Ravens restructure personnel department

OWINGS MILLS - Restructuring the personnel department didn't mean the addition of unfamiliar names for the Baltimore Ravens. The inner circle around general manager Ozzie Newsome remains essentially unchanged. Its relative youth is another hallmark.

Phil Savage, 37, has been promoted to director of player personnel after seven years as director of college scouting, where he recommended draft selections like All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis and All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

Meanwhile, George Kokinis, 35, has been elevated to director of pro personnel from his previous title of assistant director of pro personnel.

And scout Eric DeCosta, 31, whose concentration had been in the Midwest, takes over Savage's old job as director of college scouting.

All three executives have been with the Ravens since the team moved from Cleveland. In Savage and Kokinis' case, they joined the former Browns in 1991.

"I believe in promotion from within whenever possible," said Newsome, whose own job title was boosted this year by Modell from senior vice president of football operations to executive vice president and general manager. "That helps your continuity and productivity. We know each other well and that results in better players for the team."

Savage assumes new duties in evaluating pro talent, will negotiate more contracts than he had previously and will deal with the coaching staff much more than when he haunted college campuses as his primary responsibility.

Savage has worked for owner Art Modell since 1991 when he joined the club as a coaches' assistant.

With former director of pro personnel James Harris having accepted the Jacksonville Jaguars' vice president of personnel position that Savage spurned, in part, because of a below market value contract offer from Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver, Kokinis and DeCosta were able to receive their promotions.

Obviously, when Savage was announced as the frontrunner for the Jaguars' position, Newsome made some provisions in case he left. It was actually an upset when he didn't accept the position in North Florida, which is close to his home in Fairhope, Ala.

Since the Ravens won their Super Bowl title two seasons ago, Savage has been sought after by the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles and was also invited to interview for the Seattle Seahawks' general manager position.

"I'm an original Raven, and I'm proud of that," Savage said. "I believe we have the ingredients in this organization to win at the highest level. I'm confident we'll compete for championships in the years to come."

Kokinis was actively involved in rating other teams' players and assisting the coaching staff in diagnosing opponents' tendencies. He also had a background as an East Coast scout for the team as well.

DeCosta joined the Ravens in 1996 as a scouting intern before being promoted to full-time scouting duties. He evaluated players in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Mid-American conferences.

"George and Eric worked hard for these promotions," Newsome said. "They are well respected around the NFL, and they are key players and have been key players in our search for more talent on the team."

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