John Harbaugh Opening Statement:"Thanks to everybody for coming. Thanks to the families for being here. Thanks to two guys for being here. We appreciate that – our two new Ravens. I can tell you – it's an honor and a privilege, and [I'm] very excited to announce these two young men to become the latest additions to our team and be our teammates. I had a chance to go back and watch the tape on both guys, both Kyle [Hamilton] and Tyler [Linderbaum]. I spent about two hours on each guy this morning. Now I've seen all the plays already, but before, I was looking at you guys as potential Ravens, as draft picks. Now, I was looking at them as Ravens, and you start visualizing all the things that we're going to be able to do. So, you fit our personality. They both fit our personality. Kyle is a very multipurpose-type player. He can play deep, half. He can play deep in the middle. He come down and play dime. He can play nickel. He plays man coverage. He plays zone coverage. He tackles people, and he blitzes. We're going to get him his first sack of his career here before long, right?" (Kyle Hamilton: "First ever. First ever.") "Tyler is … I hate to put too much pressure on you, but I think in college, the best lineman we've seen in many, many years, and [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] mentioned that last night. It's just the fact that when we talked earlier about what we're looking for in an offensive lineman, you can talk about all the traits, but the bottom line is do they block people? This is a center who blocks people all the time, play after play, many times, a dominant fashion. And he's got all the other traits. They both come from amazing families, amazing parents, amazing brothers and sisters [and] amazing girlfriends. We appreciate you guys being here, and welcome. So, we'll open up to any questions, and you guys can say any kind of statement you want. Why don't we start right here with Tyler?"
Tyler Linderbaum Opening Statement:"I just want to, first off, thank my family for coming with me. Without these guys, this wouldn't be possible; Mom, Dad, [my] brother [and my] girlfriend. I'm excited to be a Raven. All the close people that I talk to when I ask about this organization, they say it's one of the best in the NFL, and it's the best in the NFL. So, I'm excited to join this organization and to be around such great people. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Kyle Hamilton Opening Statement:"I just want to first start off by thanking family who is here; my mom, Jackie, my brother, Tyler, my dad, Derek, [and] my girlfriend, Reese. [It's the] same thing [Tyler said] with a great organization. I was just talking with Coach [Harbaugh] earlier about we'll look back 10 years later and realize it was the perfect fit and everything happened for the right reasons. Selfishly, [this is] a great defensive organization and has produced some pretty good players. There's a safety that was pretty good, and then a linebacker that was pretty good, I think. (laughter) So, hopefully I can just add to that and fill those shoes."
John Harbaugh: "Alright, what questions do you have?"
John, with C Tyler Linderbaum coming from a zone concept heavy offense at Iowa, do you guys envision that becoming more a part of your repertoire, just given the strength there?*_(Jonas Shaffer)_*
Harbaugh:"Well, we run everything. We run … As you know, we run every scheme that there is, and they run every scheme that there is. They run plenty of gap schemes [and] plenty of lead schemes.[They run] lots of pulls [and] lots of screens. These are all things that when you have a center who is very athletic, you can do those things. But he's not just an athletic center, he's a physical center. So, when you get the gap scheme back blocks that you're talking about, he holds up, and he's moving people on those blocks. So, we're confident he can do any kind of block we need."
Tyler, given the fact that you come from Iowa, which is a school that's produced a pretty special player here in Marshal Yanda, do you have any relationship with him? Because I know he is close with the head coach there in the program. And John, did you talk to Marshal Yanda at all about C Tyler Linderbaum at any point over the last few months? (Luke Jones)
Linderbaum:"Yes, I've been in contact with, obviously, Marshal Yanda. [He's] a great guy. He's someone who's been in the [Hawkeyes'] facility, working out with us when he was playing here. Just kind of seeing his work ethic as a young guy, it's like that's a guy who you want to be like. He's an All-Pro offensive lineman, and that's someone you who you want to be. Also just thinking about this organization, [Iowa head coach] Coach [Kirk] Ferentz, back in the day, he was here, and then Marshal Yanda. So, we've had two Hawkeyes that were very successful here, and I'll just try to get on that same path as them."
