BALTIMORE RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE
GENERAL MANAGER/EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OZZIE NEWSOME, HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER ERIC DECOSTA & DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING JOE HORTIZ
Ozzie Newsome opening statement:"I want to begin with, late yesterday, we agreed to a one-year deal with Robert Griffin [III]. He came in last week, worked out – had a real good workout – and we were able to come to an agreement late yesterday. He will probably be here early next week to sign the deal. OK, we can open it up for questions."
Ozzie, obviously this is your last run at being the head of the draft. What were your emotions going into this draft, whether it was different than others, knowing that this will be the last time?(David Ginsburg)**
(NEWSOME) "I really haven't thought about that. [It has] been more just preparing for this draft. What's going to occur a year from now is not in my thought process. It's just making this the best draft we can this year. That's what's been my focus."
So Ozzie, you don't feel like there will be a different set of emotions this year in the draft room for you? (Jamison Hensley)
(NEWSOME) "No, no, no. It's all about the preparation, and it's all about who is that first player that we're going to take with that first round [pick] – if we pick in the first round."
Ozzie, I want to go back to what you originally said. How long has this thing been going on with "RGIII" [Robert Griffin III]? There was talk that you guys liked him last year. What do you feel like he'll bring for you guys? (Jeff Zrebiec)
(NEWSOME) "We've been in communications with his agent. He still lives in the D.C./Virginia area. We got contacted. We were bringing in some receivers, and we asked him if he would come in and throw and go through a full workout for us, took a physical. He did all of that. After that, he went to visit another team, and we were just able to come to an agreement. We're always working, trying to make our roster as good as it can be."
Hi, Dave Perrone, a season ticket holder since 1996. I would really like to thank the Ravens for inviting us out today; it's a great experience. My official question is: What criteria have you focused on and changed to improve results in drafting wide receivers? (Dave Perrone)
(NEWSOME) "I look at drafting receivers just like I look at bringing receivers in as UFAs or as free agents. There are certain traits, strengths, that we look for. What we found out that sometimes the development of the receiver can be retarded because they're just not on the field. The durability aspect of it will affect him, and some of the success of the receivers that we've had have all had durability, have all been able to be on the field. That way they can develop. If they're spending a lot of time off the field – they can't develop. I don't think there's any difference in the receivers that you bring in the draft than it is when you sign a Michael Crabtree or a John Brown. We field them all the same."
My name is Scott Blair, and my uncle Howard and I have been season ticket holders for 10 years. Can you give us an example of how your draft approach has changed and evolved over the last few years in the spirit of continuous improvement? (Scott Blair)
(NEWSOME) "I'll start off, and then I'll let Eric [DeCosta] and Joe [Hortiz] talk about it. From the very beginning, we've been a big believer in just taking the best player. That was from the very start when we took Jonathan [Ogden]. There was no doubt that he was the best player available at that point. We've maintained that. I guess what we've done beyond the first round is showing a bit more versatility to move toward need. But over the years, we believe in allowing all our scouts to have a say in what we're doing – especially at the top of the round. Then, what we try to do to get a little consensus of what they think, we get the coaches involved. The process is pretty much the same from my standpoint. Maybe Eric and Joe could chat a little bit about what's different."
*(DeCOSTA) *"I think the process has evolved, and it evolves every single year. It's changed. I remember back in '96, basically everything we did was just based off of the tape. The evaluation of the player was just spending six or seven hours in a dark room and just watching the guy play and maybe talking to one person. One of the big changes over the last 10 or 15 years has really been the amount of information out there. As we look back on players and do what we call 'self-scouting,' we look at why a guy succeeds and why he doesn't succeed. We start to see that one of the big reasons that why a guy may fail, for instance, is personality, behavior off the field, work ethic, dependability – these types of things. So about 10 years ago maybe, we really challenged our scouts to get more and more information, to build more sources, to network and talk to trainers and head coaches and strength coaches and assistant coaches and academic advisors and different people so that we could get more and more information. That was a big change for us. We used our assistant coaches more with their contacts in the coaching community, to build relationships with four or five different people at every college. That's really helped us, I think, to know the person that we're bringing in, that we're drafting, so that we can eliminate that. I think another thing we've tried to do is change the grading system over time. A big thing that we tried to do is take the pro grading system and the college grading system – they were always different – and create one specific grading system that we could use to grade pro players and college players. [This is] so that when we're speaking about a player in pros, we can kind of correlate that to a college player and vice versa. But really, what I think we're trying to do every single year is being as innovative as possible without taking the whole process apart, because we believe it works for us. We believe in what we do, the way that we're able to build a consensus with our coaches and scouts, looking at all the various information. The biggest thing, though, is still going back to the tape and how good of a football player is the guy."
