Before I talk about the 2009 NFL draft I want to talk a little Ravens’ history. The greatest draft pick Ozzie Newsome has ever made was the first Raven, Jonathan Ogden. I say this not because he will be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, although it doesn’t hurt. I say this because of who we didn’t draft, Lawrence Phillips. I fell in love with Phillips during the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. He looked like a man playing against boys, the way he shredded the FL Gator defense. He helped Nebraska win back to back National Championships. He got into trouble while at Nebraska and had been suspended by the team for a short period. I was willing to forgive and forget to get a stud running back.
Ozzie met with Phillips and believed he was immature and wouldn’t stay out of trouble. The risk/reward factor was too great. He took him off of our draft board. I was ready to pounce on Phillips with the 4th overall selection. Thank God, Ozzie believed that character mattered and selected the best available athlete, J.O. The rest is history. J.O. became a perennial All Pro. Phillips argued with coaches and was constantly in trouble. He only lasted 2 ½ seasons in the NFL before he flamed out. He couldn’t stay out of trouble and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in CA.
Matthew Stafford vs. Mark Sanchez
If I were running the Lions I would pick the best available player whoever their scouts think it is. Most of the draft gurus believe its Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forrest. The #1 overall selection, is not the place where you want to make a reach pick. If you do it can set the franchise back for 5 yrs. The cap ramifications are deadly. That being said, if Detroit is set on reaching for a QB, I would take Mark Sanchez over Matthew Stafford. Somewhere in my gut I just get the feeling Stafford is going to be a better version of Kyle Boller, while Sanchez won’t be quite as good as Carson Palmer.
Both played on teams with offensive talent around them. Both were the #1 QB recruit during their Sr season in high school. Stafford was a 3 yr starter, (8 games his Fr. Yr) for Georgia. For his career he completed 57.1% of his passes. He threw for 7,731 yds, 51 TDs, 33 Int, and had a QB rating of 133. He improved every yr as the starter. His final yr his numbers were: completed 61.4% of his passes, threw for 3459 yds,25 TD, 10 Int, and had a QB rating of 153.Last yr he played with RB Knowshon Moreno and WR Mohamed Massaquoi, both 1st team All SEC. He also had 2nd All SEC WR A.J. Green. Last season he had his first 300 yd passing. He wound up with a total of 3-300 yd passing games.
Mark Sanchez started 3 games as a red-shirt sophomore but didn’t become the full time starter at USC until last year. I’ll provide his career stats since he accumulated most of them last year. For his career, he completed 64.3% of his passes. He threw for 3965 yds, 41 TD, 16 Int, and had a QB rating of 153.9. Sanchez played with 1 All PAC 10 player, OL Kristofer O’Dowd. He had 2 teammates that were 2nd team All PAC 10, WR Patrick Turner and OL Jeff Byers. He had 3-300 yd passing games in his 1 yr as a full time starter.
The SEC is the toughest conference in the nation top to bottom. As a conference they were 6-2 in bowl games last yr. The PAC 10 also proved to be a tougher than expected conference. It went 5-0 in bowl games last year. The SEC is strong, quick, and they pound the hell out of each. I can give the SEC defenses the edge over PAC 10 defenses as a conference. But USC has had some very good to great defenses during the past 5 yrs. So Sanchez faced good defenses in practice every day. Both take a few too many sacks for my liking. Overall, looking at the numbers I give a slight edge to Sanchez.
Based on what I’ve seen and read about them, hearing them talk, and listening to others talk about them I think there is greater separation than what the #’s show. I don’t think Stafford reads defenses as well as Sanchez. He isn’t as accurate and he will throw more picks because he tries to force the ball into double or triple teams. He had some great offensive weapons around him and I would’ve thought he would have had more 300 yd passing games with defenses keying on Knowshon Moreno. I also get the feeling he just won’t be as good of a leader as Sanchez. Both will need to have exceptional leadership qualities if they go in the top 5 to teams they may not have very good OL. If I were a GM and had to bet my job on turning my franchise around, I would pick Mark Sanchez.
I predict DHB will be gone before the Ravens chose at #26. He is the type of player Al Davis will make a reach for. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Raiders grab him and say “Just Run Deep, Baby!” They would have a flyer for Jamarcus Russell to throw it to.
I’m not sure who the Ravens will take. By Saturday morning the Cardinals may have lowered their asking price for Anquan Boldin. If so, the Ravens will make inquiries. If we make the trade we will have to cut a player or two (Frank Walker & Kelly Greg?) to get an extension worked out. If they keep their 1st round pick, at least one or more high ranked players will fall to us. When this happens, our phone will be ringing off the hook. If we get an offer we cannot refuse we’ll trade the #26 and pickup extra picks. Otherwise, stick to our board and we’ll take the best player available. It should make for a fun and exciting Saturday.