Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top 10 Baltimore Ravens Draft Picks of All Time

10. Ray Rice ~ This is what a great second round pick (2008) is supposed to look like! The diminutive former Scarlet Knight is tough mentally and physically and if determination and character count, he’ll climb this best of chart in years to come. What would Joe Flacco do without this Pro Bowler who has developed into an accomplished ball catcher? Let’s hope we don’t find out anytime soon.

9. Adalius Thomas ~ Selected as a defensive end in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, this versatile performer first made his mark as a Pro Bowl special teams player and then again as a unique hybrid player who lined up at every position on defense during the 2006 season.

8. Haloti Ngata ~ The Ravens moved up a spot in the 2006 NFL Draft to pick this athletic freak of nature with the 12th overall selection. To leap frog the Browns Ozzie Newsome’s opportunity cost was a sixth round pick which he happily sacrificed –one the Browns wasted on DT Babatunde Oshinowo who had 2 tackles during his 4 season career. Ngata is likely to be a staple at the Pro Bowl for years to come and he one day should sit among the top 4 picks on this list.

7. Todd Heap ~ Chosen with the last pick of the first round during the 2001 NFL Draft, this former AZ St. Sun Devil is a two-time Pro Bowler and the franchise’s all time leading pass catcher. Heap’s talents haven’t been fully tapped, suffering from miserable offensive schemes and incompetent play at quarterback – quarterbacks who have exposed Heap’s body far too often.

6. Peter Boulware ~ This 1997 first round pick battled through injuries that would have sidelined most yet still managed to travel across the pond to Honolulu four times. After a hard hit on Tiki Barber in Super Bowl XXXV, Boulware helped Barber to his feet and said, “Jesus loves you!” The Giants’ dangerous tailback would later say that the combination of that hit and the blessing intimidated Barber and knocked him off his game for a few offensive series during the Ravens convincing championship win.

5. Jamal Lewis ~ The Ravens parlayed a 1999 second round pick into a 2000 No. 5 overall pick via a trade with the Atlanta Falcons and landed this steamroller from Tennessee. For several seasons Lewis carried the Ravens’ offense despite taking on defenses that committed 8 or 9 to the box in order to stop him. It would have been nice to see what Lewis could have done with some semblance of an offensive vertical threat and competency at quarterback.

4. Terrell Suggs ~ T-Sizzle became a Raven by default during the confusion surrounding the Vikings first pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The object of Ozzie Newsome’s desire was QB Byron Leftwich but in a very positive stroke of fate, the Ravens took the next highest rated player on their board and he’s outperformed Leftwich by leaps and bounds. The Ravens all-time sack leader is still just 28 years old and is coming off his best overall season ever in the NFL.

3. Ed Reed ~ The Ravens coveted LB Napoleon Harris with the 24th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft but the Oakland Raiders beat them to the punch with the 23rd pick. Once again while staying true to their board they selected the Miami Hurricane who has become one of the greatest defensive playmakers of all time. The seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All Pro is destined for Canton, OH.

2. Jonathan Ogden ~ The Ravens very first draft pick ever and the fourth overall in 1996, J.O. became one of the best left tackles of all time and is a lock as a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2013. Believe it or not the initial reviews were mixed on this selection. The Ravens already had competent offensive tackles with Tony Jones and Orlando Brown and many preferred the explosive yet troubled Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips.

1. Ray Lewis ~ Many said he was under-sized and not fast enough and that his so-called measurables didn’t measure up to first round standards. Unfortunately for other teams and fortunately for the Ravens heart cannot be measured and this middle linebacker, arguably the greatest ever, has one like a lion. Has any team ever had their very first two draft choices go into the Hall of Fame? That’s exactly what will go down for the Ravens when Ray Lewis is HOF eligible.

Honorable Mention:

Edwin Mulitalo ~ A fan favorite, great teammate and all-around solid guy, this 1999 fourth round pick provided competent offensive line play for 8 seasons with the Ravens – some of those seasons at borderline Pro Bowl levels.

Chris McAlister ~ Sorry to all the CMac huggers out there. It’s just hard to respect a guy who didn’t respect himself or the game. As good as he was he personifies the description “underachiever.”