How do you think C Tyler Linderbaum will matchup against NFL-sized nose tackles? (Todd Karpovich) "I think one, the center position, you don't always have a guy over your hat. Again, a lot of times, you're free and you're helping. It's a lot of combo blocks. But when you watch him, like I tried to show, he can gain leverage on players. He does a good job getting his hands inside off the snap. Anything laterally, he's going to have an advantage of, because he's so quick off the ball. Head up, he's going to have to stay [and] play with good technique early on as he develops his strength. I think all rookie linemen, they come out strong. Some come out a little stronger than others, but you develop your strength. You develop your technique, your leverage and your game, but I think he'll do a great job. The competitiveness he plays with, the leverage he plays with, and again, it's very rare for you to be isolated early in the play at center. You're going to get bumped. Somebody is going to help you. You're going to get a hand helping you. But he's going to do a good job. He's going to, just like all offensive linemen ... We watched Bradley Bozeman who is 320 pounds; he's had some bad moments. They all have some bad moments against big guys. I've seen Haloti Ngata chuck Pro Bowlers out of the way. So, it's not an easy position to play. You have to play 65 [to] 70 snaps a game; you're going to have a couple losses. It's rare to pitch a shutout as an offensive lineman, but he'll do good."
I know OLB Odafe Oweh and OLB David Ojabo were high school teammates. I saw something that OLB David Ojabo tweeted, "Oh, I'm a better athlete than Oweh," kind of joking around. How are they similar? How are they different? (Bo Smolka) "I'd say the similarity is they are both fast, twitchy, athletic players. I'd say coming out, [David] Ojabo is probably a little bit cleaner as a bender edge rusher, where [Odafe] Oweh's game was burst and power. Then versus the run, Oweh is more developed as an edge setter. Now, if you ask Odafe what he needed to get better at going into his last year at Penn State, he needed to get better at setting the edge. He started his last year at Penn State with the goal to be a three-down player and be the best edge setter he can be. He ended up winning All-Big Ten, or being named All-Big Ten, with zero sacks, because he was so dominant as an edge setter and then he obviously had all of his pressures. I'd say David is probably not as firm as an edge setter, but not to say he won't become as firm. Certainly, his ability to rush the passer, and like I showed you guys, get the ball out, that's a gift that he has that's pretty exceptional."
With DE Jermaine Johnson II, was there something that you guys saw … There was a rumor that he left the Senior Bowl early and that cost him with his stock. Was there a reason you guys passed on him? (Jerry Coleman) "No, there was nothing that affected Jermaine's [Johnson II] status."
With T Daniel Faalele, when you see the size on that, do you think of T Orlando Brown [Jr.]? (Garrett Downing) "Yes. That's the natural comparison, right? They're both huge, big men, 6-8, 6-7, 6-6, thick. You definitely think about Orlando [Brown Jr.]. Orlando is probably a little bit more … Well, he played left tackle, No. 1, but probably a little bit more physical as a run blocker coming out, where [Daniel] Faalele was probably a little more polished and consistent in pass pro [protection], in terms of playing patient. Orlando would get a little aggressive coming out, as you guys remember. (laughter) But yes, that's the natural comparison between the two men."
Did you kind of go back to the evaluation of T Orlando Brown Jr. as you were evaluating T Daniel Faalele? Obviously, you projected [Orlando Brown Jr.] well. Did you think about that as you were projecting T Daniel Faalele? (Garrett Downing) "You certainly do. Whenever you look at a player and you look at physical measurables first, you're like, 'Oh, this guy is built like so-and-so.' So, you gravitate toward that player, and then you start comparing them. 'Here's what I liked about Orlando. Here's what he does similarly. Here's where he might be better. Here's where he might not be as well.' But yes, you definitely think about Orlando when you look at a player like that, certainly."
T Daniel Faalele is obviously a right tackle, but do you see traits that down the road [he could play left tackle]? T Orlando Brown Jr., a lot of people didn't think he'd be a left tackle in the NFL. (Luke Jones) "That's a tough call. Like I said, he's really hard to go through, and he protects inside out. So, if you can handle it, you can handle it. He's never played left tackle. Orlando [Brown Jr.] at least played left tackle in college. So, you could always say that he could go back to left tackle. But with Daniel [Faalele], to say he couldn't do it, I couldn't say that. I could not say he couldn't do it. It was just a little bit easier to project Orlando, saying 'Hey, he could go over to left if you need him at left.'"
