Ronnie Stanley sat on the stage in front of the Baltimore media for the first time Friday afternoon. The Ravens' No. 6 pick came off as intelligent, calm and confident.
Stanley didn't break a sweat, not even when one of the first questions was on whether he's passionate and tough enough.
That question to an NFL offensive lineman has to be one of the most condemning – one that could very well send the reporter ducking for cover. Stanley didn't blink.
"I don't take it personally at all," he said. "You've got to be tough-skinned to be in a business like this. You can't really listen to anything people say about you, especially when they don't know you personally."
Stanley doesn't put on a show. Much like the quarterback he'll be protecting for years to come, he'll be himself and let others do the judging. Stanley doesn't have a boisterous personality, but Baltimore fans should have been taught by Joe Flacco that you can't judge a player's fight based on his demeanor.
"I'm a very tough kid. I was raised that way," Stanley said. "Growing up in my household, my dad is a military man and I was disciplined from a very young age."
While Stanley doesn't go above and beyond to defend himself from such chatter, those who know him better seem to have their neck hairs raise when they hear such accusations.
"When you talk about toughness, anybody can talk a good game," Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo said. "I think what Ronnie wants to do, come September, you guys will see what Ronnie's all about. And that's the bottom line."
Castillo first met Stanley two years ago when he was at Notre Dame to visit a friend, Notre Dame Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand. Castillo ended up talking football with the players, including Stanley.
"You talk about passion: you try to sit in on a three-hour grind session and the whole time that we were there, he was focused and ready to go," Castillo said. "He loves the game or he wouldn't be where he is."
No doubt, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound athletic specimen has a ton of God-given natural ability. But you don't become a top-10 NFL draft pick based on talent alone. Stanley has put a lot into the game.
Stanley started 39 straight games at Notre Dame, beginning at right tackle as a sophomore and then left tackle as a junior and senior. He was incredibly durable during that time, surely playing through more than just bumps and bruises along the way.
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly sat with Stanley in the green room at the draft and emphatically vouched for his football character.
Kelly said Stanley practices as hard as anyone and never took a day off. He compared his competitive drive to another former Irish offensive lineman and current Cowboys Pro Bowl guard, Zach Martin.
"First and foremost what you have is a great competitor, a guy who loves to play, loves the game," Kelly said. "You got a guy that just has an incredible work ethic. That's why a team like the Ravens does its homework. You pick championship caliber character, and that's what you got with this kid."
Hiestand is a good friend of Head Coach John Harbaugh. He gave Stanley a preview of what he's going to be in for in Baltimore. It sounds like a good match.
"He told me he's a hard coach, he wants to win, and he's a competitor," Stanley said. "That's exactly how I am as a person and I couldn't be happier."
Take a look at photos from newest Raven Ronnie Stanley during his time at Notre Dame.