Eric DeCosta opening statement:"Happy Passover, first and foremost. The Orioles, I think, open up at home this week, right? (John Harbaugh: "Tomorrow.")And Bruce Springsteen is going to be here on Friday night, so it's a big week. And, I didn't do the Peloton today as well, so I won't be sweating. (laughter) Anyways, I think the offseason has had its set of challenges in different ways, but we're excited about where we are as a team. We're very happy that we could bring back a bunch of players that were with us last year. I think the Combine was a really good week for us as well. Our coaches and scouts are now canvassing the country going to Pro Days, watching guys work out. We'll start our almost final set of Draft meetings next week with the coaches. [It will be] the first time the coaches have a chance to talk about the players. The board will be basically set probably next Friday or Saturday with a few tweaks along the way. We're excited; we see the Draft as a great opportunity for us to get better as a team. We have five picks; we wish we had more. Our goal is probably to get more along the way – if we can – depending on how things fall, but we see a great opportunity for us to add some quality players and to be a better football team come September. Questions?"
It's been a week since QB Lamar Jackson tweeted about his trade request and saying goodbye to Ravens fans. Have you had a chance to talk to him since, and what was that conversation like? When a player asks to be traded, what is your confidence level in him playing with the Ravens this year? (Jamison Hensley)
_DeCosta: _"I understand the need to ask those kinds of questions. I think – just out of respect for the process – this is a Draft luncheon and we're going to try to keep as much of this discussion as we can to the Draft, to the coming weeks [and] building the best football team we can build. So, I understand those questions. I think we've spoken about this situation probably five different times this spring in various different press conferences and such. So, we're going to try to just kind of defer to those questions and move forward to the Draft."
It seems like there are a lot of big, extremely fast cornerbacks in this Draft. At pick 22, do you have the expectation you might be able to trade back there since there is so much depth? (Vinny Cerrato)
_DeCosta: _"Yes, it's a strong position. [There are] probably four or five guys that you look at and say, 'Yes, that's a first-round-type of guy. That's a first-round pick.' [There are] maybe six guys. So – you know us – we have a history of drafting defense in the first round. We love corners; our defense is really built to succeed with a great, strong secondary. [Head] coach [John] Harbaugh loves big, physical, press-type guys. There are a lot of these types of guys in the draft. So, for us to look at that, we think it's one of the most important positions on your football team, and it's a position that we'll always look at very closely."
When you look at the depth of the Draft and your area of needs beyond cornerback, are there any positions where you see there's a lot of depth in an area where you'll want to go shopping? (Gerry Sandusky)
_DeCosta: _"I think the fans will be happy that it's a strong receiver class. Again, we see a multitude of guys that could go in the first couple rounds. It's a great opportunity for us. I think offensive line is a strong position this year. [There are] some defensive linemen that we like as well. So, we think it kind of shapes up nicely based on our needs. Of course, you have to have a little luck on Draft day, but we see a lot of players that make us a better football team at those positions, for sure."
Respecting that this is about the Draft, but also respecting that a lot of what you guys will be doing in the Draft could hinge on what happens over the next couple weeks with QB Lamar Jackson and a potential offer sheet … What is your preferred outcome over the next few weeks on where things stand with him? Would you like to see an outcome before Round 1, or what is your outlook? (Shawn Stepner)
_DeCosta: _"I think the things that we can control are really getting the list, the Draft board set, evaluating the players as best as possible, being aware of the players, the free agents that are available now. Post-Draft, who are the players that we might have a chance to bring in, post-Draft, that could make us a better football team as well. Then, doing the best job we can in terms of recruiting free agents. Our scouts do a phenomenal job of that. I think our coaches do a great job of that, and just putting ourselves in position to win Draft weekend."