You just mentioned T Daniel Faalele and that he's always staying in scheme. How easy was it for you guys to compare his background as a rugby player? Was it easy for you guys to compare film as a rugby player and a football player? (David Andrade) "Yes, well the good thing was that he played football. So, it wasn't like the guy with the Eagles [Jordan Mailata] who you're just looking off of workouts. I think what that shows is his athleticism. Certainly, you talk about the sports that really help show athleticism and develop your lower body and your balance – soccer, rugby, wrestling even, hoops, basketball, those are sports that help develop football players. They really are. I think rugby helped him develop just his athleticism and his balance, and I think that's one of the reasons he is able to stay on his feet through contact. He might get himself in a little bit of an awkward body position, but he can recover."
You hear a lot of people say, "The Ravens always pick the biggest and most physical players, round after round." I think head coach John Harbaugh said at the Pre-Draft Luncheon, "We like big guys." When you're evaluating guys, how much does size … Do your eyes naturally just go to the bigger guys? (Jamison Hensley) "We evaluate who we evaluate, in terms of we go into the school, and these are the seven players on Alabama's defense we're going to look at. Or this year, the 62 players on Georgia's defense, (laughter) but we evaluate who we evaluate. Now, we have size charts, and all teams do. We have our, what we consider, clean. That doesn't mean that … If you're not clean, that doesn't mean you're not going to be a Raven. There are plenty of guys on our team that aren't 'clean,' but they're big enough. The bigger you are, [or] the more athletic, explosive you are, that helps. You definitely … You want the big guys. I think when you listen to other teams and other scouts from other teams and even other players that you come across, they'll say, 'When you come into Baltimore, you know you're playing a big, physical team.' Certainly, it's something we aspire to be, but it's not required to come in the door."
With DT Travis Jones and the amount of snaps that he played last year and what you anticipate him playing with you guys, how much is that going to help him from a pure stamina throughout the games and season as a whole? How much do you think the fewer snaps are going to help him? (Shawn Stepner) "I think it will help him. Again, you saw him play good late in games. You didn't really see him wear down; you saw a guy who was at 70 snaps in a game. But I think being in a rotation and playing the defensive line position in the NFL, it's different than being a defensive tackle at UConn, where the drop-off is more significant when you're out of the game. So, I think allowing him to play 30 snaps a game, [or] 25 [snaps], like all D-linemen play. Maybe the most play 45 [snaps] a game – that gives you more stamina late in the game, and that helps you stay fresher. So, I think it will help him be even more impactful on a play-to-play basis."
With safety not being necessarily a premium position, why again was it so surprising the S Kyle Hamilton would fall to [Pick] 14? (Pete Gilbert) "I just think the talent and the player he is and the versatility he has. … You see it in coverage. He can play man coverage. He can play, obviously, the high post and go to the sideline and pick a ball off. He can show up against the run. You can put him in the box. I think with a guy like Kyle [Hamilton] why it's surprising, while safeties may not be as glamourous to pick high, [with] his versatility and what he can bring to a defense, he's like a chess piece. So, you see that, and you're fired up that you get a chance to take him at [Pick] 14 and that he fell to you. That's why you just think he's going to be gone, because he's a playmaker at multiple different levels of a defense."
When you have a number like that … You had mentioned S Kyle Hamilton and people may have been looking at his 40 [-yard dash] number. Does that force you to go back and watch and make sure what you're watching? Because you know how you ranked him, and then you see the time and think, "Well, this guy doesn't play like that." But do you have to go back in your notes? I'm just talking more generally in a situation like that to check on [and say], "That's not what it looked like to us." (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, you do. A guy goes to the Combine and maybe doesn't run as fast as you'd think, or maybe he runs faster. It works both ways. It happens a lot where [you say], 'Wow, I didn't think he was that fast.' And then you throw in one more game, or you open up the report and say, 'What did I say with his game speed?' 'Did I say the guy plays fast?' Or 'Did I say the guy plays slow?' So, any time that stuff happens, certainly, you ask yourself those questions. But in Kyle's [Hamilton] specific case, you look at his game speed [and] what you see on tape. He's covering ground. He's flying up. He's showing bursts. He's showing explosiveness and range. Then you look at your grade, your speed grade, and you have a good grade, and it all matches up, and just the 40 [-yard dash time] didn't match up."
