Today the Ravens will host a Pre-Draft Luncheon for the media as they have for several years. The event is choc full of anecdotes, lies, half-truths, spin doctoring and tales of how great every single draft-eligible player is in next week’s collegiate shopping spree.
Those three days beginning on May 8 represent the Super Bowl for the Ravens’ scouting department. National Scout Joe Douglas through the guidance of Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz will have steered 7 area scouts through the bowels of America for 6+ months, scouring for college talent hoping to find that undiscovered diamond in the rough.
These scouts may stay in motels that make The Red Roof Inn seem like The Ritz Carlton. They will wash their clothes in bathtubs and let them dry overnight hanging from shower rods, finished off in the morning with a blow dryer – assuming of course the motel has such luxuries.
All of the hours spent watching and interrogating players, interviewing coaches and pouring over miles of film all boil down to those three crucial days.
Organizationally the Ravens continually refine the process trying to bring exactness to an inexact science. They will spend more time studying their mistakes, so as not to repeat them. They will analyze traits, both personality and physical to provide clues as to why high-end collegiate players fail as pros and why some, who weren’t impact players as amateurs, grow and mature into Pro Bowlers.
So when you consider all of the time and resources invested in the draft, there’s little wonder why Brian Billick and the scouting department would butt heads after the former coach would summarily dismiss late round picks as guys who wouldn’t make the team. Billick allowed such thinking to fuel his persuasiveness and try to convince Ozzie Newsome to move up during the draft to get a coveted player.
A prime example of this took place in 2005 when Billick wanted a bookend tackle to pair up with Jonathan Ogden. The Ravens moved up from the 84th pick in the draft by dealing that pick, a 6th round pick in the same draft and their 2006 3rd round pick for the 64th overall pick which they used to select Adam Terry.
Fleeced by Bill Belichick.
Each draft is loaded with surprises, missed opportunities and the ones that got away. To this day Eric DeCosta will tell you that two of his biggest draft day regrets were S Bob Sanders and CB Nathan Vasher.
Sanders was selected by the Colts with the 44th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The Ravens debated trading up from their first pick in 2004, the 51st overall pick, but opted to hang tight, eventually choosing DT Dwan Edwards.
Later that same draft the Ravens waited with baited breath hoping that Texas corner Vasher would fall to them at Pick No. 120. He didn’t as the Bears nabbed Vasher with the 110th pick. The Ravens then traded back.
Things don’t always go as planned on draft day.
Preparedness mitigates the unexpected.
This is where the Baltimore Ravens shine.
And contrary to what we’ll hear today that’s no lie.