Pre-Draft Luncheon Press Conference Transcript


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Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "Thank you all very much for coming out to hear about us talk, basically, about nothing, as we've done for the last 14 years (laughter). This is an opportunity for us to have the chance to talk with you about the 2009 Draft. We're well into the preparation. Our scouts will be in starting Sunday night for Monday meetings for our third series of meetings. Our coaches will be involved this time, as they've had a chance to look at the players, go to workouts. We have someone out today at the University of Southern California, where they have about 10 defensive starters who are draft-eligible players, so we have at least two or three people out there. What I would like to say about this draft is this is the draft that John [Harbaugh] and his staff are in their second year. I think it allows us to be more on the same page with each other. We have a good feel for watching our coaches coach, what they like in players, and I think [it] is very good information for scouts to have as they go out on the road. The second thing, I think over the years, that we have to caution ourselves that the players in the draft are not good enough. When you don't make the playoffs, every player you draft is better than the players that we have on our team. So that's one of the things that we'll be taking a close look at. We realize where our football team is today. I think the acquisitions that we've made during free agency put us in a position in the draft where the draft becomes a real strength for us, regardless of what position that we're picking. That's all I have to say. I'll turn it over to coach Harbaugh and then to Eric [DeCosta] and then, as you see, we've added Joe Hortiz to our group today. He's our new director of college scouting, and he has some tough shoes to fill, following Eric, following Phil [Savage]. But I know he's up to the task."

John Harbaugh opening statement: "Just real briefly, I just want to compliment the jobs that the coaches and the scouts have done, and it's exciting when we get a chance to get focused on the draft now, as coaches, coming back from the different things we've had during the offseason and even coming out of free agency, to start digging in on these players, to get a feel for the work that the scouts have done over the last 12 months. They've got this thing lined up very well. We have the chance to put our two cents in there and kind of move the thing around there as we see it, and obviously, let Ozzie make those final decisions. It's just been a great process. Everyone has been working well together, and we've got plenty of work to do in the next few weeks until the draft starts, and guys are working really hard at it."

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "From my perspective, I'm just really glad that today is April Fools Day, and I can lie and not feel guilty about it (laughter). It's been a great year. I remember sitting up here last year thinking, 'Man, this is a miserable year we just had.' We were behind. January was really a wash last year, because we were hiring coach Harbaugh, trying to get that done. I just felt really overburdened and behind, and this year I feel ahead of the game. I'm excited to work with Joe. He and I have been together for a long time. We have a process. You will probably hear us say that 25 times today, but there is a process. We feel really good about it. The coaches have been outstanding to work with, as they were last year. I feel really excited. I think we're in a good position. I just wanted to mention three guys that really go unnoticed and don't get a lot of credit, but they've done a phenomenal job this year, particularly, and that's Mark Azevedo, Ian Cunningham and David Blackburn. They're the 20-year-olds that work for $20,000 that you've heard us talk about many times. They've made my life really easy this year, and they helped Joe out quite a bit and all the coaches and Ozzie. They really are kind of anonymous, unless you see them daily. But they do a great job, and they deserve a lot of credit for what we do."

Joe Hortiz opening statement: "Just pretty excited to be up here today. I'm thankful for the opportunity Ozzie and Eric have given me, and Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti. I do have big shoes to fill. Phil was very good at what he did, and Eric, I think, followed that up with even greater success. So I'm not following a failure, so there's a lot of pressure from that regard. But, the great thing is, we have a great working relationship with the coaches. I've known Ozzie for a long time, and Eric, I consider a friend and a mentor. It's great to have him two offices down, where I can go in and ask him, bounce things off of him. It's been really exciting; it's fun. I am looking forward to getting all the guys in together. I know all the scouts have been out running around. We've worked hard throughout the 12 months, like John said. I'm anxious to get in there with the coaches and get the board finalized and try to find guys that fit our temperament, our style of play, and the team concept."

Did the changes in your department set you back or were the transitions rather smooth? (NEWSOME) "From my perspective, no it really hasn't, because George [Kokinis] mainly worked on the pro personnel side. Where we had to get up to speed was in free agency. Vince [Newome], Mark [Azevedo], and along with the coaches, we were able to get up to speed real quick. Eric got involved in that aspect of it, which was a big benefit for us. As far as on the draft side, with Eric being here, the scouts being the same since our last draft when we added two scouts in [Jack] Glowik and Lonnie Young, we feel like we are at strength right now, and we feel very good about where we are in the process."

