If you had any doubts about how much the guys in the Ravens' front office enjoy this time of year, you won't after reading this entry.
For GM Ozzie Newsome, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta and director of college scouting Joe Hortiz, this is when they get the chance to shine. The months leading up to the draft are filled with long hours, stressful moments and plenty of debates, but as DeCosta describes it, this is their Super Bowl.
At the very end of last week's Pre-Draft Media Luncheon, Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' Senior VP of Public & Community Relations asked DeCosta to describe the give-and-take that he has with head coach John Harbaugh as the draft approaches.
The conversation that ensued shows not only how much fun the Ravens' brain trust have when it comes to the draft process, but also how much fun they have going through that process with each other.
DeCosta: "I think the cool thing, and Ozzie kind of touched on it, we're all friends first and foremost. We spend a lot of time together, and we know how to get under each other's skin. We know what to say. We're very competitive. In scouting, this is our Super Bowl. Ozzie and I will fight a lot about players. I'll give him a hard time about going down to the Owner's meetings or the Competition Committee meetings for three weeks. We don't see him in March. He's gone. You guys cannot find Ozzie Newsome in this building in March. And up until this year, he hadn't watched many players in March because he's never here.
"Now this year he did watch some players. Coach is here. He's watching these guys, and he's grinding on players. You think you have an ally with Coach with one player, then the next thing you know, you think he likes the guy then he says, 'I changed my mind; I hate this guy.' I'm like, 'You liked him yesterday.'"
Harbaugh: "That's not true."
DeCosta: "'No, I watched more tape and now I hate him. I hate this guy now.' (Laughter) Then you bring everyone else into the equation... Although our scouting staff now is not nearly as combative as it was probably in the '90s. We had some real old-time guys. It's a lot different now. These guys, we're all about the same age, and we're more techno guys now.
"Everybody's on the Internet now reading about these guys and using their phones to text to get information and all this. We don't have as many real fights like we used to have, but there's definitely still some fights. We'll argue about players. Ozzie and I will always have one or two guys a year that we'll make some bets. If you go into the Draft room, which you guys have never been in, but if you ever went in the Draft room..."
Newsome: "We don't bet in Baltimore." (Laughter)
DeCosta: "There's a board over there with some scribbles on it. This guy before that guy, or this guy's going to get drafted in the first round, or this guy's going to not be drafted. We'll bet on 40[-yard dash] times and different things. We make it competitive."
Harbaugh: "It's not in violation of any NFL policies." (Laughter)
DeCosta: "No, there's no violation. Money is not changing hands. But we definitely... Last year there was a receiver that was drafted by the Browns. There was a lot of debate about him, and he had a really nice year - [Mohamed] Massaquoi. [We] had a lot of internal debate about Massaquoi. Some guys loved him, some guys hated him. Joe loved him. (Hortiz nods his head and smiles.)
"So, you always call back over the years about players that you liked and you didn't like. There are some guys that have a very sketchy memory, and every once in a while we have to go back to the reports in the system, because they really liked the guy, and then we read the report and he really hated the guy. So, that happens too."