With the QB Lamar Jackson situation going on, are you guys looking at quarterbacks differently in the Draft? (Alex Glaze)
_DeCosta: _"I don't think we really are. We go into every Draft trying to take any kind of bias out, any kind of need-based situation out of the Draft equation. We really do try to build a board that's really best player available. That process involves really nine months, starting in early August when our scouts go out on the road, and they generate the profile and the evaluations and get as much information as possible. We then segway into a set of meetings in December, and then we get into the meetings in January and the all-star games and all those different things really trying to assess this player versus that player. It's really just comparisons and how these players stack up. Who do we think has the best chance to come in and make us the best football team? If that's a quarterback, if that's a receiver, a corner, an offensive tackle, we're going to look at that very strongly and make the best decision we can knowing that over time, we think, [when] building a team, best available player is the right way to go."
How confident are you that you will be able to add some additional Draft picks before Draft day? (Stan Charles)
_DeCosta: _"I think we've done that nine times in the last four years. I think the chances for us to be able to do it are pretty decent. Of course, if we're in love with somebody while we're on the clock, we're going to make the pick. We always have to gauge that. How strong do we feel about the prospect who's available versus a chance to go back and get additional picks? Sometimes, you get lucky in that there's a guy who you might really want, you make the tough decision to trade back and you can still get him. It happens more than you think; not all the time though, of course. So, we have to look at that. We have to look at the capital that we can get by trading back, and we'll make the best decision that we can."
When you have a coordinator change in February, what extra work goes into the last few months leading up to the Draft with certain points of emphasis that might not have been the case before? (Luke Jones)
_Joe Hortiz: _"The first thing we did in scouting was we got [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] in there in the room, and talked about his offensive philosophy, the types of players he wants at each position, and what he thought about our players. The guys that are here, how they match what he can do, who fits his scheme [and] his system. The thing in talking to him that you love is that he's versatile, and he said to just get him players and he'll make them work. So, that's exciting to hear as a scout; now you just go out and try to find the best players for the Ravens and see as we go through the process – through the Pro Days, through the Combine, through the workouts and then next week in the meetings – if they fit our scheme and can help us."
What do you deem as your biggest need right now going into the Draft? (Cordell Woodland)
DeCosta:"I never want to go into a Draft thinking that we're set at any position, of course. We've seen a lot of times … I remember one year we thought we had a really strong tight end room, and then in the span of a few days we had a bunch of guys that got hurt and we were trying to find tight ends all year. We saw that a few years ago at running back with J.K. [Dobbins], and Gus [Edwards] and Justice [Hill]. So, our needs could change. I wouldn't want to pigeonhole on one specific thing, but in general, I think secondary is always something that we can address, offensive line is always something – defensive line – that we should address, the receiver position. Those positions where you need multiple guys to play; I think those are important positions every single year to draft players so that you have a continuous depth in terms of when guys get hurt, you can put guys in. I think last year's team was a good example of that where we had depth on the offensive line and in the secondary to be able to withstand some injuries. Our goal is to always be in that position."
How does only having five picks affect your strategy going into the Draft? (Garrett Downing)
_DeCosta: _"Last year, my strategy was I had to watch as many guys as I could because we had so many picks. I still want to watch as many guys as I can, but I don't feel the tremendous anxiety knowing that we have six fourth-round picks [like in 2022]. Our goal would be to add picks, if we can, at some point. In saying that, I think it's important to note that we've had a lot of picks over the past four [or] five years. You get to a point where maybe having too many picks isn't necessarily the right thing in any given year. You almost have to have a purge at some point because you have all these young players on the team, and they can't all make the team if you just keep stacking these huge, massive draft classes. So, I wouldn't say that was intentional this year, but for us to say that our second-round pick was Roquan Smith … I'm pretty happy with that. If we only have five picks this year, I'd like to get back to nine or 10 picks next year, for sure, but having a smaller amount of picks this year based on what we've done in 2018, '19, '20, '21, '22, that's not necessarily the worst thing."
