Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, the Scottie Pippen to Ozzie Newsome's Michael Jordan when it comes to the Ravens and the NFL draft, appeared on "Norris & Davis" this morning to discuss this week's scouting combine and the upcoming NFL draft. DeCosta is excited about the current crop of draft prospects that will be at the league's annual meat market, which starts Thursday in Indianapolis.
"I think it’s a good draft. I didn’t think it was going to be necessarily a great draft," DeCosta told Ed Norris and Steve Davis of 105.7 The Fan. "But with the influx of all the juniors -- we have 56 juniors, which was a record -- in the draft and that’s really made the top end of the draft very, very strong.
"We feel like we have the chance to get some really good players and then we’ll have the opportunity later on, whenever that case may be, to look at free agency and see if anyone works for us."
That's right, the free-agency period begins after the draft this year because the collective bargaining agreement was not extended (if you haven't heard by now). DeCosta thinks the switch is "kind of cool."
"Free agency really is, in some ways, in your control," said DeCosta, who is seen by many around the league as a future NFL general manager. "The draft sometimes is a lot more unknowns. We have a chance to draft some good players in the draft and then use free agency as a way to fill some holes."
Unsurprisingly and understandably, DeCosta was vague when talking about who the Ravens might target in April's draft, saying, "We need playmakers at all positions."
"And that could be cornerback. That could be pass rushers. That could be receivers," DeCosta said. That’s not to say we’re not going to look at the offensive line. We could have some holes there to fill. ... We need guys that can make critical plays when we need them in the fourth quarter. We lost a lot of fourth-quarter leads this year and we want to put a stop to that."
DeCosta did talk about one NFL prospect specifically, but only because there is virtually no chance the Ravens will draft him: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. DeCosta steered clear of discussing Newton's character and said the biggest red flag for the Heisman Trophy winner was that the offense was “pretty simple” at Auburn. But he thinks Newton can be "great."
"He’s got tremendous size. He’s got an absolute cannon for an arm," DeCosta told Norris and Davis. "Let’s face it, he brought Auburn back in a lot of big games this year. He’s got some moxie and he showed some poise and he’s got some ability to win a big game down the stretch. So I think he’s a talented guy and I would expect him to be a pretty high pick and I’m sure he’ll have a great career."