It's pretty simple. The Ravens scout young talent in a way that's unique to the NFL.
Most teams in the NFL have a division between their scouting and coaching staffs. Also, some teams opt to rely on college scouting services rather than their own internal scouting department, which can lead to differing opinions on how incoming NFL prospects are graded.
But the Ravens have consistently relied upon their own personnel staff to assess talent, which has led to a strong collaboration between scouts and coaches.
Once again this unique approach will be tested at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Cohesiveness between the coaching staff and personnel department is part of the reason the Ravens have been able to sustain success over the last several seasons.
“The thing that we have here that is probably pretty unique around the National Football League – this is something that [Owner] Steve [Bisciotti] doesn’t take much credit for– but what he has laid down is an organizational structure where everybody works together,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the end-of-season press conference.
“There really aren’t clear lines of demarcation between people – scouts and coaches work together,” Harbaugh said. “Front office and coaches and scouts work together. Everybody is involved with one another.”
The next few months will mark a critical time for the organization, as the Ravens try to re-sign their franchise quarterback (Joe Flacco), deal with the retirement of a legend (Ray Lewis), potentially lose another future Hall of Famer (Ed Reed) in free agency, and navigate the salary cap without much room to spare.
With a tight salary cap situation, the Ravens will look to the draft to replenish the talent pool, making it critical for the coaching staff and scouting department to be on the same page about the type of players they bring into the organization.
To make sure that happens, Harbaugh expects plenty of conversations between him and General Manger Ozzie Newsome – and their respective staffs – over the next several weeks.
And during that time, they’ll rely on the system that has proven successful over the last several years.
“We are all responsible for our areas, but we all seek help,” Harbaugh said. “That’s just huge for us. I know that all of the scouts feel the same way. Ozzie and I do it all the time, but it’s not just us two.
“It’s everybody throughout the whole organization. It’s just interwoven together. To me, that’s the key to any success that we have.”
Yearly Draft Disclaimer: “Best Player Available”...
Year after year, G.M. Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta, Assistant G.M., continue to do a sensational job acquiring talent for the Ravens. Are there misses? Sometimes, yes. But what team doesn’t have picks that won’t meet their potential? The fact is the Baltimore Ravens scouting department and Newsome and DeCosta do extremely well with their selections. Always ‘best player available ‘and always, "patience– talent seems to fall into the later part of the first found."
DEFENSE STILL WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Where the Ravens will potentially lose the most talent is on the defensive side of the ball. MLB Ray Lewis has retired and Jameel McClain’s neck injury is something to consider, although his outlook looks good. There’s just not enough money to go around. The team could potentially lose OLB Paul Kruger and CB Cary Williams, MLB Dannell Ellerbe and FS Ed Reed.
G.M. Ozzie Newsome stated, “The middle of the defense is key, we think we have to get better at defensive tackle. We know that one linebacker is retiring and another one is a free agent. We have a safety that is a free agent, and some young guys that have yet to step up. So, we would say the middle of the defense is probably the one area that we will concentrate on.”
Baltimore will have 7 selections and there’s going to be, as always, a chance Ozzie Newsome trades down or trades up. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Ravens drafted defense the first three rounds. In fact, reloading the defense could be the theme for this draft, especially if the Ravens don’t fill some key spots in free agency.
Prospects to watch:
Kevin Minter, ILB North Carolina
Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama
Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern St.
Eric Reid, FS, LSU
D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
Phillip Thomas, FS, Fresno State