Eric DeCosta opening statement: "Overall, it was a very successful day. We got four excellent football players, guys who we're excited about. Tylan Wallace, just too good of a player for us not to take him. He's a very talented receiver who we saw at the Senior Bowl and quite a bit this fall. Shaun Wade, a nickel corner [and] a slot corner, two years ago really excelled as one of the best corners in football. [We're] excited to get him. He's played a lot of good football in a very good conference. Daelin Hayes [is] a guy that really fits our scheme and fits our defense. [He's] a great person, great motor [and was] productive this year. He can be used in a lot of different ways and he gives [defensive coordinator] Coach [Don] Martindale, again, another player who can do multiple things very well. Finally, Ben Mason, [he] just really kind of epitomizes what Ravens football is about. He's a tough, physical guy. [He's] versatile and plays multiple positions. We had a chance to really watch him quite a bit over the years. We know what he's about. He's our kind of football player, and we're excited about him as well. Questions?"
Eric, obviously you guys were able to get some guys that you like, but you didn't specifically address the offensive tackle position. Is that just kind of how the board played out over the three days? Or do you foresee a move in the days to come? (Daniel Oyefusi)
DeCosta: "Well, we have some guys that we think are going to compete right now at the right tackle spot, and we're excited about that. As I learned from my mentor [executive vice president] Ozzie Newsome, we don't have to play games until September. We're confident that we'll have a right tackle. We'll have a strong offensive line. The best guys are going to play. We have great competition, and we'll be ready to play when the time comes."
Eric, when you look at that whole class and you look at those names on that list, is there any kind of theme, or any kind of thing, that jumps out as a common thread to you when you look at all those guys and kind of the impact they can make for the Ravens? (Jamison Hensley)
DeCosta:"I don't know, they're just good players. I think they're big school guys. I will say that given the uncertainly with college football this year, it felt like for us … Going back [to] last year when we had some really good meetings as a scouting staff last year, one of the things we talked about was the pandemic and what college football might look like and how that might affect the Draft. It just seemed wise at the time to focus most of our attention on big school guys, and we tried to do that. Most of our players that we really liked this year were Power 5 conference-type of guys, big school guys. In general, we just tried to pick good players, guys that could do multiple things, guys that fit us personality-wise. We tried to pick smart, tough and competitive guys. Quite honestly, if we had a choice between two players and they were equal talents, we would always defer to the guy that really lives like a Raven, so to speak. That was something that we used to separate a lot of guys this year."
Eric, we have had fans asking a lot of questions about offensive line the last two days. Did you guys not like the depth at tackle or in the interior as much past, say, the first three rounds? (Childs Walker)
DeCosta:"Well, we're not going to reach on guys. Our board might look different from other teams' boards or the media's board. We're going to draft the best players we can at any given spot. There's a lot of factors. Sometimes there's a medical factor that has to be brought into the equation. Sometimes there's a scheme factor [or] there's personality factor. There's a lot of different things that we look at. Again, I think we're really comfortable where we are right now as an offensive line and as an offense with personnel. Certainly, if the opportunity presents itself over the next four months or three months to add additional players at any position, we'll consider that very strongly and do what's best for the club."
Coach, what's the inside scouting report on TE Ben Mason? How do you see him fitting into this offense? (Garrett Downing)
Harbaugh:"I can tell you that he's Jack and Jackie Harbaugh's favorite player. I told [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] that as we were getting ready to make the pick. So, I think that had a big influence on Eric, for sure. (laughter) But he does fit us, our style [and] who we are. I think it's pretty easy for anybody that's watched us play, and now that you've seen some clips on him, to understand how he's going to fit into our offense. He's just a perfect fit for what we're trying to do in going forward and building what we're building here on offense. I love his personality. I love who he is as a person. I love the way he plays. Jack Harbaugh likes him. Especially if Mama Harbaugh likes him, Jackie, then we like him." (laughter)
Joe, can you talk a little bit about versatility? It seems like that was sort of a common denominator with a lot of picks, whether it was CB Brandon Stephens last night, DB Shaun Wade today, or LB Daelin Hayes. There were a lot of guys that can do different things. How much was that sort of a focus during the Draft process? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Hortiz: "I'll tell you; when someone asked that question earlier, that is one of the commonalities with all these players, or most of these players, is their versatility. You see them playing in a lot of different spots. I think our scouts, it's easy for them to go out … With the coaching staff that we have here, the way we can use players and how we move players around, it's really easy to go out and try to look for those guys and get excited about a guy when you can see him playing multiple positions. Shaun Wade, he's played inside and outside. We talked about the guys we took on Day One and Day Two. Daelin [Hayes], he has his hand in the dirt, he's up as a SAM 'backer [and] he's out in coverage. Ben [Mason], [he] worked some fullback, tight end, a little bit of H-back, everything at Michigan and then down at the Senior Bowl, they used him a lot as a traditional tight end. So, having these guys show us that in different platforms, it's great to see and it's easy to present it to the coaching staff."
