The Ravens’ scouting system, envied around the league, has remained remarkably consistent under General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
There have been a few tweaks along the way to adapt to technology and the times, but the organization still doesn’t belong to the two main national scouting services, and still does put the onus on their own area scouts to do the bulk of the heavy lifting.
"We still have our area scouts responsible for every player that’s being drafted in their area. So, a lot of that has not changed,” Newsome said Wednesday at the team’s annual draft luncheon. “There’s a lot more information, but I think there’s a lot more misinformation, and our scouts are responsible for getting as good information as they can for us and bringing it back to this group here so that we can make decisions. We would much prefer our scouts talking to strength coaches, secretaries at the school and people like that then living off the Internet."
One area, however, that the Ravens, like the rest of the sports world, are now paying particular attention to are past head injuries. The Ravens’ scouting reports on draft prospects now include mention of how many concussions a player sustained in college.
“That information is out there,” Newsome said. “As far as what we do, and most teams do, is once we get guys here, we’ll get a baseline test done with those players, so that if a concussion occurs, then we have something that we can refer back to. But, it is something now that throughout the league – and in all professional sports and on the collegiate level – that everybody is spending more time looking at.”
Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said that the team has gotten the medical information back from the participants in the NFL Scouting Combine last month and will spend next week studying specific players. Prospects that visit the team’s Owings Mills facility before the draft are also put through a physical and various medical tests.
DeCosta said that typically, the Ravens drop as many as 10 players off their draft board because of failed physicals and other medical issues. Then, there are other players who are eliminated because of character questions or behavioral issues.
“Any kind of character things are major red flags,” DeCosta said. “There is a slotting scale of things that would be major character concerns because society has changed. Some issues that would be major flags 10 or 15 years ago may not be as major of a flag now and there will be some new things that we’ll look at character-wise that we really didn’t have to deal with 10 or 15 years ago as much. Obviously, any sort of mental concern would be a red flag because football is a game where you have to think quickly. We’ll investigate any sort of mental/learning issue with every player that we like because we feel that is critical to a guy’s success or a lack of success.
“And then the third thing would be durability issues. One of the things that we’ve seen with players is when players fail, oftentimes, it’s because they just can’t stay healthy, and they can’t play, they can’t practice, they can’t get out there. We’ve tried to do a better job, I think, and we’ve spent more time trying to figure out what a player’s durability is going to be, projecting that forward and also looking at the issues that he’s had. I think our doctors and trainers do a great job of that and we’ve put a burden on our scouts as well to do a better job getting that kind of information.”