Tag Archive | "Joe Hortiz"

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 11.03.49 AM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Queen, third-rounder Duvernay

Posted on 22 July 2020 by Luke Jones

With rookies beginning to report to team facilities around the NFL for the start of training camp this week, the Ravens have agreed to contract terms with first-round pick Patrick Queen and third-round selection Devin Duvernay.

Queen, an inside linebacker from LSU, was the 28th overall selection in the 2020 draft and projected to receive a four-year, $12.16 million contract in the league’s slotted system. Queen will turn 21 next month and is expected to start for a top-shelf defense that lost veteran inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor in free agency this offseason.

The 6-foot, 232-pound Queen started only 15 games in his college career and is undersized by traditional standards, but his skill set is ideal for Wink Martindale’s defensive system valuing versatility. He finished his junior year with 85 tackles (12 for a loss), three sacks, one interception, and three pass breakups and was named defensive MVP in LSU’s national championship win over Clemson.

“When you watched the film, you saw the instincts and the speed and athleticism,” director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said in May. “You were like, ‘Wow, he’s a 20-year old kid who’s showing this right now. What would he have been next year if he would have been another year starter with 12 more, 14 more starts under his belt? How much more instinctive would he be?’ I think you project that out forward.

“He’s a smart kid, he works his butt off, he loves the game, and he’s a great character kid. You say to yourself, ‘Man, as this guy gets experience in the NFL, he’s just going to get better and better.’ We really think he’s got a high ceiling and also a high floor.”

Queen was the first LSU player ever drafted by Baltimore and the third inside linebacker selected in the first round by the Ravens in their 25-year history, joining Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (1996) and C.J. Mosley (2014). Those two combined for 17 Pro Bowl selections in their time with Baltimore, leaving high expectations for the talented rookie.

The 92nd overall pick out of Texas, Duvernay was a standout performer for the Longhorns in 2019, catching 106 passes for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound slot receiver earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2019 and finished his collegiate career with 176 receptions, 2,468 yards, and 16 touchdowns.

With his entire draft class now under contract, general manager Eric DeCosta could now be faced with some unfortunate roster decisions entering camp with the league expected to reduce the preseason roster limit from 90 players to 80 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic requiring social distancing and new health protocols. The Ravens entered Wednesday with 89 players on their roster.

The roster reduction and the elimination of preseason games are expected to have a particularly harsh impact on undrafted rookies vying to make the regular-season roster, but expanded practice squads will allow teams to keep more developmental talent, which will be especially helpful with the uncertainty created by the pandemic.

Comments Off on Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Queen, third-rounder Duvernay

Screen Shot 2020-07-14 at 11.28.13 AM

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens sign Malik Harrison, leaving two 2020 draft picks unsigned

Posted on 14 July 2020 by Luke Jones

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the signing of 2020 draft picks around the NFL, but the Ravens moved a step closer to signing their entire class on Tuesday.

Baltimore officially announced its deal with third-round pick Malik Harrison, making the Ohio State linebacker the eighth of 10 selections to be under contract. First-round inside linebacker Patrick Queen and third-round wide receiver Devin Duvernay are the only Ravens picks yet to sign as the tentative start of training camp is just two weeks away.

The Buckeyes’ leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, Harrison is expected to compete with veteran L.J. Fort for a starting role next to Queen after veterans Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor departed as free agents this spring. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound linebacker played as a traditional downhill thumper in Ohio State’s defense, but the Ravens liked what they saw in Harrison’s coverage ability at the Senior Bowl.

“Sometimes you have to wait until he gets to an All-Star game where he’s in more man-[coverage] type settings or deeper zone drops,” said director of player personnel Joe Hortiz in early May. “With him, you saw enough of it — you did. They had him walk up to check the back, and he would release out with the back. You saw the speed and the length for him to be able to run with backs and tight ends vertical.”

In 52 career games including 28 starts at Ohio State, Harrison registered 205 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, three fumble recoveries, nine pass breakups, and an interception.

Comments Off on Ravens sign Malik Harrison, leaving two 2020 draft picks unsigned

earlthomas

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following 2020 schedule release

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Luke Jones

With the NFL unveiling the 2020 regular-season schedule late last week, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. What we know about the alarming incident between Earl Thomas and his wife doesn’t — and shouldn’t — provide any grounds to jeopardize his employment, but the Ravens’ terse statement made clear their disenchantment about being left in the dark. Practically speaking, a public figure’s right to privacy only goes so far.