Have you spent more time sending coaches or Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz to scout quarterbacks? (Vinny Cerrato)
_DeCosta: _"I wouldn't say we've necessarily done that. We kind of treat the Pro Days kind of the same; we always canvas; we always send a lot of guys out; we always try to have a position coach at almost every Pro Day. We can't always get that done with all the offseason stuff they're doing. We'll have an area scout [and] in some cases, an area scout and a director, possibly, and then also potentially a coordinator, a position coach, whatever that might be. We try to get as much coverage as possible. The other thing that's changed so much over the years is we get all the Pro Days digitized now. So, we have all the Pro Days; we get all the Pro Days within 24 hours basically. You don't get the hands on, personal attention that you might get at a school visit, but you do get the video on tape, you get a chance to assess that as well. So, it's not like it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago when you didn't have access to that stuff."
There's been so much attention to the wide receiver position, as there always seems to be around here this time of year. Are there certain characteristics that you think will best fit in this offense you're trying to build? (Jeff Zrebiec)
_John Harbaugh: _"You look at the big picture; it's a great question. There are a lot of guys that we like, right [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta]? In really every round, I think there are guys who could make our team. In the early rounds, there are a number of guys who could start for us even. So, you start with that. Then it's, 'OK, who fits us in terms of what [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] is looking for and in terms of how we're building the offense in terms of the guys we already have?' So, I would say that between Eric, and [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz], myself, Todd, [wide receivers coach] Greg Lewis, all the scouts, really, you start saying, 'OK, which guys do we really like for what we're trying to do for our room and who complement the other guys in the room?' Those are names. I'm probably not sharing those with you right now, but we have those names already targeted and we'll probably finalize that next week in terms of the guys we'll be looking at that we feel fit us the best. Hopefully, we get one of those guys, but with that being said, you never know. You might end up … Somehow, you find a guy who falls your way and he really wasn't one of the names that you thought was going to be a great fit and he turns out to be a great player. So, as long as we have enough players – I think we do – to get guys that can help us, then we'll be in good shape."
What is your evaluation of the quarterback class? (Morgan Adsit)
_Hortiz: _"I'd say, obviously, it's pretty strong up top. Those four guys that are being listed in the mocks as going high, they're all talented and good in their own right. If you break them down, Bryce [Young] is extremely accurate, cerebral, intelligent, winner – they're all winners, actually; every one of them. So, that's always what you love. Then, [Anthony] Richardson's got just raw, physical talent, strong arm, athletic, big, physical, tough. [He is] probably the least experienced of the four of them, but [he] has a chance to really blossom and develop. Will [Levis] is again a physical, strong guy with an elite arm, and [he] has gone through two different offenses the past two years, so he's adjusted to players changing around him. His whole offensive line was revamped. Then, C.J. [Stroud], he has just matured, and grown and gotten better and better. He played his best game [in] his last game of his career, I thought. [He is] really accurate, has a great feel for the field and showed off his athleticism certainly in that Georgia game [in the 2022 Peach Bowl]."
One of your things was watching the cornerbacks in this Draft. What would the possibility of adding Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. be like considering the history of the Ravens with his father Joey Porter Sr.? (Jamison Hensley)
Harbaugh: _"No doubt. Seeing Joey Porter Sr. a Ravens fan? I think that would be great for all of us. _(Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz: "Would he be, though?")Of course, he would; family first, man. I'm going to give him a call and I'm going to find out. (Joe Hortiz: "It's part of the interview process.") (laughter)I know for me, it's family first. Joey Porter Jr. is a heck of a player, and it's not just him. There are a lot of good corners, like [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] said, guys that we'd be excited about, but this dude knows how to play. I love the way he plays, his style. He's the Joey Porter Sr. version in DB form. He has a great mentality, so we'll see what happens."
