By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen
As the NFL Draft is nearly upon us, we decided to take a look back at the history of the Ravens during this event. Many believe general manager Ozzie Newsome to be one of the greatest draft manipulators in the history of the game. But how good has he really been? The only stipulation for our picks was to only look at the players tenure while in Baltimore. Barry took care of the offensive picks, while Brett handled the defensive side of things.
Take a look at our All-Time Baltimore Ravens Draft TeamLT: Jonathan Ogden (1996)- 1st round (4th overall) LG: Ben Grubbs (2007)- 1 (29th) C: Jeff Mitchell (1997)- 5 (134th) RG: Marshal Yanda (2007)- 3 (86th) RT: Michael Oher (2009)- 1 (23th) QB: Joe Flacco (2008)- 1 (18th) RB: Jamal Lewis (2000)- 1 (5th) FB: Le’Ron McClain (2007)- 4 (137th) TE: Todd Heap (2001)- 1 (31st) WR: Torrey Smith (2011)- 2 (58th) WR: Brandon Stokley (1999)- 4 (105th)
BK: There were plenty of easy decisions when creating this offense. Jonathan Ogden was this biggest no-brainer of them all; the first pick in franchise history was an 11-time Pro Bowler who would get much more attention if it wasn’t for Ray Lewis. As a whole, creating this offensive line was much easier than I expected. The Pro Bowl appearances for Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda made the guard position an easy decision, while the only real debate I had was deciding between Casey Rabach, Jason Brown, and Mitchell to play center. When push came to shove, for multiple positions. I went with the guy who won a Super Bowl.
Running back and wide receiver were the two positions that gave me the hardest time. I went with Jamal Lewis over Ray Rice, the position that has meant so much to this franchise since its inception. Lewis was a phenomenal power back that struck fear into divisional opponents, and he averaged 1,300 yards rushing in his six seasons in Baltimore. Some people will take Rice’s versatility over Lewis’ power, but Jamal never had a bad season with the Ravens. The same cannot be said for Mr. Rice. At wide receiver, I struggled with who would play opposite Torrey Smith. Wide receiver is the one position that the Ravens have constantly struggled with, so the talent pool was quite small. My theory on picking the Super Bowl winner prevailed, as Brandon Stokley earned the other spot, beating out the likes of Mark Clayton and Jermaine Lewis (known mainly for his return skills).
What strikes me about this offense is just how many first round picks there are. When I think of the “Wizard of Oz” never missing in the first round, my mind immediately think defense; Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed…you get the idea. But my All-Time offense has six first round picks, three of those being offensive lineman. The genius of Ozzie Newsome, Phil Savage, and Eric DeCosta over the years has been finding great players, no matter where they draft. Whether it was Jamal Lewis 5th overall, or Todd Heap with the last pick in the first round, the Ravens have always found quality players early in the draft.
Here is the All-Time Draft Defense, presented by Brett Dickinson:
DL: Dwan Edwards (2004)- 2nd round (51st overall)
DT: Haloti Ngata (2006)- 1 (12th)
DL: Arthur Jones (2010)- 5 (157th)
OLB: Peter Boulware (1997)- 1 (4th)
MLB: Ray Lewis (1996)- 1 (26th)
MLB: Jaimie Sharper (1997)- 2 (34th)
OLB: Terrell Suggs (2003)- 1 (10th)
CB: Chris McAlister (1999)- 1 (10th)
CB: Duane Starks (1998)- 1 (10th)
FS: Ed Reed (2002)- 1 (24th)
SS: Dawan Landry (2006)- 5 (146th)
BD: Though the Ravens seem to take a defensive lineman almost every year, they do not have the best track record. Besides selecting Haloti Ngata in the first round, no one else has made a Pro Bowl from that position. While on the other hand, they have obviously hit the mark taking linebackers, as this list includes four pro bowlers, two defensvie players of the year (Lewis, Suggs) and a future Hall of Famer in Lewis (along with being one of the best players in the history of the game).
The toughest decision was at the second cornerback slot, after Chris McAlister. Though Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb could surpass Starks in the future, his four straight seasons with at least 4 INTs is still best in franchise history. Add in making a crucial interception to essentially seal a Super Bowl victory and he was the obvious choice.
Overall the Ravens have dominated the first round, when it comes to selecting defensive talent, but surprisingly have not done much else beyond that. Selecting two players in Lewis and Reed (that could be the greatest at their position), late in the first round, certainly makes Ozzie look better than what his track record would lead you to believe.