As the season approached, one of the more frequently asked questions I answered was whether or not Mark Clayton was a “bust.”
In all fairness to our faithful listeners, I believe that question was directed toward me because I was very vocal in not wanting Clayton in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. I thought he was a nice addition, just not a first rounder. I also had no idea the Ravens would go out and later get Derrick Mason, which addresses my second misnomer.
To my surprise, many of you believed Clayton was a “bust.” While I wasn’t a fan of getting him in the first round, I’ve become a personal fan of Mark Clayton’s. I think he represents what people with God given ability should be. I think he’s one of the more genuine people, not only on this team, but in this League.
In addition to the personal attributes Clayton brings, the guy’s never posted under 40 receptions and never under 500 yards. That isn’t bad for a receiver who hasn’t been the number one option and who’s been in a bad passing offense for the majority of his career. Those numbers aren’t the numbers of a “bust.” I believed this was the year to start determining whether or not the wide receiver from Oklahoma was worth the pick we used to draft him.
What I saw on Sunday, against the Jacksonville Jaguars wasn’t flashes of brilliance. Clayton proved to be a guy who can catch the ball down field for a quarterback who can get it to him. As Joe Flacco matures, I think Mark Clayton will become a steady target beyond 25 yards for the Ravens.
Now, for the second misnomer. Ozzie Newsome’s ability to lead this frachise came into question on several occassions. I think “we” were too quick to jump to that conclusion. Mason, who was mention earlier, has gone over 1,000 yards for the season, again, Fabian Washinton has proven to be a find, Haloti Ngata was a gem, and the offensive line has been a project of his for the past four years. Now it’s, at least, steady. Jason Brown, Ben Grubbs, and Jaret Gaither are going to be among the best at their respective positions.
Through, both free agents and draftees, Newsome has proven to be one of, if not, the best in the business. I’m not going to take this time to dig at other G.M.’s because you are what your record says you are, but Ozzie’s stood the test of time while other “flavors of the month” have enjoyed their 15 seconds of fame.
The Ravens are in the play-off and don’t you for one second think Ozzie Newsome is not a very big part of that. This roster, from top to bottom, has players who many of us scratched our heads about, only to have us cheer for them for producing. Think God Ozzie doesn’t listen to us.