For several years the Ravens have hosted a Draft Luncheon for members of the media. Traditionally the head coach, Ozzie Newsome and Director of College Scouting have been seated at the dais, expanded in recent years to include the Assistant GM, Eric DeCosta.
Back on April 20, 2006 I shared my observations, which I’ll do again following this year’s luncheon on April 30. Today we’ll take a look back at the luncheon the preceded the Draft Class of 2006:
- 1st round – Haloti Ngata, defensive tackle, Oregon
- 2nd round – Chris Chester, guard/center, Oklahoma
- 3rd round – David Pittman, cornerback, Northwestern State
- 4th round – Demetrius Williams, wide receiver, Oregon
- 4th round – P.J. Daniels, running back, Georgia Tech
- 5th round – Dawan Landry, safety, Georgia Tech
- 5th round – Quinn Sypniewski, tight end, Colorado
- 6th round – Sam Koch, punter, Nebraska
- 6th round – Derrick Martin, cornerback, Wyoming
- 7th round – Ryan LaCasse, linebacker/defensive end, Syracuse
I just returned from the Ravens Pre-Draft Media Luncheon held today on One Winning Drive and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my observations with you.
After a very fine lunch, we were invited into the auditorium where Brian Billick, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta took center stage.
Ozzie was the maestro today. He began the press conference by saying that this was his eleventh draft with the Ravens and that with each passing year of experience he believes he is more prepared to handle the next draft.
Ozzie is very confident that the Ravens will get a player that they will be very happy with at No. 13 although he did say that if the selections in front of him vary a bit more than he expects thus forcing certain players down the board, they would be very open to trading down. He had spoken earlier today with a couple other GM’s and said that they all agreed on the first 8 players to be selected but added that the players chosen from 9 on is much less predictable.
Ozzie said that he has no idea who Phil Savage will take and that having Phil before him in the draft is clearly a detriment to the Ravens. In his words when having Phil ahead of him “our boat takes on water.” He also said that he would feel the same if Marvin Lewis, James Harris or Mike Nolan were above him in the draft.
Character will play a big role in who the Ravens take although it was mentioned that it is still possible that the Ravens could take a player that has made some mistakes in the past provided they are not habitual mistakes and the Ravens are comfortable that they won’t creep in again. Many wondered if that was directed towards the possibility of selecting Winston Justice. Eric DeCosta added that the Ravens are keen on taking players that the media and fans can be proud of.
The Ravens will take a safety. Ozzie said that it is possible that they could take a few and added that they really don’t differentiate between strong and free safety. A safety needs to be able to play up in the box, have solid recognition skills and be able to play man coverage if needed.
The Ravens will not stray from their best player available philosophy. When asked if after signing Mike Anderson and Jamal Lewis would the Ravens draft a back with their first pick if the BPA was a running back. Ozzie replied, “If Reggie Bush is still there at No. 13 he will be a Baltimore Raven.”
Ozzie added that the Ravens first pick doesn’t necessarily have to start this year because they are interested also in what this year’s player can do 2, 3, or 4 years down the road as well. He used Todd Heap as an example.
Speaking of tight ends, Ozzie said that Vernon Davis is “as explosive as any player I have seen in 15 years.”
I later caught up with Eric DeCosta who repeatedly reminds you that he’s in the “pick business.” Eric would love to get back that No. 3 from last year that they sacrificed to New England in the Adam Terry trade. He sees this draft as being stronger than last year’s draft particularly in the third and fourth rounds (which explains his desire to get back that No. 3).
He told me that it’s important not to reach and that the Ravens have been guilty of that in the past at times.
Developmental quarterbacks were discussed and those mentioned were Drew Olsen, Kellen Clemens, Charlie Whitehurst and Tavaris Jackson. Conspicuous by his absence was Brodie Croyle but then again, that’s why this event is sometimes referred to as the Liar’s Luncheon.
Also conspicuous in his silence was Brian Billick. Admittedly this isn’t Brian’s stage yet he appeared a bit withdrawn, almost uninterested while on center stage. The body language was that of a chastised employee who hasn’t had the opportunity just yet to get his groove back again. Here’s hoping he does!
Of course the predictable questions about Ray Lewis and the “no comment” comment were asked and answered in a predictably empty way.
If what I observed, both spoken and unspoken are anywhere near reliable and if I were a betting man, when the Ravens are on the clock the order of priority will be Haloti Ngata, Brodrick Bunkley, Winston Justice or trade.