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Might Ozzie be Stepping Down?

Lombardi's Way Might Ozzie be Stepping Down?

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Takeaways From Today’s Draft Luncheon Presser

DEEP DRAFT? Many are calling the 2014 NFL Draft the deepest in decades. Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz weren’t so quick to anoint it as such yet they unanimously agreed that at certain positions, the draft is very deep. Later on after the presser DeCosta said that wide receiver might be the deepest of all positions.

RAVENS DO A 180! Typically the Ravens war room draft board consists of 140-150 players that they deem to be “draftable”, an interesting number since 255 players (give-or-take) are selected in each draft. That shortage of 100+ alone suggests that the Ravens start-to-finish approach to the draft differs from other teams.

A casual observer might think that the Ravens could be caught with their pants down if all of their draftable players are selected prior to the conclusion of the draft. That hasn’t happened and in fact, several still remain even after the pick for Mr. Irrelevant is made and those players become recruits during the undrafted free agent signing process.

For this draft the Ravens have listed 180 draftable prospects. The logical conclusion is that the team expects to have a relatively deep pool of undrafted talent available to them.

RUNNING BACK BACKUPS: The Ravens made it very clear that they intend to have more depth at the running back position and stressed that they may want one or two more backs to add to the mix. They also made it clear that such backs would have to be special teams contributors.

The team did make a play for a couple of veteran free agent ball carriers who found more lucrative deals elsewhere. However the Ravens haven’t ruled out other vet FA’s if they utilize the draft for other needs. DeCosta believes there are backs that will be available during rounds 2 through 7 that can immediately help any team.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 7.51.00 AMCHECK EGO AT THE DOOR! Ozzie Newsome believes in the team’s scouting and draft processes. The best ideas based upon the best available information are those acted upon, regardless of the ideas’ originators. That by definition is collaborative spirit.

EYE ON THE FUTURE: This ties in nicely with the club’s preference to draft the best player available. Ozzie in no uncertain terms stated that it is his job to not only look at what makes the team best in 2014 but also for the following 2-3 years. What might be considered a developmental player today could be a player who down the road will allow the team to shed a higher salary. Think Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson as those guys in 2014.

TRUST: These were Ozzie’s parting words, words shared just moments after those in attendance thought that the presser had concluded:

“To kind of sum this up, as we move forward, we’ve still got some I’s to dot and some T’s to cross – especially myself and John. But I think how we’ve been able to progress through the years is with trust – the trust that I have in Eric and Joe and the scouts, and in the trust that I have with the coaches. And the new coaches that John has brought in this year have done an unbelievable job coming in and evaluating their position.

I don’t know where this draft is going to stand in the 19 years that we’ve been doing this, but I do trust the information and the people that will be a part of the draft, and I think that when we finish up on Sunday afternoon with the undrafted college free agents, we will bring in some players who are going to impact our football team, not only this year, but in years to come.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to sum this whole thing up, [and say] how pleased [I am] and how good it is to work with the people that I work with and the jobs that they do. They make my job very easy. Thanks.”

Ozzie doesn’t interrupt the conclusions of press conferences. He participates because it’s part of his job but he will never be labeled as media savvy or even media friendly. He’s much more comfortable collaborating with his staff, studying film and taking the pulse of league GM’s around the league.

For him to keep everyone’s attention after we all believed the presser to be over is out of character and that combined with what he said above left me wondering if 2014 is Ozzie’s swan song.

Time will tell but the thought was unavoidable.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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