Ravens, in their own words II

OWINGS MILLS -- Questions and answers reflecting on the Baltimore Ravens' draft



Ozzie Newsome

On LB Tavares Gooden: "To start the day off, as we finished with you guys last night, we talked about stacking our board to get ourselves prepared for this morning, and we did. When we came back, we had some calls from some other teams about moving up to our pick, but we had targeted a couple of players and one of them was Tavares Gooden from Miami. The only thing I told him was that he couldn't have No. 52 when he got here, because it belongs to someone else. But anytime you get a player from the Miami Hurricanes, you know you get someone who loves the game, who runs to the football, and knows and understands how to play the game. It gives us depth, but it helps us on special teams right away."

On S Tom Zbikowski: "The second guy, [Tom] Zbikowski – same type of player. [He is] physical, fast and can run to the football. We talked about getting bigger and faster in this draft, and both of those players have a lot of it. Zbikowski can also be a backup returner for us, so those were some areas where we got hit pretty hard last year, and we ended up taking guys off our practice squad, taking guys off the street. We feel like we've added some really good depth. Over the course of the next three or four years, [we selected] guys that could become starters for us."

Eric DeCosta On T Oniel Cousins: "We were happy to draft Oniel Cousins from UTEP. Oniel's an outstanding athlete, a right tackle, primarily, and a great prospect. We think he's got a lot of upside and should develop over time. He probably needs to get a little stronger, but the tools are there. He's got great feet, he's a great kid. He's a worker. He's got the right temperament. He's a nasty player, and we think he'll compete right away at the right tackle spot. We feel good about him."

On WR Marcus Smith: "Marcus Smith is a receiver that I watched last week, actually, on tape and had the chance to watch him quite a bit this year. He's an inside guy, primarily a slot receiver. He's got good size; he's almost 6-2. [He's a] tough guy, blocks really well, catches the ball in traffic and is very physical. We felt like we wanted to bring a physical receiver and a bigger guy in here to compete for balls inside the numbers. He's been a great special teams guy, been a core special teams guy and an outstanding gunner at New Mexico. I think he can compete and add a lot of value to the team and should be a great [special] teams guy for us."

On T David Hale: "The last pick was one of our ‘Red Star' guys this year that you guys know about, that we've talked about over the years. David Hale is a right tackle who can play tackle and also guard. [He's a] very, very physical, mean, tough, nasty guy, in the same mold as a guy like [current Ravens G/T] Marshal Yanda and [former Ravens T] Tony Pashos. He's that type of player – a very, very physical, in-the-trenches type guy. I think he projects very well inside and also at right tackle, and we feel very good about David."

Ozzie Newsome On former Raiders CB Fabian Washington: "We had been talking about Fabian Washington, even before they made the trade for DeAngelo Hall. Fabian was a guy who, I think, was in Mark Clayton's draft [2005], that he was part of our trade-back. If Mark would've gotten picked that year, then we already had some trades set up to move back, and Fabian would've been one of the players that we would've targeted. I think the thing that helps us… There are two things: You add a Frank Walker and you add a Fabian Washington, who's under contract for two more years, so we know what that number looks like, and we have the guy that coached him with the Raiders, [Ravens secondary coach] Chuck Pagano. He was very excited.

The thing is, guys know about our defense and their play is elevated when they come to Baltimore. They realize they have to take their play to another level, and that's the way Fabian thought and talked about on the phone. He will be here in the next 24-48 hours. The condition of the trade is that he has to report and pass the physical, and once he does that, the trade is complete. That allows us to have a veteran player, a player that's started games in the National Football League. It brings more depth to our secondary, an area where, in the draft, we didn't feel like there was any other player that was comparable to Fabian."



Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "It is my pleasure to offer our first-round pick in the 2008 (draft) his jersey. I don't know if this going to be his number, but he represents a first-round pick. The way the three of us feel, and I know the way Joe feels, that he will measure up to all the other first-round picks that we have had here. I know definitely coming in he has that in mind. So, here's a jersey – maybe not the one you want to wear – and it's yours."

Joe Flacco opening statement: "How's everybody doing? Just kind of got in today, actually drove down from Philadelphia, right outside of Philadelphia, actually. All us South Jersey people say we're from Philly. We just got a chance to drive down with my family and check out the place and meet with the coaches for a little bit and have a little bit of lunch. I can't be more excited to be here, to be a Baltimore Raven. It was really exciting for me yesterday to have Ozzie call me and tell me they were actually trading up to pick me. So, to actually have that happen, it was just a big deal for me.