2. The schedule release highlighted what we already knew about Baltimore being in tremendous shape from a travel standpoint with the longest trip of the season being to Houston in Week 2. Already dominant on the road last season, the Ravens should be able to continue such away success.

3. Even if one argues the Ravens are better from a talent standpoint and have a favorable schedule on paper, ESPN’s Mike Clay presented some data that should make you take pause before boldly predicting another 14-2 or better finish. What they did offensively last season just isn’t easy to duplicate.

4. With five prime-time games, four in a five-week period from November into early December, and the reigning NFL MVP, the Ravens have never carried a brighter national profile than they do right now, which is saying plenty for an organization with two Super Bowl titles in the last 20 years.

5. Asked about the center spot in a call with season-ticket holders, Eric DeCosta mentioning Bradley Bozeman was interesting, especially since left guard was seemingly the only stable interior line spot entering 2020 after Bozeman started every game there last year. Will we see three different starters inside?

6. When an elite player retires at the top of his game, speculation can persist about a comeback, but Marshal Yanda left no doubt by losing 45 pounds in two months after his final game and looking even thinner on “The Pat McAfee Show.” He looked lighter than the ex-Indianapolis punter.

7. No matter how you felt about the second-round selection of J.K. Dobbins, I don’t get the rush some have to trade Gus Edwards or Justice Hill for what would likely be an inconsequential draft pick. If more depth at running back was important, hastily diminishing the group makes little sense.

8. DeCosta acknowledged the Ravens having limited avenues to clear meaningful salary cap space without striking a long-term deal for Matthew Judon or Ronnie Stanley, who carry two of their five largest cap numbers for 2020. These negotiations and decisions won’t get any easier.

9. First-round pick Patrick Queen bought his mother a new Range Rover over the weekend. Seeing a young player fulfill his NFL dream after years of hard work and finally be able to gift a token of appreciation to a parent never gets old.

10. Asked once again — this time by a season-ticket holder and not the media — whether the Ravens were interested in signing Antonio Brown, DeCosta provided a “filibuster” non-answer that would make Dan Duquette smile.

11. With Joe Flacco undergoing neck surgery and reportedly not expected to be cleared to play until late August, you wonder if the 35-year-old has played his final snap. However, Jets general manager and ex-Ravens scout Joe Douglas “discovered” Flacco and does need a backup to Sam Darnold.

12. A personal thanks to director of player personnel Joe Hortiz for taking extensive time to conduct a virtual film session on the Ravens’ 2020 draft class and answering questions from local reporters. Such a forum offers transparency and better educates media to hopefully improve our coverage for fans.

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts following 2020 schedule release

Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 12.53.37 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jackson’s one-time rival, pro wrestler’s son headline Ravens’ UDFA signings

Posted on 01 May 2020 by Luke Jones

A quarterback who once got the best of 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson headlined the initial list of undrafted free-agent signings announced by the Ravens.

Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley was a three-year starter and co-Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year last season, but his high school defeated Jackson and Boynton Beach to win a Florida district title in 2014, something the Ravens star hadn’t forgotten when reports surfaced about Huntley joining Baltimore. At 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds, Huntley is undersized for the position and doesn’t have the strongest throwing arm, but his athleticism and accuracy — he owns the Utah record for career completion percentage at 67.2 percent — make him a rookie to watch during the preseason.

Huntley passed for 3,092 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just four interceptions while rushing for 290 yards and five touchdowns last season.

The other notable signing was Kennesaw State fullback Bronson Rechsteiner, the son of professional wrestler Rick Steiner and nephew of former WCW heavyweight champion Scott Steiner. The 5-foot-10, 223-pound fullback averaged 8.1 yards per carry last season and rushing for 1,496 yards and nine touchdowns in 48 collegiate games.

Rechsteiner has expressed interest in eventually following in the footsteps of the Steiner Brothers, who are regarded as one of the better tag teams in professional wrestling history. He posted on his Twitter account that he was working out with WWE Hall of Famers Diamond Dallas Page and Jake “The Snake” Roberts on Friday.

On Thursday and Friday, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta also announced the signings of Missouri center Trystan Colon-Castillo, Redlands cornerback Jeff Hector, and Alabama Birmingham kicker Nick Vogel. Considering Baltimore’s history of developing successful specialists, Vogel is in a good environment to learn from three-time Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker and put himself in position for a potential NFL job elsewhere.

