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Transcripts: Day 3 Press Conference (4/27)

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "Well guys, I think it was a productive three days. [We didn't make any] trades – we had some opportunities, but in the end picking the best player available made the most sense for us. The entirety of the whole three days I think was [great work by] the coaches and the scouts and everybody else upstairs. It takes a village to really have a successful draft, and I'm very, very proud of the men and women upstairs that have worked very hard over a long period of time to put us into position to select these players.

"I'll just briefly run down all of these guys – we talked about Nate [Wiggins], and we talked about Roger [Rosengarten] and Adisa [Isaac]. Today with 'Tez' [Devontez Walker], we had six or seven names of guys that we were hoping to have a chance to select with our first fourth-round pick, and we got him, 'Tez' was one of those guys. And then fortunately, T.J. Tampa was another one of those guys that when we started the day, we thought that if those guys were there, we didn't necessarily expect they would be there, but very excited with both of those guys. With 'Tez,' you get really a vertical receiver, size and speed. In some ways, [he] reminds me of a Torrey Smith-type of player – an outside, take-the-top-off, vertical threat with good size, and phenomenal kid, excellent jumping ability. T.J. [Tampa] is a guy that, quite honestly, we would've taken in the second day of the Draft. [He] is a press corner; [he's] long [and] just a guy that we think really fits what we do very, very well. Rasheen [Ali] is a running back that we've really liked since the fall; [I'm] excited about him. [We] had a chance to see him at the Senior bowl before he got hurt, and [he] was very, very impressive to us as a guy that can run the ball, pass protect and also catch the ball. Devin [Leary] is a quarterback that we see as a viable backup over time. [Quarterbacks coach] Tee Martin – we gave him a project to basically come back to us and tell us who he thought his favorite backup-type of quarterbacks in this year's draft class – and he came back with Devin as one of his very top guys, so that was exciting for us to take a quarterback; it's been a few years since we've done that. Nick Samac is just a gritty Big Ten offensive lineman. [He's] a very good center, a very athletic guy, stays on his blocks, good sustainability, very, very intelligent, and we think a guy that can back up Tyler [Linberbaum] and also hopefully work in as a guard and develop and be a swing guy for us. And then finally Sanoussi [Kane], [a] non-Combine guy; typically we don't draft a lot of non-Combine players, but with Sanoussi, it kind of harkens back to Haruki Nakamura who we drafted, who was a non-Combine guy back in the day. Sanoussi is a guy that does a lot of things well; [he's] a tough player, I think he's got good ball skills, [he] should play on special teams. He's a guy that [director of college scouting] David [Blackburn] can talk more about – some of the scouts really liked him, and [defensives back coach] Doug Mallory really liked him as well and had a chance to come here to Baltimore and visit with us. Overall, I think it was a great day, a great weekend, and we'll take questions."

When you're looking at the center in the seventh round – I think he had an injury. Do you think Nick Samac will be limited at all in any of the spring stuff or even heading into other workouts? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta: "I think he'll be limited in the short term, but as we get into May, I think he'll be full strength. I mean, I asked him on the phone how he was doing, and he said, 'I'm fine. I'm healthy.' We'll probably break him in slowly, but [he's an] offensive linemen, [so he has a] tough guy mentality. We expect him out there pretty quickly."

Were you disappointed at all that the board maybe didn't break your way to get a guy to come in and compete for one of the open jobs at guard? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta: "We kind of accessed the board, and in the fourth round, there was probably a couple of opportunities to maybe get some, but quite honestly, looking at 'Tez' [Devontez Walker] and looking at T.J. [Tampa], we kind of knew when we had a chance to select those guys, that we might miss out on one of the better guards available on the third day. That being the case, we drafted a couple of guards last year that we feel really good about, and we saw Ben Cleveland – we saw his growth last year as a player. We're excited about Andrew [Voorhees], who's coming off the injury. We have some viable guys to compete, and like I said, I think Nick Samac has a chance to work in there as well, and we have some other veteran guys that we think have a chance as well. I'm excited about the group overall, and I don't have any ... I don't feel too bad about it, just because the type of guys that we got in the fourth and fifth round."

With CB T.J. Tampa, a lot of people had him projected to go in the second round. Why do you think he fell so suddenly, because it seemed like many people were thinking he would have been picked much higher? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta: "I can't speak to other teams. We really liked [T.J. Tampa], and honestly, we've doubled up on positions before – probably four or five times – and it's worked out well for us. Honestly, we would have taken him a lot higher had we not taken Nate [Wiggins in the first round], I would have to say. So, he didn't necessarily have a great 40 [-yard dash] time. He had a Big 12 Pro Day, and he did not run at the Combine, so that might have hurt him a little bit, but for us, we see the length, we see the size, we see the leaping ability [and] his ability to play the football. He's a tough guy. He tackles well. We're excited. We think he's going to have a chip on his shoulder and play well."

