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Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 Draft Picks in Team History

Mike FastContributor IFebruary 18, 2013

Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 Draft Picks in Team History

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    No franchise has a better draft track record since 1996 than the Baltimore Ravens.

    Since they entered the NFL, the Ravens have drafted 13 All-Pro players. New England and Tennessee are tied for second with 10 All Pro selections since 1996.

    The driving force of Baltimore's success has been general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

    Since he joined the Ravens 17 years ago, Newsome has helped guide the organization in making each of their 126 draft picks. That comes out to 67 defensive selections, 57 offensive selections and two punters.

    The Ravens made their most selections at two positions: defensive back (20) and wide receiver (19). It seems like Newsome knew it was a passing league before the NFL knew itself.

    His very first pick, Jonathan Ogden, was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One day later, Newsome was hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy for a second time.

    Not bad.

    Of all those picks, who should be considered among the very best? Players like Ogden and Ray Lewis are no-brainers. Which was a better pick, though? Which other selections should be included in a list of their 10 best?

1. Ray Lewis, Middle Linebacker

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    Drafted

    1996, Round 1, Pick 26 (from San Francisco)

    Seasons in Baltimore

    17 (1996-2012)

    Key career stats

    • 2,050 combined tackles
    • 119 passes defensed
    • 41.5 sacks
    • 31 interceptions
    • 19 fumbles forced
    • 19 fumbles recovered
    • Leader of the NFL's best scoring defense of all-time (Baltimore allowed 165 points during the 2000 regular season, including four shut-outs. They only allowed an additional 23 points in their four postseason games that year.)

    Major awards

    • Two-time Super Bowl Champion (XXXV, XLVII)
    • Super Bowl XXXV MVP
    • Two-time NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2003)
    • Seven-time First-Team All-Pro (1999-2001, 2003-04, 2008-09)
    • 13-time Pro Bowler (1997-2001, 2003-04, 2006-11)

    Analysis

    Ray Lewis is the ultimate Raven: physical, tough, determined, discredited and a winner. For 17 seasons, Lewis paced the team and showed what hard work and focus can do in the face of adversity.

    Lewis may be among the top 10 or 20 greatest football players ever. During an NFL Network series entitled, "Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players," Lewis came in at No. 18.

    His career is over, but his legacy will live in Baltimore forever. Lewis in a Ravens uniform was passion personified.

2. Jonathan Ogden, Left Tackle

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    Drafted

    1996, Round 1, Pick 4

    Seasons in Baltimore

    12 (1996-2007)

    Key career stats

    • Started 91.7 percent of the team's games during his 12 seasons (176 starts)
    • Recovered 10 fumbles from 1999-2006
    • Led the offensive line in blocking for Jamal Lewis and the No. 1 ranked rushing attack in 2003
    • Led the offensive line in allowing only 17 sacks in 2006

    Major awards

    • 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
    • Super Bowl XXXV Champion
    • Four-time First-Team All-Pro (1997, 2000, 2002-03)
    • 11-time Pro Bowler (1997-2007)

    Analysis

    There may not be many better offensive lineman that have ever played football besides Jonathan Ogden. He was consistently dominant and whoever was playing quarterback didn't have to worry about him missing a block.

    Ogden was huge (6'9", 340 pounds) but didn't have to rely on his size. He was a master with his footwork and hand placement and despite injury, was the best offensive lineman in football during his 12-year tenure.

    As the Ravens first ever draft pick, Ogden yielded quite a return. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the Saturday before Super Bowl XLVII, which the Ravens won.

    Aside from his on-field prowess, Ogden was known for his smile and charitable heart. Just three months into his professional career, Ogden established The Jonathan Ogden Foundation, which exists "to assist young people in disadvantaged communities ... through athletics and education."

3. Ed Reed, Safety

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    Drafted

    2002, Round 1, Pick 24

    Seasons in Baltimore

    11 (2002-Present)

    Key career stats

    • Led the NFL in interceptions in 2004 (nine), 2008 (nine) and 2010 (eight)
    • Active leader in career interceptions and 10th all-time (61)
    • All-time leader in interception return yardage (1,541)
    • Holds the record for the two longest interception returns in league history (106 yards in 2004, 107 yards in 2008)
    • 612 combined tackles
    • 137 passes defensed
    • 13 fumble recoveries

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XLVII Champion
    • 2004 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year
    • Five-time First-Team All-Pro (2004, 2006-08, 2010)
    • Nine-time Pro Bowler (2003-04, 2006-12)

    Analysis

    Ed Reed could do it all. Interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, blocked punts, blocked kicks and returns of all kinds.