(HORTIZ) "Not to go too long on this, but I would just say technology in my 20 years here and how it's changed the way we scout. It used to be when Eric started and I was a young guy, we'd make tapes – copies of tapes – send them out to the scouts, and they'd be at the mercy of what we sent them. They'd watch three games, and the guy could be hurt half the game. Now it's at the touch of your fingertips on a laptop or an iPad. So, the accessibility for all the scouts to access all the games and the information really allows us to add layers, in terms of finding guys, discovering information online and just statistical stuff and tying in analytics. I think putting to use the technology available has helped us."
There was a lot of talk during the Super Bowl about the scouts that you've lost – whether to Philly or elsewhere. Can you talk about their role right now in your organization, in terms of what they do to help you get ready for the draft? Was it a setback when you lost all these guys to other teams? (Keith Mills)
(NEWSOME) "Historically, we've lost guys. We lost 'Shack' [James Harris], we lost Phil [Savage], we lost Lionel [Vital], we lost Terry McDonough, we lost T.J. [McCreight], we lost 'Wash,' [Jeremiah Washburn], we lost Daniel [Jeremiah]. 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. You have to expect that. The feeder system that we've had [is] that everybody pays it back. We have our guys in, whether you're a fourth-year guy or a 10th-year guy, you're spending as much time with the young guys that are coming behind you to make sure that those guys are up to speed and they understand our process."
(DeCOSTA) "We try to train our guys. We believe in the process. 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. We have complete confidence in our scouts. We think that's going to show out this year in the draft."
Eric, Ozzie just mentioned the number of scouts that want to sit in his seat. You're the first guy who will get the opportunity. Your thoughts on that opportunity and how you're thinking about it relative to this draft? (Mark Viviano)
(DeCOSTA) "I think that's still in the future. Honestly, the best thing that I can do is to take care of today in this process, this draft for the future. We're really focused on this. We have an opportunity here to really fix our team – which we need to do. We try to start to do that in free agency, but we look at the draft as a real opportunity for us to take the next step to be the team that we all want to be, That starts right now. I think we'll worry about next year, next year. I think this draft has a lot of significance because – not because it's Ozzie's last draft – but because it's the draft we have right now. We have a great opportunity, and we don't want to blow it."
Ozzie, have you guys reached out or made a call to the Giants about WR Odell Beckham Jr. or to the Patriots about TE Rob Gronkowski? (Jerry Coleman)
(NEWSOME) "I don't think in 22 years, I've ever announced whether I've reached out to someone about some player, and I don't think I'm starting today." (laughter)
Your first draft, there was a lot of energy towards RB Lawrence Phillips, and you ended up taking the tackle No. 1. Can you talk about the pressures to take a playmaker versus somebody that could be a solid stalwart lineman at this point in time? (Stan Charles)
(NEWSOME) "All of that pressure is talked about or worked through during the process. These guys started working back in November, talking with the area scouts about who are their Top 30 or Top 10 players are. The process itself starts, and when we get to this point, which we'll start to meet – I guess this would be for our third time – next week, and then with the one other time we'll meet after that. It's all about working yourself through the process. Whether [the] guy is a playmaker or the guy is like Jonathan [Ogden], an 11-time Pro Bowler. I think we have a very good understanding of the needs of our football team, because we have John [Harbaugh] and the coaches are participating. What we try to do is to match that with the players, but we also have the ability to understand how we feel who the best players are."
