Anyone remember JaMarcus Russell? He was the first overall pick by the Raiders in 2007. Some doubted Russell, some believed he’d be a superstar, but Oakland was the only team that needed to take a risk, and they didn’t. He’s since gone down in history as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. Thankfully, Baltimore isn’t a part of that discussion, but they’ve had no shortage of bad picks in their 20 years in the NFL.
Well, it’s interesting to look around the internet and see opinions on who some of the biggest Baltimore flops have been, especially when I see people list a 5th or 6th round guy in the top 10. After all, what can you really expect from a 5th round QB or a 6th round linebacker? Even if someone with great talent drops to the 5th round because of injury, it’s clearly a significant injury that would make me question if he’s still able to play in the NFL. As such, these names will be a little more reasonable.
As you might expect, this is going to be a list of, mostly, first round players who didn’t pan out. What surprises me is how often the Ravens have missed on defense. It’s a clear indicator that part of the reasons Baltimore hits on LB and DE so much is the fact that they keep drafting at the position.
- Sergio Kindle (43rd overall)
It’s tough to be worse than Sergio Kindle, but there are players who have managed to be more of a disappointment. I remember Kindle’s game tape before the 2010 draft. He was an OLB/DE who seemed to have a good finesse to him. I liked the talent he offered, and the fact that he could learn from a guy like Terrell Suggs.
Fans weren’t enamored with Kindle. In fact, they didn’t have terribly high expectations for him being a second round draft pick. Kindle even had 2 ½ sacks in the Championship game, but that didn’t really spark the hype all that much from what I remember. The Ravens took a risk on his talent despite his injury concerns and his off-the-field issues.
Just before rookie training camp was set to start, Kindle fell down a flight of stairs at his home. It was rumored that he had been drinking. Either way, during the fall, Kindle fractured his skull and would miss the next year and a half. Sadly, just 5 months after falling and fracturing his skull, Kindle was pulled over for drinking and driving about 20 minutes outside of Baltimore. His BAC was .17.
I guess there should be some football talk on why this guy is a disappointment. After turning his 5-star recruit status into a second-round pick, Kindle quickly proclaimed that he’d be winning Rookie of the Year honors. Jon Gruden even said that “He’s a perfect Raven.” Sadly, none of that was to be. Kindle saw the field 3 times in his NFL career. In 2011 he appeared in 2 games and in 2012 Kindle appeared in 1 game. Those 3 games saw a total of 1 tackle.
- Dan Cody (53rd overall)
Part of Cody’s placement on my list is my hatred for the Ravens ever drafting him. Cody was a DE from Oklahoma. Cody was given a lot of credit, largely due to his motor. Some believed he was a faster football player than runner as shown by his 4.8 forty time. He was an oft-injured DE/OLB player that the Ravens thought would be an interesting experiment.
The Ravens forgot the part about oft-injured, and it’s tough to argue that label. Cody tore his knee up (grade 3 sprain of ACL) on day 1 of training camp in his rookie year. The following season, he injured the same knee. By 2007, it was de ja vu all over again- Cody hurt his knee. When the Ravens finally released Cody in 2008, he had played a total of 2 games (both in 2006) and, according to pro football reference, never recorded a single statistic.
For what it’s worth, my hatred of this pick boils down to the fact that I wanted the Ravens to take Darryl Blackstock. He had an unimpressive 5 years in the NFL but did start 7 games and appeared in 74. In comparison, Blackstock was gold!
- Mark Clayton (22nd overall)
We’re starting to get to the tougher decisions now. The list was easy to come up with; it was ranking the worst of the worst that was difficult. I loved the Mark Clayton pick in 2005. Clayton had an NFL bloodline- his father was a WR for the Dolphin and Packers for 10 years. He also came from a top college (Oklahoma), and I swore he had the silky-smooth route runner who could run after the catch.