When is the last time you saw a quarterback shoot up Draft boards due to his performance at the Combine like we have seen with Florida QB Anthony Richardson? (Pete Gilbert)
_Hortiz: _"It's so hard. We go to the Combine, and we already know what he is a lot of times. So, I don't think that any of the scouts were surprised that [Anthony] Richardson ran fast and looked the way he did, because we go through the school. You watch the LSU [vs. Florida] game, you see him take off on the 75-yard run and nobody catches him. So, it's really not surprising; I think it's just so impressive and awesome to see those physical traits on display, so he gets the buzz. I think a lot of scouts throughout the league have looked at Richardson as a first-round talent, so I don't think he really jumped up in our eyes. I think it's just the display he put on was impressive."
You selected OLB David Ojabo last year with just one year of full starting experience. How difficult is it to project future performance in the NFL for players in college who have had limited playing time, such as QB Anthony Richardson? (Tim Barbalace)
_DeCosta: _"It's a good question; you factor that in for sure. It's hard. Production is really important. I think production is a great predictor of future success, but so is talent. So, that's what we have to try to do. In some cases, you may have a very small sample size with some guys. Years, and years, and years and years ago, I remember a guy named [Ezekiel] 'Ziggy' Ansah came out, and he had basically one year and he might've had – I don't know how many sacks he had, but you could just see the talent, but there wasn't a lot of history. There were a lot of questions about him; you just didn't know much about him. Those guys are challenging to evaluate in many different ways. I think good scouts can really help the process when it comes to that. I think we're blessed here to have the continuity on staff with our scouts to be able to settle some of those debates, some of those questions about one year of production, injuries and things like that, but that's a challenging aspect of our business, I think. Sometimes, you're going to make mistakes. Let's not forget now; this is a business where if you can go 75 percent, it's pretty good, I would say. You're betting on people. Sometimes you don't have all the answers. So, it's a challenge. Obviously, if you have a guy who is a four-year starter in the SEC, you have a lot to go on. When you have a one-year starter, or you have a small school guy or you have a guy who's injured, that makes the conversation a lot more difficult."
When we talked to you in January, you said neither you nor head coach John Harbaugh had any interest in a total rebuild. With the QB class being what it is, how many guys do you think in that class can come in and be potential impact players in Year One? (Jonas Shaffer)
DeCosta: _"I don't want to insult anybody in the Draft, but I would say there's probably more than four guys that can be significant quarterbacks in this league in this Draft class. _(Head coach John Harbaugh: "That really narrows it down for you.") (laughter)More than four. What am I going to say? Seven, eight, whatever it is, but the fact is that we think you can get a quarterback in the first round, or the third round, or the fourth round who we'd have a chance to develop. You go back to Tyrod Taylor when we drafted him, was that the fifth round, sixth round? (Director of player personnel Joe Hortiz: "Sixth round.")Whatever it was. Years, and years, and years ago, Derek Anderson; we took him in the sixth or seventh [round], right? So, you can get good quarterbacks. You saw what the Niners did last year with Brock Purdy. It's quite possible to get a good quarterback at any point in the Draft. Obviously, the 'G.O.A.T.,' as my son would say, Tom Brady, was a sixth-round pick. So, they're all over the place in the Draft. You have to have good scouts; you have to have conviction, and in some cases, you have to get lucky, too."
Is taking a quarterback in the first round a consideration this year? (Jamison Hensley)
DeCosta:"It depends on the board; it really does. I mean, I'd have to say yes, because we have quarterbacks in our Top 31. So, just based on that alone, simple math, I would have to say, yes."
You're a month away from the deadline to decide on ILB Patrick Queen's fifth-year option. Do you anticipate that you'll be picking that up? (Kyle Barber)
DeCosta:"That will be a discussion we'll have with Patrick [Queen]. I wouldn't want to announce anything too premature with all you guys."