What are some of the advantages you have with versatile defensive backs like CB Damarion Williams and last year's draft pick DB Brandon Stephens? (Kyle Barber) "I think it's huge, because it allows you to do a lot in coverage. In Brandon's [Stephens] case, we took a corner and made him a safety, but he can play dime. You feel confident putting him in man coverage situations. [It's] the same thing with Damarion [Williams]. He's played … Truly, he has played every spot in their secondary just this year. So, you know you can say, 'Hey, you know what? We have to bump him back to free safety, because he's going to know it. He's going to understand it. He's a smart football player.' So, the ability and the intelligence are key. I think with both Brandon and Damarion, they are both able, and certainly, they're very smart. So, I think it just allows you to do so many different things and be creative. You can put three safeties on the field but play one of them as a nickel, and you're in your nickel defense. You can put four safeties on the field and be in a dime defense and have confidence that two of them can cover."
Just as a follow-up, do you also consider S Kyle Hamilton to be a versatile defender? (Kyle Barber) "Yes. Different type of versatility, but Kyle [Hamilton] is the type of guy you can literally throw at WILL 'backer, because of his size and his length and his range and his strength to take on players. But then you can also have him cover slots. You'll see it on film – he can cover a slot receiver, and he can cover a tight end. So, yes, we love versatility in our DBs [defensive backs]; I think Marlon [Humphrey] is a great example of that. He played outside his whole career at Alabama, and he comes in here, and he's excelled as a nickel. And so, you definitely love that versality, because it just allows you to do so much more with a defense."
With TE Charlie Kolar, do you see visions of TE Mark Andrews when you were looking at his tape? And can you compare and contrast Kolar and TE Isaiah Likely? (Ryan Mink) "[For] the first question, yes, they're both tall, big catch radius, they play a lot flexed out – [Charlie] Kolar and Mark [Andrews] – so you see a lot of similarities. The spatial feel that Mark had … Now, Mark, again, we're talking about a first-team All-Pro, exceptional player. Mark, his spatial awareness was legit, coming out. That's the one thing you can hang your hat on, because really, you didn't know how fast he was. He ran a little bit faster, and Charlie kind of did the same thing. He ran a little faster than you thought he'd run, and it's just a big man who's athletic. They just know how to cover ground, bend, work in and out of routes. So, there are similarities to their game, but I'm not going to put him [Charlie Kolar] up in Mark's area yet – not yet.
"And then Isaiah [Likely] and Charlie, they're certainly different body types, but the way they play the game and the way they're used … Isaiah probably is attached more to the end of the line of scrimmage than Charlie was, but they're really both like receiving, F-type tight ends, where you can put them in the slot, and they're going to give a safety a challenge, they're going to make a safety work. They've got size to be a mismatch for a nickel. [They're] both very competitive as perimeter blockers. They understand angles, how to get on players. I showed you [that] they'll work their feet and stay on blocks. So, [they're] just kind of different body types, but [have] similar type [of] styles, I would say."
With CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, how much do you think injury history really factored in, because you watch him on tape, and you see some of the evaluations on him, and it seems like he has starter upside? You would think, considering how valuable the cornerback position is, you're not often going to find that in the fourth round. (Luke Jones) "I can't speak for other teams. The fact that he was around in the fourth round, it's maybe a combination of his injury history, and he's a one-year starter at Alabama – not to say a one-year starter at Alabama is nothing impressive; it's pretty impressive just to start at Alabama. But yes, I think you put all those things together, and it may have pushed him down to the fourth – I don't know. I'm glad that he was there, I know that, because I saw starter tools, and we saw starter tools – our whole scouting staff and coaches. So, you see the upside, you see the talent, and yes, he may have been a little snake-bitten in his career, but nothing to where we were concerned about it."
Do you think he's most comfortable as an outside cornerback? (Luke Jones) "I think he's most naturally an outside corner. Yes, I do. That's not to say he can't be a nickel, but I would say he is most naturally an outside corner."
