Eric DeCosta joined the Ravens in 1996 as a scout and was named director of college scouting in 2003. After the drafting of Joe Flacco and a successful 2008 season, DeCosta was promoted to director of player personnel in January. As he does every April, DeCosta will play a critical role this weekend as the Ravens try to improve their team with just six picks in the NFL Draft.
Question: What is this time of year like for you?
DeCosta: It’s exciting. We spend nine months getting ready for one weekend. A lot of work goes into it. It can be tedious at times but as we get closer, you start to see the possibilities of bringing six young guys into Baltimore, it’s exciting. You can put your fingerprints on the team but it’s very much a collaborative effort. It’s really exciting. … I’m not sleeping as well as I’d like, waking up in middle of night thinking about all possibilities.
Question: You grew up playing football. I'm not sure there are many kids who dream of being an NFL exec or a draft guru. Was there a moment where you just fell in love with this process?
Question: You could've grown up to be Mel Kiper.
Question: You got the new title. Have your day-to-day responsibilities changed at all, or has the draft just occupied every second of your day?
DeCosta: It’s kind of a job that we’re sort of building on the fly, all the different things that it entails. I did some stuff for free agency up until the draft, looked at some players, did some evaluations, shared some input. But because of the timing of when I was named, the biggest thing was really the draft. So I’ve been really working on finishing this project, which is a nine-month project. The logical thing was to finish it out. So I’ve been running the meetings and doing a lot of the things that I’ve always done.
Question: What is this stretch like, the last several days before the draft? Is all the homework done and you're sitting and waiting, or are you researching players until the last minute?
Question: What's your draft routine – either the night before or the day of the draft?
Question: Is it more fun for you to draft high in the first round or draft low?
DeCosta: The fun for me is not so much the first round, but getting a really good player in some other round -- a guy you didn’t expect to be there, that you’re really excited about. It’s really exciting for me. Like last year, we loved Ray Rice. We had a pick and we gambled, trading back to second and we still got Ray Rice. To me, that’s exciting, maneuvering up and down the board and still getting the guys you want. To me, that’s where the beauty of draft lies, knowing the value of the players and knowing where you need to be to get them.
Question: We hear every year that the Ravens don't draft strictly based on need. But we hear that from a lot of teams, too. Has there been a shift in thinking? Or does everyone just lie about this?
Question: What is the easiest position to gauge?
Question: The Ravens have made a run at a few receivers in the early rounds of the draft the past several seasons. Do you consider wide receiver an unusually risky position to draft in the first round and if so, why?
Question: You guys used Joe Flacco in some of your workouts with potential receiver picks this spring. I'm not sure I've heard of other teams ever doing this. Why'd you go this route, and how unique of an idea is it?
Question: Last year was John Harbaugh's first draft as head coach. Anything different as you guys approach this year's? Does he seem more or less involved?
Question: There was a story by Yahoo recently that reported some NFL teams are creating fake Facebook accounts, featuring profile pictures of attractive women, to befriend potential draft picks. How important is it that you guys research everything you can about potential draft picks?
Question: With all the resources available to you, I also wonder what you can glean from college coaches. I remember K.C. Keeler telling me he sold the hell out of Flacco to you guys. But I imagine all coaches do that.
Question: Do you go home after every draft with a sense of accomplishment, or do you tend to replay the day's events and nitpick everything that went right or wrong?
Question: And how do you feel after the second day? Are there ever regrets?