Announcements of undrafted signings have been more deliberate than usual so far with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic making what can already be a chaotic post-draft signing process more difficult with front office members, coaches, and scouts not allowed at the team facility in Owings Mills. However, director of player personnel Joe Hortiz praised the pre-draft preparation of player personnel coordinator Mark Azevedo, who runs point on the undrafted rookie signing process for the organization.

Many more signings are expected to be announced in the coming days.

“It’s been constant dialogue in the buildup for what’s about to happen,” Hortiz said toward the conclusion of the draft on Saturday. “We’re organized. We’re ready to go, and the main thing in free agency is everything is done via communication — phone calls to the agent, phone calls to the players. Our guys have been doing that throughout the process leading up to this.

“Once this draft ends, we’re going to get rolling on it and knock it out hopefully quick. The technology we have with Zoom and Webex, we’re able to communicate to each other through that, so I expect it to go off without much of a hitch.”

The Ravens normally hold their annual rookie minicamp the weekend following the draft, but teams are limited to virtual workouts and meetings this spring.

Comments Off on Jackson’s one-time rival, pro wrestler’s son headline Ravens’ UDFA signings

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 3.59.29 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

DeCosta weighing draft options as Ravens aim to boost inside linebacker

Posted on 14 April 2020 by Luke Jones

The most iconic player in franchise history.

Pro Bowl talents.

First-round standouts and unknowns eventually blossoming into starters.

No position epitomizes the 24-year history of the Ravens better than inside linebacker. From Ray Lewis and C.J. Mosley to Bart Scott, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Zach Orr, there’s been no shortage of success stories at the position, regardless of their origin.

But 2019 brought an abrupt shift when Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowl selection in his first five years, signed an $85 million contract with the New York Jets. For only the second season in franchise history — the other being 2013 after Lewis’ retirement — the Ravens were without a Pro Bowl talent or former first-round pick at the position. Baltimore endured a problematic September before stabilizing the position with the veteran signings of Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort and adequately mixing and matching in various sub packages the rest of the way.

General manager Eric DeCosta now hopes to find a more stable answer in next week’s draft after beefing up the defensive line with the acquisitions of five-time Pro Bowl selection Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe last month. But finding the ideal three-down player at inside linebacker is easier said than done in an ever-changing NFL.

“It used to be that we wanted these really, really big and strong, physical guys,” DeCosta said. “I think the league has kind of morphed into more of a speed league in some respects. You need guys that can run and cover and blitz and do all those things, but you also need a guy that can effectively play the run and take on guys. In a perfect world, you like to have a bigger guy, but you’re also looking for a bigger guy who can run.”

With Clemson phenom Isaiah Simmons almost universally projected to go in the top 10, draft pundits and fans alike have discussed Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen as potential fits for the Ravens with the 28th overall pick. Asked about the two prospects last week, DeCosta said it “depends what flavor you like” and anticipates each being selected in the first 40 picks or so.

The Ravens are no strangers to taking Oklahoma talent after selecting Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., top wide receiver Marquise Brown, and guard Ben Powers in the last two drafts, but the explosive and physical Murray thrived on the other side of the ball with more than 300 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks as a three-year starter. Though the 6-foot-2, 241-pound linebacker didn’t stand out quite as much in coverage with a total of six pass breakups and no interceptions over three seasons, Murray possesses ideal traits for the next level.

“He’s been a very, very productive player, a tremendous athlete, a cerebral guy. He’s got really good length,” DeCosta said. “He’s been a really, really good defensive player on a team that hasn’t really had a lot of really good defensive players lately. Oklahoma’s been known primarily for their offense in the last four, five, six, seven years. Kenneth Murray’s been probably one of their very best defensive players. I think he’s a good prospect. I think he’s a great student of the game. He’s got great intangibles.”

In contrast, Queen was a breakout performer for a stout defensive program after playing sparingly the previous two seasons, registering 85 tackles, three sacks, one interception, and three pass breakups as a first-year starter in 2019. At 6-foot and 229 pounds, the LSU product is a more lateral than downhill player, but his strength in coverage makes him very appealing in today’s pass-happy NFL.

There’s also the perception of Queen being a late bloomer with a higher ceiling, which can be a blessing or a curse in the long run.