John, with adding two wide receivers in the Draft, you have WR Sammy Watkins in free agency and also bringing in wide receivers coach Tee Martin and pass game specialist Keith Williams, how are you feeling right now about the wide receiver position and just attacking improving this passing game from where you've been the last couple of years, knowing you guys want to get a little more efficient? (Luke Jones)
Harbaugh: "I feel good about it. I'm excited in terms of, as you mentioned, the coaching staff. I think we've done a lot of work on just evolving our scheme and building what we're doing in there. It really is going to come down to execution and just how you play the game. That's why I can't wait to get to practice to do that. But adding these players is a big part of it and then developing our other guys. I think we have a really strong room. There is going to be a lot of competition. There are a lot of good people in there. They're hard workers. They're all very talented. They're going to push each other [and] work with each other. Lamar [Jackson] and the quarterbacks are going to be excited, too, [and] the coaches. It's a great situation."
This question is for Joe. I'm wondering, how hard is it to not talk about a guy like G Ben Cleveland? I've looked around, I can't see that you've mentioned his name too much – a lot of OT Teven Jenkins and other guys. We know that Coach Harbaugh coveted G Ben Cleveland. Then 63 picks later, that guy is there. How satisfying is it when you don't talk about him and then he's there? (Kirk McEwen)
Hortiz:"It's really easy to not talk about him when you guys don't ask about him. (laughter) I never mention names. When you guys ask about players, I wait for you guys to give me names. It's great. It was fun. Our scouts, with Ben [Cleveland] in particular, we looked at him a lot in the fall. A lot of us had already [evaluated] him early in the fall or in the middle of the fall. Once we got the coaches involved to see that they liked him as well, it was just kind of a let's see if this guy gets to us. For him to fall all the way down there, it was fun. It's fun. It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, it's a good feeling."
Before today's Draft started, you said you had your eyes on 7-10 players that you would be really happy to land. As it played out, it seems like guys that at least media-types had ranked really high – WR Tylan Wallace and other guys like that – were somehow still available for you – CB Shaun Wade. Were you surprised that those guys were still there when you were picking? (Ryan Mink)
DeCosta: "I think that's just kind of the nature of the Draft. We've been through it now 25 years, and good players fall. If you just stay patient, you stay true, you don't panic, you'll get good players. It just happens. It's just inherent in all of us. We like different things. We like different foods, different movies. We like different players. And so, you're going to get some good players if you just stay patient, you do the work, you trust the system, you give everybody a voice – you'll get good players."
Head coach John Harbaugh answered the question about the wide receiver corps. You add another one today, you add two during the Draft. You had used the word 'insulted' before the Draft. Hopefully nobody got insulted with the Draft picks you made, but could you talk about the direction you're going with the wide receivers? (Jerry Coleman)
DeCosta: "Sure, yes. We're excited, and I think one thing people will learn, eventually, is sometimes what we say leading up to the Draft, there's different ways to interpret those types of things, and it's a game. The Draft is a game. It never serves us any purpose to give away any inside information. We're not going to talk about players that we love. We're not going to talk about players that we want to pick, strategies, all those types of things. And so, for us, we're competing with those other teams. With the receiver position, specifically, we spent a lot of time looking at guys this year. It wasn't necessarily our intention to draft two guys, but we felt like we had a good board, [and] we felt like we evaluated the guys properly. It really helped having a couple new sets of eyes on the offensive coaching staff. Their perspective on receivers was very beneficial, I think, to all of us, and it was a great group of receivers in this year's Draft. We had multiple guys, and quite honestly, there are still some really good receivers available, in my opinion. I don't know who has just been picked, but as we finished up, we're looking up at the board saying, 'Man, that guy is a good player. That guy is a good player.' So, if teams want good receivers this year, this seems to be the year to get them. We're very happy the way it played out. We're excited. But I also want to say that we feel really, really good about the guys that are already on the campus. Those guys are going to compete, they're good players, [and] they're going to help us win a lot of games. All we've done really is just kind of stack the deck and create a lot of competition."
