FINAL DRAFT MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Executive Vice President/General Manager Eric DeCosta & Head Coach John Harbaugh
Eric DeCosta opening statement:"We were able to get Justice Hill today. He was a running back that we were excited about, very explosive guy, excellent feet, good vision, home-run-type skills, very productive in the Big 12, fits our offense extremely well.
Ben Powers from Oklahoma, [we] went back to the state of Oklahoma. I think [he's] a very intelligent, smart, tough, aggressive player. Again, he fits our mentality. We know a lot about him. He's very close to Orlando Brown Jr. In fact, Orlando was actually with him at the draft party, which was kind of cool, and he's a guy that will come in right away and compete with some of the other guys we have to start, I think, at left guard.
"Iman Lewis-Marshall, a long corner, physical, has press skills. [He's a] physical, good tackler, special teams ability, again, a guy that kind of fits what we think of at the corner position. As you guys know, we can never have enough corners out there. So, I think it's a really nice pick for us in the middle rounds. To get a guy like him was very appealing.
"Daylon Mack – big, strong guy that we saw at the East-West game and also at the Senior Bowl. [He has] two-gap ability as a nose tackle, also a sneaky pass rusher. He had 5.5 sacks this year, and for a big guy – 335 pounds, he ran a 5-flat 40-yard dash – he moves pretty well.
"And our last pick, Trace McSorley, was kind of a sleeper pick for us. We brought him in for the local pro day. We worked him out, fell in love with the kid. He had a really nice workout for us, very good athlete, and a very versatile player who can do a lot of different things. We brought him in as a quarterback, but we think his skillset really does fit what we're trying to accomplish on offense, and he has potential to do some other things. We're excited about him. He was very excited, and, I think, relieved to be picked. And this is a great spot for him.
"Overall, in summary, we got a lot accomplished over the last couple days. We added a lot of speed. We had some playmakers, we had some big guys, and I think we helped our football team quite a bit."
John Harbaugh opening statement:"Two things: First of all, I thought the draft room was incredible. Eric [DeCosta] led the way, did a great job leading the room all through the process and then on draft day, and through all the different opportunities. When the fur was flying, he was calm, and I thought around him, the support system – Joe Hortiz was tremendous, Ozzie [Newsome] was tremendous, even Steve [Bisciotti] does a great job in the draft room, and then all of our scouts and coaches. I just thought we had a great three days, in terms of the draft room led by Eric's first run as the guy in charge. I just want to give a lot of compliments to that. It was really impressive.
"And then, the other thing was Mo [Gaba] and Miles [Taylor], Mo and Miles. To those two guys, just kudos, thank you, to those two guys. They were just fantastic. They embody the spirit of the Ravens and the Ravens fans. We all had a little … [We] choked up just a little bit, but [were] also really excited and proud to be represented by two fine young people, just fine young people that are really strong people and great people, so that was the other highlight for me."
Eric, you talk about building an offense around QB Lamar Jackson. It seemed that a lot of the picks, even QB Trace McSorley, speed was a common denominator with a lot of your picks. How big of a focus was that to surround QB Lamar Jackson with a lot of fast, athletic guys? (Jeff Zrebiec)
DeCosta:"I think it just makes it hard to focus on one guy. We played a lot of teams, really good offenses, this year. I had a chance to sit up in the press box and watch some of these offenses, and one of the main common denominators is speed. It makes it tough as a defense. As good as our defense has been, it's a challenge for a team to face speed when you have multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays. It's challenging. We got a chance to see what Lamar can do this past year, and I think our vision, collective vision, for the offense is to add more guys like that to make it really challenging on the defense."
