Ravens 2014 Draft Class Had 'Smartest Football I.Q.'


The Ravens had a bunch of smarties in the 2014 draft class, and Head Coach John Harbaugh believes that can be attributed to some of the group's success.

Inside linebacker and first-round pick C.J. Mosley was lauded from the start for his quick learning of the Ravens' system. He stepped in as a Day 1 starter.

Fifth-round guard John Urschel is a math genius who ended up starting at guard in the playoffs, and undrafted tackle James Hurst, who started seven games, is sharp as well.

"This [rookie] class is probably the smartest overall football I.Q. class that we've had," Harbaugh said in his season-ending press conference. 

"That goes a long way in why they've done so well as a group.  So, that's something we can hang our hat on a little bit going forward in the draft. Those smart guys tend to do a pretty good job as young players."

So as the Ravens scouting department steps into the forefront this offseason, it will again be looking for players that have more than just superb athletic traits.

"I think intelligence has always been something that is important for us," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. "It's certainly important. If a guy struggles picking up things, that's a problem."

Hortiz emphasized that it's not just book smarts. Different players learn different ways.

"I think there's varying degrees of intelligence and varying ways of learning," he said.

"First of all, can they learn? Second, what's the best way to approach them in learning? For some guys, it's very simple and natural for them. For other guys, there's a path to teaching where they're going to learn best."

Hortiz said the Ravens try to determine a prospect's intelligence through several different means.

The scouts talk to their college position coaches, the men who worked most closely with the player during their NCAA career in practices. The Ravens then spend time talking with the prospects during the Senior Bowl, combine, pro days and on official visits.

Baltimore likes to loop in its coaches to also get a feel for how well a player will pick up on the Ravens' schemes. The coaches are teachers, and they can tell whether a student will be able to get the lesson or how they might learn best.

"It's a big process we begin when we first start writing the guys up," Hortiz said.

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