The Byrne Identity: Draft Day 1

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  • UPDATED 8:30 PM
  • IT HAPPENED AGAIN

I've watched Ozzie Newsome select every player in Ravens history, including all of our No. 1 picks. For 14 drafts, I have seen players we graded higher fall to us in the 1st round. For example, Todd Heap was in our top 15, and we got him at the 31st spot. We graded Terrell Suggs as the 4th-best player in the 2003 draft, and we got him at 10.

(The only time I did not see a higher-rated player drop to us in the 1st round was in 2002 when our 24th-ranked player, Ed Reed, came to us at – 24.)

At the risk of getting my hand slapped by Ozzie Newsome or Pat Moriarty, who will negotiate the contract of our new No. 1 selection, tackle Michael Oher, another player came to us. Won't give the spot where our scouts graded Michael, but I will tell you it was in our top 15.

Amazing how this keeps happening for us. And, with the credibility our personnel staff has gained by consistently hitting on No. 1 picks, this is exciting.

Here's how it went down:

We were, of course, slated to pick at the 26th pick in the 1st round. When tight end Brandon Pettigrew was selected by the Lions at the 20th spot, Coach Harbaugh asked: "Will Oher be there at 26?"

After a little discussion between Newsome and DeCosta, it was decided that Michael would not be there. So, Ozzie started making calls. Cleveland had the 21st spot, and George Kokinis, who is the Browns' GM and was our director of pro personnel a year ago, received the 1st call from Newsome. Kokinis told him that he was taking a player.

Oz got the same response from Minnesota. He then called his old friend at the Patriots, Bill Belichick, who agreed to a trade. We sent our 5th-round selection in this draft to move up 3 spots to 23, and we got our guy, Michael Oher.

The folks in our draft room erupted, especially Coach Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Soon after, offensive line coaches John Matsko and Andy Moeller came bounding in the room hugging and slapping high fives with everyone within reach.

When I asked Ozzie to explain the trade, he said: "We were not necessarily worried that the teams in front of us (when we were at 26) would take Oher. There were two teams behind us that we thought might try to trade in front of us to take him."

Newsome also added that getting a young tackle opposite Jared Gaither, to go along with the other young standouts we have on the line – players like Ben GrubbsChris Chester and Marshal Yanda, "will help protect Joe Flacco for many seasons."

Hey Ravens Fans, this line has a chance to become dominant and among the NFL's best. Good news for the good guys.

POSTED 4:53 PM

WHAT'S HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES?

Throughout today and tomorrow's draft, I'll share some insights and give you a look behind the scenes at what is happening at the Ravens' Owings Mills training complex. It will be an attempt to take you into our draft room and get you closer to what the team is doing – beyond what other media can give you.

THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE SWEATING… 
New director of college scouting Joe Hortiz did not work out this morning. That's a story among Ozzie Newsome and his personnel staff. But, Joe does plan to get on the treadmill tonight for a walk as he clears his head after today's opening 2 rounds.

Ozzie arrived at the office just after 9 this morning, just a few minutes before director of player personnel Eric DeCosta. Newsome went right to the treadmill to "get some exercise and clear my mind." After that workout, Newsome reviewed video of 2 players he hopes the Ravens have a chance to draft later today or tomorrow. Oz was back on the treadmill at 2 for a 2nd workout and in the draft room by 3:30. In between, he called a number of teams, including George Kokinis at the Browns and James Harris at the Lions, both former directors of pro personnel for the Ravens.

DeCosta has a regular routine on draft day. He ran with VP of football administration Pat Moriarty soon after he arrived, and he made calls around the league seeking some last-minute information that could help the Ravens. During lunch, DeCosta was on the racquetball court for 3 games against me.

John Harbaugh also relieved the pre-draft stress with a workout that included some weightlifting. "We're getting better today and tomorrow. Can't wait to see what Oz and Eric get for us," Harbs said. "Think about where we were a year ago at this time. We've made so much progress. We keep taking steps up the ladder."

Many of the Ravens' 14 scouts played 3-on-3 basketball on the team's NBA-sized half court. "You bring so much energy to these 2 days that I think the working out helps all of us cope with sitting so long over the next 48 hours waiting to pick 6 players," DeCosta explained.

FUN AND RITUALS

With a year's worth of work leading up to the selections, you clearly feel 2 emotions around the building. There's an intensity that comes from not knowing which players will fall to us. There is also a more relaxed and confident attitude that is based on a group that believes it is ready for whatever happens over the next 2 days.

To keep a nice balance, Ozzie makes sure everyone has some fun over these days. It started last night when Oz hosted a reception at a local golf course for coaches and scouts and those on staff directly involved with the draft.

It's a good team-building and bonding event. As with almost everything we do here at the Ravens, there was competition: a putting contest and a chipping battle. Milt Hendrickson, our Midwest area scout, won the sudden-victory putting contest when he was the first to sink a 30-foot putt. Strength coach John "Mother" Dunn earned the chipping contest bows.

And there are some good-natured bets going on. There is a pool among scouts and coaches to see which person can predict the most correct team/players selected in the 1st round. There are side wagers among scouts who have disagreed about the value of various players. "Even Ozzie and I will do this. It helps pass the time," DeCosta said. "I'll say to Oz, 'So-and-so will go before your guy,' and he'll challenge that. And, we'll have fun waiting to see which player gets picked first. Hey, we're ready to draft. We have our list. Stuff like that is fun competition and keeps the clock moving."

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