Eric, you got asked a lot leading up to this process, "Would it be any different for you?" Now that it's over, did it feel any different than the other 22 that you've been through? (Garrett Downing)
DeCosta:"I think as Coach [John Harbaugh] said, we had a lot of help. I know I had a lot of help in there and people working with me. I had 'Oz' [Ozzie Newsome] on the left side, and I had Joe [Hortiz, director of college scouting] on the right side, and I had Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration] over there, and I had John across the table. And we had all the scouts in there, so it was a collective effort. It didn't really feel much different. Maybe the fact that I had to call all these guys on the phone – I don't normally do that. I haven't done that in the past, typically. But, in general, the process was basically the way it's always been. We have the board set. The scouts did a fantastic job, and the coaches come in and they contribute in such a meaningful way. I also want to just mention a couple guys that really have a huge part in what we do, and no one knows them: [Player personnel assistants] Patrick Williams and Patrick McDonough and Chas Stallard and Q Attenoukon – those guys are the guys that kind of organize everything that we do upstairs. These are the guys that pick the players up when they come in and help us with the interview process. They do all the dirty work, and I think John and I – we've both done the dirty work in our careers – we appreciate the guys that do the dirty work. Those guys have done a great job at helping us as well."
John, you had two quarterbacks on the field some last year. Are you thinking about the possibility of three at some point? (Luke Jones)
Harbaugh:(laughs)"Hey, why not? The more things they have to defend, right, the more problems we can cause, and we've done that. Our quarterbacks are even fast, as you guys are pointing out. The other thing is, there's a special teams role for guys, too. It's just going to be really fun to create opportunities for all these guys to get on the field in different ways."
How do you envision a guy like QB Trace McSorley – he's a dual-threat player who can do a lot of different things – how do you see him fitting in on this team? (Jamison Hensley)
Harbaugh:"That's just it. We see him fitting in as a quarterback, first of all, and that's what we told him. I told him this weeks ago: 'You're going to be a quarterback.' That's where it begins, but it shouldn't be limited to that. I think he can go out there and line up and do some other things possibly, just like RGIII [Robert Griffin III] will be able to do at times. And then, there's the special teams part of it. You saw what the Saints have done down there with their third quarterback [Taysom Hill] – second quarterback, third quarterback. That's something that we'll have a chance to do, too, with Trace. He's going to play some special teams, as well. The more you can do. You want players with roles, and he's a guy that has a chance to have a big role for us."
You talked about maybe grabbing a running back who could break it open. Will RB Justice Hill be that guy? (Todd Karpovich)
Harbaugh:"Absolutely. That's exactly what we were talking about. You remember we talked about that back when. That's what we got. This guy is a breakout player. You know, his brother is committed to Michigan – or is actually signed at Michigan with the incoming class. So, you have two brothers playing for two brothers. Pretty cool. But, he's a guy that can take it. If he gets a crease, if he gets an opening with our downhill run game the way we do it, the first part of this system, all those runs that we run – those off-tackle, downhill, double-team runs – if he gets a crack, they're going to be chasing him."
John, is there any comfortability knowing that you have multiple running backs that do different things and that can attack the defense in various aspects?_ (Kyle Andrews)_
Harbaugh: "That's exactly the idea, to try to get guys that do some different things. And even the running backs, if you watch the guys that we have, they can do different things – all of our guys. All of our guys pass-protect. All of our guys can catch the ball out of the backfield, and then different guys have different kinds of emphasis, in terms of power, foot quickness, speed, those kinds of things. So, we have a nice mix."
You talked about some memorable calls that you have made to prospects. Everyone that is around QB Trace McSorley seems to love him and talk about his makeup, and said you fell in love with him. How was that call to make? It sounded like you said he was pretty relieved._ (Jeff Zrebiec)_
DeCosta: "I think he was. He is just excited. He's with his family. He's been with his family for three days, and it's a long process. It's a long process for everybody associated with the draft. He's a great kid by all accounts, and this is a big day. He'll never forget this day, so obviously it's emotional, and he's happy and relieved, and he's ready to get to work."
You guys talked a lot about his versatility, but purely as a passer, how did QB Trace McSorley grade out to you guys?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_
DeCosta: "We brought him in, and he had a workout for us. It was a very intensive workout, and he was really, really impressive. He threw the ball well in the pocket, on the move. He competed. He was in phenomenal shape. He was accurate, and he showed a live arm. I think that's really important."