When you were scouting P Jordan Stout, were you thinking, "Maybe we could use him to kick off, and we can try to take some stuff off of K Justin Tucker's plate?" Did that discussion start over the winter when you were looking at the guy, or was that something you're just thinking about now? (Bo Smolka) "No, no, no. That's something that is discussed with [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] and [special teams coordinator] Chris Horton. The scouts go in, and they grade Jordan [Stout], and they tell us what he can do, and then you see him at the Senior Bowl, and you see him at the Combine, and you see him performing, and then obviously, Randy works them out. But the fact that he can kick off … And if you look … You guys aren't in the Draft room every year when we talk with Randy about kickers; he highlights the guys that can do both. And we bring in a kicker for camp or a punter for camp, [and] we always want to try to get a guy that can do kickoffs too – that versatility helps. It's like anything; it's like pitching – you throw 90 pitches, well, if you got someone who can throw 70 and someone who throws the other 20, you can save your arm a little bit. So, it saves the legs – it really does. And just having that versatility to be able to give Justin [Tucker] a couple kickoffs off, potentially, is a great thing."
I know you guys value character, but how about academics? We were reading in Peter King's column about how team owner Steve Bisciotti joked about how smart some of the guys were. (Jerry Coleman) "So, academics are important. We love guys that have already graduated, because it shows their commitment and their work ethic. Listen, college is no joke if you're not playing a sport; if you're playing a sport, college is hard; it's a difficult thing. And so, for the guys that can … They don't have to be a 3.9 [GPA], but the guys that can stay on track, can do their job on the football field and can stay responsible and committed and graduate, that shows a level of commitment outside of the game of football – the maturity. And so, certainly, you want your players to have college degrees, because they're not going to play forever. But intelligence is important on and off the field – it certainly is. It always plays a factor. Now, there are a lot of factors, but in terms of how we evaluate players, graduating or being on track to graduate and having intelligence is an important thing."
With DT Travis Jones, he looked great against the run, but how much potential do you see in his ability to maybe be a pass rusher inside? (Cliff Brown) "You bring him down from 70 plays to 35 plays, [and] you might get a little bit more just natural burst and pass rush, because 70 plays are a lot of plays. You play eight straight, nine straight plays on a defense, I don't think you're going to be given a whole lot, or you're going to be asking for it, but it may not be there on third down-and-7. So, I think the potential is there. Obviously, you see his hands; he can knock guys back with his hands, he's got a nice, violent swat. The technique will need to be developed, but it's in there. He can definitely … At the very minimum, he's going to be able to knock guys back into the quarterback, which you love."
You guys talked about how you like big centers, but in your pre-Draft meetings about C Tyler Linderbaum, did you saw, "Alright, well maybe he's not the biggest guy, so he's different, but he will expand our running game repertoire? (Ryan Mink) "Those conversations are had about, 'How does he fit,' and that's not just with Tyler [Linderbaum]; that's with every player that we discuss – offense and defense. How does this player fit into our offense? How does he fit into our defense? So, yes, we had that discussion with Tyler, and we had it with all the other 10 picks, even [Jordan] Stout. 'Can he hold' is a major thing. So, we always go through that, and with him, yes, he's not a 330-pounds, 6-6 center, 6-5 center – he is what he is – but can he fit in our scheme? Can he play in our scheme? Yes, he can, and that's ultimately what we want to know."
With S Kyle Hamilton, the way he hits, how is that different than maybe other safeties – how he just approaches making a tackle, making a hit? (Shawn Stepner) "He's really good with his angles, first of all. You've got to be good with your insert point – how you insert into the play. And then he just hits full, like I said, and hits thick, and he uses his body. He'll hit with the shoulder, he'll hit with the torso, and he wraps, and there's strength, and there's balance, and there's leverage, and he's in good position to finish. And you see knockback when he has an opportunity to knock a guy back, and then when he has to make the play in space, he can get guys down with his length and his balance. So, he's just kind of a well-rounded tackler."
How rare is it to find a guy who hits as violent as that? (Shawn Stepner) "You see it. At safety, you love the big hits, but the most important thing is to make the tackle. You don't want to trade three big hits for three bad misses; you want the guy to get down. So, I think that's first and foremost what you want – you want the tackle made – but then if you can line it up and stroke the guy, that makes it even better."
You guys have RBs J.K Dobbins and Gus Edwards coming back, but when you look at RB Tyler Badie's film, did he really stand out as a third-down type of back? (Cordell Woodland) "I think he's got that versatility [with] his receiving ability. He's quick and fast out of the backfield. He's got really natural hands, catches the ball clean, so I think that potential exists, but you also like him as a runner. You don't want to just pigeonhole him as a third-down back, because you watch him run inside, and you watch him bounce and cut things up into the teeth of the defense, and he runs with good pad level and balance and determination. So, he's going to come in and compete, and he's going to do whatever he can do to get on the field and help us out."
