New job excites DeCosta

The Baltimore Sun

As the Ravens' newly appointed director of player personnel, Eric DeCosta will take expanded duties to Indianapolis for this week's NFL scouting combine.

After six years as director of college scouting, DeCosta will not only work on the evaluation of the 300-plus college players for April's draft, but he will also address free agency for the Ravens.

"It's different, but exciting," DeCosta, 37, said shortly after his promotion.

General manager Ozzie Newsome revised titles and job descriptions after director of pro personnel George Kokinis left in January to become general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

DeCosta moves up to take the position last held by Phil Savage before he departed for Cleveland in 2005. The Ravens' new director of college scouting is Joe Hortiz, and the new director of pro personnel is Vince Newsome.

DeCosta, who performed his normal college scouting duties during the season, will continue to be involved in the college draft, easing Hortiz into the job. But he'll also work with Vince Newsome on free agency, which starts Feb. 27.

"I was so involved with college scouting and still will be," he said. "I'll be helping Vince, giving advice on the pro side. I'll be an adviser, almost like Ozzie's assistant. My job is to get everybody on the same page, create a consensus and unify things a little."

One of DeCosta's ideas is to put the evaluation of college and pro players on the same grading system.

"I'd like to try to find a way to speak the exact same language for both," he said. "If you're a 7.5 [grade] in college, you should be a 7.5 in pro."

DeCosta also wants to have his college scouts do more evaluations in the pro game because "you can't be a great college scout unless you know players in the league."

DeCosta joined the team at an entry-level position in 1996 after it moved from Cleveland. Two years later he became an area scout, a position he held for five years until he was appointed director of college scouting in 2003.

In his new role, he will negotiate contracts and learn about salary cap management.

He said he wants to emulate Ozzie Newsome, who oversees the personnel department.

"What I have to do is learn to delegate," DeCosta said. "The genius of Ozzie is that he lets people do their jobs. I want to find a way to be like him. We lost Phil, Marvin [Lewis], James Harris, Jack Del Rio, George Kokinis, and the reason [there was no breakdown] was that when one goes, Ozzie lets the next guy do the job.

"I don't want to micromanage. I think I'll be OK stepping away, letting Joe and the scouts run the draft."

ravens' needs

With the NFL scouting combine beginning today, here are the Ravens' biggest areas of need heading into the draft:

1. Wide receiver: : The Ravens have one consistent receiver in Derrick Mason. But he is 35 and hasn't averaged more than 13 yards a catch in his four seasons with the Ravens. The other receivers (Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams and Yamon Figurs) disappear too often. The team needs to find a deep threat who can complement Joe Flacco's big arm.

2. Cornerback: : After cutting Chris McAlister, the Ravens have a solid group remaining with Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle. But both are essentially the same type of player: a pure cover corner. The Ravens need a young, all-around defender who could come in as a nickel back and be groomed to start in 2010.

3. Tight end: : Todd Heap is expected to return even though he didn't click in Cam Cameron's offense. After Heap, there is no one left. Daniel Wilcox could get released after another injury-filled season. Quinn Sypniewski is coming back from knee surgery, but he is more of a blocking tight end. The Ravens need someone to be Heap's heir apparent.

Jamison Hensley

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