NFL DRAFT FIRST-ROUND PRESS CONFERENCE
Ravens executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome's opening statement:
"With the quarterbacks going early in the Draft, we started to anticipate several players that had the potential of making it to the 26th pick. There were not a lot of trades that occurred. I think maybe three, four trades occurred before us. We were prepared to pick, but we were also waiting to see if any calls came – and a call did come. John [Harbaugh] was on the phone with the player we drafted, Jimmy Smith. John was on the phone with him, and I was on the phone with another team in the League. There was an agreement made between the team and I. I got on the phone with the National Football League, but the other team never got confirmation from the League. At that point, I was asked by the League to make the pick. We made the pick. There's probably been about maybe six or seven times that we've had the opportunity to have a player that was rated fairly high on our board that we were able to get down in the 20's. That's where Jimmy fits. I know you'll have a lot of questions about him. We brought him in. We put him through a process, even more so than we do with some of the other players, and we came away feeling that he would be able to come here and continue to be the type of player and person that he's been for the last couple years."
Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta's opening statement:
"We spent a lot of time looking at Jimmy. He's a guy that, as a player – we have a chance to watch a lot of corners every year – and he's a very unique talent. We've tried to find a guy like him for several years. He makes us a lot better as a football team. He tackles well, he's got great coverage skills, he's a big kid, he matches up very well against the receivers in our division, and we're very excited to get him. Sometimes you have to adjust on the fly, and I'm proud of our guys. We were able to adjust throughout the first round, and particularly at the end in a difficult situation. We got a great player."
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's opening statement:
"To talk about Jimmy as a player, our coaching staff is excited. This guy, he's a special player. He's exactly the type of corner that we're looking for. He fits our defense just the way we need him to fit our defense. I know Chuck [Pagano] is excited; Teryl Austin is excited; I'm excited. He was in this building for a day. He was in my office for almost two hours. He was in Ozzie's office, Eric's, Joe [Hortiz]'s. We all spent a great amount of time with him. All the things that you're going to ask questions about, that's all fine, that's good. But we think he's got a good heart. We think he's very committed to being a great football player, and we're going to do everything we can to help him be that. I want you to know, as a head football coach, I'm excited about this pick. This guy makes us better."
At what point were you comfortable with CB Jimmy Smith becoming a Raven despite his character issues?
*(HARBAUGH) *"When I talked to him the second time. We've done so much homework. Ozzie and Eric and Joe and their staff… It's unbelievable the homework [they do]. And what I like about Jimmy [is he] came right out from the beginning and has been forthright with everything that's happened to him. He's had a lot of situations. He didn't try to hide anything. He put it all out there for the whole world to see. He's going to have to deal with that, and we're going to have to deal with that. That's OK. This guy, I think, is a good person at heart. He's a heck of a football player. We got a great locker room for him, I think we have the right coaches for him, and he makes our team better."
What was going on inside the War Room during the pick, and were you poised when the clock was running down?
*(NEWSOME) *"Yes, everyone was poised. Like I said, I was on the phone with the other team, and John was on the phone with Jimmy Smith. Once that agreement was made, then you have to call the League. We've been in this situation before that when you get close to the clock, in order for a trade to happen, both teams have to talk to the League, and the other team did not get the confirmation."
Was it your intention to trade down and still draft Smith with a lower pick?
*(NEWSOME) *"When you trade down you don't know who is going to be there. When we were trading back several spots, someone could have picked him between the time we would have gotten back on the clock. But, if we would have gotten back on the clock and Jimmy would've been there, yes, we would have taken him."
How did you decide that Smith hasn't had recent issues that could be of concern?
*(DeCOSTA) *"I think we've got the best area scouts in the League, and their job is to do everything they can to know all the players in the Draft. He's not the only player in this Draft that has issues, certainly. We spent nine months really looking at Jimmy Smith. He's one of the first players I looked at this fall because he's 6-2, 210 pounds. So, I went out to Colorado early this year. We had two other area scouts go out there early. We had two other scouts go in there after the fact. We had coaches work him out; we talked to him at the Combine. We expressed our interest in Jimmy, but we needed to get some information from Jimmy as well. At the end of the day, we just had a comfort level with the kid, both as a person and as a player. He's a good fit on our team, on our defense, with Chuck coaching him [and] coach Austin coaching him. We think we've got a great locker room, and we think he's going to be a guy that comes in and flourishes in our system."
Was size the No. 1 factor for drafting Smith?
*(HARBAUGH) *"I think what you do is you look at the tape. Just the way he plays on tape attracted me. But, the size is a big plus [and] the speed is a big plus. He doesn't move like a 6-2 man; he's rare that way. He's got special talents, and he plays real hard. He's a good tackler. He's very physical. He plays the ball well downfield. Those are all things you look for in a corner."
Will having a strong veteran locker room help make the transition to the NFL easier for Smith?
*(DeCOSTA) *"We've seen it many times with our guys. They come in here, and we've got a great locker room, even better coaches and a great system and structure in place. I think he's going to be great."
Do you see Smith as a risky pick?
*(NEWSOME) *"As I said during the Draft luncheon, every pick there is some bit of a gamble in it. But, we trust our process. We trust the people that got the opportunity to spend time with him, and there was a number of people that had that opportunity to spend some time with him. So, we trust the process, we trust the people that are in this building that are going to be interacting with him on a day-to-day basis, and we also got to know Jimmy – what his aspirations [are] and what he wants to do and what he wants to be. That kind of matched up with what we thought."
