Monday, February 21, 2011

The Genius of Ozzie Newsome: Reality or Myth?

The Ravens have received their fair share of accolades over the years for their collective acumen on draft day. Ozzie Newsome as long been lauded as one of if not the best general manager in the league when it comes to possessing a keen eye for collegiate talent.

But is it deserved?

Clearly the Ravens have done well in Round 1 for the most part since their inception. Of the seven players chosen in the top 10 by Baltimore, five have earned Pro Bowl status. Two of those players – Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs – also earned Rookie of the Year honors.

During the 15 drafts that they’ve participated in organizationally, the Ravens have selected 16 players in the first round (traded away 2004 first-rounder) and these picks have racked up a total of 46 Pro Bowl appearances.

Overall the Ravens have had 14 homegrown players make Pro Bowl appearances. Thirteen were drafted while another (Bart Scott) was an undrafted free agent.

On the surface, this looks impressive.

But what if I told you that of the 46 Pro Bowl appearances, 3 players (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed) accounted for 30 of them? Does that make their draft day prowess more or less impressive? Or might this suggest that the Ravens have been successful choosing Hall of Fame caliber players but they haven’t been very consistent otherwise?

By their own admission, the Ravens preferred LB Napoleon Harris (25th pick) in 2002 over Ed Reed.

Was that the byproduct of an inexact science or luck?

To their credit the Ravens stuck to their draft board in 2002 and next in line after Harris was Reed. But if both players had fallen to them, Harris would have been a Raven and not the game’s best ball hawk.

After the first round where Newsome’s touch seems best, the Ravens have seemingly struggled organizationally in rounds 2 through 4 yet they’ve uncovered a few gems later in the draft and by way of undrafted free agents.

Does this inconsistency support the lofty reputation the Ravens have enjoyed on draft day?

It’s easy to sit here years after a draft and criticize the Ravens for passing on talent that in several instances was vastly superior to the player they selected. Some would argue that perhaps the player chosen was expected to fit a system or a positional need yet Newsome, if you take his word at face value, has and always will pick the best player on their draft board.

This then brings in to question the quality of the draft board. If the Ravens back in 1998 picked the best player on their board in Round 1 (Duane Starks), what does it say then about the positioning on their board when Tra Thomas, Keith Brooking, Takeo Spikes, Randy Moss and Alan Faneca were all available in Round 1? Those players combined for a total of 26 Pro Bowl appearances.

Starks never made it to Honolulu.

Today in retrospect that pick has to be considered a draft day black eye for Newsome.
In their defense, the Ravens aren’t alone in missed draft day opportunities. The list is long and well dispersed and some of the misses you might find shocking! Many teams passed on Moss back in ’98 for far less accomplished players just as they did with Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers in 2005.

So in order to fairly evaluate the Ravens draft day prowess, we need a means of comparison and for purposes of our analysis, we will measure the Ravens on draft day against the teams that they have aspired to be like: The Pittsburgh Steelers; New England Patriots; and Indianapolis Colts.

We will evaluate each pick and measure them with a point system that we’ve developed which takes into consideration the following:

· A player’s tenure with the team
· The number of games the player has started
· Where in the draft the player was selected
· How many Pro Bowl appearances each player has had

We will also consider the number of Pro Bowl players passed on by the Ravens’ war room team in exchange for less accomplished players and penalize those picks accordingly.

Upon conclusion of our series, we will attempt to effectively unlock the mystique of Ozzie Newsome.

Is his alleged draft day genius reality or a myth?

In the end, we’ll let YOU be the judge…




Cumulative Scoring


Jerry B said...

As I commented elsewhere, TL, this is an attempt at revisionist history at best, but without belaboring the point, drafting is, in the final analysis, an inexact science and Ozzie has had more than his fair share of hits and....misses, but the former outweighs the latter, in my opinion! What is difficult to quantify is just how much influence a head coach has in the selection process because it's fairly well known that Billick didn't think Priest Holmes was durable enough, and that Brandon Stokley wasn't big/fast/durable enough, etc. Then, of course, there was Kyle Boller, who Billick "fell in love with" drooling over the kid's ability to throw a football through the goal posts from 60 yards out while on his knees! Unfortunately, the NFL doesn't award points for such feats and we were stuck with that #1 selection for 5 years, waiting for him to become the franchise QB that Billick envisioned! In the interim, we wasted valuable time and.....talent! Ozzie's fault? Not in my opinion.......