Do you feel you're in a good position with the number of picks you have? What is the likelihood that you would trade down in the first round? (NEWSOME) "We have six right now. I think this is the first year maybe in three or four years where all of the GMs out at the league meeting were just happy that we didn't have any comp picks, because I think we've been leading the league in comp picks over the course of the past three or four years. As we said, we will be prepared to pick at 26, there's no doubt in my mind, but if the opportunity presents itself that we can move back and acquire more picks, the way the board is stacking up right now, that would be something that we could really consider because, like I said, the way our football team is, to be able to add an influx of good, young talent is just going to make us stronger."

This is the first draft that you're not looking for a franchise quarterback. How does that change your approach this year? (NEWSOME) "Am I sleeping a lot better? Yes. When I spoke at the combine, I spoke to the receivers and the quarterbacks, and I didn't know Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez. I couldn't see them. So, it's a good feeling. Now, are we going to sit here and say that we will not take a quarterback at some point in the draft? I won't say that because if the board falls that way, we will. It's a good feeling that Joe [Flacco] is just scratching the surface of what he can become as a quarterback with the help of Cam [Cameron] and with Hue Jackson. From what I've gotten from them, he's already made strides just this offseason. So, it's a lot easier from my perspective to field a football team when you don't have to start with the quarterback. And, you don't have to start with a middle linebacker; we still have that one, too, and you don't have to start with a nose guard. You got that, and you don't have to start with a free safety. You got that, and we also have a center. So the middle of the field is taken care of, and I've heard baseball people say that's what you win with. I say now that we have the quarterback in place we have the middle of the field taken care of."

You said you want to solidify some positions. With Derrick Mason asking for an extension and talk of acquiring Torry Holt, do you anticipate solidifying the wide receiver position before the draft? (NEWSOME) "As of today, there's no visit scheduled for Torry. And as of today, Derrick Mason was working out, getting himself prepared for the 2009 season. So those are the only things that I can go on. And I would challenge you to go to those receivers that we have working right now in the offseason program and tell them we need a receiver and see their reaction. I like the attitude of those guys. I think Hos [Jim Hostler] and Cam and Hue do a great job with those guys, and we're looking forward to some of those young guys taking some big leaps in their second year. I think we had the same discussion about the offensive line last year, and we had some young guys take that second step. So, is wide receiver a great need? Anybody that is special can come and make this football team better. If we had to play a game today, and John and I discuss our roster all the time, we could line up and play today. We could actually line up and play, and I think we'd have a good chance of winning."

How much will the free-agent market dictate what you do in the draft? (NEWSOME) "Well, we still have some active deals going on right now. Someone could accept a deal while I'm sitting in here talking to you all. The first person I could see is Pat [Moriarty, VP of football administration], and he could have a smile on his face. But, you know we like going into the draft and, to use an old cliché, we like to take the best player available. This year, we will be taking the best player because if it's a defensive lineman, a lineman, a corner, a safety, an offensive lineman, a running back, whatever it is – other than maybe a quarterback – we will probably take that player and be happy we have him."

Do you foresee a guy that could come in at 26 and be an impact player this year? (DECOSTA) "I do. It's a deep draft, a lot of good football players. I learned a lesson from watching Cleveland last year. They felt like they were a pretty good team. A lot of people picked them to win the Super Bowl that next year, and it kind of imploded on them this year for a lot of different reasons. But, I think for us to think that our team is this great team, I don't think we can say that. There are a lot of good players out there, and we probably have five or seven players that we think can come in, that we think we have a realistic chance to get at 26, who can come in and definitely contribute Year One."

What are your general thoughts on this year's receiver class? (HORTIZ) "I'd say it's a deep class. It's led by a lot of junior receivers this year, which is typically the case when they come out. The seniors kind of get overlooked at this time of year. There are some pretty good productive receivers throughout the whole board. They're experienced, the older guys, and they're going to bring in that experience from the college level, the reps, the game action. Specifically with [Darrius] Heyward-Bey and [Hakeem] Nicks – they all bring different things to the table. One guy may be bigger, body-underneath guy, the other may be the vertical presence, and I think everyone's seen NFL Network and watched Heyward-Bey run his 40 – he's explosive, vertical. Again, they're all juniors, so they're probably going to need some polishing and development more so than some of the senior class."