Eric, some people mentioned that CB Iman Lewis-Marshall's potential down the road is at safety. Do you guys project him initially as a cornerback?_ (Jonas Shaffer)_
DeCosta: "He's got the size, and he's a tough kid. He could probably play safety, but I think right now, his value to us is probably in the short term as a corner. He had a really good year this year. He had a lot of production on the ball. He's a good tackler. I think he projects extremely well on special teams. I think bringing him in as a young player, just kind of keeping him in his comfort zone … What he did this past year, we liked him on tape quite a bit. That would probably be where we would start him."
Losing ILB C.J. Mosley, there was no pick of an inside linebacker. Was that a case of the board stacking how it stacked and they weren't there at the time you picked? Was it a comment on what you have already, although it's not a lot of players that you have there? Is it a combination of both?_ (Bo Smolka)_
DeCosta: "I would say a combination of both. There were players that we really liked in this draft in the first round, second round, third round, fourth round – inside linebackers. But, it just has to work out. The right player has to be there at the right time. It wasn't necessarily the position that had the most prospects this year, so there weren't a lot of guys to begin with at that position, which we knew going into the process. We were probably only looking at a handful of guys that realistically we thought had a chance to kind of come in and really help us. We like the guys we have. We think we've got some really good football players in this building that play inside linebacker. It's just one of those things. We'll continue to look at available players that are out there on the streets and other teams' players. We get phone calls all the time, and we'll continue to look at that. But we're comfortable that we have guys that can play the position here in Baltimore on the team, and we expect those guys to improve and get better as well. We'll just address it at some point."
Eric, along those lines, are there any other positions that you'd like to add depth and competition to?_ (Luke Jones)_
DeCosta: "The guys are upstairs – they've been recruiting for the last couple of days and really over the last three or four weeks – we want to get better at every position. There's not a position on this team that we can't address in some meaningful way. We'll continue to do that. We have a history of doing well in undrafted free agency, and I'm proud of that. I know Coach [John Harbaugh] is proud of that, and that's kind of what the Ravens are known for, is undrafted free agency. Our guys take that responsibility very seriously, and we'll see what we can do."
John, what were your conversations with QB Trace McSorley like? Did you get a sense of why he has the reputation he does?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_
Harbaugh: "What reputation does he have? I'm not aware of it." (Reporter: "Gritty, a winner – one of those kind of guys.") "Oh, probably because he is. The Ravens are known for undrafted free agents, one of the things, and he's known to be a tough-ass competitor. Just watch him play. I've seen him play against Michigan a few times. He looked pretty good. I hated him then. Now I love him. (laughter) He's our kind of guy. One of the things that I think we do here a great job of is we bring in our kind of guys. We call them 'Ravens,' and we're not bringing anybody in that we don't think is a Raven. I appreciate you saying that he's gritty and tough. That's what we look for."
John, did you like the way Eric DeCosta addressed most of the deficiencies that you guys had at receiver, pass rusher, cornerback? It just seemed like he filled many of the gaps._ (Dave Ginsburg)_
Harbaugh: "We did a great job of that. I agree with you. There were things that we needed to build our team out. The process is not an exercise in, I don't know, grading the draft class like it is for the publications, so to speak. When you're a team, you do that as part of the way to building a football team. I think all of our scouts and coaches had that in mind as we did this, and we have guys that fit us personality-wise and also need-wise, talent-wise. I'm really happy with the way our roster looks now as compared to how it looked three days ago. We have to keep developing our players in every other way. Like Eric said, free agency is a big part of it. Also Monday, when we come in and go to work, when we lift weights and we have the football school. We get better there. One percent better every day, that's what we're working for."
There was a lot of speculation heading into this draft that maybe you guys would target a center. As far as in your mind, how important is this offseason for G/C Matt Skura, and how pleased have you been with his development to be that guy going forward?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_
Harbaugh: "Very pleased. Matt came in in great shape. Matt is all business all the time. He's just what you look for that way, and all we need Matt to do is be the very best he can be. I don't think there are too many limitations on where the upside is there. He's a really good player. That doesn't mean other people won't have an opportunity there. It's going to be competitive, so we have guys on the roster that are looking at … They all want to start. Every single one of those offensive linemen want to be in the starting lineup. They're all going to battle for that job equally, and the best players will win, the guys who play the best."