In the time you've been here, how different is the perception now at the University of Maryland and what head coach Mike Locksley is doing, and how you have to have eyeballs on his teams. How different is that now than it would have been eight or 10 or 12 years ago? (Stan Charles)
_DeCosta: _"Yes, I would just say … Then [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz] can comment. I think Coach [Locksley] has done a remarkable job adding talent. Every year, they've got a number of guys that can play at our level and play very, very well at our level. So, I think that speaks to the job he's really done down there."
Hortiz:"Yes, just having seen him [Coach Locksley] over the years and watched him, where he's been, he's always been a great evaluator of talent and recruiter, [and he] has always produced players at the schools he's been at. And so, he's done a great job building that program and adding, really, NFL talent to the roster. And Maryland has always put out some good players, but it seems like the group has grown as he's been there."
Can you talk about the addition of outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith and how he'll help with the Draft, because he's a pass rush guru and all that? How will he help, because all he did was train these types of kids? (Vinny Cerrato)
Harbaugh:"Yes, that's exactly right. It's probably an interesting point. He [outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith] has actually worked with a number of these guys already, just professionally, as a pass rush trainer, so he knows their personalities; that's an advantage for us. We have a number of guys from college … [Running backs coach] Willie Taggart – he's recruited a lot of these guys and knows a lot of these guys, so that's always an advantage for us. I know [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz], you … [Offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken], obviously, he's been around guys the last couple years, especially at Georgia. But Chuck [Smith], Chuck is a pass rush coach, and he's also a football coach. He's going to coach all aspects of it and continue to develop as a coach, like we all do, going forward. But the pass rush stuff, man, I really haven't come across anybody better over the last many number of years. He was here all the way back in 2008 working with our guys in training camp, and you don't forget that. So, I know our guys are excited, [and] those young guys are excited to work with him. And yes, like you're saying, he'll be a big addition as far as the Draft, but also really coaching our guys."
Back to the Terps for a second: Can you comment on their wide receivers coming out – WRs Rakim Jarrett, Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland? (Shawn Stepner)
_Hortiz: _"Yes, they're all a little different, but [Rakim] Jarrett, he can fly, obviously; [Jacob] Copeland, same thing. [Dontay] Demus Jr. has been a fun guy to watch through his career. Obviously, he had the injury, and he's really worked hard to get better, and he's developing, so I think he's on the upswing. [He's] a big, physical guy, with size, radius. And Jarrett, obviously, he plays more slot, but you see that vertical go. He can really accelerate [and] put pressure on a defense. And then Copeland, [he's] an athletic guy that transferred in. [He] was an impact special teamer at Florida, while being a vertical guy, and he's done the same at Maryland."
Two wide receivers you guys have been linked to a lot are WRs Zay Flowers and Quentin Johnston. Can you talk about Flowers. Obviously, his speed is there. Do you see him as a guy who can play anywhere – inside and outside? And also with Johnston, maybe the only negative thing is people talk about his drops. Can you talk about how you evaluate that and whether that's a concern? (Cliff Brown)
Hortiz:"Yes, we'll go to [Quentin] Johnston first. With the drops, we just see … When you see a receiver drop balls, you see how they're doing it. Is it tracking? Is it a hand placement issue? Is it just bad hands? Sometimes it's just [that] he's got his hands in the wrong spot. You just watch him make outstanding catches on film. You see his ability to adjust, go up and high point the ball, but he does drop some balls; most receivers do drop a ball or two, though, But he's a big, fast, physical guy. Obviously, [he] has playmaking ability outside. And then going to Zay [Flowers], he plays inside and out for BC [Boston College], and you see the same ability coming up to this level. He's strong, even though he's not big, and certainly, he can fly and put pressure [on] … Like I said … Like [Rakim] Jarrett, he can put pressure on a defense quickly. And he's got outstanding hands and [trackability], so he plays bigger than his size overall, I'd say."
