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If Baltimore’s Ozzie Newsome wasn’t a Hall-of-Fame tight end, he’d be a Hall-of-Fame general manager … and I can tell you why in two words.
The draft. Nobody did it better.
Newsome’s first two draft picks as the Ravens’ GM were Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, both Hall of Famers, while another first-round choice, safety Ed Reed, almost certainly joins them in Canton when he becomes eligible in 2019.
But that’s just the beginning. Newsome drafted two Super Bowl MVPs, Lewis and Joe Flacco … a 2,000-yard running back in Jamal Lewis … and a top-20 career pass rusher in Terrell Suggs. What’s more, in 16 of his first 19 drafts he found at least one Pro Bowler, and he landed 23 in all — including five in the sixth round — at a variety of positions.
So what was his secret? Ah, that’s why we went inside the organization and contacted Eric DeCosta, the Ravens’ assistant GM who’s been with the club since its inception and who succeeds Newsome when he retires after this season.
“Ozzie is a pretty remarkable person from an intangible standpoint,” DeCosta said on the latest Talk of Fame Network podcast. “He combines an incredible work ethic with tremendous humility, patience and trust in people. He’s not a micro-manager. He tries to find the right people, and he gives them a chance to show that they can do the job.”
But he didn’t stop there. In fact, he was just getting started.
“He listens,” DeCosta said. “He’s got great people skills in terms of listening to people and really honing in on what the important issues truly are. And he’s a patient guy. He’s much, much more patient than I am. He’s not going to panic in any given situation, which is probably one of the reasons why he was such a great player as well.
“He’s very, very calm, and he waits and waits and waits to make the decision until he has to. And often times the right decision just kind of falls to him.”
That helps to explain how he found Reed with the 24th pick of a draft … and Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs with the 29th … and Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap with the 31st.
“He’s a guy with no agenda, other than the organization,” said DeCosta. “He cares deeply about Baltimore (and) this franchise. And the other thing about Ozzie is … having played, he’s got a unique perspective on the locker room and the players; how to manage players and how to talk to players and the issues that players are dealing with and the right approach with players. And that’s something that I’m jealous of, not having played in the NFL.
“That’s a gift that Ozzie has, and it serves him well. Not to mention … he’s a great evaluator. He’s probably learned from guys like Bill Belichick and others who helped him along the way back in his early days. He’s just got a great ability to sift through all the noise — which, as an evaluator, (you know) there’s a lot of noise — and really determine what the most important thing is.”
DeCosta had plenty of stories, including the most underrated draft pick Newsome … and the Ravens … made and how emotional his last draft — the 2018 draft — was. And to hear them, all you must do is connect to the following link: