In Part 1 of a two-part Q&A, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron sits down with BR.com and talks about what type of player the Ravens are looking for at this week's NFL Scouting Combine and how that will impact Draft Day decisions.
BR.com: What do you expect your role to be at this year's combine?
Cam Cameron: "Well, one, just familiarize myself with all the offensive guys coming out. You get to meet them. You get to talk to them. You never really know until you get there who's going to work out, who's going to run, who's going to lift and so forth. I'm just looking forward to getting to know these guys. Obviously, Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] have a lot of interviews set up. I'm looking forward to all of those. Those are very beneficial. I'm just looking to see which guys come in there with the right attitude, and we'll continue looking for guys who are Raven-like players."
What can a guy do that makes the biggest impression on you at the combine, whether it's something on the field or off?
"We want to see guys that are coming there to actually compete and impress you. It's hard to get excited about guys that are coming in there afraid of certain drills or guarded. We're just trying to filter through all the things we know they've been taught prior to going there to see which guys are going to just come in there and be themselves, trust who they are and not be trying to tell you what you want to hear or act a certain way you want them to act. In a lot of ways, you can sense some of that stuff about a guy."
How much stock can you put in what you see at the combine versus what you see on film? How do you weigh those against one another?
"For most of us, and for me specifically, what I hear from our scouts is most important because they get to see the guy practice. They get to talk to people at the school about him. When we narrow it down to guys that we're really interested in, our scouts do a great job of eliminating a lot of guys for us. So they get it down to a group they want us to watch, and you try to watch every tape because the bottom line is that's how you evaluate them – playing football. The combine is not football. There's a football there, but it's not football. There's no helmet. There's no shoulder pads. There's no contact. Other than taking a Wonderlic test, there's no mental element to anything they do. There's no play to think about. There's no defense to read. So you've got to realize that you're watching a bunch of football players basically go through a basketball/track workout. You've got to be careful that you don't fall in love with a guy from that standpoint."
You had mentioned previously that you really liked Le'Ron McClain as a runner coming out of Alabama even though he rarely carried the ball? What do you see that enables you to make a judgment like that?
"Sometimes, you get lucky. I'm not going to sit here and say we have any formula that someone else doesn't have. Sometimes, you just get lucky. However, sometimes, a fullback doesn't get to run the ball because he's got a lot of great tailbacks. What I'm looking for in a fullback is a guy who's got nimble feet, is light on his feet. Usually, if he's light on his feet and is tough, he'll be a good runner. We lucked out. He's a good runner. The thing that could scare you about a fullback is if he didn't catch the ball well. Well, he's got good hands. So you say, 'Hey, here's a big guy who's got good hands and nimble feet. There's a chance he looks like he can run with the ball after he catches it. Well, let's see what he can do if we hand it to him.' Early on, he felt like we were serious about it, so he was going to make sure he did his part. So I think a lot of the credit has to got to him and [running backs coach] Wilbert Montgomery because I can have a great idea, but he's the one who's got to do it. And he did it."
What was it about Joe Flacco that stood out in last year's combine?
"The first thing that I look for in a quarterback is his innate accuracy. Guys who can throw a football accurately, they don't have to have worked with a receiver for two weeks or two years. They can take basically anybody and go out there and throw it to them and complete the ball. He didn't care who was out there, he just completed every ball he threw and made it look easy. I've been the quarterback coach there before that's down on field level, and some of these guys are just scared. They can't throw to a guy unless they've been with him for a significant amount of time. The great ones can throw the ball accurately to anybody, and Joe completed, I think, every ball. So that said, 'OK, he's got a chance.' Then you realize how big he is. I remember watching him in the shuttle drill, how fluid he was. I remember that just catching my eye and going, 'You know what? This guy may be a pretty good athlete.' That's when Eric and George [Kokinis] said, 'We need to go work this kid out at Delaware.' Then, you work him out live, and he's what everybody was saying he was."
How do the coaching staff and personnel department collaborate in making the final decision on who to draft?
"The way that Ozzie has it set up, he has scouts that have looked at certain guys. We've looked at them. We write up reports, and they write up reports. We compare notes, and they come up with a grade. That's pretty much how it's done throughout the league, to some degree. We just come to a conclusion on the guy, and at some point in time after they get a grade, you rank them. Ozzie and Eric do that, and we revisit it and revisit it. A lot of discussions take place, and ultimately Ozzie and his staff and John [Harbaugh] pull the trigger. You've got to really tip your hat to our personnel staff, especially after watching them last year. They take all that information, trade back, then have the courage to trade up and get Joe because we collectively thought Joe was a heck of a player. And then to get Ray Rice. But they've been doing that here for years. I know that they'll do the same thing this year."