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Transcripts: Ravens Day 1 NFL Draft Media Availability (4/25)

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "We're very, very excited to draft Nate Wiggins. In my opinion, [he's] the best cover corner in the Draft. [He's] highly athletic [and has] fantastic feet. Really, in our opinion, [he's] a guy that can go into being a true shutdown-type corner. [We're] ecstatic that he fell to us, and we'll take questions."

It seemed like once you got to No. 30, you actually had a lot of choices at corner. Was it a tough decision, or was CB Nate Wiggins the obvious pick on your board? (Jamison Hensley)

Eric DeCosta: "We had a couple of guys that we really liked. We were so hopeful. We figured that this Draft, honestly, we had to come out of the first round with most likely a corner or an offensive lineman if we could, and you always hold your breath for sure. Honestly, I didn't think that Nate [Wiggins] would be there for us. As the Draft started to unfold, and we started to see all of those offensive linemen come off the board, we thought there might be a chance, and then you started to see the run on corners in the 20s. Philly might've taken [Quinyon] Mitchell, and then [Terrion] Arnold went, and then we started to get antsy. Either the phone was ringing – we had a lot of different potential trade possibilities – but for us, it was always, 'If Nate [is] there, we [are] going to pick.' If Nate wasn't there, [and] there was another guy we liked ... but we also were going to look at trading out."

Were you surprised that so many offensive players went so early? I think it was 13 in a row... (Todd Karpovich)

DeCosta: "Not really. We kind of looked at it; it was an offensive Draft. There are more offensive players in this Draft. It's just stacked on the offensive side this year at some positions. We knew the quarterbacks were going to be picked high, and we had a strong inclination that offensive linemen were going to go, too. So, if you take the seven offensive linemen and the six quarterbacks, that's 13 players right there. We weren't surprised."

What's your idea about playing CB Nate Wiggins? Do you feel like he's a Day One, plug-and-play type of guy? Do you see him inside or outside? How do you envision using him? (Cordell Woodland)

John Harbaugh: "You see him as an outside corner, that's kind of where he's made his hay, but he plays inside as well, and he did it in college. We'll just continue to be versatile through those DBs. [We'll] move them around and let them play in different spots. That gives us another quality starting corner; I'd say we have three legitimate starting corners. He has to come in and prove it and do it and all that, but we expect him to do it. We were excited. We were looking for Nate [Wiggins]. We were in the defensive room, actually [assistant head coach/pass game coordinator] Chris Hewitt's office – [it was] me and about five of the defensive coaches before the Draft started [at] about 7:45 [p.m.], it came up, 'What if Wiggins falls to us? Wouldn't that be something?' We were like, 'Nah, that'll never happen. That couldn't happen, but how good would that look in our defense?' It worked out, and it came true. So, we're excited."

Did you bring CB Nate Wiggins in here for a visit? Was he in the p*re-Draft process?* (Jeff Zrebiec)

Harbaugh: "He was. He was."

CB Nate Wiggins is very slender – how does he project in sort of the run defense part of things from what you guys have seen? (Childs Walker)

Harbaugh: "When you watch the tape; he comes up and smacks people. That's what he does. He's not afraid of the physical part of it at all. He's a complete corner. First of all, he's rangy, and he can run. He's got very good feet, he changes direction, he puts his hands on people in press, and he runs up and tackles people with some physicality. The weight doesn't impede him at all, and he's going to put on weight; he's over 180 [pounds] now. He's a young guy. He's 20 years old, right Eric [DeCosta]?

DeCosta: "He'll gain weight. If we get him up there with some of the scouts, he'll pack it on pretty quick." (laughter). "Get him with 'Manny' in the [cafeteria]. We have a plan for him."

You mentioned his cover instincts, and John Harbaugh was just saying [that] he is a complete corner. How much did the big plays kind of factor into your desire to draft CB Nate Wiggins? Obviously, we've all seen that forced fumble right before the line when he's going down. Is there something about the big plays that Nate had in college that defines him as a player? (*Kyle Goon*)**

DeCosta: "When I think of Nate [Wiggins], I just think that he is a ridiculous athlete – very, very quick-footed, efficient. He's fast. He's tough. He's competitive. In our division, we play a lot of really good receivers, and you have to get off the field on third downs. And, we were blessed last year to have a lot of depth in the secondary, and it really helped us quite a bit. And this is a guy that can come in here and play meaningful football right away for us. We're excited about that."

John, you touched on versatility a little bit. But being able to add CB Nate Wiggins playing on the outside, how big is that in terms of maybe being able to move Marlon [Humphrey] around and just being as versatile as you guys were last year with some of the depth that you had? (Luke Jones)

Harbaugh: "No question. I mean, Marlon [Humphrey]'s going to be able to slide in there and play inside. Brandon [Stephens] can slide in and play inside. You have Kyle [Hamilton] coming down. You have Kyle going over and playing dime-backer, possibly. We're just going to have a lot of options. I mean, [defensive coordinator] Zach [Orr]'s going to be working on that versatility probably tonight."

DeCosta: "And Arthur [Maulet] had a heck of a season for us last year."