Harbaugh: "Well, Marshal [Yanda] visited us, so I didn't have to call him. When he visited, he was volunteering information, and he couldn't talk enough about his guy."
Kyle, a lot of people were surprised that you slipped down the board to the Ravens. As you saw the Draft unfolding, I'm sure you were a little disappointed that you didn't go on the Top 10, but did it make you feel better that you did fall to the Ravens and their defense?*_(Gerry Sandusky)_*
Hamilton:"Yes, that's kind of what I was just saying. Looking back on it, it may feel or seem like a big deal now, but I think I fell to the perfect place and perfect situation. Honestly, it's a blessing, and I'm just excited to be here."
For both of you, leading up to the Draft, what were the conversations like with the Ravens? Did you think this could be a strong possibility? Or were you kind surprised come Draft night?*_(Morgan Adsit)_*
Hamilton:"I thought it could, you never know. Going into the Draft, there's a lot of questions, and they were answered last night. Obviously, I'm here, so Baltimore was interested. I am obviously excited to be here and have the opportunity to play for a franchise that's one of the best in the league and has been that way since I can remember."
Linderbaum:"Yes, I thought it was a possibility, as well. I met with them at the Combine, and I thought the meeting went well. Just kind of the feeling in the room, I thought it was definitely a place that I could fit in well, [and] obviously, [with] having the connections that we did with Marshal Yanda here. Also, this is just a great organization. This is a place that I want to be [at], and I want to play football here. So, I'm excited."
Kyle, on social media, after you were selected, you did a handshake. Is there a story behind this elaborate handshake?*_(Jamison Hensley)_*
Hamilton: (laughter)"So, my girlfriend and I, Reese Damm, we started dating sophomore year of high school, and I think we came up with the handshake junior year, or so – something like that. So, we've just been doing it ever since. We just decided to … It seemed like the right time to do it, and I guess everybody else agreed. She's kind of famous now, I guess." (laughter)
Tyler, everybody knows that the Ravens like to run the football. When you were looking at teams, how much did you sort of identify with the way they play offense and feel like that fit what you like to do well?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_*
Linderbaum:"Yes, especially a team that likes to run the ball, you have to be a tough, gritty team [that's] physical at the point of attack, and that's something that I think I do a good job at. So, once I get here, I'm excited to get around the guys. They have a great group of guys here. I'm ready to get around them and just show them what I can do to help out this team and to win football games."
For both of you guys, having played at the highest level of college football, what do you anticipate the challenges now with playing at the professional level? What going to be different? What do you feel like you have to do?*_(Mark Viviano)_*
Hamilton:"I would say even at the highest level of college football, the talent and the caliber of player is obviously not up to par with the NFL. Every week, you're going against freak athletes and the smartest guys that you'll ever play against. But it just requires you to study that much more [and] work that much harder, because we're here for a reason, too. The Ravens drafted us for a reason, because they feel like we can compete and be better than these guys that we're competing against. So, it builds confidence playing at a high level like that, but we know that coming in, it's going to just be a full reset."
Linderbaum:"Along with that, you're going against the best of the best. So, every time you step out on that field, you have to bring it. That's the kind of mentality you have to bring to it."
Kyle, your dad was a professional athlete. You come from a family full of athletes. How much did that help you prepare to do this?*_(Childs Walker)_*
Hamilton:"I think it helped a lot. Just from a young age, seeing professional athletes, just the way they work and how diligently and focused they were and detailed, I just became accustomed to it. [It] just felt normal to me throughout middle and high school, and that's honestly how I learned to work. I think I brought that with me throughout college. I got the sense that I get the opportunity to go play football and go to practice and go to early morning lifts, rather than I have to do all those things. Growing up in a household that was around professional athletes, I think helped me a lot with that."