“He’s not as big as Murray. He’s very, very explosive,” DeCosta said. “LSU has put a number of really, really good defensive players in the league over the last four or five years. He’s a guy that is sidelined to sideline. He can play downhill. He’s a very good cover linebacker. He kind of came on the scene this year. He was not a household name before this year. He played his best football probably over the second half of the season with some really, really good performances in the playoffs and the national championship.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee that either will be available by the time the Ravens are on the clock since multiple teams in the first round seek help at the position. That’s where the organization can embrace the experiences of last season when defensive coordinator Wink Martindale effectively rotated multiple options with different strengths.

Run-stopping linebackers such as Jordyn Brooks of Texas Tech and Malik Harrison of Ohio State or  coverage standouts like Oregon’s Troy Dye, Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Mississippi State’s Willie Gay may not offer the same package as Simmons, Murray, or Queen, but they can still serve as good solutions to improve the second level of the defense in 2020 and beyond. Teams can dream about finding their next Hall of Famer or Pro Bowl talent at a position of need, but winning the draft is about maximizing value and identifying puzzle pieces that can fit in a variety of ways.

“When we look at the guys throughout the draft, there are players that can help us in specific roles,” director of player personnel Joe Hortiz. “There are guys in the mid-rounds that can come in and cover, maybe play the run. Knowing our coaches [and] the versatility that we play with on defense, as scouts, we’re able to identify, ‘Hey, this is what this guy can do for us. This is what we believe this guy can do for us.’

“It helps us evaluate players that maybe can’t do all the things but can do one thing well.”

Comments Off on DeCosta weighing draft options as Ravens aim to boost inside linebacker

draft

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts on pre-draft conference call

Posted on 06 April 2020 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens brass conducting its annual pre-draft press conference via conference call on Monday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Eric DeCosta described this draft as “old school” with more reliance than normal on game tape after the pandemic canceled so many pre-draft activities. It should help immensely having so much experience and continuity in the front office, scouting department, and coaching staff.

2. Many have discussed the possibility of DeCosta trading up in the first round, but he’s always spoken about desiring more picks. With this class presenting more uncertainty for obvious reasons, I’d be more inclined to use as many of those seven selections in the top 150 spots as I could.

3. With the draft being conducted away from team facilities, John Harbaugh has conveyed his concerns to the Ravens’ information technology department about various reports of security breaches in the Zoom software that’s become so popular in our current world. League-wide paranoia figures to be at an all-time high.

4. DeCosta estimated having 185 “draftable” players on his board, up from last year’s pre-draft estimate. That seemingly supports opinions of this being a deep class since you’d anticipate more prospects than usual to be removed from team boards over questions that went unanswered because of canceled pro days and visits.

5. Asked if he had interest in Antonio Brown after the former All-Pro receiver recently worked out with cousin Marquise Brown and Lamar Jackson, DeCosta declined to comment. It’s tricky discussing a relative of one of your key players, but the unfiltered answer should be a simple and definitive no.

6. DeCosta complimented his current wide receivers and stated his belief that some guys are “going to make that jump,” but I’d be surprised if the Ravens wouldn’t take a swing at such a deep position in this draft with one of their five scheduled picks over the first three rounds.

7. While acknowledging the more complete inside linebackers in this class who’ve been discussed at great length, Joe Hortiz said there are multiple options who could help this multi-look defense in more situational roles. I wonder if the Ravens are more comfortable with the mix-and-match approach than we think.

8. Harbaugh comparing replacing Marshal Yanda to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed speaks to his respect for the retired guard and a need to temper expectations. In Lewis’ case, Baltimore signed the rock-solid Daryl Smith and drafted C.J. Mosley a year later. Replacing Reed at safety was a multiyear headache, however.

9. Plans are ongoing for virtual team meetings and strength and conditioning sessions for the offseason workout program that’s scheduled to begin in two weeks. Harbaugh noted there being no excuse for players not to be in shape upon reporting to the team facility, a reference to ex-Raven Michael Pierce.

10. According to Harbaugh, Derek Wolfe has been on him “like a fly on something” to send him a copy of the defensive playbook. You get the sense that the veteran defensive lineman is going to be a popular addition in numerous ways.

11. Living in close proximity but limited to remote communication in recent weeks, Harbaugh predicted he would meet up with DeCosta for a walk at some point before the start of the draft. As long as they’re a minimum of six feet apart, of course.