    To statistically chronicle Reed's career is a tall task. He's made so many plays in so many ways (most recently playing through an injury and picking off Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl) and he's not finished yet.

    Perhaps Reed is most known for his out-of-nowhere interceptions and subsequent returns. His longest interception return (and the longest in NFL history) came in 2008 versus the Eagles. 107 yards to the house.

    If Michael Irvin is "The Playmaker," Ed Reed is "The Playmaker 2.0."

    And yes, both went to "the U."

4. Jamal Lewis, Running Back

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    Drafted

    2000, Round 1, Pick 5 (from Atlanta)

    Seasons in Baltimore

    Seven (2000-2006)

    Key career stats

    • Gained 500 rushing yards in two games against Cleveland in 2003
    • Set the record in 2003 for most rushing yards in one game (295) versus the Browns
    • One of seven players ever to rush for more than 2,000 yards in one season
    • One of 27 players ever to rush for more than 10,000 yards in a career
    • Finished 2003 with 2,066 rushing yards (then second-best, now is third-best ever)
    • 10,607 career rushing yards (58 touchdowns)
    • 1,879 career receiving yards (four touchdowns)

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XXXV Champion (in rookie season)
    • 2003 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year
    • 2003 First-Team All Pro
    • 2003 Pro Bowler

    Analysis

    Jamal Lewis' best season was undoubtedly his 2003 record-setting campaign. What is more remarkable than all of his massive stats is that he performed so well just two years after tearing his left ACL and spraining his left MCL in training camp.

    During the 2000 season when the Ravens success was due in large part to their defense and then their special teams, Lewis gained 1,364 rushing yards on 309 carries as a rookie. He was incredibly powerful while also possessing breakaway speed.

    Whenever you can start in front of Priest Holmes, you're a special back.

5. Joe Flacco, Quarterback

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    Drafted

    2008, Round 1, Pick 18 (from Houston)

    Seasons in Baltimore

    Five (2008-Present)

    Key career stats

    • Has started every one of the 93 games (regular season and postseason) the Ravens have played since 2008,
    • Career record: 63-30
    • Threw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the playoffs following the 2012 season
    • Since 2010, he's thrown 18 touchdowns and two interceptions in postseason play
    • 9-4 career postseason record

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XLVII Champion
    • Super Bowl XLVII MVP

    Analysis

    Joe Flacco just won the Super Bowl MVP award. If you watched all the game, he was the best player in football after Christmas. Already in just his fifth season, he's become the best quarterback in franchise history.

    Sure, that's probably not saying much at this point in the franchise's history, but he's just now entering his prime. His durability and arm strength have always been apparent.

    His leadership and mobility have been improving game to game and from year to year.

    Now with the retirement of Ray Lewis, the Ravens are Flacco's team. His command of the offense is becoming more firm and the pendulum is now on Flacco's side in terms of who dictates the play, him or the defense.

    Ever since his drive late in the fourth quarter at Pittsburgh in 2011, Flacco has placed himself among the very best NFL quarterbacks.

6. Terrell Suggs, Outside Linebacker

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    Drafted

    2003, Round 1, Pick 10

    Seasons in Baltimore

    10 (2003-Present)

    Key career stats

    • Made 12 sacks in his rookie season despite making only one start
    • Made 40 sacks in his first 48 NFL games
    • Missed four starts from 2004-11
    • 592 combined tackles

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XLVII Champion
    • 2011 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year
    • 2011 First-Team All-Pro
    • Five-Time Pro Bowler (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010-11)

    Analysis

    Terrell Suggs burst onto the scene in 2003, recording one sack in each of his first four NFL games.

    Suggs could be the verbal leader of the Ravens now that Lewis has retired. He certainly has the swagger and the resume to back up his talk.

    By the way, he played in 12 games this season (regular and post) while dealing with the after-effects of a torn achilles and a torn biceps. It goes to show how committed he is to his team and his craft.

    For Suggs to have played even one snap in 2012 was nearly impossible. To say his four sacks and 44 tackles in 12 games was resilient is a huge understatement.

    That's the kind of leadership Suggs can provide.

