In less than three weeks there will be several new members of the Baltimore Ravens.
Ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Director of College Scouting, Joe Hortiz sat down to answer draft questions from both the media and PSL owners.
The team is coming off of a 9-7 season in which they missed the postseason for the third consecutive season, and after 22 years as GM, Newsome will be handling his last draft. A lot is riding on who they pick at No. 16 and throughout the draft.
Many attribute the Ravens missing the post-season of late to draft misses by Ozzie and Co.
2015 pick, Breshad Perriman has yet to prove why he is playing in the NFL and 2013 pick, Matt Elam had several disappointing seasons before his 2017 drug related arrest sealed his fate in the NFL. The GM accepts the blame is on him.
“No doubt," Newsome said.
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"The acquisition of players over the course – just like it was when we were having success – we were getting all the credit, and then we haven’t had the success. I need to take all the blame. And it falls right on me. So yes, John and his staff do an unbelievable job, but we have to do a better job of bringing in players. Whether that’s through the draft, through free agency or through trade, we have to do better, and that will help them to do better."
So with a new league year upon us, what can we expect from the team in this years draft and how does Newsome feel about his last ride?
Here are the best quotes and one-liners from the press conference that was kicked off with the surprise announcement of signing RGIII.
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— "So, you might be surprised at who we pick at 16 this year – if we pick at 16." Both Newsome and DeCosta hinted that the team could trade up or down in the draft, even saying, "If we pick in the first round." One thing they all made clear is that they have - and always will be- interested in the best player available in the first-round.
— "We have an opportunity here to really fix our team – which we need to do. We try to start to do that in free agency, but we look at the draft as a real opportunity for us to take the next step to be the team that we all want to be, That starts right now. I think we’ll worry about next year, next year." — Eric DeCosta will take over the reigns as General Manager after the 2018 season, but it is clear that his focus is making the 2018 draft a success first.
— “First of all, from my perspective, no. No, we will grade the players, set the board, and if there’s a quarterback that we feel that we can pick at any of our picks, we’ll do it." — After the surprise signing of RGIII to a one-year deal, the Ravens are not shutting down the possibility of drafting a young quarterback.
— "I think that the wide receiver class … Is there a Julio Jones in this draft? I don’t know. We didn’t think there was an Antonio Brown when Antonio Brown was selected. So, you never know. The biggest thing we have to do is find guys that we like – good football players – and whoever we pick across the board, we’ve got to find the right guys." — DeCosta's thoughts on if the 2018 wide receiver and tight end draft class is weak.
— "We think that we should at least do our due diligence and consider a lot of different things, and we do that – whether it’s personality, whether it’s analytics, whether it’s profiling. It could be all of these different things. But, the biggest thing is, how does the guy play? Does he play like a Raven? And that will never change.” — How the draft process has changed throughout the years and if the team takes analytics into consideration more than in the past.
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— “What are they like on the clock? I’ll tell you, it’s like a volcano, kind of. It’s like festering, like, ‘Is this thing going to blow?’ It never quite blows, but there’s so much tension." — Harbaugh on the dynamic between Newsome and DeCosta in the draft room. At the end of it all, Newsome is always the one to pull the trigger.
— "And I enjoy that aspect of it, just like I enjoyed competing on the field, because you’re still competing with 31 other clubs about getting it right. And that same enthusiasm, that same fear that I had coming out of that tunnel, I have it on Thursday nights now, especially when we get within an hour of our pick, because that’s when things start to happen." — What Newsome finds most rewarding about the draft year in and year out.
— “I just think that over the last 22 years, that for me, probably the most rewarding thing for me has been working with Ozzie, and I don’t see that changing. He said this to me one time: ‘His strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are his weaknesses.’ So, you know what? We’re a family, we want to win, and we’re competitive people. We believe in what we do, we want to be good, and we want to build a team that you guys are proud of. And I’ve got probably the best GM in the history of football. At least one of the top five, here right now, and I hope he always stays.” — What DeCosta sees Newsome's roll being after the 2018 season.
— "I would hope not, because we’ve got some areas on offense that we think we can improve, based on the players in the draft. But I can’t control … I’ve always said I can’t control what those other 15 people in front of me are going to do." — Newsome on whether or not the team will have a defense-heavy draft similar to 2017.
— "So, I think we’re in a good spot for a lot of different reasons. I think 16 is a good spot to be in this draft. It plays well to our needs and different strategies. There are a lot of different things at play, and I think it will be an interesting first round.” — DeCosta's thoughts on wether or not No. 16 is a tough spot to trade out of being right in the middle of things.