Ever since the Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game Ravens fans had been dying to know what player Ozzie Newsome was going to draft with their first round draft pick. The Ravens held the 26th overall pick and several questions swirled around as to which position they would address with the pick. Many fans believed the team would draft a wide receiver, especially since this was a deep class or perhaps a linebacker to learn from Ray Lewis before he retires, but Ozzie Newsome maintained that they would stick to their draft board and take the best player available whenever he was asked which direction the team may look to go with the pick. So when the Ravens traded with the New England Patriots to get the 23rd overall pick, we knew Ozzie had something special coming. When the commissioner announced that the Ravens had selected Michael Oher, the tackle from Mississippi all I could do was sit back and smile knowing that once again Ozzie pulled a real winner out of the bottom of the first round.
Oher had been a rock on the Rebels line where he had started 47 straight games and has one of the best “feel good” stories of the draft. At 6’6”, 309lbs Oher is a big, physical tackle that will be an asset to the Ravens offensive line for the next 10+ years. Historically what makes Ozzie one of the best evaluators of pro talent is his commitment to draft good character players. When Michael Oher was being interviewed by Erin Andrews (a bonus in itself), Oher was wiping away his tears as he swayed from side to side throughout the entire interview. When Andrews asked Oher if he was disappointed that he had dropped so far in the draft, Oher responded with my favorite quote of the day. He said that he would have been happy being drafted in the seventh round, all he wanted was an opportunity to play professional football. In addition, Oher repeated multiple times that he couldn’t wait to get to training camp and get to work. Now that’s a guy that I want protecting my franchise quarterback!
Once again the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome hit a homerun with their first round draft pick. Oher looks to be in the same category as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Chris MacAllister, Todd Heap, Ben Grubbs, and Joe Flacco, all of which were drafted by the Ravens in the bottom half of the first round. Right now the addition of Oher gives the Ravens one of the best young offensive lines in the league. Assuming all goes well with the contract portion of bringing in Oher and no injuries, the Ravens should start the season with Oher and Jared Gaither at tackle, Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda at guard, and Matt Birk at center. If that’s true the Ravens offensive line would average 6’5” and 315 lbs per player. Not to mention that Oher, Gaither, Grubbs, and Yanda are all under 24 years of age, yet anchoring the line at center will be the veteran Matt Birk, a Havard graduate. Oher becomes the final piece of the offensive line for the Ravens, giving them a very strong and very big group of guys to protect the second year quarterback Joe Flacco.
As a Raven fan I couldn’t be more supportive of the pick. The Ravens have a strong, young core of players throughout the offensive line and at quarterback. In my opnion that’s a great formula for long term success in a league who’s NFL initials stands for Not For Long. Once again Ozzie proves to be a draft day wizard by getting Michael Oher with the 23rd pick of the 2009 NFL draft.