I was walking around my house all nervous about missing a phone call and all of a sudden my phone was ringing and it was Ozzie Newsome. I knew it was a Baltimore area code but I didn't know why they were calling me yet. They had eight more picks to go. For them to tell me they were going to pick me, that was really exciting and I'm ready to get down here and work really hard to prove to everybody that they made a good decision in picking me. This was the coaching staff's first pick here at this organization and I want to prove to everybody that they made a good decision in doing that."

On where his height comes from given his family's small stature: (FLACCO) "I have no idea. My dad says the milkman. (laughing) So…"

On making an adjustment to being under center in the Ravens' offensive scheme: (FLACCO) "I think I'm prepared to do that. I think everybody has to make an adjustment and I think I'm just as prepared as anybody else is. I did play a lot in the shotgun in Delaware, but I think I have the ability to play under center just as well."

On making the transition from I-AA football to playing in the NFL: (FLACCO) "Like I said, I think everybody has to make an adjustment – no matter what level of college football they were playing. I think I'm just as prepared as anybody else. I have confidence in my abilities. It's not about talking about it. It's about going out there and proving it. So, I'm anxious to do that."

On when in his football career he began to realize he could play in the NFL: (FLACCO) "I grew up thinking I was going to play in the NFL. The dream just never died for me. Obviously, I had some unfortunate things happen in college [at Pittsburgh], and I went to Delaware and things worked out really well. I always had the dream; I didn't know how it was going to happen, but after being through the process, I couldn't have enjoyed it more."

On his thoughts about playing baseball his senior year in college: (FLACCO) "That didn't have anything to [do with football]. I wasn't going to stop playing football. I didn't think I wasn't going to be an NFL Draft pick. I've always played baseball; I've always loved baseball. So, I actually asked coach [K.C.] Keeler at Delaware if I could play, and he turned me down pretty quickly."

On the transition from the offensive scheme at Delaware to the Ravens' offense: (CAM CAMERON) "First of all, they've done a super job at Delaware. Their system is sound. They want Joe, as we've talked, the ball comes out quick. You mention the shotgun range at center. Our offense has evolved to where it's almost 50/50 underneath center and shotgun. We're really looking for a guy who can function in the shotgun. That's where the game has evolved a little bit. It's changed over the last 10 or 15 years.

We want kind of a shotgun guy that can evolve underneath the center. But, I think the reason we're sitting here is that the scouting staff said, ‘Hey, we need to go and take a look at this kid at Delaware.' We all came away from that workout saying to each other, ‘Did you see what I saw?' Let's see how this thing plays out. I think he's a perfect fit for what we want to do. I think the other thing he knows is that he has to come in here and compete. I don't think there's any quarterback in this league that wants to be handed a job. So, he'll come in and compete with Kyle [Boller] and Troy [Smith]. And, whichever guy is out there – what we try to do doesn't always work –but since all three of these guys are different, we try to tailor things to what they do well. Here's a guy who has a gift to throw the football, he has a gift to throw it quickly and accurately.

I think he sees it from a little different vantage point. Having had some taller guys over the years, it looks a little different from where he sees it than some other guys. He's a lot better athlete than I think people give him credit for. And as his body continues to grow and mature, I think, here's a guy that we're all going to enjoy just watching develop. One thing I know, the background that he comes from is one where you work at it. He's been raised that way. Coach Keeler, his coach at Delaware, they work hard and this kid is going to develop and just get better and better."

On whether he thought he'd be a first-round draft pick when he woke up on Saturday: (FLACCO) "I had no idea. I didn't know what to expect. I think I'm worthy of one, but did I actually think that would happen? No. The bottom line is I didn't care. I knew I was going to get an opportunity wherever it was I got picked. It happened to be Baltimore. I know these guys are going to give me an opportunity, but it's all about me. It's about me getting in and working hard – just like coach said. I can't wait. I couldn't be more anxious to get in here and get started."

On whether he feels he could be ready to be the starting quarterback for the Ravens this season: (FLACCO) "Yes. Obviously, I haven't even been exposed to the offense yet. I am anxious to get in here and start learning, and I want to get out on the field and prove that I can. It's going to be up to the coaches to make that final decision, but it's going to be up to me to prove to them that I am ready."

On what he saw in the sample playbook the Ravens gave him before his pre-draft workout in Baltimore: (FLACCO) "They sent me a mini-version – I'm sure it was a very mini version of [their playbook]. I did all I could to make sure I knew it when I came in here. So, I do have a little bit [of an idea] of what they do. But, I'm sure it was a very little version of what they do."

