Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz was in attendance for last night’s BCS National Championship game in Arizona, hosted by the Fiesta Bowl.
While he was on site scouting the numerous college athletes the Ravens could take in the 2011 NFL Draft, Hortiz may be using that an excuse for another purpose for being in Glendale, Arionza seeing Auburn defeat Oregon, 22-19 on a game-winning kick.
Hortiz-in his second year as Ravens Director of College Scouting-is an Auburn alum and was there happily rooting on his alma mater in Monday’s game.
“I had actually seen both teams play throughout the fall, and had scouted both teams,”Hortiz told Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction”. “I was able to take a peek any juniors that may come out, and then all the while having a good time with my wife and all the Auburn fans that were around.”
Hortiz joined the franchise in 1998 and spent eight seasons as a scout for the Ravens before being promoted to national scout in 2006.
He was big in the drafting of Ravens guard and fellow Auburn alum Ben Grubbs in 2007 and 2009 was a key contributor in the drafting of fellow SEC prospect Michael Oher at the tackle position and Nicholls State cornerback Lardarius Webb last season.
In 2005 when Director of Player Personnel Phil Savage left to become the GM of the Cleveland Browns, it was next man up for the Ravens organization.
Eric DeCosta found himself with a bigger role in the organization, and the same came for Joe Hortiz, as he stepped into the role filled by DeCosta as the Ravens Director of College Scouting, but not till 2009.
Hortiz said that his Tiger faithful should be proud of their fanbase for their presence Monday because they outnumbered the Ducks faithful in support of their team.
“It was pretty neat,” Hortiz told Forrester. “There was at least a two-to-one margin in Auburn versus Oregon fans. I could give the occasional high five and hug to my wife while positive plays happened for Auburn.”
One of the focal points of many a college scout that attended Monday’s Fiesta Bowl-maybe not the Ravens with a franchise quarterback in place in Joe Flacco-was to get a final look this season-and maybe for the last time at the collegiate level-at Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
Newton completed 20 of 34 passes for 265 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT against Oregon in the victory. Forrester asked Hortiz how he would evaluate the quarterback, trying to get an unbiased answer out of him.
Hortiz was able to give an honest answer free of his allegiances.
“I think he is first round talent,” Hortiz said. “He is a dual-threat athlete, he throws the ball a lot better than people give him credit for.”
And he can only get better.
“He is a pretty accurate quarterback. He will need to clean up some things technique-wise, but he can throw on the move and he is a real threat when he gets out of the pocket.”
“I’d be surprised if he’s still on the board where we’re picking.”
But that brings up a good point.
The Ravens currently have two Oregon Ducks on the roster in tackle Haloti Ngata and tight end Ed Dickson-and only one Auburn Tiger in guard Ben Grubbs.
Might the Ravens pick up an athlete like Cam Newton-even with a quarterback in place-just to increase the Tigers’ representation on the Ravens?
Obviously not. But the Ravens could be digging into Gene Chizik’s program in April regardless of the fact because they have several quality NFL prospects.
“We’re outnumbered on the team,” Hortiz said. “We need to get a few more Auburn players in Baltimore.”
But he did say that might be hard with his an Iron Bowl rival in former Alabama tight end Ozzie Newsome at the helm as GM of the Ravens.
“It’s hard to do with Ozzie sitting there in the role he is in,” he said. “He likes the Alabama guys a little better.”
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