It’s hard to be excited about another linebacker, more defensive lineman, and several blocking role-players on offense.
Then again, success isn’t always sexy.
Take the Dallas Cowboys for example—or the Oakland Raiders. Sexy picks, potential “impact players,” and year-after-year, both franchises routinely sit on the couch in January.
A quick Google search of the term “Ravens 2014 Draft” will feature attempts subjecting the Ravens’ draft to a standard system of gradation.
Grading the NFL Draft is as effective as drinking perfume because it smells like it would taste great. It’s irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Back in 1996, the Ravens received Cs and Ds for passing up Lawrence Phillips and opting for Johnathan Ogden. The team was ridiculed for blowing its second first-round pick in that same draft on a linebacker who was deemed too small to be an impact player.
Looking back, nearly two decades later, it’s safe to say that both of those players turned out pretty well, alas voiding the premature “expert grades.”
Earlier today, on The Happy Hours, Nestor talked at-length about this very topic. Perhaps the most important point he made was that of drafting Joe Flacco. Like he mentioned, when you land a Super Bowl, All-Pro-caliber quarterback in the first round, as a team, you’ve had a pretty good decade.
When you look for comparisons, since the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco in the first round of 2008, teams like the Browns have landed multiple quarterbacks to try and fill the void left by striking out on Brady Quinn in the first round, just one year prior to Flacco’s class.
Now, if you want to hammer teams like the Browns off-the-bat, it’s probably within the realm of possibility that you’ll turn out to be right—but that doesn’t mean you’re a NFL Draft expert—it means you’re smart enough to look at the writing on the wall.
The same can be said for Jacksonville, who reached up to grab quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall selection. I’ve seen the Jaguars subjected from Fs to As, based on whether or not pundits and pinheads believe Bortles is the next Big Ben, or another abysmal signal caller cut from the same cloth as Blaine Gabbert.
Looking back at the Ravens drafts over the last 10 years, it’s safe to say that there hasn’t been a year full of total misses. Even the 2010 draft, as disappointing as it turned out to be, still landed Art Jones—who recently signed a Pro-Bowl caliber contract in Indy, and Dennis Pitta, an integral part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl run in 2012.
Perhaps the idea should be to grade teams in five year blocks. It seems a lot more realistic and accurate.
Over the last five years, present draft excluded, the Ravens have landed arguably 13 starting-caliber players. 13 starters in five years isn’t a bad number—as it pans out to drafting two potential starters per draft. Realistically any front office would take that in a heartbeat.
This year’s draft is really more of the same. Quality talent with potential to play significant roles. And, like I mentioned at the top, there’s nothing sexy about role-players.
Arguably, success and sexy might be mutually exclusive—and if that’s the case, I’ll take success every time.
If drafting more role-players and making boring, un-sexy picks is what it takes to continue to compete with the elite teams in the league, that’s perfectly OK.
Even though many fans might be jazzed up over their team’s sexy picks in May, it’s much more fun to be excited and jazzed up in January.