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Eric DeCosta: As long as I’m here, the draft will be the foundation of what we do

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Mike Tannenbaum tells the BFA duo which AFC team was right to be quiet during the chaotic NFL offseason and reflects on the crazy moves that have been made thus far.

Across the league, more and more teams are electing to take the Rams approach of “F them picks” — using high-round draft selections to trade for established veteran players.

Given that Los Angeles is the most recent Super Bowl winner and the NFL is a copycat league, it’s no surprise to see additional franchises use this philosophy.

But it won’t be happening in Baltimore anytime soon.

In a Tuesday pre-draft press conference, Ravens G.M. Eric DeCosta was asked why the team has always placed such a high value on first-round picks.

“I think [that’s] something that I’ve thought about over the past three months or so,” DeCosta said. “I think in just our experience, No. 1, my experience working for [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] all those years, I’ve just seen how it can be when it’s done the right way. So, when you’re able to draft franchise-type players, whether it’s a Ray Lewis, a Terrell Suggs, a Lamar Jackson, a Jonathan Ogden, an Ed Reed, those types of players, a Mark Andrews, I could give you 50 names. You bring in these young players, and they really do become a part of the culture of your city. They’re players that the fans can rally around; they become heroes for a generation of children in that community.

“The nice thing is, I think, too, our sport collectively bargained — we have a salary cap. So, you bring in these rookies, and their salaries are set. They’re fixed. So, when you draft a rookie, you know what he’s going to cost. You’re not paying irrational market prices in free agency that some teams like to do. So, for us, I really think it speaks to the culture that we’ve established over the years.”

DeCosta added that when the Ravens came into existence in the late 90s, the team wasn’t a big spender in free agency — in part because the club didn’t have the funds to do it.

“So, the draft really became our lifeblood,” DeCosta said. “I had a chance to watch Ozzie and [former director of player personnel] Phil Savage before me and see how those guys operated and see the value of the draft and what that does for a franchise, what that does for a community and how that also allows you to be competitive every single year, regardless of the salary cap. So, for us, it works.

“There are a lot of different ways to do it, certainly. [I have] tremendous respect for teams that have a way of doing it differently and can succeed, but for us, the draft will always be … As long as I’m here, [the draft] will always be the foundation of what we do and what we believe in, and we think it works for us.”

The Ravens have the 14th overall pick in the first round of this year’s draft.