Newsome looking for stars in 20th draft with Ravens
Apr. 27, 2015
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — When the Baltimore Ravens hierarchy gathers to discuss the NFL draft, Ozzie Newsome is perceived to be the smartest man in the room.
Instead of telling everyone why that is so, Newsome instead will listen to what others have to say.
"I just try to sit back and be a sponge and gain as much information as I can," Newsome said. "Hopefully that puts us in a position to make picks."
For the past 19 years, few — if any — NFL general managers have done a better job than Newsome. He got off to a great start in 1996 with his very first selection, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who's now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Newsome's second pick that year, linebacker Ray Lewis, appears a sure bet to join Ogden in the Hall.
From Ogden to linebacker C.J. Mosley in 2014, Newsome has repeatedly found Pro Bowl talent in the NFL draft.
"The Wizard of Oz" also has selected three NFL Defensive Players of the Year (Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs) and a pair of Super Bowl MVPs (Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco).
So when it comes time for the Ravens to use the 26th overall pick in the draft on Thursday night, those around Newsome are confident he'll make the right choice.
"Ozzie has been doing this for a long, long time," coach John Harbaugh said. "He has built something just incredibly special. That's our foundation, and that's what we lean on."
Newsome is happy to share that responsibility.
"I think he looks to be swayed," Harbaugh said, "and that's a real plus."
Some things to know about the Ravens' 2015 draft:
PICKS A PLENTY: Newsome has 10 picks to work with, including three from trades and three compensatory selections.
In addition to the 26th overall selection, Baltimore has Nos. 58 and 90, three picks in the fourth round, three more in the fifth round and a sixth-rounder.
The odds are favorable that Newsome will make a trade or two — or even more.
"It's based on what will happen in the first 25 picks and what will happen in the first 50 picks," he said. "That will determine how we will react on Day One or Day Two, even Day Three."
BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE: The Ravens need a wide receiver, a tight end, a cornerback, a running back and a pass rusher.
That doesn't mean any of those positions will be filled with the first pick because Newsome almost always takes the highest-ranked player on his board.
"We value the board, watch it very closely," Newsome said. "As we get close to our pick, if there's somebody that we really covet, then we'll go and get him. If not, we'll just value all the guys that are available to us."
STAYING PUT: Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta is an invaluable asset to Newsome in the draft process.
Other NFL teams know this. Yet DeCosta has repeatedly spurned overtures from clubs looking for a GM.
"Every day I come in and work with my friends," he said. "In the end, personal ambitions aside, all you really have is your reputation and your friends and your enjoyment in life.
"We have a great owner, awesome stadium and best fan base in the country. So what more do you want?"
CHARACTER COUNTS: After a year that included the arrest of Ray Rice and four others, the Ravens consider strong character to be as important as good hands and a solid time in the 40-yard dash.
"What we do is we trust our scouts and our coaches," DeCosta said. "We have a lot of connections at different schools, and we try to generate as much information as we can. We get a chance to meet with these guys at the Combine, here in Baltimore, at the all-star games, and we build a profile. ... It's more instinct and doing your homework, your due diligence and making good decisions."
GOING DEEP: Newsome is usually brilliant on draft day, but his success in securing elite pass-catchers has been spotty.
Travis Taylor, Yamon Figurs, Devard Darling and Patrick Johnson were all drafted in the third round or higher. None made a real impact.
Torrey Smith was an exception at No. 2 in 2011, but he left for San Francisco as a free agent this past offseason. So a replacement is needed.
"We try to learn from all of our mistakes," Newsome said. "How can we get better? What were we not looking at that led us to make that decision? Hopefully, it will make a better decision for us going forward. I don't know."
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