You've talked about depth, and the defensive line room is really young across the board. You have a couple of guys who are entering contract years, and DE Calais Campbell has moved on. Could D-line be a position that you're looking at, as well? (Cordell Woodland)
DeCosta:"There's no doubt. I mean, we like the group we have now. They've played well. They played well last year, [and] I think they'll continue to play well. But we've also got to look at it from [the] short-term [and] long-term, what the position is going to look like – the strength of the Draft class, and we think there are guys in the first three, four rounds that can come in and play well. And we've been fortunate; we've taken some mid-round guys in the last few years, the last four years, that have played well for us, [so] we're excited about that. Justin [Madubuike] is a talented player. He's playing his best football. Broderick [Washington], again, [is] a guy that's maximized his ability [and is] one of the hardest workers we have on the team. He plays multiple spots. Travis [Jones] is another guy. Already, he's here every day, I think, working out. We're excited about those guys. But it takes more than three or four guys to play and to win in the NFL. So, of course, we'll look at it, we'll assess those guys versus the field, and we'll see what we come up with."
With your experience as a head coach in this league, as you look at draft potential, is there an equation you run through and say, "OK, but how will he handle this in the NFL," that you use to evaluate if a guy makes your list? (Gerry Sandusky)
Harbaugh:"Yes, there are a lot of equations like that. It's a great point. To me, you start with the type of player that [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz] – they start – and all the scouts evaluate. Then you just try to look at it and say, 'Do you think his skills are going to translate? [With] what he [did] in college, do you think it's going to show up the same in the NFL, or is it going to be more?' A lot of guys are better players in the NFL than they were in college – crazy enough – and other guys, you just never see it in the NFL and you wonder why. So, you try to say, 'Is that translatable? Can I picture him on our team, in our defense, on our offense, on our special teams doing the things that you see [him doing] well in college? Can you imagine that?' That's more, probably, feel and experience than anything else, for me. And then the other part of it [is] when you talk to the those guys, do they have what it takes? Do they have the right mindset towards success? Are they going to be thinking the right way? Is their head going to be in the right space? Because it's tough. Can they keep it simple and keep it about what really matters and not get caught up in the things that don't matter? How is a guy built that way, character-wise, if you want to use that word? Are they going to be the type of guys you need that are going to maximize their own ability? So, like anybody would with any kind of evaluation, you try to figure [out] who the person is."
How many guys have you lost from the Combine, for physicals, character, or situations like with DT Jalen Carter? You do have an advantage, because you have offensive coordinator Todd Monken on staff. (Vinny Cerrato)
Hortiz:"Yes, we certainly do. We know the Georgia players with [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken]. But we're still going through that process, and we'll have medical meetings, and then we'll talk it over with the coaching staff. [Scouting information & research manager] Steve Clagett does a great job with all our background investigations and research. So, we kind of talk through it. We don't eliminate anyone based on a quote-unquote grade; it's a discussion and a conversation that we talk through with the coaching staff during the meetings."
You've had one free agent come in (WR Nelson Agholor) from outside the organization so far this offseason. How difficult has it been to augment this roster ahead of the Draft? (Tim Barbalace)
DeCosta:"Not too much, not too bad, I would say. We've signed a lot of free agents; they just had played for us in the past. We had a lot of guys who we wanted back, is what it amounts to, and guys that have played winning football for us. We've never been a big free agency team prior to this year. We very much pick and choose, [and] it's based on a lot of different factors, so it's a bigger-picture team-building strategy that I believe in and that goes back to [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] that [head coach] John [Harbaugh] and Ozzie have developed over the years, and Coach [Brian] Billick and Ozzie … Everything … It's just the way that we operate. And so, for us, the Draft will always be paramount. It will always be our biggest and best way of improving our team for the long term. So, that's what we believe in. We're not done. As Ozzie has said a million times, the roster is not set until September, and we'll have a lot of different opportunities pre-Draft [and] post-Draft to build a strong football team. We'll take advantage of every single mechanism that we can – free agency, undrafted free agency, trades, waiver wire pickups – whatever that might be, to build the best team we can. So, this is just really the beginning, not the end."