12. The fantasy football draft jokes will be flowing with team executives working from their homes, but DeCosta’s shaky internet connection during Monday’s session makes you hope he has a backup queue in place. Just in case.

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts on pre-draft conference call

marquisebrown2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DeCosta, Ravens take swings to get up to speed in today’s NFL

Posted on 29 April 2019 by Luke Jones

First-year general manager Eric DeCosta followed through after stating more than once over the last calendar year that the Ravens needed to take more swings at the wide receiver position in the NFL draft.

Having lost five notable members of his top-ranked defense this offseason, DeCosta could have made the safe play by loading up on defensive players early while waiting until Day 3 to pluck a wide receiver or two off the board. It was the playbook often used by predecessor Ozzie Newsome — winner of two Super Bowls, mind you — to an almost maddening degree in recent years and for much of the history of the franchise.

DeCosta was quick to state it wasn’t deliberate, but the Ravens drafted two wide receivers — Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin — in the first three rounds, equaling the total selected in the opening three rounds by Newsome in the previous 11 drafts combined. Even if it was “just kind of how the board fell” as DeCosta put it, the Ravens were the first team to draft a wide receiver in the first round — one regarded as the fastest in the draft — and then traded up nine spots in the third round to take a 6-foot-4, 220-pound wideout who ran a surprising 4.42-second 40-yard dash.

The Ravens weren’t just drafting any wide receivers to aid in second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson’s development, but there was a specific trait in mind, which became even more evident when DeCosta selected Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill with his first pick on Saturday.

“One of the main common denominators is speed. It makes it tough on a defense,” said DeCosta, citing the best opposing offenses he’s watched from the press box in recent seasons. “As good as our defense has been, it’s a challenge for a team to face speed when you have multiple guys on the field at the same time who can run and make explosive plays. It’s challenging. We got a chance to see what Lamar can do this past year, and I think our collective vision for the offense is to add more guys like that to make it really challenging on the defense.”

These picks do carry substantial risk as the history of wide receivers taken with the final 10 picks of the first round in recent years hasn’t been pretty. Brown’s potential speaks for itself if you’ve watched any of his video game-like highlight videos, but we’re still talking about a 5-foot-9, 170-pound receiver currently recovering from a Lisfranc injury. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith has acknowledged that same injury still giving him problems years later, but the difference is how much more reliant an undersized receiver like Brown will be on that unique speed.

Boykin could carry more upside than any wide receiver the Ravens have ever drafted — admittedly a low bar — but he registered only 18 receptions before his senior season at Notre Dame, which is often a predictor of underwhelming production at the next level. Still, his physical traits and good catch rate last year were too enticing for the Ravens to overlook.

History says Brown and Boykin are more likely to both be busts than both be draft successes, but having too great a risk-averse mindset leaves one standing on the sideline wondering why the Ravens never get better at the position. Without a top-five pick — and even that isn’t always foolproof — you have to roll the dice from time to time to find dynamic play-making ability, especially if you want to maximize your investment in a first-round quarterback. And that needed to be a priority in this draft.

“Those two guys have [play-making ability] many times over,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You have a big, fast guy (Boykin), who’s a powerful guy, who can catch and get upfield with the ball with his stride length and his stiff arm, and he goes up and makes catches. He’s a developing player. He’s kind of a younger, developing player. He’s only really had one year in the offense.

“Then, you have the smaller, faster guy (Brown) with quick feet that can make people miss in a short area, in a tight area. He can catch and run in crossing routes. But the bottom line is, these are two really fast guys that make plays, and that’s what we were looking for.”

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman couldn’t have been happier this weekend as he now has some speedy toys to use on the perimeter to complement his dynamic running game and collection of tight ends to make plays over the middle. In addition to what Brown and Boykin bring, Hill posted the fastest 40 time of all running backs at this year’s scouting combine, making him an intriguing change-of-pace option to starter Mark Ingram and the physical Gus Edwards in the backfield.

No, the draft didn’t bring some seismic shift in philosophy as the offense’s foundation will continue to be the ground game, but DeCosta’s early picks made clear the Ravens’ intentions to expand their approach beyond simply running the ball 50 times per game and minimizing Jackson’s passing opportunities. Baltimore addressed its need to get faster, something that had become more apparent watching some of the best offenses in the league in recent years.

