Sigmund Freud famously said dreams are the fulfillment of a wish. And one Ravens executive's wish was fulfilled after a dream.
On Friday night, Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta went to bed with Keenan Reynolds still available. The Navy quarterback would be a wanted man on the third day of the NFL draft. From an unconscious perspective, just how much did DeCosta desire him? Enough that he woke up overnight thinking about Reynolds.
"We knew that there were other teams lurking in the weeds, trying to get him," DeCosta told Jason La Canfora & Jerry Coleman, hosts of the B-More Opinionated podcast. "I went to bed the night before and woke up in the middle of the night, and the first thing I thought about was Keenan Reynolds and, 'Can we get this guy?' and: 'Does he have a chance to be our punt returner?'"
Unable to shake the feeling, DeCosta called over coach John Harbaugh from the weight room and urged him to make one more call: to Brian Mitchell. The NFL's all-time leader in kickoff and punt return yardage had been working with Reynolds on his special teams ability. DeCosta wanted to know how Reynolds was faring as a punt returner.
"So John made the phone call," DeCosta recalled. "We got a glowing report, which sort of validated what we had seen on tape, and we felt very, very good about the decision to take Keenan. The challenge for us … was how we were going to get him, at what slot, at what pick. Where do we feel comfortable taking him?"
The answer was the sixth round, No. 182 overall. It was an emotional moment for Ravens decision-makers, and sleep deprivation might have been only one of the reasons.
"He’s a special kid," DeCosta said. "He’s got just an electric personality about him. He’s everything that you want in a player, in terms of ability but also off the field."
Amont the other nuggets from the interview:
-- DeCosta disputed the notion that the Ravens played it safe with their draft picks. "I think the biggest thing we try to do is just draft good players. Some years, you draft guys that have some risk. They’ve got some off-the-field things, you look at ‘em and you make decisions. We drafted tough guys who can play football, who have the athletic skills and the size and the length and the athletic ability to help us win. We also drafted smart guys. In a perfect world, you want the best guys you can get."
-- Fourth-round pick Chris Moore's biggest attraction might have been his play against top cornerback prospects. Relatedly, his biggest advocate, DeCosta explained, might have been Ravens scout Andy Weidl, "who basically said, 'Listen, this guy is underrated. He’s dominated against the best corners in this draft and he gets no credit for it.' "
Against Houston and No. 24 overall pick William Jackson last season, Moore had six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014, against Ohio State and Eli Apple (No. 10 overall), he had three catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and against Virginia Tech and Kendall Fuller (No. 84 overall), four catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
DeCosta, who chalked up Moore's rather modest receptions total (39 in 2015) to a deep and experienced receiving corps at Cincinnati, compared the vertical threat to former Terp and Raven Torrey Smith. "We think his skill set really matches Joe Flacco very, very well. As you guys know, Joe’s a guy that throws a great deep ball, and we think Chris has the ability to go down the field and make big plays on the football in traffic. He’s got the speed to be a home run threat."
-- And because it wouldn't be an interview with DeCosta without him being asked why he's still in Baltimore after all these years, here's his latest answer: "There’s an unknown going someplace else. I hear it all the time. People think that maybe I’m not confident enough to go someplace else. It’s not that. I just realize how special this place is. I know at some point I’ll have the chance to run a team. When that’ll be, I don’t know. But I know right now I’ve got to be one of the luckest guys in Baltimore because I work for a great franchise, I’m in a great city, and what more could you want?"
You can listen to the full interview with DeCosta here beginning at the 9:10 mark.