Ravens' draft, in their own words

OWINGS MILLS -- What the Baltimore Ravens had to say about picking Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco and Rutgers running back Ray Rice in the first day of the NFL draft Subscribers, please keep reading for further details.

RAVENS 2008 FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK (JOE FLACCO) PRESSER

GENERAL MANAGER OZZIE NEWSOME, HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH & DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING ERIC DECOSTA

Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "It's been a fun day thus far for us. It started out with watching the way the picks were coming off the board, with the quarterback going to Atlanta. It basically put some things in motion that we had been working on in the last eight or nine days, with moving back with several people. Once we got on the clock, I think we had at least three people we had talked to, and what we thought our best option was to go back to Shack [Jaguars general manager James Harris] in Jacksonville and make that trade, and acquire as many picks as we can because we also feel like we need to bring in an influx of talent to this football team.

But after getting back there, then contacting the teams in front of us, and the teams in front of us contacting us, we decided it was time to pull the trigger on the quarterback that we felt was the guy to lead our football team into the future. Getting Joe [Flacco] is a culmination of tape work, workouts and a lot of information that we've been able to gather over the course of the last two months."

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "We had a game plan. We thought about this scenario for a long time. Joe was a player that we've had a chance to spend a lot of time around. We've watched him. I had the chance to watch him play against Navy this year down in Annapolis and he put on an absolute show. I wanted to mention Joe Douglas, our area scout from the east, he had a chance to see Joe back in August, I think. It's not easy, guys, to go into Delaware or a school like Delaware and put a high grade on a quarterback.

Believe me. And in August, Joe called me and said, ‘Delaware has a quarterback who's legit.' This was way before anybody had ever heard of Joe Flacco. So, we had the opportunity to see him play against Towson, when he played locally. And we had a chance to see him against Navy, as I said. I think Joe Douglas did an outstanding job of putting Joe Flacco on the map for the Baltimore Ravens."

John Harbaugh opening statement: "I think, from a coaching perspective – all of our coaches, offensive coaches, especially, head coach, certainly – we're excited to have Joe Flacco in our quarterback mix. I had the chance to spend two days with him. Over a two-day period, I spent a lot of time with him in dinner, meetings and interviews. You're going to find out he's an impressive young man – real competitor. I know he's excited to be a Raven."

Do you think Flacco will start right away? (NEWSOME) "That's a coach's decision. I just get the players."

(HARBAUGH)" We said all along that the quarterback job is going to be a competition. Whoever gives us the best chance to win at any particular time is gong to be our quarterback. It's like every other position. It's not like every other position because it's the quarterback, but the best quarterback is going to be the quarterback who plays. We're not ruling anything out. But like I said many times, we have two good quarterbacks on campus right now that we're excited about, and we shouldn't diminish those two guys either."

What made Joe Flacco the clear cut guy among second-tier quarterbacks? (DECOSTA) "Well, he's big, which is important, I think. He's played in some bad weather, which we like. He's got a rocket arm. He's highly accurate. We love the kid, he's very smart. He took Delaware to the national championship game, and played in the Senior Bowl. He did well. He passed every test. We grinded on these quarterbacks until the very end. Joe was the guy that separated himself from the other guys."

How difficult is the transition from a Division I-AA school to the NFL? (NEWSOME) "From my perspective, Joe went to Pitt coming out of high school. He went to a major college and things didn't work out there in that situation, so he went back just to play football. He walked on and played. Then he goes to the Senior Bowl and he measured up there. John and Cam [Cameron] will get Joe in here and put him in the mix, and we'll let him mature and develop the best way he can, from my perspective."

(DECOSTA) "There have been some quarterbacks who played recently in smaller schools, Division I-AA. Tony Romo comes to mind and Kurt Warner's another guy, just in recent times, who have done extremely well once they've gotten the chance to develop a little bit. Joe's a guy with tremendous, tremendous physical skills as a pure passer. An intelligent guy. I think he's going to make the jump and do very well."

