Everyone knowns that Tom Brady was one of the best draft picks in history. Taking Brady in the 6th round changed the Patriots franchise for ever.
Every team has their shining moments, and they’re less than stellar moments. Today, we’ll start with the best picks in Baltimore. Tomorrow, I’ll have some of the worst for you.
Best picks in Ravens history
I don’t love putting first round picks in the “best” of the picks for a franchise, but I have to with the Ravens. Outside of the first round, the best long-term production the Ravens got is from Lardarius Webb. That’s obviously with the exception of
6. Adalius Thomas
Adalius Thomas was a 6th round pick, and if you’re not from Baltimore, you probably don’t understand his spot on this list. Thomas played 7 seasons in Baltimore. While his Baltimore numbers don’t jump off the chart (6 INT, 38.5 sacks, 297 tackles), it was his skill set that made him special.
Thomas was drafted in 2000 and was able to watch one of the best defenses in history. It wasn’t until 2001 that he really started playing. Thomas is one of the only players that I can remember who had the versatility to line up on the line, as a backer, or at safety. Thomas was a significant part of what made the Ravens a great defense because he offered such flexibilty to the coordinators.
5. Terrell Suggs
Suggs was the 10th overall pick for the Ravens in 2003. Since being drafted, he’s won defensive ROY and was the 2011 defensive POY. Suggs has finished in the top 10 in sacks 5 times, ranks 24th on the all-time list. Suggs has been to 6 pro bowls and was a vital part of the Ravens winning the Super bowl victory.
Thomas did go to 2 Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro in 2006, which is pretty solid for a 6th rounder. He also returned 2 INT and 3 Fumbles to the house for TD’s while he was with the Ravens.
4. Joe Flacco
Only time will tell us if Flacco is as high as our next two players. After being taken 18th overall, there were a lot of expectations on Flacco. Since being drafted, all he’s only led the Ravens to the Superbowl, gone 75-47, and had a streak of 122 consecutive games started.
Statistically, Flacco is close to the top 50 all time in most of the top stats. Yet, surprisingly enough, he’s never been in the Pro Bowl. What Flacco has done, is complete almost 61% of his passes, win 61.5% of his games, and average 20.25 TD. Some would argue that Flacco deserves to be higher, after all, what other player can boast an 11:0 TD:INT ratio during the playoffs? No one else has ever done that, and Flacco is a huge reason that the Ravens won in 2012.
The downside to Flacco is that 0 INT is far too rare for him to be a truly elite player. He has 102 INT in his career already. That’s 12 INT per season. If you’re looking to be the best ever, you’ve got to improve that.
3. Marshal Yanda
Most fans don’t follow stats for linemen in the NFL. So, this may be a tough sell. Yanda was drafted in the 3rd round in 2007. In his 9 seasons in Baltimore, Yanda has played LT, LG, RG, RT, and even made an appearance as a blocking TE in 2009. That flexibility offers a lot to an offense that is constantly trying to improve or battle injuries.
Yanda is already a 5 time Pro-bowler and a 2 time First-Team All-Pro. Last year, Pro Football Focus graded Yanda as the best Guard in the NFL; the only guard that graded out at 89 or higher in the pass game AND the run game.
Yanda is set to be with the Ravens until 2019 (when he’ll be 36 years old). I don’t see him leaving after that unless he decides to hang his cleats up. Yanda will be a life-time Raven who, after being drafted, showed incredible durability, and became one of the league’s best despite being drafted in the 3rd round.
2. Ed Reed
If you’ve ever turned on a Ravens’ highlight, you’ve probably seen Ed Reed. He was a first round pick in 2002. He was the “ball hawk” that scared so many teams during his time with the Ravens.
In his 11 years with Baltimore, Reed had 61 INT, with 7 returned for TD. He also forced 11 fumbles and recovered 13. Despite his return skills after an interception, Reed was never known to be a return man. But set a record with a 108-yard return after Kevin Kolb attempted pass into the End Zone.
Ed Reed led the NFL in INT’s 3 times, INT return yards 3 times, and non-offensive TD’s once. Reed finished his career 7th all-time with 64 INT, and had more INT return yards than any player in history. What can’t be measured in statistics was how often a QB hesitated or didn’t make a throw because Reed was in Centerfield waiting for it.
Reed went to 9 Pro Bowls and was voted a First-Team All-Pro 5 times. There’s no doubt in my mind that Reed ends up in the Hall Of Fame. Hall of Fame voters have already placed Reed on the All-2000’s.
- Ray Lewis
The man who struck fear into players’ hearts. Ray played 17 seasons for the Ravens after being drafted 26th overall in 1996. Pro football reference lists Ray as the 7th best player since 1950. The only defensive players ahead of him are Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Ray Lewis is the best Ravens players based on awards alone. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the year (200/2003), a Super Bowl MVP (2000) and was voted to the All-2000’s team by Hall of Fame voters. He made 13 Pro Bowl appearances (a record for his position) and was a 7 time First-Team All-Pro and added 3 more Second-Team All-Pro selections. That total of 10 is a record for his position as well.
Ray Lewis finished his career 2055 total tackles. Surprisingly, I can’t find a list of career results to compare that number to. He did lead the NFL in tackles 5 times (97, 99, 01, 03, 04) and led his position with 6 INT in 2003.
Aside from his dominance, Ray may have been most famous for his speeches and ability to pump up the crowd. His ability to break it down and inspire his players before or after a game was incredible. His ability to do the same for the fans made him fun.
What do you think? It’s tough to beat Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but maybe you like someone else that could replace Thomas? Do you think I have Flacco ranked high enough? I’d love to know your thoughts.