DeCosta: Ravens look beyond on-field performance with NFL Draft

OWINGS MILLS — Now that the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine has ended, the Ravens’ front office, coaches, and scouts will head back to the Under Armour Performance Center to continue evaluating talent for the draft, which starts on April 25th.

This year’s draft will be critical because the Ravens have 22 unrestricted free agents and various roster holes to fill, most notably on the offensive line, outside linebacker, wide receiver, and cornerback.

While general manager Eric DeCosta will focus on the blue-chip prospects, numerous other factors will determine who the Ravens select in the draft. DeCosta has developed his philosophy on what he values in a prospect, and it goes beyond how they perform on the field.

“I think integrity is important to me. Passion for the game is important to me,” DeCosta said. “Work ethic, dependability, growth mindset, grit – all those things – factor in. It’s something that we really kind of focus on. I mean, anyone can watch tape and assess how good a player can catch a football or bend his knees or make a tackle in space or block somebody.”

While former Ravens team president Dick Cass said there was no formal “zero tolerance” policy, the team tends to stay away from players who have gotten into legal trouble in college.

For example, the Ravens reportedly asked former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley to take a polygraph test before the 2017 NFL draft after he was accused of sexual assault in college. The Ravens wound up taking cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall selection. Conley went to the Raiders at No. 24 overall.

The Ravens will continue to look beyond the stats before they take a player in the draft.

“To me, the secret sauce is really knowing the person behind the tape, the personality of the player, [and] how he carries himself day to day,” DeCosta said. “What’s he going to do every day in the offseason? How is he going to carry himself on the field, in the community? All those kinds of things are critically important. And really, I think, those are probably as important – those factors – as how a guy plays the game.”

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