On whether the Ravens' coaching staff was impressed with Flacco's preparation for his workout in Baltimore: (CAMERON) "No question. I think that's the important thing. You can sometimes get enamored with a guy and what you see physically and what you see on the tape. But the guys that I've been fortunate enough to be around are bright guys. It's not always intellect, as just a feel for the game. We have a way we like to find out – how this guy likes to prepare, how his mind works. It will be important for me as the play-caller to know with whomever our quarterback is how his mind works and how he operates so I can help him maximize how he thinks. This guy, he's bright, and football makes sense to him. Football's a big part of his family, and he did very well."

On what he asked Flacco to change technique-wise in his workout: (CAMERON) "First, when you look, you just want to let him be who he is. We probably threw for almost 20-30 minutes before we said a word. We didn't really say anything. Then you just try and throw a curveball in there to see. If you ask him to do something he's never done, can he pick up on it? We have a couple of little techniques we do differently in our drops, a little dove tail technique. I've been around some guys you just kind of describe it, and then some guys can never do it. I thought it was kind of neat that he picked up on it quickly, and we started tweaking his technique a little bit, which we'll do, similar to like what you would do with a golfer, maybe, or any other skill position. He picked up, and I think that guys who I have been fortunate to be around, can take things, see it quickly, internalize it, and then that's how you see guys who start to really, really improve and improve. Sometimes when you get a guy like that he can be special."

On the biggest challenge going from I-AA to the NFL: (CAMERON) It's just the speed of the game. And that's why we're looking for a quick-twitch guy. Again, he's been blessed with that. He's quick with his arm, and, again, he's quick for a tall guy. I think that's a little uncommon. Those guys are hard to find. Big, tall people who are quick and explosive don't come around every day. In our system, we'd like our quarterback to have nimble feet, have an explosive arm, be quick with the football, and I actually think Joe has that."

Thoughts on Eric DeCosta saying Flacco needs to work on his footwork: (CAMERON) "I think it can be a little deceiving, because taller guys, their footwork isn't going to look like a 6'2" or 6'3" guy. It just looks different sometimes to the casual observer. I personally don't see that much that he needs to change. I think he's got outstanding feet. The most important thing in my view in a guy's footwork is his back foot, and this guy puts his back foot in the ground and it doesn't move.

I think in my experience, the great quarterbacks in this league have the ability to put that back foot in the ground, no matter what's happening around them, and do that over a long period of time. So he can do that, but hey, every guy that comes in the league has got to get bigger, they got to get stronger, they got to get better. They just have to play. This position is about getting to play and learning NFL defenses. I'm sure that will make it a normal process."

On who will be Flacco's main voice: (CAMERON) "Down the road it will be both [Hue Jackson and me]. For right now, and Hue and I talked about this one, Hue and I have never worked together, so what we'd like to do for our quarterbacks is to make sure they hear one voice for a year. And I'll be the primary voice, but Hue is an outstanding coach. He's been a coordinator, so he understands. We'll be working closely together, but I'll kind of take the lead. As Hue gets to know me better, then it will be one voice, both of us, but saying the same thing. I'll take the lead this year, but over time that will evolve."

On the thrill of being drafted close to home: (FLACCO) "It's definitely pretty local, so it will be easy for my family and friends to get to a game if they choose to come. I'm just happy to be here. Being local hasn't really come into my mind."

On the biggest advantage of height and size and when his growth spurt was: (FLACCO) "Obviously, something I was blessed with was the height and the size. I think it helps being able to see, being able to be strong in the pocket. I think my biggest growth spurt was probably in 8th and 9th grade."

On if his experience at Pitt helped motivate him at Delaware? (FLACCO) "I just never felt like I actually did compete with Tyler [Palko]. He was the starter, but the only reason I was the backup was because another kid had transferred. He started for a year, and then spring ball came and new coaches came, and I still didn't compete with him. He was just the starter. I never really got a shot there. I wanted to go prove, when I was at Delaware, I wanted to prove that I was capable of playing [at Pitt], and I just didn't [get a chance]. I still carry that with me. I still carry it with me that I'm a I-AA guy and I had to go down to the minor leagues in college football and prove who I was. I'm going to carry that with me for the rest of my life, and hopefully, use it for the best."

On who gets the most reps in practice: (CAMERON) "Well, we've been working the last couple of months. We've got a mini-camp next week and then all the rookies come in in two weeks. We'll factor that all in once we get there, but we haven't set that yet."

