The Future Kings Of Baltimore Sports

June 02, 2009 | Thyrl Nelson

Last year WNST did a King Of Baltimore Sports Contest, where in NCAA bracket form, voters at endorsed their favorite Baltimore athletes, match up by match up until the King of Baltimore Sports was crowned. There were some upsets along the way, but in the end, in predictable fashion, it was old #19 who took the crown.


It would seem, that with all of the Wieters hysteria brewing, it may one day be his title instead, but we’re certainly a long, long way from there. As it stands now, it’s reasonable to think that if Wieters becomes a factor in the rookie of the year voting, he may have Nolan Reimold to contend with there. It’s also reasonable to say, that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed notwithstanding, the next generation of Baltimore sports stars, and potential Kings have arrived, and there may be more on the way.


Here are my Top 10 Baltimore players, who are 26 or younger, ranked on their potential to be the future kings.


Honorable Mentions: Le’Ron McClain (24), Michael Oher (23), Chris Tillman (21)


10. Ben Grubbs (25) – Solid and young, Grubbs has been a fixture on the line who you don’t usually hear much about. That’s usually a good thing when it comes to offensive linemen.


9. Jared Gaither (23) –  A steal in the supplemental draft, Gaither has been a mauler at LT. And although he’s no Jon Ogden, he’s done a great job at filling his shoes.


8. Ray Rice (22) – Based on accomplishments, he should probably be ranked below McClain, Grubbs and Gaither, but the potential is clear, and he plays a spot where he can easily establish himself in a hurry.


7. Nolan Reimold (25) – Reimold has gotten his chance, and responded accordingly. Most were willing to concede that 2/3 of the outfield was locked down for the foreseeable future, thanks to Reimold it may be all 3 outfield spots that are off limits.


6. Nick Markakis (25) – The fact that Markakis is so low on this list is probably more of a testament to the embarrassment of riches in the top 5 than a knock at Nick. He’ll write his own history, but for now he’s 6th.


5. Haloti Ngata (25) – Ngata has been a beast since arriving on the scene here in Baltimore, and appears to be getting better with each passing week. It would seem that with fans, re-signing Ngata long term should be among the Ravens’ top priorities.


4. Terrell Suggs (26) – The grandfather of the list, and arguably the most accomplished. Given the success that Suggs has achieved already, it’s easy to forget that he’s so young. Uncertainty about his future in Baltimore is probably the only reason he’s ranked so low.


3. Adam Jones (23) – For my money, Jones may be the toughest guy on the list to rank. You could easily make the argument that he should be #1, and he too seems to be getting better at an unprecedented clip. Ultimately it was his position that cost him a spot in the top 2, which is again impressive for Baltimore’s sports future considering the importance of centerfield.


2. Matt Wieters (23) – You could wait for him to actually accomplish something before putting him this high on the list, or you could simply believe the hype. The early returns: even his outs look impressive, and he looks much more comfortable behind the plate than most would have imagined. For Wieters, it’s only a matter of time.


1. Joe Flacco (24) – In Flacco, Baltimore has their franchise QB, maybe their first since the real King of Baltimore Sports, Johnny Unitas. Given the Ravens propensity for winning in comparison to the Orioles, and the fact that football is simply much bigger than baseball in Baltimore these days, Flacco would be a tough guy to unseat, as the future King of Baltimore Sports.


Who would be in your top 10?