So that dynamic is exactly the same today as it was the first draft you were a part of? (Stan Charles)
*(NEWSOME) *"No doubt, no doubt. So, you might be surprised at who we pick at 16 this year – if we pick at 16."
For Ozzie and John, the Griffin signing that you just announced, to your mind, does that put any less of a premium on looking for a young quarterback in the higher rounds of the draft this year? (Childs Walker)
*(NEWSOME) *"First of all, from my perspective, no. No, we will grade the players, set the board, and if there's a quarterback that we feel that we can pick at any of our picks, we'll do it. Coach?"
*(HARBAUGH) *"Yes, I feel the same way. Pick the best player for us, and there are a lot of things that go into that. Could be a quarterback, could be a defensive tackle."
On the quarterback front, Joe, I'm curious to get your take on the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. (Garrett Downing)
(HORTIZ) "Starting with Lamar … Well for one, they're different QBs, but one thing they both excel at is playing off schedule – being able to create. Lamar, obviously, set the college landscape on fire his freshman year. He's just a dynamic athlete, unbelievable speed when he gets out in the open as a runner, but he's got a really strong arm, with the ability to drive the ball into tight windows. He's done a good job transitioning into [Bobby] Petrino's offense, and I think Bobby has done a good job down there altering his offense to fit Lamar. He's the type of guy you can build around. And with Baker … Talk about a guy who has persevered through his career. Walking on at Texas Tech, not being given a scholarship after his freshman year, transferring, sitting out, playing rec football and baseball and all of that. He's an athletic kid as well, not quite as fast as Lamar, but very accurate. He does a good job of anticipating throws and really spreads the ball around well and drives that offense. Both are productive players and both well-deserved of the praise they've had thus far and going forward."
Eric, there's a perception, at least among the draft pundits, that it's not really a strong wide receiver draft in the first round, and 16 might be a little too early to take some of the top tight ends who are looked at maybe as back first round, early second round picks. Do you agree with that perception? And do you think a player from one of your primary needs is going to be available at 16? (Jeff Zrebiec)
*(DECOSTA) *"Well, I think that the pundits are not picking players. Fortunately, we make our decisions on players. We've got to make a pick at 16 – there's got to be somebody there that we like. We'll have a good player there. It might be a wideout, it could be tackle, it could be a defensive lineman, it could be a quarterback, it could be a corner. Whatever it is, we've got to make a pick. I think that the wide receiver class … Is there a Julio Jones in this draft? I don't know. We didn't think there was an Antonio Brown when Antonio Brown was selected. So, you never know. The biggest thing we have to do is find guys that we like – good football players – and whoever we pick across the board, we've got to find the right guys. I think there's a strong chance that if we do pick at 16, we'll find a guy that fills a specific need for this team that helps us win games early on. It's always what we try to do. Marlon Humphrey – last year, he came in and filled a specific, critical need for us. We had some injuries, he was a great pick, and he helped us win some football games. That's always what we try to do with that first pick."
For Ozzie and Eric, with so much talk about receivers, in your mind, what is the most difficult thing about looking at what a receiver does in college and projecting that into the NFL? How is it different in this position than maybe in some other positions? (Childs Walker)
(NEWSOME) "Well, I don't know if it's that much of a difference. If you look at offensive linemen, they don't even get in a three-point stance in college, and you look at pass rushers, they don't play the run. So, at every position, there's something that's going to be different as they get to the league. What we have to do is to make sure that the player that we pick will have the ability to develop himself within our system and become a player."