Harbaugh:"One thing I might just add too: When you look at kind of the way we're built, we're really not a team that you'd go in and say, 'Hey, this team is going to sign a lot of free agents,' because of all the Draft picks we've had. We've had eight, nine, 10, 11 draft picks in [each of] the last three years, so most of those guys are still there. Most of those guys are … Take a guy like Ar'Darius Washington, just a guy, he was an [undrafted] free agent. We like him as a player, just to give you one name. We think he's got a future as a player. We're going to go out and sign players on top of these players that we're still developing. We're going to be a young team next year. Plus, like [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] mentioned, we signed a number of free agents who are our own guys already, coming back. So, when you like the players that you have, you drafted all those guys, you're developing those guys, the cupboard is not bare, where we need to go out and sign a bunch of free agents we think we need to, just to dismiss or just to cross out the guys who we're trying to grow. So, let's see where these guys grow and they develop, and trust our evaluation, trust our development, and give these guys a chance to go play. I think that was more the mindset this offseason."
You mentioned some of the characteristics you look for in wide receivers. When it comes to some of the undersized wide receivers, like WR Zay Flowers … You guys drafted WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in 2019. But for some of these undersized receivers, what do you look for to know that their size can be something that translates at this level? (Cordell Woodland)
Harbaugh:"It's such a great question. And what does undersized mean? Zay, he [might] be kind of short – what is he, 5-9 – but he's not small. Like, he's not a little guy. This guy is a strong guy. Plus, he can accelerate, he's got great explosiveness. [Jordan] Addison at USC [Southern California], he's another guy … He's a small guy, but you watch his stride, and he opens up his stride, this guy's ability to control his body and his balance … For Marquise [Brown], it was that explosiveness that you saw and ability to track downfield. So, what's the trait? What's their superpower? So, yes, if your superpower is not size, there's got to be one or two other superpowers that are going to help you be successful in this league. And you try to look at that individually and say, 'OK, what's going to be the key for him? What's going to be the trait that's going to make the difference?' So, I don't think Zay is an undersized guy, [so] he's off our board. I don't think Addison is off our board as a quote-unquote undersized guy. They've got superpowers that are going to make them successful. It's just what's the best fit in our offense, and are they there, and who else is there are that time?
You've talked about how much you like your young players and giving guys a chance. You drafted OLBs Odafe Oweh in the first round and David Ojabo in the second round, and Ojabo was essentially viewed as a first-round pick. Would that impact at all the pursuit of an edge rusher early in the Draft, because, inevitably, if you added another early-round guy in, it would impact their snaps and so forth? (Jeff Zrebiec)
DeCosta:"Well, if Will Anderson Jr. is there, we're probably going to take him. (laughter)It just depends on the player. I would never want to say, 'No,' and then we take a guy. It just depends on the player [and] how good we think the player is going to be. If we think the player can be Terrell Suggs or Lawrence Taylor, we'll probably take the guy."
At the beginning, you talked about the challenges of this offseason. Where has that taken you now to directly impact the Draft and where you are today? (Morgan Adsit)
DeCosta:"Oh, man. I just think the challenges for me have just been being able to get as much tape done as possible. We've been on the go since the end of the season. We've signed a bunch of our guys back; we've been doing a lot of contracts. We're just trying to get the board set, really. This is our chance. We don't have a lot of picks. I referenced the Chris McAlister Draft (1999) earlier this offseason as a really great Draft, because of what we were able to do with a small [number] of picks, and that's our challenge this year; we don't have a lot of picks. We want to nail those picks as best as we can and find guys to make the team better. Our scouts and coaches have got to do a great job with undrafted free agency, and then we'll assess post-Draft, players that are still there. How can we use our money wisely, knowing that we don't have a ton of money? You guys all know that. You can see what our cap situation is. How do we use that money wisely? How do we get creative with what we do to build the best team we can?"