Was there a threat of you losing Smith after the time ran out on your pick?
*(NEWSOME) *"[Kansas City] got their pick in before us, so that was a potential for us to lose him, yes."
Did you save some money getting Smith with the 28th pick instead of the 26th?
(NEWSOME) (laughter) "We'll have to talk to the agent about that when we get to that point. But we got the player, and we're just happy to have him. Whatever contract that we end up signing with him will be compensatory to where he got picked."
Were several teams talking with you about trading during your time on the clock?
(NEWSOME) "Yeah, there was more than one team. Yes, there was. Like I said, there is a value that we put into trading back, and the other team did not meet the value that we wanted for us to go back to that spot."
Was it important to not trade back too far in order to try to still draft Smith?
*(NEWSOME) *"No. We weren't looking at that because I think we've got a strong board. If we'd have lost Jimmy, then we felt like there were other players on this board… There are other players on this board that are going to be able to help this football team that we will be able to get."
Did anything happen in the first round that changes how you look at the future rounds?
*(NEWSOME) *"No, not really, other than the quarterbacks going early. And there was a lot of speculation that that could happen. You could sit there, and maybe we were thinking over the last three or four days that the top of the second round would have been heavy with quarterbacks, [which] could have pushed some other guys back down to us, but not necessarily. We felt that those guys were going to go at some point, so where we're picking at 58, we think we're going to get a really good player."
Explain exactly what happened with the trade not going through?
*(NEWSOME) *"I'm only able to talk to the League. The number of trades that we've made – and this group knows we've made a lot of trades – the only way the League will tell me, 'OK, you've got a trade,' is after they talked to the other team. Then, they'll [say], 'OK, Ozzie, you've got a trade. Baltimore, you have a trade.' That never came about. They told me, 'Ozzie, you need to pick.'"
Was the decision difficult because so many high-rated players fell to the end of the first round?
*(DeCOSTA) *"They're all hard decisions, but it was a hard decision. Sure, there were a lot of talented players still on the board. In the end, we felt like Jimmy was the best fit for us from a need perspective, certainly from a talent perspective, overall. As I have said, I think he is a unique talent, and he makes us a lot better as a football player."
Comment on how you think the other AFC North teams did tonight, specifically Cleveland's trade with Atlanta.
*(NEWSOME) *"They got the trade. They got a trade similar to the trade that we got the year we got [Joe] Flacco. They basically did the same thing – they came back up to get the big nose tackle [Phil Taylor]. In our division, you've got to stop the run, so they probably saw themselves doing that. I don't know what Pittsburgh has done. A.J. Green is a phenomenal player, a phenomenal player. But, we're fortunate enough to have a corner that we think is a phenomenal player, too."
Are there any players you are considering trading up for tomorrow?
*(NEWSOME) *"As the Draft unfolds tomorrow and we have a high enough player graded, with the number of picks that we have – I think we've still got eight picks and two of them we can't move – then there is the potential to move up, but there is the potential that we could move back and accumulate more picks also."
Did you entertain any calls about moving up for anyone?
*(NEWSOME) *"No. There were a couple players that started to slide down the board that we talked about as a group, but as we started to talk about them, they got picked."
**FIRST-ROUND PICK CB JIMMY SMITH: CONFERENCE CALL
On how he convinced the Ravens that his past mistakes will not lead to future issues:
"It was just basically going in and being honest, putting everything on the table and letting them know that I was about business. The things that I did are old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature. It's in the past now, and I'm just trying to be the best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be."
On what was going through his mind when the Ravens were on the clock:
"They called me and told me that they were talking about me. I didn't want to get my hopes up because I was thinking worst-case scenario [that I'd be selected] in the second round. When they picked me, it was truly an honor and a blessing that they chose me and believe in me."
On whether he felt like he made a good impression during his meetings with the organization:
"It was basically going in there and being yourself. I didn't want to go in and try to say all the right things. I wanted to go in and let them know [that] this is really who I am, and as a person, this is how much I've grown and that the mistakes I did are behind me. I didn't have to sell. You just have to be honest, and they can tell you're honest and believe you."
On what mistakes he has made in the past:
"I don't really want to get into the specifics, but like I said, it's all past decisions and bad mistakes. They are done with and over with – a long time ago. I'm looking, from here on out, to be the best player and person on and off the field that I can be."
On when the last time was that he made a mistake:
"It's been awhile – over two years."
On how he will fit in with the Ravens' defense and whether he expects to start immediately:
"I don't expect anything. I just expect to go out there and do everything that they want me to do. If they need me to start, then I'm going to start. If they need me to play special teams, then I'm going to play special teams. Whatever they need, then that's what I'm going to do."
On what he brings to the table as a football player:
"I think I bring passion to the game and competitiveness. I'm a very smart player. As for as cornerback, I have size, I can tackle, and I can cover well. I think I bring a lot to a defense. If they scheme around me and try to lock me up on a man, I feel like I'm that guy who can lock up."
On whether he is excited to play with S Ed Reed and LB Ray Lewis:
"I'm more excited about that than everything else, just to know that I have basically three Hall of Famers playing defense and they are going to be the guys to teach me how to be a better player. Who else would you want to learn from than an Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata? It's truly a blessing to have players like that to be on the team with."
On whether he was disappointed to have fallen in the Draft:
"I don't think that I fell at all. I kind of figured that all the stuff that happened in the past was going to mess with everything. But I feel like everything happens for a reason and I was destined to go to the Ravens. So, I guess that's the way things worked out. I'm very happy with it and not disappointed by any means."