With just over three weeks left before the 2015 NFL draft, Ravens front office staff spoke Wednesday on several topics, including positional needs at wide receiver and cornerback, their vetting process for draftees, and the possibility of draft-day trades.
General manager Ozzie Newsome, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, director of college scouting Joe Hortiz, and coach John Harbaugh spoke for 38 minutes Wednesday at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Without specifying which positions he was determined to draft from April 30-May 2, Newsome said the goal was to supplement the existing roster with players who could help when the season begins in September.
“I don’t go in with any preference on one side of the ball,” he said. “Sometimes there are more needs on defense and the board is set up that way, so we stay with the board. But I don’t go in with any preconceived ideas of that.”
Newsome acknowledged that more and more rookie wide receivers have made an impact in the league recently, and with a young core of receivers already on the roster, there’s no added pressure to enhance the talent at that position in the wake of Torrey Smith’s departure for the San Francisco 49ers.
The organization’s uneven track record of drafting receivers early doesn’t make the potential selection of a wide receiver any more daunting, Newsome said.
“We draft players and we try, I try, we as a group 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?”
At the cornerback position, where the team could have a need, Hortiz said it was a “good year,” though they still expect a run on them in the early rounds.
Hortiz mentioned Michigan State’s Trae Waynes as a first-round talent, with Washington’s Marcus Peters, Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson (River Hill), and LSU’s Jalen Collins also in the mix for the first round. He anticipates about a dozen cornerbacks going in the first three rounds.
“Last year, we could have used about any corner in this draft,” DeCosta said.
Two players with potential character issues — Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, and Peters — have met with the Ravens, Newsome said. DeCosta said no players have been taken off their draft board.
With ten overall picks, the first at 26th overall, Newsome said the way the draft plays out ahead of them in the first and second rounds will determine whether any of those picks could become trade fodder.
“It could go either way,” Newsome said. “It’s how the board starts to come up as to whether we will use some of the picks we have to move up, or if we come away with 10 or even more if we move back.”