I think every year we always ask you about wide receivers and the challenge of evaluating it, and you've pretty much hit Pro Bowl players at every position except wide receiver. How satisfying would it be if you were not having to be asked wide receiver questions in the future? (Jamison Hensley)
DeCosta:"You know what? I've been here 28 years. If it wasn't receiver, you guys would be asking something else. (laughter)That's the reality. It would be the offensive line; it would be the quarterback position; it would be the secondary. It's just the nature of the beast. So, we want to address as many positions [as possible]. There's never been a perfect team. I've never seen a perfect team, yet, in the NFL. We aspire to it, but I haven't seen that team. So, we're always going to have a weakness; we're always going to have a point of emphasis; we're always going to have something we're trying to fix. It's like a house. You buy a house, [and] you think, 'Oh, great.' Then the next year, something breaks; the next year, something needs to be replaced. It's just like running a football team; there are always things that need to be replaced and fixed, rebuilt, added on, whatever that might be. And so, that's what we are every single year. So, if it wasn't receiver, it would be something else. That's the nature of this business."
Another Maryland question for you: CB Deonte Banks, obviously, has first-round buzz. A lot of people talk about his physicality and just how effective he can be in press-man coverage. In the bigger picture, with as much zone that's played around the league, what's kind of the value of having a guy who can get up in a guy's face and be that kind of player? (Jonas Shaffer)
Hortiz:"When you can get up there and disrupt the timing of the wideout's release and the timing of the play, that's a big thing, in terms of affecting an offense's ability to execute. So, he [Deonte Banks] does a great job of that. He's very physical, he takes pride in it, and he does it well. So, I think that's something that's one of his strengths, certainly."
So much focus is on the first round of the Draft. Where are you finding the depth in this one in the third, fourth and fifth rounds that you can attack and that can become an area of focus? (Kyle Barber)
Hortiz:"I think [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] mentioned wide receiver being a deep position, and it is. If you look at our board, it's all the way throughout, [and] there are targets in multiple rounds. Pass rusher is another one, outside backer. [With] us playing the "RUSH-SAM" aspect, I think there are just different variations of players, but there are guys who can play in space and do more of the dropping and then certainly the edge setters and the pass rushers. So, those are two deep ones. And then corners [are] another one. It's a good, deep class of corners. So, I think we'll be able to find some Day Three prospects at those positions."
I know you think about all the picks that you've been involved with in 28 years with the Ravens. You've had a lot more hits than misses, but when you look at the misses, what have they taught you, in terms of, "Alright, don't fall in love with this," when you're drafting a player? (Gerry Sandusky)
DeCosta:"Yes, I think sometimes need can factor into that. If you feel a crunch and you see there's only one guy left at that position, and you take him at the expense of other players that might be better players at other positions … And I think you can't really discount a negative report. It's easy to do, so it's kind of psychologically how your mind works. You have six guys who love a player and one guy who doesn't love the player, and you tend to think to yourself, 'Oh, that guy is wrong. That one scout is wrong.' And so, he might be right. One of our great scouts we've ever had – you guys have heard me talk about him – Ron Marciniak. What made Ron great was he didn't care what anybody else thought about players. He didn't go and look at mock drafts; he didn't. He wasn't on Twitter reading all the stuff about players. He just sat in a dark room and evaluated guys. He didn't care if everybody else in the organization loved the guy; he didn't care. And I could give you some incredible examples, where he would take a guy that was going to be the first pick in the Draft or the fifth pick in the Draft and would give him a free-agent grade, and we'd all be looking at him like … (laughter)And you know what? A lot of those guys never made it past their third year in the league. It's incredible, right [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz]?"(Hortiz: "Yes.")"I mean, incredible. So, that's that mistake I think sometimes that the decision maker has to avoid – is to not dismiss one report at the expense of a bunch of other reports. You've got to really look into that, and you've got to consider the other path, so-to-speak, and do your homework. And that's what we try to do."