Sports

DeCosta: Ravens aren't done yet with building for 2012

Eric DeCostaFootballSportsBaltimore RavensCourtney UpshawNFLKelechi Osemele

Days after the Ravens added eight players in the NFL draft, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said there are items left on their wish list — assuming the player and the price are right.

"We're very excited about last weekend and the draft we just had," DeCosta said. "Our work is not yet done. … There are still moves left to be made. This team is not yet ready for September."

DeCosta was the featured guest Wednesday night at The Baltimore Sun Newsmaker Forum series at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills. It was the second edition of The Sun's speaker series. GovernorMartin O'Malleywas the featured guest at February's inaugural event.

In a wide-ranging conversation, DeCosta drew applause for defending quarterback Joe Flacco -- "The last game he played might have been the best he ever played" — and laughter for telling a story of a man who sent the Ravens video of him running the 40-yard dash against a horse. He also said he was saddened by the death of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, sickened by the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, and encouraged by the NFL's increased emphasis on safety.

But a majority of the talk focused on the Ravens and their future. The Ravens drafted an intriguing pass rusher in Courtney Upshaw, a pair of versatile offensive linemen in Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski, and needed reinforcements at a few other positions.

Earlier in the day, the Ravens added depth and competition to their defensive line rotation when they signed veteran nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu. Kemoeatu, 33, got his start in 2002 as an undrafted free agent. He spent four seasons in Baltimore, starting 20 games, and has since played for the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins. He did not play in 2011.

But the team could still add a return specialist, another safety or a veteran lineman.

The most welcome potential addition might be a veteran offensive lineman, particularly one who can play guard. DeCosta said that Osemele, a guard/tackle out of Iowa State, was one of the best offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, and that Gradkowski, a center/guard from Delaware, is "extremely athletic and nasty." But he added that it's difficult for rookies to play right away.

"Any offensive line depth [would be] really important to this team," DeCosta said.

A few more highlights from DeCosta:

--- DeCosta said it is unlikely that the Ravens will sign a veteran back after drafting Temple's Bernard Pierce in the third round. "I think this year we're content," he said. "We like the young backs we have. … We'd prefer to spend the money at another position."

--- He indicated that this season might be linebacker Sergio Kindle's final opportunity to prove himself. "This is his year," DeCosta said of the 2010 second-round pick. "He has to show us that he can do it this year."

--- DeCosta wouldn't say if the team preferred Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who was drafted by the New England Patriots, over Upshaw, his Alabama teammate. "We felt both guys were worthy of being picked by us at No. 29," he said.

But the most telling comments were about the offensive line, one he said was "up and down" in 2011. Whether the Ravens can address the position or not, he suggested that it must improve.

"When Joe has the time to throw," DeCosta said, "he can make every throw."

matt.vensel@baltsun.com

twitter.com/mattvensel

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Eric DeCostaFootballSportsBaltimore RavensCourtney UpshawNFLKelechi Osemele
  • Ravens finalize deal with veteran nose tackle
    Ravens finalize deal with veteran nose tackle Kemoeatu

    Looking to round out their defensive line rotation, the Ravens has signed veteran nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, the team announced Wednesday. Kemoeatu will likely replace backup nose tackle Brandon McKinney, who signed with Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.

  • Zrebiec: Ravens news, notes and opinions
    Ravens news, notes and opinions

    The two names you read here and pretty much everywhere else in the days leading up to the draft as it related to the Ravens and their original 29th overall pick were Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Wisconsin center Peter Konz. As it turns out, neither was as high on the Ravens’ draft...

Comments
Loading