7. Haloti Ngata, Defensive Lineman

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    Drafted

    2006, Round 1, Pick 12 (from Cleveland)

    Seasons in Baltimore

    Seven (2006-Present)

    Key career stats

    • Four Pro Bowls in seven year
    • Missed only six starts in seven years
    • 366 combined tackles
    • 22 sacks
    • 21 passes defensed

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XLVII Champion
    • Two-time First-Team All-Pro (2010-11)
    • Four-time Pro Bowler (2009-12)

    Analysis

    Haloti Ngata has been as dominant a football player at his position as any since he came into the league. The Ravens knew Ngata would a gem, so they traded up one spot to select him in the 2006 draft.

    Ngata's combination of size, quickness and power is just about unrivaled. He is a nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end, all in one. He can collapse the pocket, set the edge on run plays and flat out get to the quarterback.

    One of his most dominant plays came in Week 1 of the 2011 season, a game versus the rival Steelers. On the first play of the second half, Ngata blew by the right guard to get to the running back just as the quarterback did.

    He caused and recovered the fumble.

    Men his size (6'4", 340) are not expected to make plays like that, but It is not the first time Ngata has exceeded the Ravens' expectations. Ngata has rewarded Baltimore for trading up to select him with plays like that for the better part of seven years.

8. Peter Boulware, Outside Linebacker

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    Drafted

    1997, Round 1, Pick 4

    Seasons in Baltimore

    Nine (1997-2005)

    Key career stats

    • 403 combined tackles
    • 70 sacks
    • 14 forced fumbles
    • 15 sacks in 2001 (second-best total in the NFL that season)
    • Played a big role on the NFL's best scoring defense of all-time, as Baltimore allowed 165 points during the 2000 regular season, including four shutouts. They only allowed an additional 23 points in their four postseason games that year.

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XXXV Champion
    • 1997 NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
    • Four-time Pro Bowler (1998-99, 2002-03)

    Analysis

    Although he was drafted as a defensive end, Peter Boulware played outside linebacker for the Ravens. It turned out to be a seamless transition, as Boulware became the first true pass rusher the Ravens had.

    He was excellent at timing the snap count and knew how to maneuver around offensive linemen to quickly get to the quarterback from either side, on a regular basis.

    One reason the 2000 Ravens defense was so legendary was because each defender, starting or otherwise, had a defined role. As Ozzie Newsome said in this video, "Peter was the consummate pass rusher."

9. Marshal Yanda, Offensive Lineman

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    Drafted

    2007, Round 3, Pick 22 (86th overall, from Denver through Jacksonville)

    Seasons in Baltimore

    Six (2007-Present)

    Key career stats

    • Was the best lineman on the offensive line that helped Ray Rice lead the league yards from scrimmage during the 2011 season.
    • According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, 38.9 percent of his starts have been at right tackle, while the other 61.1 percent of his starts have been at right guard

    Major awards

    • Super Bowl XLVII Champion
    • Two-time First-Team All-Pro (2011-12, via Pro Football Focus)
    • Two-time Pro Bowler (2011-12)

    Analysis

    Marshal Yanda possessing all the traits coaches and scouts search for in offensive linemen. He's nasty, physical, plays through pain and plays well wherever he's asked to.

    He's missed 13 games in his six seasons due to injuries but, if his toughness were on par with the average player, that number of missed games would likely be much higher.

    Yanda is, in all likelihood, only halfway through his career. Yet, he's been named a First-Team All-Pro twice and was the best offensive lineman on Baltimore Super Bowl XLVII Championship team.

    If he can stay healthy, there's no reason why Yanda won't accumulate many more accolades.

10. Todd Heap, Tight End

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    Drafted

    2001, Round 1, Pick 31

    Seasons in Baltimore

    10 (2001-2010)

    Key career stats

    • Started every game he played in from 2002-10
    • 499 receptions
    • 5,869 receiving yards
    • 42 receiving touchdowns

    Major awards

    • Two-time Pro Bowler (2002-03)

    Analysis

    If you think Todd Heap would've had a longer career in Baltimore (and the NFL in general) if he didn't have to take so many big hits, you're not alone.

    As the first Ravens draft pick after their first Super Bowl championship, Heap had to deal with sky-high expectations. Not only did he come into an organization that was already accustomed to winning, but he would have to replacing the legendary Shannon Sharpe in just his second season.

    Heap was selfless, but aggressive. He was a good route-runner and a solid blocker. His agility allowed him to get the ball at its highest point while tapping his toes in-bounds.

    Most of his career was not what the current Ravens are experiencing. From 2001-07, Heap and the Ravens made the playoffs just three times. He routinely took hits just like these, only to get back up and give his coaches, teammates and fans everything he had.

    Heap's style of play also epitomizes that a Baltimore Raven.

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