There’s no guarantee this will all work to perfection as so much will hinge on Jackson’s development as a passer, but credit DeCosta and the Ravens for taking some risks to improve his chances of succeeding. If nothing else, it should be fun watching opponents try to combat an unconventional offensive attack.

“The idea of adding speed with Lamar is just an exciting thing to think about teams having to defend,” director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. “I know Greg is excited about it and John is excited about it. It’s a chance to really put fear into opposing defenses. I think it really gets you excited.”

Comments Off on DeCosta, Ravens take swings to get up to speed in today’s NFL

metcalf

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following their pre-draft press conference

Posted on 03 April 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens conducting their annual pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Eric DeCosta began by welcoming everyone to the “Liars Luncheon,” which is what many have called this event for years. It was a fun moment of levity to kick off a question-and-answer session that produces few headlines or revelations.

2. DeCosta estimated the Ravens will have roughly 180 “draftable” players on their board by the time the NFL draft begins in three weeks. He labeled safeties, interior offensive linemen, and pass rushers as the deepest position groups. The latter two could certainly help the current roster.

3. Despite owning just one selection (22nd overall) in the first 84 picks, DeCosta said having two choices each in the third and fourth rounds was “gold” with this year’s mid-round talent. You definitely get the sense the Ravens would prefer moving back in the first to add more mid-round capital.

4. Ozzie Newsome remains very much involved in the draft process with DeCosta noting that he’s probably watching more tape than he has in recent years without the burden of the administrative tasks of a general manager.

5. DeCosta again stated the need to “get some at-bats and swing” at wide receiver, which is a delicate balance for someone who’s perceived a sense of inflation with how the position has been valued in recent years. Given the great need there, you hope the necessary adjustments have been made.

6. Reading much into what’s said about prospects is unwise, but DeCosta compared Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf to Terrell Owens in terms of running after the catch while director of college scouting Joe Hortiz compared his size, physicality, and vertical speed to Demaryius Thomas. High praise.

7. While the likes of Nick Bosa and Josh Allen figure to be long gone by the time Baltimore picks, DeCosta confirmed a desire to add pass-rushing help on the edge and inside. That coupled with the versatility of Wink Martindale’s scheme should cast a wide net to address that need.

8. DeCosta said he could see three or four centers being drafted in the first or second round unlike most years when the position lacks high-end talent. North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury wouldn’t excite the fan base, but the Ravens have long searched for stability at center.

9. Both Devin White and Devin Bush are expected to be gone by the time the Ravens pick, but DeCosta praised the next tier of inside linebackers. You’d have to think one is added to the mix at some point. N.C. State’s Germaine Pratt was formerly a safety and carries upside.

10. Just how important is Marshal Yanda to the running game? Check out who owned Pro Football Focus’ best rushing grade when going off right guard. There’s been some ambiguity and speculation regarding Yanda’s status, but the Ravens still expect him to play in 2019, the final year of his contract.

11. How much does the long-term roster outlook factor into draft planning? Baltimore is currently scheduled to have 17 unrestricted free agents next offseason, a list that includes Yanda, Jimmy Smith, Justin Tucker, Matthew Judon, Willie Snead, Patrick Onwuasor, Michael Pierce, and Ronnie Stanley if his fifth-year option wouldn’t be exercised.

12. DeCosta expressed his love for the gamesmanship of the draft and throwing teams off the Ravens’ scent. “As a kid, I loved to play Risk, I loved to play Monopoly — all those games. To me, this is a game. But it’s not a game we can afford to lose.” Indeed.

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts following their pre-draft press conference

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 7.44.34 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following pre-draft press conference

Posted on 04 April 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens conducting their pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. I have no strong opinion on Robert Griffin III, but the notion that an oft-injured quarterback who was out of the league last year pushing Joe Flacco is silly. Perhaps he sticks as the backup, but the signing shouldn’t impact any plans to draft a quarterback in the middle rounds.

2. Ozzie Newsome has been criticized for rarely talking to media, but he said he’s taking “all the blame” for missing the playoffs three straight times and was complimentary of John Harbaugh. He remains measured, but you can tell he really wants to right the ship in his final season.

3. Asked about last year’s draft, Newsome quipped that he hopes the Ravens won’t be taking four defensive players with their first four picks, but he reiterated — as he always does — they’ll stay true to their draft board. I can only imagine the fan reaction if that were to happen again.