How do you weigh the importance of depth vs. need for the roster? (HARBAUGH) "You look at your roster every day, and Ozzie mentioned we talk about it every day – the roster and where we are with different kind of guys. You want to make your roster as strong as you can every day and attack it whatever way makes itself available – whether it's signing a free agent at some point in time, whether it's picking up a guy off waivers. The No. 1 key is making your own players better. Developing young players, that's the best way we can get better between now and next year is to make every player we've got in our program better. The position you want to be in is you don't want to have to chase needs. Now you can't always do that. You may have to have a need that you have to desperately fill and you chase it. But I think what's being said here is, I don't think we feel we're in a position where we have to chase needs. And if we don't have to do that, now we can build a draft class. Take the six best football players and make our football team better, then we'll figure out how to use them if we get the right kind of guys."

Now that you know what John likes, how much will that play into who you actually pick? (NEWSOME) "Well, you heard John, you heard the other coaches, 'Play like a Raven.' I think Ray Lewis has played like a Raven for 12 years. That hasn't changed. I think when you put the poster child up for 'playing like a Raven,' you start with No. 52 [Ray Lewis], you start with No. 75 [Jonathan Ogden], you start with No. 55 [Terrell Suggs] and you definitely start with No. 20 [Ed Reed]. So, that has not changed. There are some small things that we need that we've learned from being around Cam and being around Greg and being around John and Jerry, our special teams coach, that we just add to it. But, what a Raven is, has been a Raven since 1996. That really hasn't changed."

Is there a chance you'd use a pick on Matt Stover's successor? (NEWSOME) "We have [Steve] Hauschka here, and we got him for a reason. We carried him on the 53 [-man roster in 2008]. He hit that big field goal for us [at Houston], and he kicked off for us. But, one of the big assets I have is that my head coach was a special teams coach, he hired a pretty good special teams coach [Jerry Rosburg], and we have another special teams coach [Marwan Maalouf]. So if I could ever lean on somebody to bail me out of a situation, I'm looking right there at John Harbaugh."

So does that mean you'll use a pick on a kicker? (NEWSOME) "I guess for a fan, if those three guys think that there is someone good enough to be drafted, like we did with Sam Koch and like we did with [Dave] Zastudil… We've been fortunate enough to have Stover here for the full duration of my time, and as I've been quoted, we have not removed Stover from our mind. If the situation doesn't work itself out where he ends up on another team, and we get into training camp or something like that and we have no one else, we know what Matt Stover can do, and that marriage can continue."

When you look at Malcolm Jenkins, where do you see him fitting better? A corner or safety? (DECOSTA) "I think he is a good player. Good size, really good feet. I think he could play either. I think in a Cover 2 scheme he's ideal as a corner. I think he's a physical guy who's got size and could play safety. I think in the best of all situations, you draft him as a corner, and if you find out he can't do it, you move him to safety. Having spent some time with Malcolm, he's a determined kid, he's a talented kid, and he's played some very good football at a very high level of football for a long time. I think his future is at corner, at least in the short term."

Is Jenkins' intelligence level as a smart player going to help him down the road as a safety? (DECOSTA) "Yeah, he's a smart kid. He communicates very well. We got to interview him at the Combine – I'll give you guys that. We did interview him at the Combine, and he did a very good job for us on the board. He caught the football very well. We had Rod Woodson who started out as a corner and made the switch to safety and did very well. I think Malcolm is a very good player and has a bright future in the NFL."

What has changed since last year in terms of the way you work with Ozzie and the draft? (HARBAUGH) "I don't think it's changed that much besides the fact that we've been together for a year. We get to know each other better and [have] constant conversations. You probably have to look back, and maybe you see it looking back, but we're not. We're looking forward. I think we're working well, and I can't wait for the draft. But we have a lot of work to do between now and then."

How much does a guy's character affect where you have him on your board? (NEWSOME) "There are players that we take off our board based on the information we get from our scouts and the information our coaches get from another coach they've worked with at a particular university. But it's not as much his character – and I can talk about this because I just talked about it at a high school clinic. It's about behavior. In our society, everybody makes a mistake. We look at the behavior if the player has an opportunity to come into the structure that O.J. [Brigance], Harry [Swayne], all the support we have here in our building, that can change and become a better person each day they are there. We will take a chance on that person. But before we finish with our draft board and before we bring in Dick [Cass] and Steve {Bisciotti], to sit down with us, we will take some guys off the board because their behavior over the course of high school, junior high and college has not been something we feel like we can bring into our organization and we feel like can change."