On whether he feels pressure since he was a quarterback selected in the first round: (FLACCO) "I don't think so. I'm going to go out there and play football the way I know how to play football. It's up to everybody else to label me as something. If I pay attention to that, all it's going to do is hurt my game. So, all I'm going to be doing is in here, probably not hearing too much news. I want to be in here working hard and trying to be the best football player I can be."

On his impressions of the Ravens' offense: (FLACCO) "All the coaches here are very intense and they know their football, so it's going to be pretty cool to come in here and start learning from these guys. I know they like to attack the defenses, and it should be a lot of fun."

On what quarterback he feels Flacco is similar to: (CAMERON) "I've really never gotten into the comparison business. You just find over time that these guys are all [different]. Drew Brees is one version of a great quarterback. Philip Rivers would be another. Kurt Warner has run this system, too. There has been a variety of body types, a variety of personalities. Jim Everett was a big, tall guy that had a lot of success in this system. Troy Aikman [was successful]. But, if you look at them, they're all different in their own way. But what they are is tough, they're all smart and they're all extremely competitive. So, I've really never compared them and I think that's [wise]. You really don't want to short change a guy because you never know. You can sometimes compare them to someone and then you put a ceiling on him. I just really wouldn't want to do that to Joe. I think we'll just let him be his own guy."



Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "This is our recap. As you know, the fun still goes on for us because we're upstairs right now dealing with the undrafted college free agents and the success that we've had in the past on signing guys to make our football team, just like Edgar Jones [from 2007], and the list goes on and on after that. I think it was two very good days for us bringing an influx of talent to our football team. Starting with the trade with Jacksonville, that gave us all of the flexibility that we needed to pick players when we wanted to pick them based on our board. We got the quarterback. [We] got a running back, because we've suffered for years around here when our No. 1 running back got hurt and it really made for a stressful year, so we got Ray Rice.

To be able to add some depth with [Tom] Zbikowski and [Tavares] Gooden, guys that could be starters in their careers, [was important]. Then we went to the offensive line. That's another position you need to take some guys every year because you have to develop your offensive linemen, and we took [Oniel] Cousins. Receiver, we need some size at receiver so we took Marcus [Smith]. As we talk about these next four guys, not only are they good on one side of the ball, but they all are very good special teams players. Marcus, [Haruki] Nakamura from Cincinnati, Justin Harper – you know that our size at receiver with Mark [Clayton], Derek [Mason], Demetrius [Williams] and Yamon [Figurs] – we needed to add a big receiver to the group, and that's what we did with Harper. And then getting Allen Patrick, he's another running back who could help us in the special teams game.

You've got to add Fabian Washington, a guy who was a former No. 1 pick, who's a true cover corner and the [2007 supplemental pick] Jared Gaither. So when you add all of that, it's been a very productive day. I think everybody is very excited. I think we'll add probably a couple of more guys that will have a good chance of making our team with the undrafted college free agents. So it's been a good weekend for the Ravens, and now it's all about getting them on the field, getting them developed and getting them ready to play."

Eric DeCosta opening statement: "I agree. You know the draft is kind of like a chess game and we try to play it as smart as we can. You have to develop your position, and I think we did that. We picked and I'm excited. I can say that all of our players came from our top 120, which is exciting. We tried to get big, fast, smart and tough, and I think we accomplished that. It was a great weekend for the scouts and coaches. They worked very well together. We're excited about that for the future. When the scouts get to pick they get excited, and when the coaches get players to coach that they like, they get excited. So, it's a win-win. Hopefully, next year at this time we can look back on this draft and feel real good about it, and I think we will."

On if there was an area left a little undermanned: (NEWSOME) "Yeah. There was one area. In fact, there was one player we had on the phone at a position – I'm not going to tell you the position, because we're working on trying to sign some people now – and we had the kid on the phone, we had the next pick, and a team called. I asked the kid not to answer the phone, but he did anyway. The other team picked the kid right before us. I'm not going to tell you the position, but there was one kid at that position that we felt could add a lot to our football team."

On if they'll see immediate dividends or success down the road: (DECOSTA) "You never know. I think you will see immediate dividends in terms of special teams probably from Day One. Looking at our special teams last year, we felt like, I feel like personally, I did a poor job of really bringing in some guys to help us. We changed that this year. We have a new special teams coach, we have a lot of enthusiasm for special teams this year. I think you'll see immediate dividends in that regard. I think at receiver we brought in some physical guys that are different from some of the guys that we have. They should compete really well to get some playing time. I think at safety we drafted two outstanding, smart, productive, tough safeties with a knack for making big plays.

