3 Things the Cowboys Could Learn from the Ravens About Developing Talent

Bo Martin@BoKnowsBCBContributor IOctober 11, 2012

IRVING, TX - DECEMBER 20:  Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys clutches the ball as cornerback Frank Walker #41 and Evan Oglesby #25 of the Baltimore Ravens defend the play during their NFL game at Texas Stadium on December 20, 2008 in Irving, Texas. The Ravens defeated the Cowboys 33-24. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens welcome the Dallas Cowboys this weekend and it promises to be a good matchup. 

The Ravens are consistently contenders in this league.  They are led by a fearless defense and a suddenly explosive offense.  Whether it’s through veteran players or young future stars the Ravens are as dangerous as ever.

The fact that the Ravens are always so successful makes you wonder what they do differently.  What they do is a consistently great job at developing young talent.  Historically, they don’t spend much money in free agency and really leave their success in the hands of their player development personnel.

Truthfully, the Cowboys could learn quite a bit from the Ravens.

Veteran Leadership Breeds Veteran Leadership

Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed headline this dynamic group of veterans that has led the Ravens for some time now.  

One of the big benefits the vets offer the Ravens is as a great group of mentors.  These mentors have experienced victory at the highest level and have lost in the biggest games.  They have recovered, learned and used their experiences to fuel their Hall Of Fame careers.

When a team has such experienced players they're able to help the younger guys.  There is a lot of stock in the thought that if Dez Bryant went to the Ravens he would have had a profoundly different career so far.

Players like Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones and Morris Claiborne have to grow up with vets who can’t teach them about life experiences.  They have vets who have handled success sure, but what credibility do they have when teaching about coming from the ground to the stars?

Draft Players That Fit Your Scheme

The Ravens have one of the best general managers in the game in Ozzie Newsome.  There is no arguing his impact on this young organization. 

The Ravens do one thing particularly better than most.  When the NFL Draft comes around one can be sure that they are going to kill it.  They are phenomenal at drafting young talent with tremendous NFL ready upside.

Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Kelechi Osemele, Courtney Upshaw, Michael Oher, Paul Kruger and Lardarius Webb.  That is a list of the players the Ravens have drafted in the last three years who are either starting or could be starting in the near future.  Most of those players have been impact players for the organization and continue to get better. 

One thing to notice is that the Ravens know exactly who they are.  So, when they draft they are able to find players who specifically fit their system and find incredible success in doing so.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, draft averagely.  They add players who can impact but do so in a ratio of about 1:4 compared to players who are duds.  The Cowboys could study the Ravens success pattern and learn what they’re doing it right up in Maryland.

Give Your Younger Players Opportunities to Succeed

Here’s what I know: players can’t succeed if they’re never given a shot.

Go back to the Cowboys draft class of 2009.  Robert Brewster was injured, Brandon Williams didn’t get any chances and DeAngelo Smith and Michael Hamlin weren’t around long enough to make an impact.

I’m not saying that the class of 2009 was stellar but the players weren’t given a great chance to succeed. 

As for the Ravens, they drafted Ed Dickson ahead of Dennis Pitta but that didn’t stop them from starting Pitta over Dickson.  Torrey Smith was given one shot, took it and ran with it. 

The NFL is about opportunity.  If players never get opportunities then they’ll never become what they’re capable of.  If the Cowboys put a lot of stake in free agents to replace starters then they’ll never develop young players.

Think about this.  When the Cowboys needed a third receiver in 2011 what did they do? Signed a cast off from another team in Laurent Robinson.  As soon as the offseason came and Robinson left fans immediately asked for a free agent replacement.

My point is that young players on this team, like Dwayne Harris, have earned opportunities but will never be given a chance.  Until the Cowboys start truly trusting their scouts and development personnel they will never match the consistent success of a team like the Ravens.


The Cowboys could learn much from their next opponent.  The Ravens are a tremendous organization.  Maybe it’s because Ray Lewis is my favorite player of all time.  Maybe it’s because the Ravens seems to have it figured out. 

Whatever it is, the Cowboys have to focus on winning first.  After that maybe Jason Garrett can talk to John Harbaugh about getting some advice on getting his players to play well. 


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