The Ravens brass gathered at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills for their annual pre-draft press conference on Wednesday and, as they always do, kept things close to their vests.
No major draft strategy was revealed. In fact, it took about two minutes into Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome‘s first answer of the afternoon to confirm that the organization won’t let major needs overtake their best-player-available mantra, come draft day.
“First of all, we are going to take the best player,” said Newsome when asked whether they plan to address offensive needs at pick number 16. “Having two more sets of meetings to go through, the board is not really set completely. We are still dealing with our 30 visits; we have some guys here today.
“So, to answer your question, if the best player is an offensive player, then we will probably take him.”
The Ravens do not belong to the National Football Scouting group, which provides member teams a list of, and reports on, players eligible for the draft, instead relying comfortably on their own list of “draftable” players.
“We’ve got about 175 guys, which is a good number,” said Assistant GM Eric DeCosta when asked about the size of the team’s draft board. “I think the defensive board has probably more prospects. There are some good offensive players, but I think in terms of just sheer volume, the defensive board would be more attractive to most people.
“It is a good draft. A lot of juniors came out this year, and that always helps. Some positions are very, very strong this year in the draft, other positions are historically weak. There’s definitely some really good players and we are in a good spot at [No.] 16 to get a very good player for us.”
The team finds themselves in an interesting position with their first round draft slot. Picking 16th overall, there’s expected to be a cornucopia of talented players available. As with every draft, we know the Ravens covet their picks and it was pointed out that the organization has already been fielding calls about possible trades.
If there ever was a year for Ozzie and company to pull off a trade, this could be the one.
“We will evaluate that when we get to the pick,” Newsome stated, when asked about trading back. “It is always based on the player that is there, and then what has been offered and how far we want to go back.
“All of that comes into play. We have had some calls already about teams that are willing to move up to our spot, but they always qualify it by saying, ‘If our player gets there.’”
While the NFL draft is not an exact science, the Ravens are always prepared for most every scenario draft day has to offer.
“I think we have to be prepared to pick at [No.] 16 and pick at [No.] 47 and [Nos.] 74 and 78,” quipped Newsome. “We have to be prepared for that.
“But, as we will start to move forward on the day of the draft, we will have a plan that if we move back five spots, who do we have a chance to get? [Or] if we go back 10 spots? And the other thing that we found out last year is there may be an opportunity to move up to go and grab a player and give up one of our resources because we feel like we can take some of the other picks we have and move back and gain what we gave up.
“So, I think we’ll be open, but first and foremost we’ve got to be ready to pick at [No.] 16.”
Some will be quick to declare, “in Ozzie We Trust,” but trusting in Ozzie to make the right choices has been difficult lately. The Ravens need to hit on multiple picks this year.
We know Ozzie is capable of pulling off an outstanding draft, but will he?
Only time will tell.
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