Do you kind of view RB Rasheen Ali a little bit as this year's RB Keaton Mitchell, in a sense that he can maybe come in and contribute right away, a guy that operates in space, has a lot of speed kind of out of the gate? (*Brian Wacker)*

DeCosta: "Yes, I think that's right. [Rasheen Ali]'s an explosive guy. I think he runs hard. He finishes his runs. He catches the ball well; he can run routes; he's a good pass protector. Like I said, at the Senior Bowl, he was a guy that I noticed very quickly. He got hurt, but during the week at practice, he was very, very explosive, and I think we all took note. We had him visit a few weeks ago. He's an interesting kid. He's got a great background – other than the fact that he's from Cleveland, of course – but he's got a great background, and I think he's going to be a good player for us. "

John, I know at owners' meetings you said that Josh Johnson would be the backup quarterback. Drafting Devin Leary, does that change anything? Will he be competing for that spot? (*Giana Han)*

Harbaugh: "Josh will be the backup quarterback, and I think Devin will develop. He'll probably be the third quarterback this year in some way or fashion and grow into the job as we go."

Rasheen Ali and Devin Leary, guys who have talent, but Ali seemed to fall because of the fumbles – 11 fumbles in his college career the last two years – and Leary with 12 interceptions last year. What are the skills that stand out to you that make you think you can make these guys less turnover prone and kind of harness the pure abilities? (*Kyle Goon)*

DeCosta: "I talked about the skills with Rasheen [Ali]. He's an explosive player. I think one of the reasons that Rasheen – if you say he fell – he fell because he hurt his biceps. So, that's probably one of the reasons. When we evaluate running backs, we're looking for specific things. Certainly, ball security is one of those things, but this is an explosive guy, very shifty, good vision, [and] he runs hard – all those different things. As far as Devin [Leary] goes, I think [quarterbacks coach] Tee Martin does an excellent job evaluating, and he thinks he's a natural thrower. He thinks he's an accurate passer. He loves the kid. He thinks he's got the right mentality to come in and compete and improve. For me, it's similar to how I feel about kickers. Who better to evaluate quarterbacks than a quarterbacks coach who played in the League? Who better to evaluate kickers than a kicking coach? So, I think Tee did a phenomenal job. He's very, very excited about Devin, and so are we."

When you look at Devontez Walker, what stands out to you about his game and how it translates to the NFL level? (*Garrett Downing)*

Blackburn: "He just has vertical explosiveness [and] the ability to get behind coverage, take the top off the defense, make big plays. He is a threat, and he also does it at his size. He's not a small guy, and he doesn't play small downfield. He can put pressure on the defense, and he's able to make some contested catches downfield. I think that bodes well for our offense and our quarterback. He didn't really have the week that he wanted in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, but [his] pro day was great, his Combine was great. The thing that I really like most about him is that he's encountered some athletic adversity in his life, and he's overcome. And, he's a really mentally tough kid, as well as physically tough. He works at his craft, and he's a great teammate. So, outside of those physical traits that he has, he has a lot of intangibles as well."

I know there are some drafts where there will be certain picks that you're hoping, and they're not there. This year, it seemed like value was who you were getting. Do you feel like overall with this draft class that you got pretty exceptional value? (*Jamison Hensley)*

DeCosta: "I do. I think that this was one year that the board – you'll often hear me say, 'Oh man, we had a chance; we missed out on some guys,' but this year, we were patient. And the board – more often than not, not in every single case – but the best player was at a position of need. So, we basically started just checking off boxes, working our way down through each pick. We were basically able to just cross them off, cross them off, cross them off with a really good player. So, from that standpoint, I think it was good. It was really good. I think the coaches and the scouts – we did a good job communicating. One of the things that we have is a dialogue throughout the Draft – this guy or that guy, what do we think and how does this guy fit? You might have two players at different positions, and they're graded the same. And, you're trying to figure out, how do you split hairs between these two players, and you do it with talking to your coaches. You do it looking at the analytics, but you also do it looking at the players that you might get in the next round or moving back. And what does that pool of players look like at those positions? This year, I think it worked out really well."

Do you think that you were able to answer or check off your offseason To Do list in the draft the way that you expected it to? All of the things that you thought could be answered here, do you feel like you were able to answer them? (*Giana Han)*

DeCosta: "I think you can always do better in different ways. We're not finished for sure. I'm not going to sit up here today and say, 'Oh, the team is set. We've got this great team.' We have a lot of work to do, and there's a lot of different ways to do that. We have a lot of different opportunities between now and September to build the team. I do think, again, I'll credit the scouts and the coaches and John [Harbaugh] and Steve [Bisciotti] and everybody for the work that they put in putting us in position to have a good draft to get players that we like. I know some of these guys won't be as good as we think they're going to be, but I know some of these guys will be better than we think they're going to be, and that's exciting. That's just the nature of the Draft."