What could be better than adding a great WR to an offense that already had names like (Jamal) Lewis, Heap, and Mason. Sadly, it didn’t quite pan out like fans expected. Clayton only spent 5 years in Baltimore (that’ll be a theme in our top 3 busts). In those 5 years, Clayton managed only 3116 yards (623 per season). Clayton had a 52.58% catch rate and managed only 14 TD while with the Ravens. For what it’s worth, Michael Jackson had 14 in the Ravens’ inaugural season.
Clayton only had 1 season (2006) where he surpassed 700 yards. That was easily his best season. In 2006, Clayton had 939 yards and 5 TD’s. Sadly, both were a career high for Clayton. Names that have more than 5 TD catches in a season for Baltimore include Marcus Robinson, Qadry Ismail (twice), Jermaine Lewis (twice) and Marlon Brown.
While Clayton was a huge disappointment, he did at least show some production in 2006 where he 27% of the Ravens passing game and almost 24% of the teams 21 passing TD’s. he was never great, but did have one good season where he finished 13th in Ravens’ history for receiving yards.
- Travis Taylor (10th overall)
Travis Taylor beats Mark Clayton out for being terrible for two reasons- he never had the huge season, and he was a 10th overall pick rather than a 22nd overall pick. Taylor didn’t have a single great season in his 5 years (just like Clayton) in Baltimore. Taylor left Florida after his Junior season and burned a 4.43 forty time. For what it’s worth, the only above average WR that came out that year was Plaxico Burress.
In college, Taylor was a big play guy- 72 catches for 1150 yards and 15 TD in only 11 starts seems like someone who should run rampant as a professional. Sadly, it never turned into much in the NFL. Taylor showed early promise but could never live up to the hype.
Taylor’s Baltimore stats rounded out with 312 catches for 4017 yards (12.875 ypc), 15 TD and a dismal 47.2% catch rate. That’s right, in the Ravens’ first season (1996), Michael Jackson missed Taylor’s career total by 1. Travis Taylor never made it to 900 yards. In fact, he only topped 650 yards once (651 to be exact). Taylor averaged just 41 catches per season.
- Kyle Boller
Boller is easily the worst pick in Ravens’ history. The biggest joke of this pick is that I remember watching tape of Boller throwing a football through the FG post from his knees. That was supposed to impress fans by showing his arm strength. Sadly, that was an omen that would be all to true- Boller spent a lot of time on his back with the Ravens. But let’s be honest, your quarterback probably should look more like an Abercrombie and Fitch model than a football player.
Boller could never live up to the expectation of a top pick. Whether it was his game, or his stats, he couldn’t measure up. Boller’s career best in yardage was only 2559. For what it’s worth, Flacco has 6 consecutive seasons with over 3,000 yards and 8 consecutive seasons beating Boller’s numbers. That includes 2015 when Flacco only played 10 games.
If you’d rather look at touchdowns, we can make a comparison there too. Boller’s career high is 13- 1 more than Trent Dilfer in 2000. The 2000 team was known for its defense, not its offense. The, eventual, Super Bowl Champions scored 10 points or less in 4 of their games. They scored 20 points or less in 8 of their games. That season, Trent Dilfer missed Boller’s career high by 1, and he only started 8 games!
If you compare Boller to the two starting QB’s (Banks and Dilfer) of the Ravens in 2000, they combined for 3102 yards and 20 TD with a 56.9% completion rate. The only part of that line that Boller ever topped was the completion rate. Boller had one winning season, which happened to be his only season as a full-time starter that he had more TD’s than INT’s.
Boller was a miserable failure in every way imaginable after the Ravens drafted him. In fact, Brian Billick (the coach who drafted him) has written articles on how to avoid the same fate that he faced. In the article, Billick admits that not being able to draft a good QB is part of the reason he’s not in the league anymore.
As a Ravens’ fan, that’s a tough article to write. No one wants to relive those picks. I hope you enjoyed the thought behind them. I’d love to hear if you disagree in any way. Maybe you think Dwan Edwards or Anthony Weaver should be here for some reason (I’ve seen lists where they’re included). Some fans would even include Michael Oher on this list. What do you think?