Can you talk about the depth at tight end in this draft? (NEWSOME) "I'm having a tough time thinking about last year's crop, but I like this crop. There is depth there within the position. We have two pretty good ones, and we have three young ones. But, that does not preclude us from taking one at any point in the draft because of the depth at the tight end position."

With the exception of Malcolm Jenkins and Vontae Davis, are there any other corners – like Darius Butler or Alphonso Smith – that could be taken in the first round of the draft? (DECOSTA) "Well, they are all good players. I think another guy you could name would be [Sean] Smith from Utah. They are all good players; they are all different. You've got some guys who are short and can run really fast, and you've got some guys who are bigger and more physical. I think corner in the draft is always a premium position. They are one of the premium positions, along with left tackle, quarterback. You can bet that there's probably going to be four or five corners drafted in the first round, would be my guess, because of the position and how hard it is to play that position at a high level in the NFL. So, we're just going to sort it out. There are some guys we like in the first round. You mention Vontae Davis, who is a fairly local kid. He's a very explosive guy, a very good athlete. Darius Butler is a good athlete with very quick feet – a return guy who played some offense. There are some really good players, and we're fortunate this year, looking at the board, that we've got corners basically spread out in each round, slotted for each round so if get to that point where he is the best player in that particular round, we've got a really good option at that point."

It seem that there are more DE/LB hybrid "tweener" players in this year's draft that can rush and play outside. Can you talk about that? (DECOSTA) "Well, I think there are more 3-4 teams, too, in the NFL. So because of that, I think we try to create options for that specific defense, the 3-4. These undersized guys over the last three years, there have been some really good ones who've come out – [LaMaar] Woodley from Pittsburgh, went from Michigan to Pittsburgh, which is a good example. There are some guys like in this year's draft. You've touched on a few of those guys. I think [Robert] Ayers is a really good player at Tennessee. I think he's going to be a first-round pick. I think Everett Brown from Florida State is another guy who is very quick, up-the-field, with pass-rush ability. He's a good athlete who can drop in space. And, Larry English from Northern Illinois is another guy I think teams are looking at as a possible hybrid as an outside linebacker who can rush the passer and also drop to play in space."

Can you talk about your passion for this? How might that be something that sets you apart? (NEWSOME) "This is the opportunity, this is the chance I have to make a difference with the football team. But, I think having the opportunity to be around the coaches, be around practice, everybody knows I work out more than once a day, being in that weight room, being around those players, I think I get a chance to build some things in my mind of how I would like to see our football team makeup. Starting with what Eric talked about, with Ian, David and Mark Azevedo, those guys are around me. Eric was around me in 1996, like a little child running around. He soaked up everything. He understands the process now. Mark and David and Ian will understand the process. So, I think that's what sets us apart. You don't set Ozzie Newsome apart. That's what sets the Baltimore Ravens apart, is that we have guys that cut their teeth right here in Baltimore, learning the way we did some things. And we had some great guys with Phil [Savage], Shack [James Harris] and George [Kokinis], and Terry McDonough and other people who were helping these guys along the way. I think that's the secret. It's not Ozzie. It's the way we do things, and the way these guys gravitate to the process of the Baltimore Ravens."

Why have you guys had so much success at finding the "tweeners" and putting them in a position where they can make a lot of plays? (NEWSOME) "That goes back to Marvin [Lewis], when Peter Boulware was a guy that played as a line technique, had his hand in the dirt, and just rushed. I mean, just up the field every play. And you get Marvin, and now move from Marvin to our coaches, they'd go down and work a guy out and say, 'OK, we can work these guys, and we can utilize his strength and minimize his weakness.' Therefore, you allow a guy like Peter to play on his feet, that can still be a double-digit sack guy and play outside linebacker. I think in that our coaches get so much involved with the draft, they understand, they take the information that we have, they take it and go work guys out, then they come back and say, 'This guy can fit our scheme in this way.' There are other times that we fit our scheme to what the players can do. That's what I think where our coaching goes to the next level, 'OK we've got this talented young man, now how can we get the most out of him with the scheme that we operate?' That's why none of you can tell me what our defense is. Is it a 4-3, 5-2, 3-4? You don't know. But we've got a lot of good players out there playing defense."

