guy, [and] he's got great length. I think with Juan [Castillo] coaching him, he's going to become good at everything – very good at everything. He's a great kid, he's coachable, and we think he's got a great future."

Ozzie, there was a lot of talk heading into the first round that you guys were eyeing defense. You drafted a tackle. Does that put any more pressure on you for the next picks? (Jeff Zrebiec)
(NEWSOME) "We have eight picks, and we have a good board. We will stay true to the board, but we have eight picks."

Is there any chance you trade back in the first round or are you done picking tonight? (Jeff Zrebiec)
(NEWSOME) "Why, are you ready to go home? (laughter) More than likely we won't, but the phone could ring."

As far as going forward from here, will you sleep well tonight feeling like you got the best player you needed and knowing that you're picking very early into the second round tomorrow? (Jerry Coleman)
(NEWSOME) "Yes, I feel good about walking out of the draft room tonight, coming back in tomorrow [and] seeing – we'll know 31 players that have been drafted, so, we have all day tomorrow to take a look at it and start plotting strategies of how we can better our football team."

Ozzie, being that you had Jonathan Ogden here for so long, can you just talk about the importance of having that anchor at left tackle? (Ryan Mink)
(NEWSOME) "I think it's important to have a good offensive line. Most people put the premium on the left tackle, but there are a lot of really good pass rushers on the other side now. You have to have five guys. Juan [Castillo] does a great job, and I think John [Harbaugh] has a mentality of what he wants the football team to be and to look like. It starts up front with the offensive line."

Eric, you mentioned a couple weeks ago you expected a run on cornerbacks. Has anything happened in the last couple of weeks to change that, or do you still expect that run to happen? (Bo Smolka)
(DeCOSTA) "I hope I'm wrong. I don't know. Who knows? We know I don't know about corner, but we know we're going to get some great players at 36 and at 70. The combinations remain to be seen, but I think it's a premium position, cornerback. In saying that, we feel like we've got a great board of corners still available, and we've got guys slotted in every single round. We're not just targeting corners a 36 or 70, we've got 104, we've got 130, 132 and so on and so forth. We feel like this draft really lends itself to getting a corner at some point."

Eric, I know you've talked about how the analytics say that with a high pick in the second round, you're probably going to get first-round talent. Based on your board and with how the first round has gone so far, do you still feel the odds are good that you're going to get one of those types of players? (Jamison Hensley)
(DeCOSTA) "I hope so. We'll get a good player, there's no doubt. Our coaches and scouts have put together an outstanding board, and we love the top 36 players in this draft. So, we're going to get an outstanding player. We love when a player outside of that number gets picked. You guys can probably hear us cheering and screaming when that happens. That will happen a few times, but we're very, very confident that [at] 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round-type talent that can help us win games."

Eric, you said that there were four, after the two quarterbacks, four, not just good, but great players. Did you have a choice at six? (John Eisenberg)
(DeCOSTA) "You always have a choice. [Ronnie Stanley] was the best player on the board at the time, but we felt like had he been taken at five, we had a really good pick to make. Fortunately, we got the best guy, when we were on the clock, for the Ravens, for our team. There are a lot of really good players that have been picked in this draft. This is a really, really good, deep Top 10 draft."


On his contact with the Ravens prior to the NFL Draft and if he thought they were targeting him: "I had a great relationship with the coaches and [general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome], and yes, I knew I was definitely a target on their board. But the draft is crazy, and you never know how things are going to pan out."

On what his emotions are being picked by the Ravens: "I'm just very excited and happy, and I'm just very appreciative and humbled to be on such a good organization."

On if he was surprised when they called his name, and that they didn't go with another prospect in T Laremy Tunsil: "I'm not so sure about any video or anything, but I knew that me and Tunsil were in contention for the top two tackles coming out. It could have gone either way, so I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I'm just very happy and appreciative that I was the one chosen."

On what he felt like when the phone call came in and if he was surprised: "No, when the phone rang, it was just pure joy. I was pretty good at keeping my emotions inside. That was just what happened, and I was very excited. I was talking to everyone on the phone – they were just passing the phone around the room – and I just couldn't have been happier."

On if he sees himself as the best left tackle in this draft class: "As a competitor, I'm always going to see myself as the best. I don't think you'll ever see me saying something different, but that is me. I respect Laremy [Tunsil], because he's a great player as well, and whatever team gets him is getting a great player."

On how confident he is that he can come in and win the starting job as a rookie at left tackle: "I'm just going to come in and I'm going to play my best. I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team win, and wherever the coaches see me, that's where they're going to put me."

On how much confidence he has coming into this franchise knowing the confidence it has in him: "It gives me a lot of confidence, especially going to a franchise like the Ravens – someone with a good track record and knows how to win games and is just a great organization to be a part of, and especially to grow into."

On if playing for one of the most high-profile programs in the country at Notre Dame will help him adjust to the professional level: "Yes, 100 percent. Going to Notre Dame has definitely given me a little jumpstart on what to expect in the real world, and they really prepare you mentally and physically."

On if he would be open to playing at guard in Baltimore: "Wherever the coaches want to put me, that's where they're going to put me. I'm just trying to help the team win in whatever way possible."

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