Home Press Conference: Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft 2014 Review

Press Conference: Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft 2014 Review


ravensBaltimore Ravens General Manager/Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta discuss the team’s 2014 NFL Draft.


Ozzie Newsome opening statement:

“We’ve already started to work the phones as far as the undrafted college free agents. I think it’s been a really, really good three days. We’ve talked about the first four guys. Brent [Urban] was someone that, basically, we started talking about in the second round. When you play the type of defense that we play, you cannot have enough defensive linemen, and he fits the five-technique for us. And also getting in a running back, a big guy that we feel like fits the scheme that both [offensive line coach Juan Castillo] and [offensive coordinator] Gary [Kubiak] are going to be utilizing this year [is important]. And then to get an offensive lineman like John [Urschel] … I was told by a Hall of Fame offensive lineman that was a coach, and I asked him at some point what the No. 1 trait that he thought an offensive lineman had, and he thought about it, and he said being smart. This kid that we just got is at the top of the charts for that, and we’re looking forward to bringing him in. Keith [Wenning] is a developmental quarterback. Gary has a lot of hope with Keith. [Owner] Steve [Bisciotti] talked to him about coming back down in a game and winning the game. So, we’re looking forward to having him here. We just got the local kid [Michael Campanaro], and [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] and I were joking that I don’t know if he knows he has been drafted yet, because I had him on the phone, and it was too loud. I go, ‘Are you still there?’ And he did not answer me. (laughter) So there is a party going on somewhere in Baltimore right now, and I just hope the kid knows that it was me that was on the phone talking to him. (laughter) But I feel very good. We talked about getting a receiver in that could work on the inside, but this guy also can be a returner for us, and I think that helps us.”


Eric DeCosta opening statement:

“I just want to thank the scouts and coaches for a very productive three days. I think the guys worked really hard. We had a lot of new coaches this year. We’ve got scouts that have a lot of different things going on in their personal lives with small children, having babies, all kinds of crazy things, and we ask a lot of those guys, and they do a great job. So, I’m very appreciative about that.”


Based on what Ozzie just said, is there a pretty positive vibe in your room? (Joe Platania)

(DeCOSTA) “I think we’re excited. You never know what kind of shape the draft is going to take. We go into it blind, and this just ended up being really a draft about substance. We got guys that we think are going to be here for a long time and are going to help us win games. They’re guys in the fourth quarter that should be big-time players for us over time. We’re excited. A lot of these guys, if you had said to me or Ozzie that we would’ve gotten these guys in these rounds back in the fall, we would’ve taken it. So that’s exciting. We got some excellent value with some of these guys. And they’re good football players. For the second year, I think we’ve added a nice influx of young defensive talent. We’ve always been known as a team that has prided itself on defense. This is a blue-collar community, and I think they’re going to enjoy watching these guys play.”


Did the board just not work out in terms of drafting an offensive tackle, or did you ever get within striking distance of them? (Aaron Wilson)

(NEWSOME) “You are correct. The way the board was stacked, you could see that three or four went right away at the top of the first round, so it wasn’t stacked very well in that case. We were not going to just reach down and just take a player at the tackle position. The way I look at it, the way John [Harbaugh] looks at it, [the way] Eric and Steve [look at it] is we have three tackles here, because K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] can play tackle, we’ve got Ricky [Wagner], and we’ve got Eugene [Monroe]. So we have three tackles here, and we’ll just shake things up and see how the best thing happens. But also, as you all well know, we’re not done as far as building this football team. If the opportunity presents itself for us to acquire a player to play tackle if we need to, we’ll be able to do it.”


Do you think the need for a tackle was overblown by people outside the organization? Did you have more confidence in Rick and Jah Reid than people thought? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(NEWSOME) “We get the opportunity to get to be intimate with the guys. I had the conversation with Steve very early on. Even if we had drafted Greg Robinson, we’ve got these young guys, and we need to give these young guys a chance. I think guys should fail on the field, so we’re going to give these guys the opportunity to fail on the field. That way we know whether they can [play] or not. But we feel real good about them. And the other aspect of that, bringing in a new set of coaches, and they’re getting a chance to put their eyes on them, and they feel good about the young guys that we drafted last year.”


This year, with having the larger group of players that you consider draftable, do you feel like there is a good group of undrafted players that are still out there that you guys are trying to work right now? (Garrett Downing)

(DeCOSTA) “Yes, the guys are up there now. We are able to talk to players during the draft and agents as well. So the guys are up there. We have a little bit of an advantage, I think, in that we are done picking. There are a lot of players out there. [Northeast area scout] Mark [Azevedo] and [national scout] Joe Douglas and those guys are working very hard with the scouts and coaches to get everybody organized, and we think it will end up being very effective.”


Eric, what do you recall about seeing Michael Campanaro at the Senior Bowl? (Aaron Wilson)

(DeCOSTA) “I think he’s shifty. I think he’s tough. I think he’s very quick. He plays the slot, which is kind of a niche position, and he does that very, very well. [He’s] been a very productive player. I think that he’s a good run-after-catch guy. I think he’s competitive. He can catch punts; he should have a chance to contribute. The other thing is we had the opportunity a few weeks ago to bring him here and work him out, and he had a very, very impressive workout. One of the other guys working out with him pulled a muscle, and Mike basically took every single rep during that workout, and it was impressive. In my mind, that sort of tilted the scales a little bit to him really being considered to be a good prospect for us. And it seems like every year, we’re always looking at these slot receivers on other teams, and their really good guys are always sixth-round picks, seventh-round picks, undrafted free agents who develop. And we think Mike can be one of those guys. We’re excited about him.”