I know you guys trust your process, and you don't really do the whole comparison thing, but I know you guys were high on Commanders CB Emmanuel Forbes last year, and this is another kind of skinny, fast guy. Do his struggles kind of factor in any way to how you think about how a guy might come over from the college to the NFL level? (Jonas Shaffer*)*

DeCosta: "It's a good question. I think we just look at everybody differently. We just study the player for who he is, what he does and what he puts on tape. [We] look at his skillset. We talk to people, which is a very important part of the process. We follow the guy around, and I think at that position – it's a very hard position to play. A lot of guys can't do it. The biggest thing is – and John always says it – you've got to actually cover people. You've got to guard people. It's a hard thing, and Nate has proven that he can do that very, very well. He's a young player. We love that about him. He's 20 years old. [He's] one of the fastest players at the combine. [He's] silky smooth, and he will compete. He does tackle very well. People at [Clemson] are high on him. We were getting texts from the head coach. Dabo [Swinney] was texting us during the first round [saying], 'Please take this guy.' So, we're just very excited about him."

I know you are always kind of more about tape than sometimes about workouts, but do you remember your reaction when CB Nate Wiggins ran that 40 at the NFL Combine? (Jamison Hensley)

DeCosta*:* "Yes, I was excited. I mean, it wasn't as fast as [Xavier] Worthy, my reaction when Worthy ran. But, [Nate Wiggins] ran a 4.28, I think. It was a great workout. He didn't do much after that, but to see that speed, [it was] super impressive. We had him in here. We met with him. We met with him at the Combine, spent a lot of time with him, and we're very excited to get him."

You previously mentioned the depth of this draft at wide receiver and offensive line. Did you feel a bigger sense of urgency to identify cornerback and attack that position early? (Bo Smolka)

DeCosta: "Yes, that's an excellent question, and that's something that, honestly, kept me up at night, just because there are a lot of offensive linemen in this draft, [and] there is a pretty good pool of receivers. But as I would go through and work on all these different simulations, it became apparent that if we didn't get a corner in the first round, it was going to be challenging to get a really good corner in the second round, third round [or] fourth round who could help us right away. So, not to say [that] we wouldn't have taken a receiver – we would have, [and] we would have taken an offensive lineman – but for us, if you're talking about all the different combinations [of] how we can be the best team we can be, I think just getting a corner, at this point, like Nate [Wiggins], is probably the best way we could have started this weekend."

If CB Nate Wiggins wasn't still there, do you think there would have been a lot of options to trade down – or at least some options? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta: "We had a lot of options. The phone rang a lot this year and more so than it has in the last couple [of] years. Honestly, I can honestly say that we probably had eight different potential trades that we could have investigated."

Did you have trade options to go both backwards and forwards? (Jeff Zrebiec)

DeCosta: "Well, we're not really a [trade] forward team. One team did call us about coming up; we just were kind of like, 'No thank you.' But that's not really something that we do, so yes, it was [more about] trading back."

You guys have done a really good job at taking some of these young players in the draft – 20-21. How does that youth factor into your evaluation of them, and why do you think you guys have done so well getting guys – like ILB Patrick Queen and QB Lamar Jackson – who are not quite as physically mature but able to develop into really good players? (Jonas Shaffer)

Harbaugh: "That's a great question. I think [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta] said it earlier; it's kind of, probably, more about the individual player. But if you get the right kind of guys ... [Nate Wiggins] is coming out for a reason, [and] he's a first-round pick for a reason. He's very talented. He's ready. He thinks he's ready, [and] his head coach [Dabo Swinney] felt like he was ready [to come] out. And he's a young guy, but that's opportunity – the way we look at it – and he's determined. He's a motivated guy. He's talking about that he has a lot to prove. We both got on the phone with him and talked to him, and he's talking about what he has to prove, so our response was, 'Alright, let's come in here next week, and let's get to work. Let's get started on it.' He's planning on being a hard worker, and if he does that, we've got a path for him. We've kind of got a plan for him, and we'll have him ready to go."

Heading into Day Two, do you still see a lot of offensive linemen who could help you right away? (Childs Walker)

DeCosta: "I do, yes."

I know you were saying that you're not a team that moves forward in the draft, but given the trades within those 10 picks right in front of you, as you're waiting to see who might be available, was there any temptation to move up and do something dramatic? (Kyle Goon)

DeCosta: "I'm just not really a trade-up type of guy, generally. I mean, we have [traded up before]. We traded up to get Lamar [Jackson], [and] we traded up to get Joe [Flacco], but in most cases, I just feel that you're chances to really maximize your draft are to stay where you are or go back."

Harbaugh: "You traded up to get Joe, and then you traded back."

DeCosta: "Well, we traded back, and then we traded up."

Harbaugh: "Is that how it went – up then back, [or] back then up?"

DeCosta: "Back, then up, which ... For the record, I was not necessarily in favor of that trade back up. However, I was outvoted."

Harbaugh: "Oh, that's right. You got outvoted by a vote of one."

DeCosta: "I was getting stared at. [I was outvoted] by two. Well, two people [were] staring at me. But it's fine; it's good." (laughter) "It worked out. I mean, I'm not saying it can't work out, [and] you can trade up to get guys ..."

Harbaugh: "It was only 17 years ago." (laughter)

DeCosta: "You can be very successful [trading up], but in general, I think [that] it's just a risky business."

With the trade-back possibilities, what were ultimately the reasons that played into the decision to stay? Was it just because CB Nate Wiggins is such a good player? What was the process of making the decision to stay? (Garrett Downing)

DeCosta: "Well, I've got to give [manager of data science and decision] Derrick Yam credit. Derrick works for me, upstairs, in analytics. He does a great job with modeling and different things, and he was convinced that we would get a player in our range between 13-20 in our sequence; we're picking 30. I didn't think it was going to happen this year, but he was right. And so, when you get a player that you have highly rated, who you love, who fills a position of need, then you've got to take him."