[They are] very similar to our two starting safeties from the standpoint of instincts, making plays, interceptions, fumble recoveries, special teams impact. I think it's a lot of different, interesting guys. We have a great influx of guys who can help us Day One, and also some developmental guys who can help us three or four years from now. I'm excited about that mix."

On the depth at tight end, due to the injury to Quinn Sypniewski: (NEWSOME) "We, at this point, still do not know the extent of Quinn's injury. But, just to be honest with you, that position that the guy got picked was at that position. But, right now, there are two guys that we liked and thought about drafting late, that we're really pursuing right now, to answer that question. And then there are some veteran free agents out there too that we could take a look at, also. So, there are some other areas once we find out the full extent of Quinn's injury."

On Jonathan Ogden's decision to play or retire: (NEWSOME) "I've heard nothing from J.O. Hopefully, he had a good round of golf today. Hopefully, he shot under 80 again. Right now, if J.O. decides he wants to comeback, that's his option. If he decides he wants to retire, which he could do and walk away from the game, and five years from now I'll be down at Canton waiting for him to get inducted, he could do that too. But that's J.O.'s decision and that has not impacted our whole offseason."

On what it was like to have the new set of coaches' eyes: (NEWSOME) "First, it was good to have a new set of eyes on our own football team. Guys to come in and evaluate our football team – and in some areas they felt the same way that we did, and in some other areas, there were some differences – we were able to talk about the differences. But, in the draft, when you come away with three coaches that were in college last year, [offensive assistant] Craig [Ver Steeg], [secondary coach Chuck] Pagano and [linebackers coach Greg] Mattison – they have a first-hand feel for a lot of football based on the conferences that they played in. Then you have guys like Cam Cameron and Hue Jackson that have history with working out quarterbacks that goes back 10 years. So, that's been great. [Offensive line coach] John Matsko – a guy I've known; he coached Anthony Munoz at USC – having guys that have the history that they have and the experience that they have, having them in the room to match with the way we do things, I think it made for a lot of fun. It was helpful. It was very, very helpful."

On how he feels about where the roster is right now: (NEWSOME) "I feel a lot better than I did on Friday. We started with eight picks, I guess, and we ended up with 10 plus one in the trade, so we got 11 players. I feel much better. We addressed some needs. Like Eric said, we got bigger, we got tougher, we got faster and we got smarter. So, I feel a lot better today. I think John [Harbaugh] feels a lot better today. One of the small advantages of changing a coaching staff is to have that mini-camp before the draft, where you get a chance to look at your football team and then you can realize some needs that you have before you go into the draft and you can attack them."

On if he thinks Fabian Washington could push for a starting job and if he's concerned about his recent domestic battery charge: (NEWSOME) "The first question, hopefully he will come in and compete. I think that's what makes our team as good as it is, that guys can be very competitive. In our division, they throw three receivers out there on the field in a hurry. As far as the domestic charge, I spoke with [Fabian] today about that, and based on the information that we have at this point and what he's undergoing, I don't think at this point, I don't think there can be any league discipline. But, that's not for me to say. That's for the league to make that determination."

On when he will start preparing for the 2009 NFL Draft: (DECOSTA) "Oh man (laughing). If my wife were here, I'd have to probably lie about that… We'll take some time, a few weeks, to just kind of unwind. Then right around the 15th of May, we'll get started up with spring scouting. I've always thought it was one of the hidden secrets of our success in that we have to look at junior prospects, because we're independent of all the different scouting services out there. Our scouts actually have to do a lot of the legwork to get prepared for the fall instead of us receiving reports from a service. We'll start looking at tape. We'll do spring scouting. We'll have about a month to six weeks of that, where we're actually watching the players as juniors, writing the reports and creating our list of players. That'll be done between May 15 and July 1, and then we'll get ready for training camp."

On if it's unfair that Tavares Gooden might be compared to Ray Lewis because he plays the same position, attended the same school and wears the same number: (DECOSTA) "He's just a good football player. The guy's explosive. He's just a good player. When he plays well, people will draw their own conclusions once he gets here. I think he's coming into a great situation. He has a relationship with Ed [Reed]. He probably knows Ray [Lewis]… I'm sure he does – all those guys know each other. But he's just a good football player. He had a great year this year. We think he's got a lot of potential. He made huge strides from his junior year to his senior year, in terms of improving his play and really taking the next step in becoming an elite college linebacker. We love good, fast, aggressive linebackers in Baltimore. We know when we see one, and Ozzie and I both feel really good about him."

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