Do you think Flacco was the 18th-best player in this draft? (NEWSOME) "I can honestly say that we got one of the best players on our board, on our board. Whether he was 12 or 6, whether he was 20, it doesn't matter. The place we took him – it was the right place to take him. We stay true to the board."

Why did the team decide to move up to the 26th pick? (NEWSOME) "We're involved in getting information and in talking with every team, from 18 back to our spots, they all wanted to move back. We felt like that would be the area for the guys that was at the top of the draft, that may want to come back and get a quarterback, that would be the place to go and get it, because you only have to give up a late second- or third-round pick. So, that factored into the equation of going back and getting the guy. We still have six or seven picks left, so we have a lot of picks left thanks to the trade that we made. Hopefully we'll do just as well with those picks as we've done with the picks in the past."

What is Flacco's personality like?

(HARBAUGH) "Everybody wants to talk about that being the concern and the jump from I-AA. I think all college quarterbacks have to make a jump from college football, so it's a tough jump and that's been proven. When you get to know Joe, you're going to find out this guy – he plays like he's got something to prove. He's a very competitive guy, and he's a leader. You talk to his teammates, you talk to his coach, you talk to everybody on that campus. They vouch for that, so we're satisfied he has the personality of a real good quarterback."

Does what you recently said about not rushing the process holds true with this pick? (NEWSOME) "My job is to draft players. It's up to John, Rex [Ryan], Cam [Cameron] and Jerry [Rosburg] and the coaches to develop them and decide when they play. John and Cam and those guys will make that decision."

Were the Ravens close to jumping up to get Matt Ryan? (NEWSOME) "To make the statement that we had conversations with the team ahead of the Falcons, would be a true statement."

What is the strategy for the rest of this draft? (NEWSOME) "We have a lot of needs. We have a football team that needs an influx of talent. With the way that the board is structured this year, the depth of the board, we think we will be able to answer a lot of the needs and add some good talent to our football team, which the three of us definitely think we need to do."

Will this pick set the tone for the draft? (DECOSTA) "I think it does. We did something this year, just off the top we have all the scouts and coaches in the draft room together this year, which we've never done. There was tremendous elation and that's partly because everyone kind of knew how Cam and Hue [Jackson] felt about Joe and how we all felt about it. This was a plan that we clearly outlined from Day One. A lot of that credit is Ozzie's and coach Harbaugh's to put that plan in place. It worked out, and everybody's really excited. It's fun. In terms of the draft, when you outline before the draft what it is you want to do, and you're able to do it and then get some additional picks and get the guy you really want, that's a lot of fun."

Can you describe the intricacies of trying to pull the trade off? (NEWSOME) "It's a long process because basically, one of the teams and I had a conversation all the way back during the owners' meetings. [They said] that they were willing to move up. They wanted to move up because the team behind us was coveting the same player. It's a process that goes on up until the last team that called me, and was saying, ‘Well, you told me to call you when I was on the clock, so I'm calling you.' It's a long process. It's a lot of dialogue with the shortened time that we have now, from 15 to 10 (minutes). We have to talk about picks in advance. It's a process, but if you have good people like Eric and John, and you have an owner like Steve Bisciotti who's sitting there with you who understands what we're trying to do right now, it's fun."

Did the way the draft went with the first seven picks determine that you would make the trade? (NEWSOME) "Well, I think if you were to talk to some of those teams that we had talked to behind us, they would probably tell you Baltimore is only hanging around for one thing. I don't think that's necessarily true when you look at our draft board. People would say that, but we grade the players. What you have to remember is that if we don't get a trade, we were prepared to pick at 8. We had a player that we wanted, and we would've picked and we would've felt very good about it."

Are the comparisons to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger accurate? (DECOSTA) "Those are big shoes to fill. Ben is a really talented player. He was a high pick. I would say that physically, there are some comparisons, but Joe is Joe. He's his own man. He's different. No two quarterbacks are the same. From an arm strength perspective and accuracy perspective, and from a size perspective, sure, there are some similarities."