4. Newsome remains open to signing another wide receiver before the draft, but he wouldn’t discuss any specifics, ranging from whether he’s had discussions with the New York Giants about Odell Beckham Jr. to potential contract talks with restricted free agents Cameron Meredith and Willie Snead.

5. Eric DeCosta offered interesting thoughts HERE (4:25 mark) about whether the Ravens have undervalued wide receivers in the draft compared to other teams, but he admitted “you’ve got to swing” and that the organization hasn’t done much of that at receiver. We’ll see if that finally changes.

6. Director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said he thinks there are tight ends throughout the draft who could help the Ravens, but he acknowledged the challenge of even most standout tight ends not coming on strong as rookies, citing Dennis Pitta as an example. That position remains a major concern.

7. DeCosta estimated as many as eight or nine quarterbacks in this class have a real chance to start and be productive during their rookie contract. I’d still be surprised to see the Ravens take one in the first round, but you sense they’d really like to nab one with upside.

8. Hortiz described Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore as “holding his water” in the pre-draft process and was complimentary of his college production and talents without sounding overly enthusiastic. Interpret that as you wish.

9. Newsome’s role with the organization beyond 2018 is yet to be determined, but DeCosta welcomes as much involvement as his mentor prefers. Let’s not forget Newsome went into a scouting role immediately after his Hall of Fame playing career concluded in 1990. He may want more of a breather.

10. It wasn’t surprising to hear DeCosta stick up for younger Ravens scouts after owner Steve Bisciotti noted in February how many experienced ones the organization has lost in recent years. However, the real proof will come after the draft when you typically see changes to scouting departments among teams.

11. You could sense DeCosta’s deep respect for Newsome as he labeled him “probably the best GM in the history of football.” They both downplayed this draft feeling any different than past ones, but you know it has to be with the changing of the guard looming next year.

12. Listening to Newsome speak (3:20 mark) about the draft still giving him the same butterflies he felt running out of the tunnel before a game as a player offers a glimpse into what’s made him so successful in both roles. What a competitor with a remarkable a body of work.

Comments Off on Twelve Ravens thoughts following pre-draft press conference

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.55.27 PM

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Newsome says “high probability” of Ravens adding free agent before draft

Posted on 05 April 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While discussing the many prospects available in this month’s draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome hinted that the Ravens could be adding another veteran in the near future.

The longtime executive said during Baltimore’s pre-draft press conference that the organization could add another free agent before the NFL draft, which is set to begin on April 27. The comments came as former New York Jet Nick Mangold was visiting with the Ravens, leading many to speculate that Newsome was referring to the seven-time Pro Bowl center.

“We’re working,” said Newsome about adding to his free-agent class that already includes safety Tony Jefferson, cornerback Brandon Carr, and running back Danny Woodhead. “We’re working, and I could say there is a high probability of that, yes.”

According to The Sun, Mangold left town without the sides agreeing to a deal on Wednesday, but there has been little reported interest from other teams trying to sign the 33-year-old. An ankle injury limited the 6-foot-4, 307-pound lineman to eight games in 2016, but Mangold had been incredibly durable in his career prior to that, missing a total of just four contests in his first 10 seasons.

The Ravens have a clear need at the center position after trading former starter Jeremy Zuttah to San Francisco last month. Head coach John Harbaugh has identified John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, and possibly even starting left guard Alex Lewis as candidates to take Zuttah’s place, but the Ravens have usually preferred having an established veteran at the position.

The top center prospects in this year’s draft include Ohio State’s Pat Elflein and LSU’s Ethan Pocic, but director of college scouting Joe Hortiz acknowledges the challenge of finding a rookie center who can immediately step into a starting role and have the confidence to make protection calls at the line of scrimmage.

“We have done a good job of sending our coaches out to work the guys out, put them through situations where they are going to have to make a call, make an adjustment, [and] get some other bodies out there for the guy to have a look,” Hortiz said. “Obviously, snapping is key, both from under center and then shotgun snaps. Especially as the league is spreading out, we are playing more gun snaps, so that is very important.

“You just look at a guy’s intelligence, his ability to assess things, adjust things, communicate along the line of scrimmage. You can find out about some of that in the fall even if he is not playing center, but I think putting him through workouts and spending time with the individual really helps.”

Comments Off on Newsome says “high probability” of Ravens adding free agent before draft