Do you look for the versatile guys as a priority? (NEWSOME)* *"We look for football players. We look for a football player. We don't look for any certain type. You give us a football player, with the coaches that we have, they'll find a way to get him on the field."

With this being your second year here, will you be more vocal in the draft room, a little more confident? (HARBAUGH) "If I was more vocal in the room, they'd probably throw me out of the room. That wasn't a problem last year."

Do you understand the process that Ozzie talks about, and how does it differ from Philadelphia? (HARBAUGH) "I think I do understand the process now, and there are differences from Philadelphia. I've said many times, they do a great job up there, too, but this is a great process. It's really special. You can see why the success over the years with this draft process has taken place. I think this is the best in the league, and all of us do everything we can to make it better every day."

What's going on in your head this year versus last year now that it's a little more relaxed? (HARBAUGH) "The one thing that I've noticed is, having to chase a position, particularly the quarterback position, kind of moves the whole draft down because you're trying to build a team. That being taken care of, so to speak, and we've got more than one good quarterback on our roster right now, so we're excited about that position. It could be a quarterback. If he ends up being the best guy sitting there, at some point in time in the draft, you take him because it makes your team stronger. So, it takes a little pressure off that way."

What are your thoughts on Andre Smith? He's been drawing some criticism. How should he come back from that? (NEWSOME)"I think you'd be better suited to just read ProFootballTalk.com that you work for, because I commented on that yesterday. You can take those quotes right there and use them."

Can you talk about the evolution of the Wildcat package from last year and how it adds to the value of players like Pat White from West Virginia? (DECOSTA) "I think what we saw this past year when some teams had success with the Wildcat, it gives defenses something else to think about. And, I think an intriguing thing about a guy like Pat White is that he played in that offense in college, but he can also throw the ball really well; he's a good quarterback. So the drafting team is probably going to find a way to get him back there, and then the defense is not only going to have to focus on the running game of the Wildcat, but the passing game. I think he's a pretty skilled guy, and I think teams are looking to exploit that, trying to find that guy… This is a league, this is a copycat league, and we had some success using our version of the Wildcat last year, and I would expect more teams to try and do that this year. I mean, it seems like more often than not now when you're watching tape now there's a college team using the spread offense. I was watching somebody today and they were using the spread offense. I probably see the spread offense more now in college football than traditional pro-style attack. In the NFL we're always looking for ways to win games and be creative, and try new things, and I think the Wildcat is definitely going to be able to help that."

Can you envision a scenario in which you would make a trade to give up two first-round draft picks? (NEWSOME) "We gave up a 1 and a 2 for Kyle [Boller], I think. We gave a 2 to move up to 1, and gave up a 1 the following year. Two 1s? I don't know. I don't know, No. 1, if Steve [Bisciotti] would allow me to do that, because that sets your franchise back quite some time, regardless of the player you're getting. The problem with trading away No. 1 picks is you get a chance to have a guy play for you, and probably at a high level, probably at the lowest contract that he's going to have. To maintain cap sanity and cash sanity, you need your draft picks, and you need your No. 1 picks. And when you trade them away for one marquee player, not only do you trade away the draft picks, you've got to pay a huge sum to bring that player in, which is going to limit your ability to go get other players. It's a double edged sword. It's going to be interesting, if there's any truth to this thing that [Denver Broncos QB Jay] Cutler is going to get traded, what he's going to get traded for. It's going to be interesting, and I'll be watching."

Is that a fair price for Cutler? Two first-round draft picks? (NEWSOME) "I don't work in Denver, so I have no idea. And frankly, since we've got Joe [Flacco], I really don't care."* (laughter)*

In your time in the game, what's the biggest mistake you've seen made on draft day, in terms of character? (NEWSOME) "I can go right to my very first draft. We brought a player in, and we met with a player in our very first draft. We thought, we knew there were some behavior issues, but we felt like we had the structure in place, the people in place, to be able to change that person's behavior. Well, we didn't take the player, and his behavior didn't change. So, I think there are some inherited things that some players do that they can never get away from. And, those types of issues, if they have them, then we stay away from them. I'm not going to sit here and quantify and tell you what they are, but there are certain things or certain behaviors that players have, that they've had probably since they were 12 or 13 years old, and they'll probably have them when they're 30. You can't change them in the environment that we have here in the National Football League, with so much press and everything, so much exposure that these players have. It's just tough for them to do."

