Ozzie Newsome Applauds Rams for Super Bowl Win, But Says Ravens' Team-Building Approach Will Stay
Ravens Executive Vice President and former General Manager Ozzie Newsome did a rare interview on the “Draft Dudes Podcast” earlier this week.
Here are some highlights:
On the Ravens' philosophy of building through the draft: "I have to applaud what [General Manager] Les [Snead] did with the Rams. It's all about 'what is your formula to win a Super Bowl?' Their formula was that you go out and get many very good players, put them together and make that one-year run. And now [Rams owner] Stan Kroenke has a Super Bowl. There are a lot of ways of doing it. But we believe in building through the draft. This is the first time that we had six fourth-round picks. To be able to have good players on your roster for four years at a cheap number — at some point we'll have to pay them. Some of them you pay and some of them you let go. I applaud the way the Rams have done it, but we believe in the way we do it because I think it sustains longer."
On what he looks for when evaluating players: "We always go with the height, weight and speed — it always starts with that. But then we like good competitors. … Anybody can evaluate when the ball is in their hand or when the ball is getting thrown to them, but what happens when they're not a part of the ball? Those things will show you a lot about their intangibles."
On the Ravens offense 'zigging while everyone is zagging:' "What Greg [Roman} and John [Harbaugh] have done is they've assessed the talent that we have, who are the better players, and put those players on the field. We'd love to be four wides, but if you don't have four wides that are better than having two tight ends on the field, then you have to put two tight ends. We've got a real good fullback in Patrick Ricard and we've got to get him on the field too. So you put your best people on the field. That gives you the best chance to win."
On working with the scouting staff: "Having done it for 20-plus years you know what questions you need to ask. And when you have a group like we do that has been together as long as we have, they can anticipate what we're looking for: What would we want a corner to look like? What would we want an offensive tackle to look like? So they can anticipate those questions and they can have those answers before they get in the meetings."
On why Kyle Hamiton fell to them in the first round: "I don't know but we ran that card in real quick. We never thought we were going to get him. We had signed Marcus Williams from the Saints, we had Chuck Clark, we got Brandon Stephens. We had some safeties, but when one of the top four or five players on your board makes it to you, then you turn that card in in a hurry, and he has not disappointed us. He is one heck of a football player."
On drafting the best player available: "We rank the board based on the player, not by the position. If he's a good player and he's better than Player B, then he goes ahead. So we don't get caught up in, 'well, you have to have a corner, you have to have a tackle.' The guy's a better player, take the better player. "
Kyle Hamilton, Jordan Stout Snubbed From All-Rookie Defensive/Specialist Team
The consensus is the Ravens getting Hamilton with the 14th-overall pick was a steal. Some pundits have identified him as a Defensive Rookie of the Year pick, and he has been "as advertised" in minicamp. However, not everyone is on the Hamilton bandwagon.
Hamilton did not make NFL.com’s Chad Reuter’s projected All-Rookie Defensive/Specialist Team. At safety, Reuter went with second-round picks Jaquan Brisker of the Chicago Bears and Jalen Pitre of the Houston Texans.
Ravens punter Jordan Stout did not make Reuter's team either. Reuter chose undrafted free agent punter Cameron Dicker of the Los Angeles Rams.
Hamilton did get some love from NFL Network's David Carr, who singled him out as a defensive rookie who is set to make a splash this season.
"I thought for a minute like, 'Oh, he's just tall, he's maybe just a basketball player on grass.' No. He'll come up and hit you, he'll shoot the gaps, he'll make plays, he's a physical player," Carr said. "I really like this guy. I like him in Baltimore. Fantastic football player."
Marcus Williams Among Players Most Likely to Make His First Pro Bowl
Despite being a standout during his five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Williams was never a Pro Bowl selection.
Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr believes that could change this season now that Williams is with Baltimore. He named Williams one of 10 players who have a good chance of making their first Pro Bowl.
"I think we're all curious to see what kind of identity the Ravens' defense will take on after the departure of Wink Martindale. What we can be certain of is the success of a targeted addition like Marcus Williams, who was one of the best safeties in the NFL a year ago," Orr wrote. "Williams fits the bill as a prototypical Ravens safety, who can manipulate offenses from multiple spots on the field. He is a more than capable run defender and last year was one of the Saints' best individual players in terms of net yards over average. He allowed an astounding sub-50% opposing quarterback completion rate a year ago."
Two Members of Ravens Organization Make The Athletic's 40-Under-40 List
Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald (35) and Director of Research and Development David McDonald (35) were named to The Athletic's 40-under-40 list, which identified the leading non-players under age 40 who are either "current power brokers or rising stars in their fields."
Here's what The Athletic's Lindsay Jones wrote about them:
"Macdonald spent seven years as an assistant coach on John Harbaugh's Ravens staff before becoming Jim Harbaugh's defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan for the 2021 season. The Wolverines improved from No. 84 in total defense in 2020 to No. 14 under Macdonald's leadership and advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals. Macdonald also worked closely with Heisman finalist and No. 2 NFL Draft pick Aidan Hutchinson during the pass rusher's 14-sack season."
"Few teams have been as innovative and aggressive in applying technology and analytics to all aspects of their football operations as the Ravens. McDonald, a computer science major at Southern Mississippi who started his NFL career with the Falcons, has built a staff of analysts in Baltimore who perform a variety of tasks for General Manager Eric DeCosta. Their work has included fully digitizing the team's draft board to developing ways to use player tracking data to better inform football decisions."
Ravens' First-Round Picks in 2021 Redraft Are the Same (Yet Different) As Their Actual Picks
Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson did a 2021 redraft, and the Ravens ended up with the same two players in the first round as they did in the actual draft: wide receiver Rashod Bateman and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh.
However, unlike the real draft, in which the Ravens took Bateman with the 27th-overall pick and Oweh at No. 31 overall, Monson's redraft has the picks flipped.
"Oweh was good enough as a rookie for Baltimore to grab him again with the first of two picks rather than the second," Monson wrote. "Oweh's speed and burst is legitimate, and he had multiple pressures in all but four games in his first season. He finished with 49 pressures, second only to [Dallas' Micah] Parsons among first-year players. Oweh has big-time potential and just needs to iron out the inconsistencies going forward.
"Bateman battled injury before finally getting on the field. While he didn't set the world alight, he did show some savvy route running and ability to separate at a time when the Ravens offense was struggling overall in the passing game. Bateman averaged only 1.26 yards per route run but caught 66.7% of his contested targets and 70.8% of targets overall."