John, when you look back at your first draft here with Ozzie, did his demeanor in the draft room surprise you on that day? And has he changed over the past decade since you've been here? (David Ginsburg)
(HARBAUGH) "Ozzie has been great. I think the process that these guys talk about is something that I've been able to be a part of since 2008 and see it from the inside out. It's impressive. It hasn't fundamentally changed, because the principles haven't changed and the way they relate to one another has been consistent. Ozzie is the same person, [with the same] demeanor, professional, decision-maker that he has always been, and he gets better every year – just like you would expect of someone who works really hard at it. I would say the same for Eric [DeCosta] and the same for Joe [Hortiz]. These three guys have been doing it together in a way that they've learned from whenever they look back. And they study themselves. It's not like nothing changes and they haven't looked at the picks here and evaluations there that they feel were too high or too low over the years. They really just try to figure out why, and they try to improve what information they weigh in what ways and how they go about doing it. But the decision-making process, the way the picks are made, the way that Ozzie handles himself in the room, the way that Eric and Joe interact with him has been highly impressive. It hasn't changed. It's calm, it's professional, and it's just really good. I really don't want that to change too much. That's probably the best part of what we do."
Can you look back a little bit on your years with Eric and talk about his evolution as a top personnel guy? (Peter Schmuck)
(NEWSOME) "Well, it could take a while, but … Really, when we came in with [former Ravens director of college scouting] Phil [Savage] and I, we needed to have someone in the building. He wore multiple hats in the first year, and he just has grown from that time. At some points, it was only he, myself and Jessica [Markison] that would be in the building. We had to carry all of the weight because the rest of our troops were out on the road doing something. He has matured, he always has been a sponge, and he has been ready for this opportunity. Probably three or four years ago, he just decided that he was going to stay and be a part of this team, and I think that's a credit to him."
Coach Harbaugh, how much input do you have in the draft? I know you like to concentrate on the players you have on the roster and coaching the team, but how much input do you have? (Todd Karpovich)
(HARBAUGH) "I don't know, you can ask these guys. Right? I try to have a lot of input. (laughter) I think that there's a great collaboration here. To me, it speaks to Ozzie's format and the kind of people Ozzie, Eric and Joe are. They include the coaches and want the coaches to be a part of it, and you end up having as much impact as you're willing to work for, and I work really hard at it. I feel like they listen. I learn a lot on players in the process every year."
(DECOSTA) "I'll just say one thing about that – that I want to say: What separates John from a lot of different coaches is that he watches every player. He's got tremendous work ethic, he has a passion for it, and he works well [with the scouts]. He has tremendous credibility with the scouts because they know he's done the work. That's what I love; that's a joy. He's got a strong opinion, but it's always backed up by the tape and by what he wants on this team, and the scouts and coaches always respect that. We're all invested in the same process, and that's what makes our process – for me – so satisfying."
Go back to the beginning about how things have changed through all the years. Analytics are brought up in baseball and measured and a really big part of the conversation everyone has – talk to analytics in football – and obviously, there are all sorts of web numbers for pro players. On the college side, are there any measurables, outside of the obvious 40-yard dashes and how many bench presses and the crazy stuff they do in Indianapolis, that you look at and take a lot more seriously that maybe didn't even exist 10-15-20 years ago that were available to scouts? (Nestor Aparicio)
(DECOSTA) "We have stuff that we use, Nestor. I'm not going to go into specifics here, but we do have a staff of guys that work very hard on trying to find things that might give us some degree of an edge. It's a piece, it's a tool, it's something that we do to augment the process. It's not the end all, be all. We don't make our picks based on just a list of numbers that tell us who to pick; we would never do that. But, there is value in a lot of different things, and there is more than one way to skin a cat. We think that we should at least do our due diligence and consider a lot of different things, and we do that – whether it's personality, whether it's analytics, whether it's profiling. It could be all of these different things. But, the biggest thing is, how does the guy play? Does he play like a Raven? And that will never change."
It's a copy-cat league. We saw Philadelphia won the Super Bowl – John, you have close ties there – without getting into specifics, did you see anything that the Eagles did that you might be able to employ here? (Kirk McEwen)
(HARBAUGH) "Football or draft-wise?" *(Reporter: "All around.") *"Well, football-wise, absolutely. We study Philly, we study the top two teams and the top four teams, and we study our opponents we expect to play next year, in the offseason, pretty deeply, because you want to see what people are doing who are pretty successful. We've looked at them. The interesting thing about Philly is that it's the same family tree of coaching philosophy and style – kind of goes back to Andy Reid through Mike Holmgren, all the way back to Bill Walsh. It's really kind of the philosophy of what we're built on football-wise, so you can watch them and see a lot of things that we understand and know. They had some good ideas, and we'll probably try to grab any of them that we can and use them next year the best way we can."
