Talking draft with Eric DeCosta and Brian Billick

April 14, 2009 | Luke Jones

Last night’s “Pre-Draft Breakdown” with Eric DeCosta and Brian Billick at Padonia Station was a fun, informative show for those who really enjoy the inner workings of the NFL Draft.

From many fans’ perspective, the draft takes place after a three-month buildup of college all-star games, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, pro days, private workouts, player interviews, and, of course, hundreds of mock drafts.  However, the number of hours logged and miles traveled by DeCosta and the regional scouting staff are endless.  The evaluation process is already in high-gear in the fall when most of us are focusing on the Browns in Week 3 or the Week 8 battle with Denver.

In the pre-draft assessment posted on Saturday, I predicted the Ravens would ultimately trade down into the early part of the second round and pick up an extra pick or two.  Last night’s show strengthened my confidence in that possibility unfolding.

Here are just a few of the many interesting tidbits from Eric DeCosta (paraphrased):

- There are more receiver busts from picks 24 to 32 than any other position.

- Junior Kenny Britt from Rutgers has good speed but is inconsistent catching the ball.  Junior receivers have an even higher bust-potential.

- Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey would probably be off the board when the Ravens selected.  The junior receiver had a good workout but is “not a natural catcher.”

- North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks has the best hands and is a good route runner but does not have blazing speed.

- Center, guard, safety, tight end, and inside linebacker are the safest positions to select when picking in the 20s.  The Ben Grubbs pick was an example of that.  They knew he would be a good player.

- With the Ravens only having six picks, the possibility of trading down is out there.  Chris Chester, Marshal Yanda, Yamon Figurs, and Ray Rice were all selected after trading back.

Obviously, all of these comments are to be taken with a grain of salt, as DeCosta isn’t going to reveal the Ravens’ true plans prior to draft day on April 25.

On a side note regarding his thoughts on Nicks, Pro Football Talk reported yesterday the Ravens will work him out privately with Joe Flacco throwing.

With all of the comments about wide receiver picks failing at the end of the first round, the Ravens could be planning a move back to the early second round to select the North Carolina receiver.

Of course, as soon as a player rated highly on their board falls to the Ravens at 26, all bets are off.

Isn’t the NFL Draft great?  You just never know until the commissioner walks to the podium.

All in all, it was a great night of football talk with many more interesting stories and insights from DeCosta and Billick.  Be sure to check out the videos on WNST.net as they are posted.

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