Ravens huddle in Owings Mills on NFL draft night, waiting for their turn

OWINGS MILLS —Draft night is finally here, a highly anticipated event that the NFL has turned into a prime-time spectacle. The Ravens are a bit more low-key, bringing a toy giraffe to the room where they’ll be making decisions about the team’s future.

General manager Eric DeCosta calls the stuffed animal Germain the Giraffe. It was a gift for his son, Michael. DeCosta uses the giraffe to remind the Ravens’ scouts to “stick your necks out when you are talking about a player,” and to speak with conviction.

When the draft begins at 8 Thursday night in Detroit, DeCosta, owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh, former general manager Ozzie Newsome and a team of scouts will be huddled together 527 miles away at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. They will pick 30th, so it’s likely they’ll have to wait about three hours before making their first choice.

The key members of the Ravens’ staff stay together in the draft room on the facility’s second floor with their draft board on a screen equivalent to the size of one at a movie theater behind DeCosta’s chair at the head of a long table.

Other key personnel include Sashi Brown, team president; George Kokinis, executive director of player personnel; Nick Matteo, vice president of football administration; and, Pat Moriarty, senior adviser to the general manager.

The draft board lists the highest-rated players at the top of the chart vertically by column. The board is also accessed horizontally and grades the players by position.

There is also a sideboard that could have as many as 500 players listed by grade and position, and they are most likely prospects that will be taken on the third day.

The Ravens also have a separate screen that serves as a trade calculator that tracks acquisitions and provides grades on potential deals. The trades are still negotiated over the phone.

There is also a ton of snacks and drinks that will be refilled throughout the three days of the draft. Food remains an important part of the draft process, DeCosta said.

The Ravens have a sign to remind them about the importance of character when it comes to a draft prospect: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

The media has a working area on the first floor and follows the draft on a wide-screen television. Once the Ravens select a player, DeCosta will meet with media members in the team’s auditorium to discuss the pick and take any questions.


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