How do you see the No. 3 safety role in terms of who you consider internal options? I know Ar'Darius Washington has played a lot of nickel, and I know you drafted Sanoussi Kane, but do you see that as a potential area where you may need a few more bodies? (*Jeff Zreibec)*

Harbaugh: "Possibly. I know Eric [DeCosta]'s not going to rest. I think Eric's pretty much proven that he's going to be looking for guys 24/7, all 365 days a year. But, those two guys are good options. Ar'Darius [Washington] is really a good player. [It's] just a matter of him staying healthy and getting some time on task, and he can play safety or nickel, can go outside and get you out – [he's] a very diverse player. I'm a big Ar'Darius fan. I think he's going to have a great year. Then, Sanoussi [Kane] is a guy that we were talking about right at the end – it's so much love between the scouts and the coaches. In some ways, he's kind of similar to that guy from Iowa whose name will not be mentioned because he's playing in the division here. But, we appreciate Geno [Stone] and all he did for us. But, [it's] kind of a similar kind of pick – a really heady player, a really productive player. He's going to have every opportunity there, then whoever else Eric [DeCosta] finds for us, we'll coach them up. So, we'll see what happens."

DeCosta: "To add to that, we may have an opportunity in the next couple hours to get some pretty good free agents at that position, because talented players will see that we're not as deep at that position as we are at some other positions."

What are your thoughts on possibly picking up OLB Odafe Oweh's fifth-year option? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta: "Yes, if we talk next week, I'll let you know." (laughter) "We'll have an announcement, probably, in the next few days, I would think."

Have you made a decision or determination yet on OLB Odafe Oweh's fifth-year option? (Brian Wacker)

DeCosta: "You know what, I learned from [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] never to make a decision until you have to, and that has served me well, and I think it's smart, usually, to act that way."

Obviously, you guys drafted WR Devontez Walker, but this receivers group is going to look very similar to last year, without WR Odell Beckham Jr., though. From the guys running it back, what are you kind of looking for, in terms of internal improvement, from guys like WRs Nelson Agholor, Rashod Bateman and Zay Flowers, to make that position group even more dynamic? (Kyle Goon)

Harbaugh: "Yes, I'm excited about the wide receiver position. I'm looking forward to seeing this offense come together, and we've been working the personnel side of it; we've been working the scheme side of it; we've been working with the individual players – developmentally. You put all those things together, and you get out there, and you start practicing, and you get ready to play games. This is a very talented group, and anybody that wants to challenge that, bring it on; you've got to line up and play against us, and we'll see if we don't have playmakers out there running around [and] making plays. I'm personally very excited about this group. Obviously, 'Tez' [Devontez Walker] is a great addition, and the guys that are already there are going to really have good seasons. So, we're ready to go."

What do you like about CB T.J. Tampa's skill set, and what stands out about him? (Jeff Zrebiec)

Blackburn: "[T.J. Tampa's] athleticism at his size [stands out]. He's long. He can flip his hips. He can change directions well. [He's a] former wideout, so I think there is some built-in upside to him, as a player. He just kind of plays the game smoothly; he doesn't look too stressed. He tackles well. He's a guy that's going to compete. He'll run down on kicks and be a special teams guy for us. [He's got] good makeup, good mentality. [He's] a smart football player. They speak highly of him at [Iowa State]. So, again, any time you have [well]-sized corner, you're always intrigued, but I think he's got the necessary movement skills at that size, along with his length, to give us something as a coverage player and then also be able to support the run."

This year, executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta didn't make a trade. Do you think it bothered him at all? Do you think he was close to making any trades? What do you think? (Jamison Hensley)

Blackburn: "No, I don't think it really bothered [executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta] that much, as long as we got the player he wanted. I think it might have bothered [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] more than it bothered him." (laughter) "But I think [that] we were pretty content. The phone was ringing pretty regularly [during] some parts of the Draft, particularly on Day Two. I think he's alright. I think he's happy."

Harbaugh: "I mean, just to follow up on that: There were lots of opportunities to make trades – and probably because of the quality of players that were there – but the players were more valuable than the trade, and that's why we're so happy with the Draft."

Obviously, you guys made nine picks this year, and I think you're projected to have 11 picks in next year's Draft. Is that a number that you're comfortable with? Is there a long-term plan for the sheer number of young guys you're bringing in? (Jonas Shaffer)

DeCosta: "Well, as I said before, we lost some players. We lost some good players this year, and it's now time to build back up again. And so, I like having ... My math isn't great, but I guess that's 20 picks in the next couple of years – this year and next year. If it's a good Draft [class] next year, we'll probably have more than 11 picks, and I won't know that until we start really getting into the meat of the Draft and looking at players. But we need good, young talent, and we've got to develop these guys, and they have to play for us, and that's the reality that we find ourselves in. And so, the Draft – we say it – it's critically important for a team that wants to stay relevant and have a good team and win games; you've got to have good, young talent. So, that's the mission. We'll get started up in a few weeks [with] looking at spring scouting. Our scouts will be in, and they'll start looking at players, and we'll start the whole process over again."

You said before the Draft that you weren't willing to share which positions you were assigned to evaluate. Are you willing to share your position group assignments now that the Draft is over? (Kyle Phoenix)

Harbaugh: "My position group assignments? I was given the corners. I had the edge guys on defense. I had the offensive line – all the offensive line positions – and I had the wide receivers, and I had the running backs. So, those were my jobs. Did I do OK, [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta]?" (laughter)

DeCosta: "I think he did well." (laughter)

Harbaugh: "I had a good Draft, honestly. The work speaks for itself." (laughter)