Eric, can you speak to the patience you had to show waiting five years to get this job? Was that hard to go through, knowing that the light was at the end of the tunnel, but it was a long tunnel? (Pete Gilbert)
(DECOSTA) "Not really. Not really. I come to work every day and I'm with my best friends. It hasn't been hard for me. Maybe, at times, my family. Maybe. But, not really for me. I think people questioned it a little bit, maybe, out there, but not for me."
(HARBAUGH) "I can jump in on one thing – Eric entertains himself, too. His buddy Pat Moriarty, who's not in here right now, is usually the brunt of Eric's practical jokes. So, I think that's helped over the years. (laughter)"
John, it's an interesting relationship with Ozzie and Eric and how many years they've done this. What are they like? It's probably different per pick when you're on the clock, that dynamic of those two.(Morgan Adsit)**
(HARBAUGH) "What are they like on the clock? I'll tell you, it's like a volcano, kind of. It's like festering, like, 'Is this thing going to blow?' It never quite blows, but there's so much tension. Really, when it comes down to it, the clock is starting to tick, there are trades to be made. Steve Bisciotti is one of the calmer owners that you'll ever see in those moments. Steve is into it. Steve is a businessman, he understands value, and he understands the value of trades, and he wants to be bold. That whole dynamic for me, as I sit there and watch, and of course my tension is going too … But just watching that whole thing kind of boil and simmer, and then ideas get thrown out there and decisions get made, it's really unbelievable. It's really fun. We probably should put a camera in there someday. Maybe they have a hidden camera for posterity, I don't know. But I will say this, in the end, I think Eric is very logical. He cuts right to it, right when the time comes. In terms of 'OK, this is the factor; let's decide between these things.' And Ozzie is a decision-maker. In the end, Ozzie takes it all in. He'll ask a couple key questions, but he's listening and then he pulls the trigger. Ozzie pulls the trigger and makes a decision, and we all feel good about it."
Ozzie, I know you're not in an overly reflective mood, but what do you find most rewarding or invigorating about getting to do the draft again every year? (Childs Walker)
(NEWSOME) **"Well you know, from the very first draft, I think you can probably find the quote. I had the same anticipation, I had the same butterflies as I did when I walked out of that tunnel to play in my first NFL game. It was like that. You know all of the work is done, and then you have this moment where you have to pull the trigger; you have to go and perform. And I enjoy that aspect of it, just like I enjoyed competing on the field, because you're still competing with 31 other clubs about getting it right. And that same enthusiasm, that same fear that I had coming out of that tunnel, I have it on Thursday nights now, especially when we get within an hour of our pick, because that's when things start to happen."
To follow up on that. We keep hearing this is the last draft that you're going to be in charge of. Eric, how do you see Ozzie's role in the draft moving forward, and Ozzie, how would you like to see your role in the future?" (Stan Charles)
*(DeCOSTA) *"I just think that over the last 22 years, that for me, probably the most rewarding thing for me has been working with Ozzie, and I don't see that changing. He said this to me one time: 'His strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are his weaknesses.' So, you know what? We're a family, we want to win, and we're competitive people. We believe in what we do, we want to be good, and we want to build a team that you guys are proud of. And I've got probably the best GM in the history of football. At least one of the top five, here right now, and I hope he always stays."
(NEWSOME) "The way the process works is we're all about getting it right. It's not about me being right, Eric being right, John being right, Joe being right or Steve being right. Let's just get it right. And I don't see that changing. I really don't."
