Eric DeCosta: As long as I’m here, the draft will be the foundation of what we do

USA TODAY Sports

Across the league, more and more teams are electing to take the Rams approach of “F them picks” — using high-round draft selections to trade for established veteran players.

Given that Los Angeles is the most recent Super Bowl winner and the NFL is a copycat league, it’s no surprise to see additional franchises use this philosophy.

But it won’t be happening in Baltimore anytime soon.

In a Tuesday pre-draft press conference, Ravens G.M. Eric DeCosta was asked why the team has always placed such a high value on first-round picks.

“I think [that’s] something that I’ve thought about over the past three months or so,” DeCosta said. “I think in just our experience, No. 1, my experience working for [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] all those years, I’ve just seen how it can be when it’s done the right way. So, when you’re able to draft franchise-type players, whether it’s a Ray Lewis, a Terrell Suggs, a Lamar Jackson, a Jonathan Ogden, an Ed Reed, those types of players, a Mark Andrews, I could give you 50 names. You bring in these young players, and they really do become a part of the culture of your city. They’re players that the fans can rally around; they become heroes for a generation of children in that community.

“The nice thing is, I think, too, our sport collectively bargained — we have a salary cap. So, you bring in these rookies, and their salaries are set. They’re fixed. So, when you draft a rookie, you know what he’s going to cost. You’re not paying irrational market prices in free agency that some teams like to do. So, for us, I really think it speaks to the culture that we’ve established over the years.”

DeCosta added that when the Ravens came into existence in the late 90s, the team wasn’t a big spender in free agency — in part because the club didn’t have the funds to do it.

“So, the draft really became our lifeblood,” DeCosta said. “I had a chance to watch Ozzie and [former director of player personnel] Phil Savage before me and see how those guys operated and see the value of the draft and what that does for a franchise, what that does for a community and how that also allows you to be competitive every single year, regardless of the salary cap. So, for us, it works.

“There are a lot of different ways to do it, certainly. [I have] tremendous respect for teams that have a way of doing it differently and can succeed, but for us, the draft will always be … As long as I’m here, [the draft] will always be the foundation of what we do and what we believe in, and we think it works for us.”

The Ravens have the 14th overall pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

10 responses to “Eric DeCosta: As long as I’m here, the draft will be the foundation of what we do

  1. I don’t blame what the Rams did. The tried and true method may be tried and true but at year’s end, there’s only one champion. Yeah, your team will be a disaster after the can gets kicked down the road, but at least they made an effort to win it. How’s that any worse than the Browns blowing 10 years worth of top 10 picks???

  2. Decosta is 50 yrs old. He’s been with the Ravens for 26 years. He’s already been there a very long time. 2019 Sporting News Executive of the Year.

  3. All talent in the NFL starts out in the draft. Relying on free agent signings or trading away those picks for players means a team lacks fundamental talent evaluation skills.

  4. In the long term he will be proven correct. Teams spending “cash over cap” on free agents and trading away their picks will have to pay the piper down the road, when it forces cash under the cap. Mortgaging the future may get you one or two post seasons or even a SB but to win consistently you have to build through the draft.

  5. The Ravens went out and spent big in free agency to win their first super bowl – Woodson, Adams, Siragusa, McCrary , Shannon Sharpe, Trent Dilfer. Yes ogden Ray lewis Boulware and Jamal Lewis were drafted but acting like the Ravens have taken the GB approach to a super bowl is just not true

  6. I’m sure Decosta is very smart. I just think Ozzie had the better approach of drafting big, tough guys like Lewis, Suggs, Ogden, … that had long careers. Decosta’s draft record has not been stellar. Hopefully, the luck changes.

  7. bomatdaman says:
    April 7, 2022 at 5:39 am
    I’m sure Decosta is very smart. I just think Ozzie had the better approach of drafting big, tough guys like Lewis, Suggs, Ogden, … that had long careers. Decosta’s draft record has not been stellar. Hopefully, the luck changes.

    —————————————————————————————–

    Let’s slow the roll. EDC has had 3 drafts.
    Ray Lewis was an MLB (not exactly BIG)
    Sure Ogden and Suggs qualify. But we also got Ogden with the 4th overall pick.
    The Ravens had a top 10 pick since 2016 (and not many before that).
    EDC has drafted Oweh, Madibuike, Cleveland, Mack, Ferguson, Powers, Washington Jr. and Hayes. It’s hard to say how all those guys will eventually pan out.

  8. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I appreciate the mindset that values growing their own players having them stick around for a while in order build emotional investment from the fans and
    having those players build meaningful connections to the city. A team full of short-stint mercenaries has no local flavor, no history, no soul. Their “fans” are less fan and more daytrader.

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