Tyler, there was a lot of pre-Draft talk about your size. What was your take on all that, and how eager are you to show people that it doesn't matter; you're playing powerful enough, big enough to handle your own in there?*_(Ryan Mink)_*
Linderbaum:"I knew right when I declared for the NFL Draft someone was going to find something bad about me, and that was the size. But at the end of the day, it's how you go out on the field and how you play football, play to your strengths, and that's what I think I do well. So, everyone has opinions, and that's their opinions, but I know I can play football."
Tyler, it seems like you played just about every sport there was in high school, after reading about your background. Do you think that sort of contributed to you being the all-around athlete that all the scouts would talk about when they discussed how you played center?*_(Childs Walker)_*
Linderbaum:"I definitely think it helps. I'm a competitive person; I think doing all those sports helped develop that. I think the more sports … My mentality [is] the more sports you did in high school, I think, the better all-around athlete you're going to be."
Kyle, from the Ravens' standpoint, once you got out of the Top 10, I'm thinking, they're going, "Fall to us! Fall to us!" They're getting excited. From your vantage point though, when you get out of the Top 10, is it a stressful situation, because I know you were maybe hoping to go a little bit earlier? Is it a stressful situation once you go beyond like maybe the Top 10? (Jamison Hensley)
Hamilton:"Yes. I would say it was definitely stressful and not just because of that reason solely; the whole process in itself was stressful, and Tyler [Linderbaum] knows that, everybody knows that. You're being talked about; you're being dived deep into throughout your whole background, whatever mistakes that you've ever made, and everybody's going to try to shine a light on them, and it's a stressful process, and especially in that one moment, where, yes, I [did] get past a certain point in the Draft. But like I was saying earlier, it's a silver lining that I'm here now, and it's the best thing that could have possibly happened."
John, Tyler Linderbaum's role as a center is kind of self-explanatory. Kyle Hamilton at safety, you guys are pretty loaded in that department. Have you thought about his role so far, this early? (Cordell Woodland)
Harbaugh:"Yes, quite a bit, and [I'm] excited about it, because we do, we have good players. We've got Chuck Clark. Chuck's been here for a long time. He he's one of our best players on defense. He wore the green dot, he's a leader, he's a play-caller, and I know Kyle [Hamilton] is excited to work with Chuck and learn from him. And then we just signed Marcus Williams. He's one of the best safeties in football, and he's got his unique style, and Kyle will learn from him too, and they'll feed off each other and play with each other, create some versatility, some flexibility for Brandon Stephens. He can still continue to play safety, he can play a nickel role for us, he can maybe play some corner, as well, and he's a very versatile player. And then you've got young guys like Geno [Stone]. Geno is in there doing well. And then, don't forget Tony Jefferson II. Tony Jefferson II brings a lot of unique abilities, too. So, all of those guys are really versatile football players, so the ability to … As I said before, you play free … We talked about it just now; we're talking about playing free safety, playing strong safety, playing nickel, playing dime, and every now and then, you're going find yourself in the mike position by alignment, by matchup. So, all those guys are going to play those spots, and that's exactly what we want."
John, I asked you yesterday about three safety alignments. Could you see this defense using four safeties, including Brandon Stephens? (Jonas Shaffer)
Harbaugh:"Hey, why not? (laughter) We'll just come up with a new personnel group. [Defensive coordinator] Mike [Macdonald], you here? Where are you at Mike? (laughter) We will come up with something like that. I just think it speaks to … That's what you want as a coach, and it speaks to our scouts. Our scouts do a great job of studying these guys, led by [director of player personnel] Joe [Hortiz] with all the college scouts, and then watching [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] work the Draft yesterday in the first round. And the way it was going, it didn't go the way that we expected. I'm going to be honest; we had a conversation a couple weeks ago here, and I was just joking; I'm like, 'What are you doing here? I don't even know what you're doing here. It's nice to meet you. I thought we would get a chance to talk. You go to the same school as my daughter. Did you know that?' (laughter) And he didn't. But it was just fun, because I just didn't think this chance was really going to happen, and then here we sit, because we make our plans and then God laughs, and that's what's beautiful about it. But then watching Eric; the poise he had, he saw it coming, the trades he made, adding, moving back and different opportunities that we had, the possibilities that would come up, and to come out of it with this result, with these two guys … [They're] the kind of guys that I think fit Eric's personality – just good, tough, hard-nosed, determined, gritty, smart people [who] come from great families – and that was something that was meaningful to us. I congratulate Eric and his staff, because this thing was a great job."
