With the 2010 NFL Draft coming up in just a couple days, I thought I’d take some time to reminisce upon Baltimore’s draft history.
I’ve looked over the top picks of each draft year and put together my list of Baltimore’s top 10 draft picks of all time. The criteria I used to rank the players was their contribution to the team, achievements, value, and character.
So let’s get right to it.
Haloti Ngata – Selected 12th overall in 2006.
Ngata has been one of the most underrated players in the NFL. His single Pro Bowl appearance does not do justice for his performance and abilities. The Ravens can thank Ngata for being one of the top rushing defenses every year. The 6-4, 350 lb. defensive tackle stands like a wall to opponent O-linemen and running backs. Along with sheer size and power, Ngata’s aggressive play-style makes him one of the best draft picks by the Ravens. Look for Ngata to gain his long overdue respect with more Pro Bowl invites.
Ray Rice – Selected 55th overall in 2008.
Rice is the only player on this list who wasn’t drafted in the 1st round. This shows the value he brings to the Ravens. Rice became a playmaker in just his 2nd year in the NFL; with 2,041 yards from scrimmage last year, he finished 2nd in the league behind Chris Johnson. Rice led his team in both rushing and receiving yards. His game-changing ability is one of the main reasons for the Raven’s high-powered offense last year. The still young Rice has many more years to get even better, and could become the next Jamal Lewis. There’s no doubt this former 2nd-round draft pick was one of the Raven’s best decisions.
Terrell Suggs – Selected 10th overall in 2003.
Suggs is one of the youngest defensive players to enter the NFL. He was just 20 when he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. When Rex Ryan became the Raven’s new defensive coordinator, Suggs was converted to a defensive end/linebacker hybrid. His versatility has helped the Ravens become one of the best defenses in the last decade. His importance to the Ravens is pretty clear; the team gave him a 6-year contract worth $63 million, making him the highest paid linebacker in NFL history.
Joe Flacco – Selected 18th overall in 2008.
Joe “Cool” might be one of the more controversial placements on this list. While many consider him overrated and still undeveloped, there is no denying his achievements. Flacco was able to lead his team to back-to-back playoffs. He is well known for being the first rookie quarterback to win 2 consecutive playoff games. His poise and strong arm leave many to believe he has the potential to be an elite quarterback. If Flacco is the answer to the Raven’s franchise quarterback search, this draft move could be ranked higher in the future. Until then, I will keep him as the 7th best pick.
Chris McAlister- Selected 10th overall in 1999.
No one can argue McAlister’s coverage ability in his prime. This shutdown corner helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV with a key play; McAlister intercepted a pass from Kerry Collins near the red zone, which kept the Giants scoreless by halftime. Much of the success of the Raven’s secondary is attributed to McAlister. Although he had some character issues, his service to Baltimore will never be forgotten.
Peter Boulware – Selected 4th overall in 1997.
Here is another Defensive Rookie of the Year on this list. Boulware has 4 Pro Bowl appearances, 1 Super Bowl ring, and 70 career sacks. The Raven’s all-time sack leader was also inducted in the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2006. He has been a favorite among Baltimore fans for many years. There’s no doubt he belongs in the list of the top 5 Ravens draft picks.
Jamal Lewis – Selected 5th overall in 2000.
Lewis was a monster. A beast that no one wanted to reckon with. He is the Raven’s all-time rushing leader with 7,801 rushing yards. He has a long list of achievements including a Super Bowl ring, an Offensive Player of the Year award, and a Pro Bowl appearance. He has the 2nd most yards from scrimmage for a single season with 2,066 yards. Lewis was well known for his single game rushing record, where he ran for 295 yards in 2003 (this record was later broken by Adrian Peterson in 2007). Lewis is also known as the second rookie ever to rush for over 100 yards in a Super Bowl. Need I say more?
Ed Reed – Selected 24th overall in 2002.
One of my most favorite players in the game. Grabbing Reed at 24th overall was a steal by the Ravens. His numerous NFL records, Pro Bowl selections , All-Pro selections, and defensive awards speak for themselves. There’s not much to argue here. If Reed doesn’t retire and decides to plays for a few more years, he could solidify a spot in the Hall of Fame as one of the best safeties ever.
Jonathan Ogden – Selected 4th overall in 1996.
The first draft pick ever made by the Baltimore Ravens was a good one. Ogden is arguably one of the greatest left tackles to ever play the game. He was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2008. For 12 seasons, Ogden protected the blind side of Ravens quarterbacks. Along the way, he earned himself a Super Bowl ring and countless amount of awards. It’s only a matter of time before Ogden is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Ray Lewis – Selected 26th overall in 1996.
The Ravens struck gold. Lewis is indisputably the best draft pick the Ravens have ever made. Contributions to the team? Unmeasurable. Achievements? Far too many to list. Value? I would assume a future Hall of Famer at 26th overall is a deal. Character? The passion and intensity that Lewis plays with is one of a kind. Lewis has been, and still is, the face of the franchise. Forget being the best draft pick made by the Ravens; Ray Lewis might be one of the best draft picks EVER.Do you agree or disagree with this list? What would your list be? Leave a comment!