What about footwork? (DECOSTA) "That's one of the things he's going to have to work on. All of these players, whether it's a tackle, quarterback or running back, have things that they need to improve on when they get up to this level. The one thing about Joe that surprised me – actually two things: At the combine, I noticed that he was quicker than I thought he would be. He ran a better time [in the 40-yard dash]. The second thing that impressed me, the thing that I really took from his workout in March in Delaware when we went up to Delaware to work him out, Joe is very coachable. I've been around a lot of quarterbacks in my career, where you try to change something with them and they're not really receptive initially until they basically fail.

When Cam and Hue worked with Joe, within five minutes they were asking him to do some different things and he did. The improvement was unbelievable. From my perspective, and looking at Joe's personality, that was the thing that really stood out. When I came back to talk to Ozzie and John, I knew he was going to throw the ball well, there was no question. What really impressed me was his ability to change some things and really improve quickly. I think that's a positive."

How long do you think it will be before QBs Kyle Boller and Troy Smith ask what this means for them? (HARBAUGH) "I don't think that's going to happen. Those guys know they're going to compete for the job. Nothing's changed as far as they're concerned."

Has the way you grade players in Division I-AA changed because of the rules that allow players to not have to skip a year when transferring from I-A? (DECOSTA) "I don't know. I think we try to grade all the players the same way. We look at the tape and try to watch five or six games, maybe see the guy play live and you write a report. I know that simplifies it, but we just try to watch all the players and grade them and evaluate them and rank them. Whether a guy plays at Duquesne or at Georgia, we're going to grade the players and rate the players and do the best we can."

Has the change of pace in the draft has made a difference? (NEWSOME) "Not really. I think it's better for the fans like I stated at the draft luncheon. The committee – we felt like it would be a better TV event for the fans with the new time change, because guys are getting their picks in earlier. Things are moving a lot faster, so I think it's making for a better event."

What was Flacco's reaction when you called him? (NEWSOME) "Very excited. Very, very excited. I would have to think that this is the one place that he wanted to come to, because obviously we spent a lot of time with him. But he was very, very excited."

2008 1ST-ROUND DRAFT PICK QB JOE FLACCO – CONFERENCE CALL

QB Joe Flacco

On how he feels to be a Raven: "It feels incredible. After my visit with them, I felt good about it, but you never know what's going to happen on Saturday and Sunday in the Draft. So, to get the phone call from them and to have them tell me they're going to pick me, it was a pretty damn good feeling."

On what it means that the Ravens traded up to get him: "Well it lets me know that they wanted me. I don't know what's more important than that. It's pretty darn important to me that it just lets me know how much a team actually wanted me and will be glad to have me down there, and I can't wait to get down there and work hard and prove to them that they made the right decision that they moved up to get me."

On how much he feels like he has to prove coming from a Division I-AA school: "I don't feel like I get any more joy than anyone else. I think I definitely have something to prove once I get down [to Baltimore], and I'm going to try to use that to my advantage like I have in the past. [I want to] just go out there and play my game and be the best I can. So, I don't think I get any more joy than anybody else, because this is an exciting day for everybody. I can't imagine how much all the other kids feel, but if they feel the way that I do, then they're pretty excited."

On how it feels to know he's coming to a team that will have an open competition at quarterback: "It feels great. The first thing that I want to do is prove that I can play football in the National Football League. To get in there and have the chance to do that is going to be an incredible experience for me."

On his impressions of head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron: "Very intense guys, they know their football, and it should be a lot of fun to work with them."

On if he got a hunch that Baltimore would try to draft him after his visit with the Ravens: "Like I said, I had good conversations with them, and I really thought they liked me, but you never know. Everybody you talk to, you get a good vibe from, so you sit down on Saturday and hope for the best, but you don't really know what to expect. To get the phone call from them and see the area code and know who was calling, it was really exciting. I didn't really know why they were calling so early because I thought they had the 26th pick, so I wasn't really too sure what was going on, and they told me they were going to trade up and pick me. It was so quick, the excitement just overtook me right away."

