The Baltimore Ravens had a strategy of seeking quantity at the 2018 NFL Draft in which they eventually selected Lamar Jackson 32nd overall.
Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta both loved Jackson and the Ravens were starting to fall out of love with Joe Flacco.
“We wanted quantity that day,” said DeCosta after Sunday's game. “With the way the draft fell that year, we saw a way to really improve our offense. We were hoping the phone was gonna ring, starting at 16.”
Baltimore traded down from 16 to the Buffalo Bills for 22 and 65.
“We get to 22, and all of the players we liked are still there,” DeCosta said. “So we traded again.”
Baltimore used 22 and moved it to Tennessee for 25 and 125.
The Ravens, however, didn't use 25 on Jackson but instead on Hayden Hurst.
“You kinda have to use a strategy,” DeCosta said. “We felt like there was a pretty good chance that Lamar might be there later in the first round, early part of the second round. We were willing, if we could, to trade back, trade back, accumulate capital and then possibly either try to trade back again or in a second round, make a play and get Lamar at that point. But, you know, it was a risk.”
“Were you nervous about losing him?” I asked.
“We were. We were. But I think you’ve got to stay as clinical in the moment as you can, and really just go with all your best information and the plan. So yeah, you’re always nervous. You accept that you’ll lose some players working this way. But I think we try to stay as measured as possible and not get caught up in the moment.”
The Ravens called the Philadelphia Eagles about 32 as they were known to want to move down, but it would cost them Baltimore's second round pick in 2019.
“We didn’t share what we were going to try and do with anybody,” said DeCosta. “Drafts are strange like that. It’s just Ozzie and me at the end of the table, the only ones who really know. When you’re trying to make a decision as important as that, you try and keep it as quiet as you can. Because it’s not that you don’t want to share it with people, but the downside—which would be losing the player—is much greater than the upside of sharing the information with somebody that you care about.
“We didn’t even interview Lamar at the combine because we didn’t want to be associated with him. We didn’t want rumors about us and him to start. They didn’t. We were proud of that. So we pick him, and to hear him talk, and to hear his emotion and to see Lamar on TV with Deion Sanders, so happy, and to see his conviction, and to see his competitiveness. That’s a powerful thing. So, after the pick was announced, we hadn’t even had the chance to tell the scouts and coaches.
“And I think it’s probably the first time in my 24 years that you could hear cheering outside the draft room. You could hear the coaches and you could hear the scouts. That was a powerful moment for us.”