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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: 4 biggest takeaways from the Ravens' pre-draft press conference

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: 4 biggest takeaways from the Ravens' pre-draft press conference

The Baltimore Ravens held their annual pre-draft press conference Tuesday afternoon, or as general manager Eric DeCosta put it, "The Liars Luncheon."

DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh and director of college scouting Joe Hortiz answered questions for about 30 minutes on the Ravens' plan for the 2019 NFL Draft. Here are the biggest takeaways.

1. The Ravens have spent a lot of time throughout the offseason talking about this year's prospects. Their first-round of pre-draft meetings lasted seven days opposed to the typical five. In addition to the draft board they started constructing back in October, the team conducted formal interviews with 60 players last month at the NFL Combine and met with about 100 more players. 

2. Baltimore currently has eight picks in the 2019 NFL draft, including their No. 22 spot in the first-round. But DeCosta does not seem opposed to trading back into the second-round to accumulate more. 

“I think if there’s a great player there at No. 22, we’ll make the pick and we’ll be very, very excited,” DeCosta said via the Ravens website. “But one thing that we’ve shown over the past years is we know how to manufacture picks. So if the opportunity is there, we’ll have a chance to trade back and accumulate picks.”

The Ravens of course gave up their second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles last year when they traded back into the first-round to acquire Lamar Jackson. DeCosta also noted how happy he is with the amount of picks the Ravens have in the third and fourth-rounds, possibly further cementing the desire to trade back for more.

“Those third-round picks and those fourth-round picks, those are gold for us this year," he said. "In this draft, having four picks in those two rounds, that’s an ideal situation to be in.”

3. Wide receiver was obviously a hot topic considering the Ravens only have two of them on their current roster who have caught a pass in the NFL. The Ravens have only drafted three receivers — Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton and Breshad Perriman — in the first-round of the draft and have selected two in the first three rounds since 2008 in Perriman and Torrey Smith. DeCosta has a baseball mentality when it comes to drafting wide receivers in 2019. 

"One of the biggest things that we have to do is just take some at-bats and swing,” DeCosta said. “It’s hard to be a .400 hitter if you’re only at bat twice. We’ve got to take some chances. We’ve got to find some guys that we like and try to appreciate the really good football players, the guys that make plays.”

If and when they take that chance will depend heavily on which receiver prospects best fits the Ravens and the direction their offense is going.

“Receivers come in all different shapes and sizes,” DeCosta said. “Some guys are big and physical. Some guys are fast and run good routes. Other guys catch the ball really well. Other guys drop three or four balls but catch six or seven touchdowns. It really comes down to finding the guys that fit who we are, that we like, who can help us win football games."

4. As it is each and every year, coming out of the draft stronger than when they entered it is of importance to DeCosta. The new general manager and Ravens front office are typically parsing their words in an effort to not unravel too much of their plan during the pre-draft press conference. And for DeCosta, their strategy throughout the entire process is like a game of monopoly.

“I love it,” DeCosta said. “That’s one of the fun things about the draft throughout the course of history is the strategic aspect of the draft. I love that. As a kid, I loved to play Risk. I loved to play Monopoly.

"To me, this is a game,” DeCosta said. “But it’s not a game we can afford to lose.”

Looking Ahead:

April 15: Voluntary OTAs may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

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Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews is in a unique situation with his friend Hayden Hurst. 

He’s happy that Hurst will finally get his chance to be a No. 1 tight end in Atlanta and earn the targets he wasn’t able to receive in Baltimore.

There also won’t be the same relationship between Andrews and Hurst, and fellow tight end Nick Boyle, anymore. 

The three-headed monster was inseparable in the locker room, incredibly productive on the field and one of the brightest spots for the NFL’s best regular season team in 2019. Now, one-third of the group is gone. 

“I think, first of all, it was kind of a shock for me,” Andrews said Tuesday during a conference call. “And selfishly, Hayden being one of my best friends and being someone that I talk to every day and I'm super close with, I'm sad. I'm sad that I won't be able to have him next year, I won't be able to talk to him next year as much, but I'm also excited for him. I'm excited for him to get more of an opportunity with Atlanta.”

Hurst was shipped to Atlanta in mid-March to give the Ravens some much-needed draft capital. It also gave Hurst, a first-round pick in 2018, a chance to be a true No. 1 tight end threat.

The trade gave the Ravens the 55th overall pick in the NFL Draft later this month, as well as a fifth-round pick in exchange for Hurst and a fourth-round pick.

Last season, Hurst posted 349 yards receiving on 30 receptions with two touchdowns. Those numbers ranked fifth on the team in receptions and third in yards.

With Hurst out of the fold, Andrews, Marquise Brown and perhaps a few new offensive additions in the draft will have to pick up the load Hurst left behind.

“He's a great player,” Andrews said. “I love him to death, but it's exciting for him as well. But, firstly, I'm sad. I know Nick is sad. The three-headed monster kind of got broken up a little bit, but again, we're going to be just fine. Nick and I, we'll do our jobs, and then, obviously, we're going to find someone else to help us out.” 

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The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The NFL announced on Tuesday that the league will have a new playoff format beginning in 2020, one where seven teams from each conference would make the league's postseason.

While the new format helps those teams that finish with eight, nine or 10 wins and had previously been on the outside looking it, the new system also has its drawbacks. Each conference will now only have one team that earns a bye week, as the conference's No. 2 seed will now play on Wild Card weekend hosting the No. 7 seed.

Over the past seven seasons, all 14 Super Bowl participants were either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in their respective conference, meaning they had bye weeks. For the teams that made a deep run in the postseason, the extra week of rest proved to be beneficial.

So, it was worth wondering: Who was the last team was to play in a Super Bowl without having a bye week?

That would be the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens finished the regular season 10-6 and as AFC North division champs. But Baltimore had the worst record of any division winner, giving them the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

After Baltimore dominated then-rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, the Ravens traveled to the Mile High City for a date with the Denver Broncos. The Ravens upset Denver in double overtime after quarterback Joe Flacco found Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

In the conference championship, Baltimore traveled to Gillette Stadium and cruised by the Patriots, winning 28-13 and clinching their first Super Bowl berth since 2000. In Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore held off an epic San Francisco comeback and defeated the 49ers in a thriller, 34-31.

The Ravens proved that a team can win a Super Bowl without having a bye, but it hasn't happened in a long time. With the new playoff format, that will likely change.

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