I've got two players, Art Schlichter with gambling, and Ryan Leaf with just sort of disappearing. Could you have foreseen either of those things? Do you have methods in place that look for things like that? (NEWSOME) "Not to get away from it, but I was still playing when Art Schlichter came out. I know nothing. I know the story, and I know he was drafted here. Gambling is a habitual thing, it's in society. I guarantee there are a few people here who have made a couple of bets in their life. OK, including yourself. So, that one I can't talk about. And the other one was Ryan Leaf. Ryan Leaf, I think that was a maturity issue, and when you're dealing with a person that lacks some maturity, you've got to have the right structure in place for him. And that's what John and I, and Steve, we all have to be on the same page with Harry and O.J., and once you have a coach working with the kid, that we're all on the same page on how we're going to handle this kid to get him from Point A to Point B to Point C to get him headed in the right direction."

From the end of season when you start looking at the roster to see who might stay and who might go, is the draft in the back of your mind? (NEWSOME) "I think, and I think all 32 GMs are the same way, that at the end of the season, in this organization, I'm probably the only one who knows our salary cap, knows all the salaries of the players, knows our players, and knows a good bit about the draft and the guys who are going to be potential free agents. That's where I earn my money that Steve pays me. What I do is empower everybody else with that information so that we can come up with a football team. As we sit here right now, John Harbaugh knows, all those things I just talked about, John Harbaugh knows. Eric knows. He knows our salary cap, he knows how much our players are making. He knows the players that we plan on moving, not moving. Everybody else has that information. But at the end of the season, I'm the only one because John's been coaching, Eric's been out on the road. So I guess I'm the keeper of the house. What I take the opportunity to do is empower all of those guys so we can make decisions, and that's how we're able to succeed. John dives straight in, just like Brian [Billick] did, head first. Get all the information, and then let all the information make decisions for us."

Is there an offensive tackle that you guys find intriguing in this draft? Do you think some of those guys will go very high?(DECOSTA) "Definitely. We like a lot of the tackles in this year's draft. And again, tackle is one of those positions that gets picked quick. They come off the board very quick. We like Eugene Monroe from Virginia. He's a very good player. He's probably going to be a player that we don't see in the draft. We saw him last year looking at Brandon Albert. He's a very good pass protector. Jason Smith from Baylor. Baylor hasn't had a high pick in a long time. This guy figures to be a top 10 pick. He's a tough guy, nasty guy – probably projects at left or right tackle, a very good player. You mentioned Eben Britton from Arizona. He's a junior, good feet, tall guy, has some toughness, plays pretty well – very, very comparable player to players who got picked in the first round last year at his position. The other guy, if you guys have read the book Blind Side, Michael Oher from Ole Miss… Another guy, a big guy, physical, had a good Senior Bowl week. He's probably another guy that gets picked in the first round, would be my guess."

Is there still a chance you could add Orlando Pace? (NEWSOME) "Yes. Yes would be the simple answer. Yes, that opportunity, it could happen."

What is your expectation on Michael Crabtree and Percy Harvin, given their unique situations? Where would you see them coming off the board? (DECOSTA) "Well, both guys are totally different in terms of playing style. It's an interesting comparison. Crabtree is coming off an injury. Quite honestly, the media will probably say that's going to set him back a little bit in terms of where he gets picked, but if you watch him, you realize he's an elite player in this year's draft class. He's a real physical guy – catches the ball as well as anyone I've seen in the last five or 10 years. He's got great ball skills. Not a blazer, but he runs good routes and is very tough. I think he's going to be a top 5, 10 pick. And then Harvin is totally different. He's a shifty guy, very electric with the football in his hands, runs very fast. Not the biggest guy – he's played at running back, slot, outside, quarterback, lots of different things. I could see him going to a team that wants to be creative on offense. He probably gets picked after Crabtree, would be my guess – but probably one of the top 25 picks in the draft."