On Ozzie Newsome saying your reaction seemed like you felt this was the perfect place and the team you wanted to go to: "Well, I think it fits great. They're a team that's looking for a quarterback, and they're competing their quarterbacks, and they want a guy to stand out and come in and do the job for them. I live about two hours away from there, so obviously my family will be able to come down and watch the games, so that will be good for them. But it's just a great opportunity for me to go in and play football and compete and prove to people that I'm a good quarterback, so I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity."

On what his scouting report would be if he had to give himself a scouting report: "I think I'm a strong kid who can hang in the pocket and throw the ball accurately with people around him. I think a big part of being a good quarterback is being an accurate passer and being and being an accurate passer under pressure. So a lot of people say arm strength [is important] and everything like that, but I don't think it's the most important thing about playing quarterback. I definitely think it helps me in making some of the throws. But like I said, I think the important thing is being good in the pocket and being accurate within that pocket."

On how much his Delaware coach helped him get selected by the Ravens after he made a phone call on Flacco's behalf: "I don't really know about those phone calls or anything like that, but I'm sure my coaching staff did a great job and said great things about me. So, I don't really know too much about those phone conversations, but all I can say is I love those guys down at Delaware, and I'm sure they feel the same about myself. I can bet they probably said good things to try to help me out as much as they could."

On his demeanor in the huddle: "I definitely am a low-key guy. I'm not a rah-rah guy. I'm always myself. I think I'm pretty straight-forward and honest, and I want to gain the respect from my teammates. I really just want to prove to them that I can play football. Once I prove to them that I can play football, I feel like all the trust and the leadership will follow. In order to be a good leader, you have to prove to the rest of your team that you can play football. I want to serve as a good example for everybody and prove that I can play football."

On his leadership ability coming to a team whose offense needs a leader: "Like I said, I think and important part is that you can play. That you're confident enough within the offense, and with your position as a quarterback, that you're confident to be in that position. And then it's about gaining respect, gaining the respect of your team, which comes with how well do you play. How long and hard do you work? How well do you prepare?

Leadership has to do with all of that. You don't get it right away. You may need help from a veteran. But it's all about proving to these guys that you can play and proving to them that you want to be a good NFL quarterback, which takes a lot. You have to work hard, and you have to do a lot of things that lets the rest of the team know that this is a business for you, and you want to do the best you can and you want to make the team better. So once I get in there, and I can do all of those things and that hopefully they'll see that and I can become the leader this offense needs and take this team to the next level."

On where he is today: "I'm back in New Jersey, I'm at my house."

On how many family/friends are with him: "A lot. I've got a lot. My mom has six brothers, and I have five siblings, a lot of friends just from around town, but a lot of family. All my grandparents, all my uncles, even my cousins and my uncles' uncles. There are a lot of people here. Believe me, my house isn't big enough to hold everybody, but everybody's just having a blast and everybody's just as excited as I am."

RAVENS 2008 SECOND-ROUND DRAFT PICK (RAY RICE) PRESSER

GENERAL MANAGER OZZIE NEWSOME, HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH & DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING ERIC DECOSTA

Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "As you all just saw, we took Ray Rice, the running back from Rutgers. What we think it does is, we've gone into seasons where we only had one running back and that's been a disaster. We have P.J. [Daniels] coming back. We think adding Ray Rice gives us a guy that we feel has the durability to play 16 games, if he had to, if Willis [McGahee] in some case got injured. He brings the type of temperament and the type of character that we want on our football team."

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "He's the right kind of guy, who was one of my favorite players in this draft. He's a ‘red star' [considered a true Raven by every scout], and most of you guys know what that is. Love the kid. He's our kind of player. He's got the right mentality to be a great special teams player for us. He gives us a lot of value as a second running back and I'm very excited."