How different is P Jordan Stout? Usually, kickers and punters have a background in soccer, but I didn't see anything with Jordan. I saw his technique, and it's very similar to a goalie, especially the way he uses his body for long punts and kicks. (David Andrade) "Yes, [like] a goal kick. Every kicker is different, [and] everyone has different technique, but what you look for is that explosiveness in their body and on contact, and he has that when he's punting the ball – you can hear it and feel it and see it. We were at the Senior Bowl, and I was sitting there with [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] before practice one day, and he was like, 'He might be the best player on the field.' He's just banging balls, and it just jumps off his foot, and you saw it on the kickoffs, and you saw it on that long field goal I showed you – 57 yards. It wasn't even this big, elongated follow-through; he just – 'Boom' – punched the ball, and it just jumps off his foot. So, [he] definitely has that explosiveness in his lower body."
You hear about position-less basketball, and you guys have drafted a lot of versatile players. Do you think the NFL is kind of gearing that way towards position-less, especially on defense? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, yes. I think, again, versatility is key, especially on defense – on offense, too – because there are so many different packages that offenses bring out. You've got your two wideouts and two tight ends, you have two backs, but then you start getting the four-wides and three tight ends. Our offense, geez, we can put three or four tight ends on the field. You've got to have versatility, and you have to be able to adjust, and you really don't want to be subbing and matching every single time. If you're doing that, heck, you're playing another game between running on and off the field. So, having position versatility on defense is key, and it's critical, and I think it could potentially lead to more success. So, defense is definitely a matchup game, and if you have guys that can fill different roles depending on what offensive formation is in there, I think that helps."
Peter King's article talked about how the Steelers got the wide receiver [Calvin Austin III]. How often does that happen, and how quickly do you get past it? (Pete Gilbert) "You get past it really fast – you really do – and it happens enough. It doesn't happen right before you're picking … It happens, but it happens four picks away. You're like, 'I hope this guy gets there or I … Well …' And you're sitting there saying, 'I don't know if he's going to get there.' In that specific case, you're on the clock. There's no time to worry about it; you just pick the next player, and that's what we do. The great thing is, you never marry yourself to one player, unless you're picking [No.] 1. That's the only time in the Draft [when] you can marry yourself to one player. And if you do that, then you panic, and you're not ready, and we've never done that in Baltimore in my 24 drafts; I've never seen it done. There are guys we want … It happens all the time – when we're sitting there at 26; 'Oh, I'd love for him to be there,' [but] he's gone at 14, or 'Wow, I didn't think he'd go that early.' But it's why we think about a cluster of guys, [and] one these guys may be there. And in the end, it may just be one player. But you've got to be ready to move on. Yes, can you be bummed? 'Damn.' Yes, but there's 262 picks, and you're not going to get every guy you want, and frankly, the guy before him who you wanted was gone. That guy who just got taken, he was next, but there was a guy ahead of him who was before him. So, it just the Draft, and you've got to accept it, and it's going to happen. Some days they're going to be there; some days they're not."
I think there were three or four times during the Draft where a team traded up directly in front of you, and I think the Texans did it twice. Do you think that's coincidence at times, or do you think people want to get ahead of you, because they're scared you're going to take the guy you want? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, I think that's probably more coincidence. I think what happens when teams trade up, especially once you get past … Even in the first round … I listened to 'Joe-D,' [Jets general manager] Joe Douglas, the other day on the phone, and he was talking about trying to trade up for Jermaine Johnson II, and he said he started around [pick] 20 and started calling and calling and calling. So, they're not trying to get in front of anyone; they're trying to get their guy, when you trade up. So, you've got to find a trade partner, [and] it just so happened [that] picks in front of us were the trade partners. I don't think that's one of those things where teams were trying to get ahead of us." (Jeff Zrebiec: "Houston did twice, and both times they took an Alabama player, which has led to speculation that they know how much you guys like Alabama players, so 'We're going to get in front of them and make sure he's still going to be there.'") "Yes, we do like Alabama players, but we also like Auburn players (laughter), so I try to balance it out some. But no, I think it's more coincidence – I truly do. Every once in a while, you may say, 'Hey, if we want this guy, we've got to get ahead of that team,' being on the other end of it, because you speculate. But we've had plenty of people trade up ahead of us, and they may have been thinking that they need to get ahead of us to pick a player, and that's good – 'Glad you made our player get down to us. Glad you didn't trade up and pick our player.'"