Joe, how do you view this tight end class in the context of it being a pretty big need for the team and also acknowledging that history suggests even some of the most accomplished tight ends don't make an immediate impact? (Luke Jones)
(HORTIZ) "The tight end class, again someone mentioned it earlier, there are some pretty good ones out there. And they're of the athletic variety, pass-catching tight ends that certainly could help impact our offense. So, from that standpoint I think there are going to be some guys, targets, for us in each of the rounds who can come in and help us. In terms of development, that's a position where a lot of times they're asked to do a lot of different things, and it takes a guy time to grow at this level with the speed of the game and the different things you ask them to do. I think that's why you have some guys who may come in as a No. 2 and have solid production as a No. 2, but then they grow. If you think about Dennis [Pitta's] first year here, I think he had five catches or eight catches, and then he blew up the second year. So, there's times when it just takes guys to get a little bit familiar, especially when you're asked to do more things."
Ozzie, the fact that last year the first four picks were defensive players and you really didn't take any skill position players – although, I count linebackers as skill position players – does that impact this draft at all? (Stan White)
(NEWSOME) *"I think that's the way the board fell last year when we came to make the pick with Marlon [Humphrey]. Marlon was the highest rated guy, and we took him. Same thing with Tyus [Bowser], [Chris] Wormley and with Timmy [Tim Williams]. And I don't see that changing. The work is being done and will get done over the course of the next 22 days. And at that point the board is going to get set, and we'll be prepared to pull the trigger. Is it going to be four defensive players this year? I would hope not, because we've got some areas on offense that we think we can improve, based on the players in the draft. But I can't control … I've always said I can't control what those other 15 people in front of me are going to do. I have no control over that." *(Reporter: "So, depending on the rating, you wouldn't consider getting an offensive player more than…") "If it was, I mean why would we have taken Tyus [Bowser] and then gone back and taken Timmy [Tim Williams]? Timmy was the best player at that point, and even though there were some offensive skill people that we talked about, clearly it was Timmy. So, I think that is the way the four of us understand the process, and we have lots of discussion about player to player. That's the openness that we have, and at some point, Player A has to be above Player B, and then we just work our way [through]. But a lot of that gets done now. It doesn't happen when we're on the clock, or 10 minutes before we get on the clock. That work has already been done."
Ozzie or Eric, historically, can a 16th pick or right around that area be tough to trade out of? A lot of people say that kind of similar players are available in the early twenties. (Jeff Zrebiec)
*(DeCOSTA) *"I think there's a perception of that being the case, but we've looked at it, and we know the numbers. We've seen all the trades, and you can trade basically anywhere in the first round, because there's an emotional aspect to it. Teams want to trade up for a guy or trade back for a guy. It doesn't really matter where the other team is. If you have a specific player that you want, you just come up and get him. And we've made some of those trades where we've gone from the twenties up to 15 or 16 over the years. And also, there's been a lot of trades where we've traded back as well. So, I think we're in a good spot for a lot of different reasons. I think 16 is a good spot to be in this draft. It plays well to our needs and different strategies. There are a lot of different things at play, and I think it will be an interesting first round."
(NEWSOME) "To add to that, we almost traded up last year, and then we were very close to trading back last year. So, it could go either way."
Ozzie, last week at the coaches' breakfast, I believe John mentioned something about Joe Flacco getting together with the wide receivers with the room changing. How necessary is it for him to get together with these guys before OTAs, away from the building? (Jerry Coleman)
*(NEWSOME) *"I think that's more of a coaching question. But, I think any time that players can get together and start to work on their craft and start to mesh and start to communicate with each other and understand each other … I think the value of John and my relationship over the last 11 years is that we communicate all the time. And we have a good feel for it, and the same thing has been with Eric and with Joe, so that should flow down to the players, too. You know, that if you spend a lot of time working with each other, then when you get into situations in a game and a practice, you know how a person is going to react." *(Reporter: "You can't speak to them right now. I guess the only way you can is through the media?") (laughter) *"I've never been good at speaking through the media. No, this is the dead period."