Was it a case that you just didn’t think he was going to last that entire seventh round? That’s why you traded back in to get him… (Jamison Hensley)

(DeCOSTA) “We only had a finite amount of picks, and we really like [Keith] Wenning. He was a player that we thought could come in here and develop. We saw some really positive things there. We talked about Mike earlier, we just didn’t have enough picks. And we had the chance to make a trade, we thought it was a good trade for us at the time based on the board, based on the feelings we had about Mike, and it’s kind of a no-brainer. He was a player that we thought could come in here. There is a need for a guy like him; he has a unique skill set. We think he brings something different to the menu, and we think he can compete.”


As far as Keith Wenning, for what he is now … You said he’s a developmental quarterback, but could he compete for the No. 2 quarterback spot? (Jamison Hensley)

(NEWSOME) “Yes, he’ll be competing, but as we talked about in the pre-draft press conference, Tyrod [Taylor] is in the last year of his deal. So, we felt like it was an opportunity. If Tyrod gets the opportunity to get on the field and plays lights out, then it will be very difficult for us to be able to retain him. So, to already have someone here to start to develop, to work with Joe [Flacco], I think is a very positive thing.”


Do you guys see John Urschel as more of a guard or a center? (Ryan Mink)

(NEWSOME) “He’s capable of playing all three. And what we’ll do, we’ll just figure out where he best fits for us. That’s center and both guards when I say all three – not tackle.”


Did you find it a little weird that four of your first five picks were on defense and then your last four guys were offense? (David Ginsburg)

(NEWSOME) “We got Brent [Urban] in the third day – our five-technique. But it just worked itself out that way. We did not just go into today saying, ‘We’re just going to draft offensive players.’ We were going to try to take the best players that were available, and they just so happened to be offensive players.”


Eric, were there any trends in the draft, or anything that played out that kind of surprised you? (Ryan Mink)

(DeCOSTA) “I look at it so much, I think it just seemed like everybody was drafting offense, and we were drafting defense. I’m sure that surprises people, but it’s just really the matter of fact that we just draft the best player that’s available when we pick, and they happen to be defensive players. Now some of that might have been because everybody else was drafting offense. You saw a lot of receivers, you saw a lot of offensive linemen coming off the board. Some tight ends went quickly in the second round, and it just ended up that every time we’d look up there, we’d look to the right, we’d look to the left, and the defensive players to the right, they were higher than the offensive players to the left. It wasn’t by design; it just seemed to work out that way”


With Brent Urban, what kind of ceiling does he have? He hasn’t played the game maybe as long as a lot of the other players. (Jamison Hensley)

(DeCOSTA) “He’s big. It’s hard to find guys that size, first and foremost. So, from that standpoint, he’s a true fit. When you look at those five-techniques, they’ve got to be … The best guys are typically 6-5 or 6-6. He’s tough, he’s strong, he’s a pretty athletic kid. He’s getting better and better. He’s played in the scheme early on. He was recruited by [former Virginia head coach] Al Groh to play in the 3-4 scheme as a five-technique. Al Groh went up to Canada, found him, brought him back to be that guy in the defense. Since then, he’s played some five-technique, but primarily defensive tackle, a little bit of end, and he’s dropped a little bit in some of their schemes. He’s a young player, and we’re excited about him. He dealt with an injury this year – I think he suffered an injury in the sixth or seventh game of the season. He fought through that and ended up coming back for the Miami game at the end of the season. [He] went to the Senior Bowl … This week, I’m in my office watching a player, and Ozzie calls me and says, ‘Have you seen Urban at the Senior Bowl?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And Ozzie said, ‘He was kicking butt.’ [It was] before he left, because he had to leave because the ankle was bothering him, so he ended up going back home. But I think that gave us some value, the opportunity to get him. The injuries, I think, factored into us being able to get him at the end of the fourth round, and we’re excited about that.”


Ozzie, you didn’t take a corner. Was that much like the tackles, that the board just didn’t fall that way? And did you come close to taking a corner? (Clifton Brown)

(NEWSOME) “Yes, that’s how the board was. But, I don’t [recall] in any round – maybe other than the first round – where a corner was in the conversation. But, because C.J. [Mosley] was so highly rated, we didn’t take one [in the first round]. When we got to all the other picks, a corner was not in the conversation. We would have liked to have had a corner in the conversation, but that was not rated highly enough.”


Ozzie, when you talk about how you’re not done yet, is that definitely a position [cornerback] you’ll be looking to upgrade in the coming weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(NEWSOME) “I think all of the young men that we’ll be recruiting will look at that and say, ‘Hey, they didn’t draft a corner.’ So, they see an opportunity. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the top of the list of guys that are out there available, because they can look here and see an opportunity to come in and hopefully make our squad.”


Eric, you mentioned Lorenzo Taliaferro a little bit in the pre-draft luncheon. Can you talk about what was so special in your mind for him and why he fits so well with you guys? (Pete Gilbert)

(DeCOSTA) “I mentioned him so that you guys would know I actually tell the truth every once in a while. (laughter) So you’ll come back next year. (laughter) He’s a big guy and he’s pretty fast – he’s 6-foot, 230 pounds. The thing I liked about him at the Senior Bowl was he was probably the best back there in pass [protection], which is kind of a dying art these days. That tells you about a kid’s mentality, that he’s willing to stick his nose in there. He’s an aggressive runner, he’s a downhill runner, he’s a good scheme fit, he has good hands. But really, the size, the physicality that he has, he’s a good scheme fit – Gary [Kubiak] has had good success in his offense with players like this guy – and I think he’s a good, young developmental prospect.”




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