You guys had DE Ezekiel Ansah in here. Are there any updates on that, and is that just kind of doing your due diligence on available guys?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_
DeCosta: "We had a great visit. We did. He came in, and he's very impressive, as you'd expect. It was a great visit, and we'll see where it leads."
QB TRACE MCSORLEY CONFERENCE CALL
On what it meant to get that phone call telling him he'd been drafted by the Ravens:"Yeah, being in the NFL has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and to get that call is something I've been dreaming about for a long time. Last night it was all I could think about, is dream about getting that call and just having that moment. All the hard work I've put in and sacrifices by my family was huge. And to be able to get it from an organization like Baltimore, to be able to play not too far from home, to be able to have an organization and the coaches and front office that they have, I'm super excited to join the organization, and I'm just thankful for every single opportunity that I've gotten."
On how his meeting was with Baltimore when he worked out here:"I think every time I went to one of these visits and workouts was to show my competitiveness, show my ability on the field and my football knowledge. So, I'm thankful that I was able to show that to the coaches and that they saw that in me. Now they're giving me another opportunity to go out and prove myself, and I think that's definitely the mantra that this team has. That's kind of the backbone of this team, is the competitiveness when you look at their teams that have been super successful. The competitive teams, the guys that don't back down, and I think that's the organization that I'm about to join, and I'm super excited about it."
On what type of role he thinks he can have with the Ravens and at the NFL level:"My main thing is I feel I can be a quarterback, and that's my goal coming in is to compete and play the quarterback position. But I also know that I can do some other things for a team if given the opportunity. So, I'm ready to go and compete, and anything the coaches ask me to do, I'm ready to get to work. I know I can do a lot of different things on the football field to make the team successful, and I'm looking forward to getting that opportunity and getting into the facility this next week and being able to prove that."
On what his reaction would be if he was asked to play special teams in some capacity:"The biggest thing [we talked about with Baltimore coaches] was the focus was at the quarterback position, was kind of what they feel like I can do from there. But then it was really competing for if I'm in a backup role and being one of those guys that can maybe do a couple other things. Those are things that I can be able to come in and provide help and provide support for the organization. So, that was the main thing. It really wasn't anything too specific that was talked about, but if the opportunity is given, I think I can take advantage of it."
On if he knows QB Lamar Jackson at all, and what his impressions of him are:"I actually met him a couple of years ago at the Maxwell Awards. He's a great dude, obviously an awesome competitor, and he's got a similar [situation] where a lot of people said he might want to change positions, and he stuck to his guns and now ended up leading them to the playoffs last year. I think he's a tremendous athlete, dynamic player, great leader, and I'm looking forward to being able to learn from him and being able to get in the room and be a guy in that room that will help lead this team to a championship level. I remember when he was drafted, [Jackson] talking about winning Super Bowls, and I think that's kind of the same sort of mentality that I want to approach this thing with."
On how well Baltimore building its offense around QB Lamar Jackson fits his skillsets:"I think it fits my skillset pretty well, obviously the athletic part. The athleticism that really everyone in that room has – not just Lamar, but Robert Griffin and all those guys. So, I can come in and be another one of those guys in that room that can kind of fit into those spots. I'm just looking forward to all the athletes that they have. I think it's going to be a fun offense, and we're going to be able to do some good things. I'm just looking forward to getting in and getting the playbook and getting to work."
On if he sensed that Baltimore would be the place he would end up:"I had a sense – we were kind of looking at teams – and they were one of the teams that was on that list that we felt I had a good opportunity and a chance to be in the running to be able to take me. So, I'm super thankful, and I think at the end of the day I'm extremely happy to be where I'm at now. I'm extremely happy to be a Raven, and I'm just ready to go to work."
On if some of the doubts he faced entering the NFL Draft reminded him of some of the doubts he faced coming out of high school before he went to Penn State:"I think it's very similar – a lot of the things that I had heard, as far as position changes and a lot of the questions about [whether] I could be productive at the next level going from high school to college. I think I was able to prove a lot of people wrong in that right, and that's kind of the approach that I had. It was almost like déjà vu going back through it. But I'm ready, I'm a Raven now, and I'm ready to get going."