Ozzie, the Ravens have not made the playoffs in three straight years, which is a rare streak for this organization. To what degree can you say that the drafts have factored into that? The misses that you've had along the way, can you say that that's part of why it's been three years? (Mark Viviano)
(NEWSOME) "No doubt. The acquisition of players over the course – just like it was when we were having success – we were getting all the credit, and then we haven't had the success. I need to take all the blame. And it falls right on me. So yes, John and his staff do an unbelievable job, but we have to do a better job of bringing in players. Whether that's through the draft, through free agency or through trade, we have to do better, and that will help them to do better. Hopefully when we're sitting here in game 16, hopefully we're already in the playoffs and not trying to play to get in the playoffs."
(HARBAUGH) "That's the same question we have as coaches, too, just to follow that cab a little bit. We feel the same way. We've got to coach better, we've got to develop players better, we've got to come up with better game plans and find ways to put our guys in a better position to make plays when the time comes to get over the hump and overcome whatever adversity we face. We have to do that as a coaching staff. That's the dynamic. Everybody in this entire building believes they need to do a better job. You look at yourself, your area, your position, your side of the ball or your side of the building first and figure out what you can do to improve and be better. That's what we all are doing; I know we are every day."
Joe, this is believed to be a top-heavy quarterback class with a lot of guys expected to go early. Is there a fallout in that guys that might go in later rounds could have potentially been higher draft picks in other years? Is there greater value in that area of the draft? (Glenn Clark)
*(HORTIZ) *"I guess that could happen. Through the course of the fall, we rate the quarterbacks and we grade the quarterbacks, the scouts. If four guys go in the Top 10 picks, the grades aren't going to change on the quarterbacks in our room."
But because there are so many more that are going to go early, of the guys that are later in the draft, perhaps guys that in other years might have been earlier picks than they will be this year, does that create more value for them? (Glenn Clark)
*(HORTIZ) *"OK. I got you. Yes, there are some guys that if teams, because there are more guys for teams to target early, they won't reach on guys. So yes, definitely, teams will take the top quarterbacks and you may get a little value there in the third, fourth round of a guy that in other years a team may have taken because of need up higher. Yes, I understand your question."
Is there still a strong possibility that you could add a free agent receiver at some point before the draft? (Jeff Zrebiec)
*(NEWSOME) *"Before the draft, before we get to the 53? Yes. We are constantly working to try to improve the roster, and there is potential that we could add another receiver before we get to the draft."
Ozzie, you've had some visits with a couple of restricted free agents. Any plans to try to acquire any of the restricted free agents you've met with? (Jamison Hensley)
*(NEWSOME) *"We're in the market. We're in the market to acquire players in every aspect. We're in the market."
John, from your point of view to have QB Robert Griffin III on your roster now, what do you expect from him, what do you see from him? I know he didn't play last year. (Mark Viviano)
*(HARBAUGH) *"Very excited about it. I know I'm excited, the coaches are excited. Robert came in and had a really good workout. He looked good throwing the ball. He's in very good shape. Obviously, his personality, he's a confident guy. He's a very talented quarterback that has had a lot of success in this league early on. So, we're excited about it, and we felt like we needed a No. 2 quarterback. We needed a guy. You look at the veteran quarterbacks out there, I mean, where we're at right now, I'm pretty excited about this player. I'm really feeling like we got a steal. I'm really feeling that way. I feel like Ozzie and Eric did a great job here, and I know RGIII – he'll speak to this – but I felt like he really wanted to be here. [He] really wanted to be a Raven. It just felt like this was the place for him. I believe our players are going to love the fact that he's here – they like him as a person – and it makes us a better football team. What Ozzie has been talking about throughout the whole press conference, we're trying to become better, and this move makes us better."