John, obviously you're looking for the best players, and you got the best players at their position, but how much of a factor is culture and getting guys that are going to be able to adapt to it and be a part of that?*_(Jamison Hensley)_*
Harbaugh:"Yes, it's real. We like tough guys; we like guys that like football. It's an advantage when you have guys that are willing to work and understand the value of work and are smart, and you can have a conversation with them, and you can talk about things that are a little deeper sometimes, and you can put some schemes in that are a little more complex. But it really comes down to good people that want to work hard and keep it simple and keep it about football. Let's come to work every day, let's keep it simple, let's love football, let's have fun with each other, let's be good guys, let's be tough guys. This is a tough league, and football is fun in a different kind of way. It's not rollercoaster fun, it's football fun, and guys that appreciate that is something that's really valuable to us."
Tyler, have you thought about how QB Lamar Jackson's versatility and his unique skillset will impact your job?*_(Gerry Sandusky)_*
Linderbaum:"My job is to protect him [Lamar Jackson]; I'm excited to get that opportunity. Every snap, every down, I'm going to have to bring it, because obviously it's a tough league. Every guy across from me is going to be tough, but just the mentality I'm going to bring, just that gritty toughness, physical, I'm going to bring it just to protect him and keep him safe."
John, you've used multiple centers in the time QB Lamar Jackson has been the quarterback. Is there anything specific in terms of challenges or differences with that type of quarterback for a center?*_(Mark Viviano)_*
Harbaugh:"That's a great question. The biggest thing is the ability to sustain a block, especially in pass protection, because Lamar [Jackson] can extend the play like no other. And when Lamar is given the opportunity to extend the play … Lamar can make a play on time, of course, but when he can extend the play, it's just electric; that's kind of his brilliance, and that's when the field opens up for him in a lot of different ways. Lamar is going to appreciate his [Tyler Linderbaum] ability to sustain a block and extend the play. And then just with that, look at the other guys on our offensive line – Pat Mekari. Pat's the most versatile player, probably the most versatile offensive lineman in the league, maybe – plays all five positions – so Pat will be in the mix there too at the left guard spot, really across the board. So, to have those kinds of players just means a lot."
Kyle, I saw that T Ronnie Stanley welcomed you to the facility outside there. Did you guys have much of a relationship? I know you guys didn't overlap at Notre Dame, but what has he told you about the Ravens and what to expect here?*_(Jonas Shaffer)_*
Hamilton:"We actually were training at the same facility this spring, so I got to meet him for the first time [and] really get to know him. He's a great dude. Obviously, he was rehabbing his [ankle], but he was just letting me know [that] it's work, it's hard work, and I knew that, but he was just emphasizing that it's going to take work, [and] nothing is going to be handed to you. I appreciated the honesty, and I'm excited to come in and just gain respect. At this level, that's a really important thing – is just gaining older guys' respect, coaches' respect, even guys' within your class respect – and I'm excited to do that."
Tyler, can you talk about your wrestling background, specifically, and how that helped you? And then can you shed some light on your wrestling match with T Tristan Wirfs?*_(Ryan Mink)_*
Linderbaum:"I think wrestling is one of the toughest sports you can do. It's you against another guy. It's not like any other sport where you have teammates, [and] you can kind of rely on them. You go out there, it's either you win or you lose, and everyone knows if you get your butt kicked, or if you don't get your butt kicked. So, that's what you've got to love about wrestling. And then obviously the match with [Tristan] Wirfs – we were rival opponents. I faced him quite a bit, [and] I couldn't get the job done. I'm just happy I got that final match against him. But he's been a great teammate of mine over the years at Iowa, and he's a tremendous football player. But yes, just having the opportunity to beat him was special."