When the Philadelphia Eagles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy this year, the Ravens' fingerprints were on their championship run.
Several former Ravens scouts have made their way up Interstate 95, headlined by Philadelphia's Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas. He started his career as a scout in Baltimore and was instrumental in evaluating players like Joe Flacco, C.J. Mosley and Marshal Yanda. The Eagles Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham was also a Baltimore transplant, as well as some of their younger scouts on staff.
Owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged this offseason that it hurts to lose high-caliber evaluators like Douglas, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta both stressed during this week's pre-draft press conference that they believe in their personnel department.
"We have complete confidence in our scouts," DeCosta said. "We think that's going to show out this year in the draft."
Losing scouts is not a new problem for the Ravens. That comes with the territory of having success, as other teams want to emulate what's happened in Baltimore.
Newsome is in the unique position to have led the Ravens' personnel department for 22 years, which is an eternity in the NFL. His longevity has led to some of his evaluators going to other teams to become general managers of their own.
Phil Savage and George Kokinis both left the Ravens to become general managers for the Cleveland Browns (Kokinis returned and is now the senior personnel assistant), and Lionel Vital, Terry McDonough, T.J. McCreigh, Jeremiah Washburn and Daniel Jeremiah are all examples of scouts the Ravens have lost over the years.
"Part of the process that we have is built on us knowing that at some point, we are going to lose some of our better scouts, because they want the opportunity to be sitting in my seat," Newsome said. "You have to expect that."
When scouts have left, the Ravens have relied on internal promotions to fill their voids. Baltimore's personnel department has been built by scouts who were once part of the team's 20-20 club, which is a nickname originally given to scouts who started working for the team in their early 20s making about $20,000.
Evaluators like DeCosta, Kokins, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Douglas and Cunningham all started out in the 20-20 club before advancing to more prominent positions. They learned from the scouts ahead of them, and now the Ravens are continuing their system of training a new breed of young scouts.
"We try to train our guys. We believe in the process," DeCosta said. "I think it's a credit to Ozzie that we have lost as many guys as we have in the last four or five years. It shows me that we're doing something the right way. But we also believe in our younger guys. "I see tremendous upside – to use a scouting phrase – in our scouting staff."