Watching the guys four or five years after the draft, the ones who make it versus the ones who don't, is there one area of scouting that you would say is overrated in the draft, and one that's underrated? (DECOSTA) "You know what, we do a lot of self scouting, and I spend my summer times a lot just going back over that stuff. I learned from Phil Savage, he was such a meticulous record keeper, he'd do all that stuff. That's not really my strength, but I've taken that on, and we do that. I think in looking at it, all the testing – the 40s, the workouts, the Combine – I think that stuff that be somewhat overrated and overblown. On the other hand, I think the longer that I do this and spend time with Ozzie and am around this team, around our players, I really do realize that personality is really, really important. A guy's internal drive, his passion for the game, his toughness, his character, his personality, his intelligence – all those intangible qualities, I think, are really, really important and are very good predictors of how a guy is going to play at our level."

Is it still a possibility that Lorenzo Neal could be added back to the Ravens' roster through free agency? Are there still any talks with Samari Rolle as well? (NEWSOME)"I have a message on my desk from Lorenzo. I have to return the call, so I don't know what the nature of that call is about. I know he did talk about what he would like to do when his football career is over, so I don't know what his plans are, but I will return his phone call within the next 48 hours. I'm going to give myself a little time to do it. As far as Samari, we are involved in some discussions with Samari, No. 1, and his agents. I think, and John will attest to this, we've both been in this game a long time, but what we experienced with Samari two weeks ago maybe, when he came in and sat down and talked with us and expressed some things to us, and we were able to express some things back to him, it broke a lot of barriers. And I know what his feelings about the Baltimore Ravens are right now, today, based on that meeting. I encouraged Samari to tell the rest of his teammates and players in the National Football League that it's OK to go sit down with the GM and the head coach, close the door, and talk man-to-man, air some things out. It works well for both parties."

When you go into a draft, how much do you feel like you know how things will play out, and how much does the draft, when it's all said and done, deviate from what you thought? (NEWSOME)"Eric knows everything about the draft. He knows who's going to be taken when, which team's taking. I mean, I have John Clayton calling me, I've got Peter King calling me, I've got everybody calling me, [Rick] Gosselin. I get tons of information. But I was taught one thing when I was in high school – you can only catch a football when the ball gets there. So all I do is prepare myself, and when the time comes for me to pick, I pick. But I've got Eric, he's constantly… He had me in there today, 'Gah, I got caught in the draft room with Eric.' He's starts in with this and that. I take it all in, but I can't control 25 other players. I can't control them. But I can control the 26th player, and that's what I get myself prepared to do. So that's what I do, I just try to get myself… And we do a very good job. This started in '96. We have a prep meeting on the day before the draft, like coach does with his game plan. He sits down with Cam, he'll be sitting down with Greg and with Jerry on Friday, and they'll come up with a game plan the way they want to see the game unfold. We do the same thing on Friday. We do it with Steve, we do it with Dick, the head coach, and this is how we think it will play out. Eighty percent of it is correct. But, if you want to find out about the draft, check with [DeCosta] or you can check with [Hortiz], call John Clayton. I've got a few other guys who can tell you. A lot of it is true, but a lot of it is not. That's just how it goes. It's fun though, to me."

Can you talk about what Eric and Ozzie have taught you so far? Can you see what makes them special?(HORTIZ) "Starting with Ozzie, he gave me the chance when I was 22 years old."

(NEWSOME INTERJECTS) "And he went to Auburn, so that's a double."

(HORTIZ CONTINUES)* *"The one thing Ozzie has always done since I've been here is allowed me, even as a 22-year-old, to be me, to speak my mind. And then in the process of doing that, he's there to correct us and guide us and give us his vision and his wisdom from his years in the league. And then he's always open to us. His door is open. He's always very honest with us and up front, the scouts, and really he's tried to grow us. I mean, the whole group of guys in there, we're all kind of young guys and we've been together a long time. He keeps it where it's a group environment and we have a lot of fun doing what we do. With Eric, he just, like I said, he's a friend of mine. From my first day on, he's always been there to give me guidance and tell me how to look at things: 'Hey, have you thought about doing it this way, have you thought about this?' That's what both of them do. They'll hear your side and then give you a counter point. It really helps you grow. I think it's helped me grow from a personnel system that Mark is in, and Ian and David, into where I am now. They give you the opportunities when they think you're ready, and then when they give you the opportunity, they show you they're confident in your ability. So I think that's where it helped me develop into where I am today."

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