Ozzie, can you expand on dealing with restricted free agents? It's a little different than unrestricted, and is there a strategy to when you offer contracts knowing when other teams can match, when to offer and when not? (Paul Mittermeier)
*(NEWSOME) *"There is a restricted period, which runs from the beginning of the UFA period up until this year, I think it's the 20th [of April]. So, it has to be done by then, because you're giving up – if you make a move – you may be giving up a pick in this year's draft. So, you can have communication with the other team that they're with. It's a lot of things that go into it, but I think it's only been one time with Chester Taylor that we put a tender on in Cleveland, and Phil [Savage] decided to up it, and then we had to match it. So, we know the mechanics of it, and we're working our way through that. But there are still some UFA guys out there, and there are still some … You know, the good thing about this league is when one move is made, it probably means somebody is going to get cut. And with what happened yesterday, it probably means that somebody is probably going to hit the market pretty soon. So, you just have to be prepared for any and all avenues of getting players, but the restricted area is a little bit different, because the team has the ability to match. And, with the new CBA, you can't put poison pills in anymore, and they only have to match the front side of the deal. So, the home team has the benefit when you're dealing with a restricted guy."
Ozzie, Steve Bisciotti had said in January that he thought you guys were a long way off from looking for a replacement for QB Joe Flacco. You guys have talked about the possibility of grabbing a quarterback with the 16th pick. Do you feel that is something you need to start paying a little more attention to? (Glenn Clark)
*(NEWSOME) *"I don't know if we paid more attention to it this year. I think the quality of the number of guys maybe more than which allows us to make sure we do our homework. But, I don't know that we've paid more attention to quarterbacks this year than we have in years past, because as we stated, then I'd be lying to say, 'Hey, if a quarterback is there, we would have taken him at 46 or 48.' That hasn't been the case."
Joe, what are your thoughts on Maryland WR D.J. Moore, and did that change after his Combine? (Morgan Adsit)
(HORTIZ) "D.J. is a productive player; he's a good player. We had the opportunity to see him play a lot down here, being close by. It's an impressive year this year knowing he's played with three different quarterbacks. That's a difficult thing to adjust to, and he was productive throughout the season and was consistent and was helping those guys out. In terms of the Combine, no. I don't think there's any change. I think he performed well at the Combine, and he performed well again on his pro day. He's holding his water. He's doing a good job at each level, in terms of getting ready for the draft."
My name is John Wise. I've been a season ticket holder since 1996. When you evaluate a draft prospect, how much importance is assigned to the player's Wonderlic Test score? Also, can you comment on who have been some of the most intelligent players in Ravens history? (John Wise)
(DeCOSTA) "Regarding the Wonderlic, I think that it's one data point that we do look at. It's changed a lot over the years for a lot of different reasons. I think the confidentiality of the actual scores now are much more important than they used to be, say, 20 years ago when you could basically Google anybody and get the scores from any player. I do think that if there is a low score, it's a flag. That means that we should probably either bring that player in to talk with them, interview that prospect or redo the test. We also have some other tests that we believe in, that help us look at the player's personality, ability to learn. We also see a lot of times that some of the most intelligent football players could have a low Wonderlic score. In fact, some of our best players that we've ever had here, have had lower Wonderlic scores. Just because a player gets a lower score doesn't mean he's not an outstanding, instinctive, smart football player. It is something that we look at. It's interesting to look at the scores. But, we also know that you can get, what I would refer to as a 'false positive,' meaning that a guy could get a low score, but that doesn't mean he's not a smart, intelligent football player. Some guys don't test well. Some guys, if you put them in that room under those parameters – 12 minutes, 50 questions – they're just, for whatever reason, they're not going to test well. Yet, when you talk about football, or you talk about complex things that happen over the course of a game, they're outstanding. So, that's what I would say. In terms of intelligent players, I'm hesitant to really do that, because then the guys we don't mention, they're going to think that we're calling them dumb. (laughter) We're not calling them dumb. But I think a couple guys really stand out, just to me as being really smart football players. Ed Reed, I think, is one of the most instinctive, smart players I've ever seen. He comes to mind as being one of those guys that just stands out to me, for sure."
(NEWSOME) "'Goose.' [Tony] Siragusa."
I heard that you may be looking at RB Frank Gore? (John Wise)
(NEWSOME) "He signed with Miami." *(Wise: "Really? He had a Wonderlic score of 4.") *"And he's probably going into the Hall of Fame."