John Harbaugh opening statement: "I just think he's our kind of guy, like these two guys just said. That's high character, he's tough, rough, loves to play football. He's from a great family. He's a playmaker, and he's not just a one-play playmaker. He's a durable playmaker. He's done it for a long time. He had a lot of carries at Rutgers. He's proven."

Do you think Rice can bring something where you could see Ray and Willis McGahee on the field at the same time? (NEWSOME) "Yes. Like I said, I think he has the durability. We like the way he runs. He has a very low center of gravity, so he doesn't take a lot of hits. He mainly delivers a blow instead of taking a blow. So could he play a 16-game season? I think he can and be a guy that you'd be very, very happy with."

Does he have some kick return ability? (HARBAUGH) "It's interesting. We just had that conversation up in the room. He definitely does. He carried the ball so much at Rutgers that his offensive coordinator and position coach, [Ravens new offensive assistant] Craig Ver Steeg – that's another big key, he's been very well coached in college… But he wasn't a guy who could do it for Rutgers, just because they couldn't afford to do it. He's definitely a return guy as far as having the ability. We're going to take a look at him there too."

You made a lot of moves today, so can you characterize today and look ahead to tomorrow? (NEWSOME) "I am very pleased and I think Eric, John, Steve [Bisciotti] and the rest of the organization are [too] with the two players that we have been able to pick today. Tomorrow, we get a chance to do what I think our scouts do best. We have nine picks. This is where our scouts really do a good job. We have a good coaching staff helping us, so we should be able to bring in a lot of depth to this football team beginning in the third round tomorrow with three picks."

Do you stay late tonight and look at who's left with all those picks for tomorrow?

(DECOSTA) "Eric and I have already started talking. Eric has already had some conversations with Cam [Cameron] and with Rex [Ryan], and we're setting our board now. We also have to look at what other people have drafted. What are some of the other teams' needs around us? We're preparing ourselves for the third round now."

Do you feel that there are a lot of cornerbacks left in the draft? (DECOSTA) "Yes, there are some. There are definitely some players. If they're the best player [on the board], we'll take them."

Do you feel the Ravens are in a better position in the middle rounds, due to the high number of picks you have in Day Two? (DECOSTA) "Yes, I think so. We have a lot of picks. Scouts love picks. We'll do a lot of work tonight, after the draft ends, in restacking the board, seeing what we've done and reassessing. I might have to watch some more tape, get more of a feel, compare a couple guys. When you have guys that are real close, you have to restack the board. I'll meet with the scouts and Ozzie. We'll get it sorted out. It's very exciting. This was one of the scenarios of all the different scenarios that we looked at. It was the most appealing, I think, and now it's our turn to really get the job done."

How much of what has happened today and what will happen in Day Two affect getting the players signed and into camp on time?

(NEWSOME) "Yes, where this football team is today, where we started – we needed an influx of talent. That's something that John had talked about. Having that mini-camp really showed that to us. Now what we have the opportunity to do is to match what we thought was a deep draft to having the ability to pick a lot of players. This was a deep draft and we were able to get the picks to utilize them in this draft."

Was there anyone, had they been available, that you would have taken with the 38th pick? (NEWSOME) "Yes, there was. We had two players that we thought, if they made it to 38, we would've stayed there and picked. Just as it happened, they got picked. One at the bottom of the first, and the other right at the top of the second.

Was it a defensive back? (NEWSOME) "I can't think right now who they were, but there were two players that we had rated real high. We would not have traded away that 38th pick if one of those two players had made it."

How do you think the first day of your first draft with the Ravens went? (HARBAUGH) "I was very impressed with Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta, just watching this whole thing shake out. We've had these meetings the last couple of weeks. It was important to the coaching staff and me to try to come away with players. Scouts like picks and coaches like players. Picks usually translate into players here in Baltimore. So, we're really excited about the opportunity for the next few rounds to bring some really good football players, our kind of players. It was just a great job of setting it up by [Newsome and DeCosta].


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