With the talent and depth that you have on the current roster and the eight guys that you're bringing in, how competitive is it going to be to make this team in training camp? And how is that competition going to help you get ready for the season? (Todd Karpovich)
Harbaugh: "It'll be competitive. That's just a great point that you're making. We like to build as deep of a roster as we can, because the more good players you have in camp, the better the competition, in terms of offense versus defense, one on ones, drills that we run. You get better by going against good players. It makes our established veterans better. It makes our young guys better. We like to have a deep roster. So, yes, I'm really excited, I'm happy. As a coach, I like the look of the roster, and I'm looking forward to going to work, start practicing and start improving."
Executive vice president & general manager Eric DeCosta mentioned the weirdness of this past offseason. A couple of the guys you took today, yesterday and even on Thursday, didn't have the best 2020, whether it was injury or opting out and opting back in. Could you just explain the process of weighing what guys had done in previous years, and then, measuring what you saw on tape this year, given all the variables that came into play? (Jonas Shaffer)
Hortiz: "Yes, certainly. It was challenging for a lot of these college kids. They've got a lot to balance, and really, each conference did it differently. So, you see the Big Ten [Conference] and the Pac-12 [Conference], they were the last ones to kick it back off, and obviously, some players from those conferences elected to opt-out or came back in a little late. Shaun [Wade] was one of those guys that opted-out and came back in. Getting ready for the season, you're sitting at home, you get sent home, you're coming back in, you've got a couple weeks to get ready. Some guys went through some struggles, and you just watch how they competed. You know they may have been dealing with something this year. While they were playing, maybe [it wasn't] the same preparation, in terms of getting ready for the season. You just watch the competition on film, and then you go back to last year's film, when they had a more normal season, and you look at it, and you match it up, and see where they improved or what they did better that year, and you put the two together. I think our scouts did a great job of marrying the two years up and coming up with an opinion on the players."
You guys exercised the fifth-year option for QB Lamar Jackson. Is there a reason why you guys waited that long to exercise it, and do you have any updates as far as a contract with Lamar – any talks or anything like that? (Jamison Hensley)
DeCosta: "There's no reason. There are no conspiracies. We were just getting ready for the Draft. There is only so many things we can do in one day, so I was watching a lot of college tape, trying to get ready for the Draft. We've talked about this 100 times. Lamar [Jackson] is a guy that's going to be here. We love him. He's really the face of this team, right now, in many different ways. He's a leader, he's a good player, and he's our quarterback. So, we will work tirelessly to get a deal done. I'm a guy that sort of likes to work with deadlines, and the Draft is almost over, so now we'll kind of move on to the next big thing. So, this is behind us, almost – not quite, yet. We'll finish up with free agency upstairs in probably three or four hours. But we've got other things now on our plate, and Lamar Jackson is one of those things."
When you make up the offensive line, and you look at that, do you view G/T Tyre Phillips as a tackle or guard? Will he be in contention there? And the second question is unrelated: How does rookie minicamp work? Is it the same? Or is it different, because there were changes to the offseason program? When will you get these guys on the field? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Harbaugh: "Two good questions. The first one with Tyre [Phillips], he's a right tackle, as it stands. We'll see where it goes, in terms of … Like [executive vice president & general manger] Eric [DeCosta] said, things change, and we'll kind of keep adjusting those guys and moving those pieces around over the course of the next few weeks, through the rookie minicamp, through the OTAs and training camp, and we'll come up with a great group by September – for sure. Tyre is definitely in the conversation. Tyre can play. He can play right tackle. I think he's going to be a really good tackle. He can play either guard spot, so that's the versatility that he brings. He's a big man, very athletic. He's really new to the game. He played junior college. He played one year in high school, [then] junior college. He played two years there at Mississippi State. He's young to the game, so I think he's going to make major strides really fast. We'll start with that, then we'll go from there. As far as rookie minicamp, it's a little bit limited, in terms of how many tryout guys you can bring in, but you still bring in your drafted guys, you bring in your undrafted rookie free agents. Certain guys that didn't play last year can come in and be a part of rookie minicamp, and that's really good for our second-year guys, because they had no rookie minicamp last year. Then you can bring in a limited number of tryouts. So, we'll bring as many guys in as we can and have really good practices. That's going to start two weeks from yesterday, so a week from next Friday we'll have the rookie minicamp, unless I'm mistaken. I'll be corrected if I'm wrong about that, but that's the way I understand it with the rules and where they stand with protocols and stuff like that. So, I can't wait, [I'm] ready to go to practice and I'm looking forward to seeing these guys."