Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Baltimore Ravens Top 10 Draft Day Busts

Honorable Mention:

Mark Clayton
~ Chosen with the 22nd overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the former Sooner never delivered what was expected. Perhaps the Ravens were caught up in his strong character so much that they made the pick with their hearts and not their heads. His skills were near mirror images of Derrick Mason’s while a more complementary player like Roddy White (who was Mel Kiper’s choice for the Ravens that year) would have been a far better pick. Instead the Ravens passed on the three-time Pro Bowler.

10. Devard Darling ~ In four seasons with the Ravens this native of the Bahamas had 20 catches for 331 yards and 3 TDs – hardly what you would expect from the 82nd overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. This “reach” was made even worse when matched up with the rest of Phil Savage’s swansong draft with the Ravens that included: Dwan Edwards, Rod Green, Josh Harris, Clarence Moore, Derek Abney and Brian Rimpf.

9. Duane Starks ~ Although he was a tough tackler for his size and played extremely well during the Ravens’ playoff stretch up to and including Super Bowl XXXV, Starks’ productivity fell far short of what you might expect from the No. 10 overall pick in 1998, particularly when considering the talent on the Ravens defensive roster. The Ravens past on notables like Tra Thomas, Randy Moss (character) and Alan Faneca and even corners selected later in the draft (Patrick Surtain and Samari Rolle) had brighter careers than Starks. Either the Ravens reached and did not stick to the BPA draft strategy or their board was incorrectly stacked. Either way it adds up to a bust at No. 10 overall.

8. David Pittman ~ The Ravens took a gamble and spent the 87th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft on a corner from small Northwestern State in Louisiana. Pittman seemed overwhelmed by the talent in the NFL and he played with hesitation. He was never really embraced by his teammates either because he failed to “carry the chicken” during training camp – one of the mild rookie hazing tactics. He might be carrying the chicken these days for some fast food joint.

7. Adam Terry ~ The former Syracuse Orangeman looked rather green when asked to play right tackle. He lacked toughness physically and mentally and turned out to be a second round reach for Ozzie Newsome. Word is that Brian Billick influenced the move up in the draft to select Terry because the Ravens board did not include many highly rated tackles beyond him. Another bust, the result of reaching for need and cheating their well planned out board.

6. Dan Cody ~ Coming out of Oklahoma, red flags surrounded Dan Cody. He had first round talents but slipped to the second round. The Ravens who are seemingly attracted to players in Round 2 who possess first round measurables pulled the trigger on Cody and again it went “KABOOM” – another bust, this time a Boomer Sooner. Cody spent far more time on injured reserve than he did on the active roster and eventually, despite his dedication in the weight room and team-first approach, he wore out his welcome. During his 3 year stay Cody registered 1 assisted tackle. He never got a sniff from another team after the Ravens released him in 2007.

5. Patrick Johnson ~ Another reach? You bet, this time a second round extension with the 1998 draft’s 42nd overall selection. During his 5 seasons with the Ravens PJ had 60 catches and 7 scores to go with inconsistent hands and unpolished route running skills. This is what generally happens when you draft a track star with limited collegiate football productivity too early.

4. Travis Taylor ~ Once again the Ravens reach for need in 2000, ignore the BPA draft strategy while passing up on players like: Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Bubba Franks, Deltha O'Neal, Julian Peterson and Keith Bulluck (1) who combined for 17 Pro Bowl appearances. Are you sensing a pattern here? Taylor was supposed to be an impact receiver but instead he was inconsistent and soft. Making this pick even worse is the fact that the Ravens gave up the 15th overall pick in the 2000 draft plus the 45th overall to move up to 10 and get Taylor. O’Neal, Peterson and Bulluck were all still on the board at 15 and the much more accomplished Florida Gator wideout (as a professional) Darrell Jackson was still on the board at 45 along with Laveranues Coles.

3. DeRon Jenkins ~ The Ravens again fail when moving up in the draft. To acquire the 55th pick in the 1996 NFL Draft the Ravens gave Denver their 3rd, 4th and 7th round picks that season. What the Ravens got in exchange was a player who started just 30 games during his four seasons in Baltimore while contributing just two interceptions. The team’s board is called into question again after the first round when labeling Jenkins a better player than Brian Dawkins. The eight-time Pro Bowler was chosen by the Eagles 6 picks after Jenkins.

2. Jay Graham ~ The Ravens spent the 64th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft to pick this Tennessee Volunteer. If only he had volunteered for a different career path, the Ravens may have landed one of these players who were bypassed for Graham: Dexter Coakley, Ronde Barber, Jason Taylor and Mike Vrabel. Combined, this group has posted 15 Pro Bowl appearances. Instead what the Ravens received was a fragile back who started in just 4 games during 3 seasons, rushing for only 408 yards and 2 scores.

1. Kyle Boller ~ Another move up in the draft to reach for need, Boller was originally projected to go in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft but after an impressive NFL Combine performance and while showcasing high character traits, Brian Billick was smitten. To get Boller the Ravens handed New England their 2003 No. 2 pick plus 2004’s No. 1. The Ravens compounded this colossal mistake by sticking with Boller far too long, clearly influenced by the sizeable investment they made in the former California Golden Bear. This escalation of commitment in a quarterback who was never anything more than an average back up cost the team dearly because it burned years off the league’s best defense. In retrospect with the wasted picks players like Nnamdi Asomugha and Matt Schaub could have been Ravens.