Years ago, the Ravens Pre-Draft Press Conference and Luncheon was given the nickname, “Liar’s Luncheon”. It was believed, and still is to a certain extent, that this was the team’s way of feeding the media red herrings that would hit the airwaves, print and internet. The goal was to throw other teams off a bit, to hide their lyin’ eyes, and disguise the Ravens true intentions on draft weekend.
Those deceptive tactics have likely waned in recent years. The amount of information available to teams by a rapidly growing number of sources and the access to that information thanks to the internet, has closed the gap the Ravens once enjoyed.
Ravens Assistant GM Eric DeCosta explains…
“One thing I would say is that one thing I have noticed in the last few years is I think there is less volatility in terms of drafting. It seems like when we do our list of players, other teams seem to have a very similar list. It used to be that you might have your Top 100 and there would still be players available at the end of the draft maybe. Now, it seems like those players … We get wiped clean. Everybody is sort of drafting from the same players. There are not a lot of surprise players. They seem to be coming off in the same general area. I think that has a lot to do with the internet, and all the mock drafts, and so much is being written about these players, and so much information is there, that I think it has created more maybe parity or sort of the same thing. It never used to be like that. In the last few years, I have been amazed that when we look at our list of players, basically every player that we had ranked was drafted. It used to be different – quite a bit different.”
It is interesting the DeCosta seems to take the lead during these pressers and that may be by design. He’s a bit more forthcoming than Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and Director of College Scouting Joe Ortiz but he’s also more adept at throwing off false scents than the others, even in this information age.
During the presser DeCosta addressed the issue of injuries to players on their draft board. After expressing his frustration and the challenges such injuries present he added, “I can’t remember us taking a guy that had a legitimate injury and just could not start out as a rookie.”
The name Sidney Jones came up, the heralded corner out of the University of Washington. Jones suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day.
“Hopefully he won’t have to miss a full season. He had an Achilles injury, which I think we have had four or five players and some scouts that have had that injury. (laughter) Some of us came back and were jogging in three months. (laughter) First of all, you have to figure out how you like him as a player and what your threshold is, where you take him. We have taken … I have seen players go in the first round that had serious injuries. Way back when, Willis McGahee. There have been players that have gone very high in the first round with injuries like that. Sometimes they fall a little bit, but he [Jones] is a really good player, and I don’t think it is going to affect him that much.”
I’m going to mark that down as one red herring. If the Ravens don’t draft injured players whose rookie campaigns result in a “red-shirt” season, like Jones, then he might be propping up the talented Huskie to help push another player down the board towards the Ravens.
I also have my suspicions about the DeCosta’s review of the top receivers in the draft, one or more of which could be available to the Ravens at No. 16.
“Obviously, Mike Williams is a great player. We saw him this year – what he did at Clemson. He’s a guy that is probably going to go in that range, somewhere. I think John Ross from Washington is an explosive playmaker. He will be probably a consideration in that range, too. Those would be two guys who are very good players that probably warrant that sort of a draft grade. And then you have a bunch of other guys that are probably somewhere in there. Corey Davis from Western Michigan would be a guy that I think teams like. [JuJu] Smith-Schuster from USC is another guy that two years ago probably would have been a consensus, easy, Top 20 pick, and he’s a very talented player, too. His numbers weren’t quite as good this year at USC, but he’s a player that a lot of people like as well.”
So, is DeCosta really lumping in Davis with Smith-Schuster or is that a way to try and undermine his draft value so that he falls into the Ravens lap. The Ravens have hosted both Williams and Ross but they haven’t had Davis in.
Another red herring?
Maybe, maybe not.
Ah, those lyin’ eyes…