The disappointing story of Sergio Kindle's injury this year has been overshadowed by what the Ravens have accomplished on the field.
Kindle was a second round draft pick in 2010. He was expected to develop in to an effective pass rusher to compliment Terrell Suggs. While he came with some "character" baggage, the Ravens had high hopes for him.
In late July, he fractured his skull falling down stairs. Later, the Ravens signed him to a one year rookie minimum contract and placed him on their reserve list. He was not cleared to practice or play, but is able to attend meetings and perform strength and conditioning work.
According to Kindle on his Twitter account:
"Dr's up here make'n me nervous bout my chances of come'n back next yr!! dey aint say'n i wont play but dey aint say'n i am eitha!!"
This is certainly a huge blow to a very promising athlete. Certainly I, along with all Ravens fans, hope Kindle can recover fully and be able to chase his dream of playing in the NFL.
While the Ravens have potentially lost a very valuable player, they also lost the value of that second round pick.
No one can say who they would have picked had Kindle not been available, but we can take a look at the caliber of players picked immediately after Kindle and their results this year.
Lamarr Houston (DT/DE) was drafted by the Raiders next. So far this year he has 30 tackles and four sacks, which is pretty good production from a rookie DE
Following Houston was Zane Beadles (G), who went to Denver. Knowing what we know now about Jared Gaither, a guard would have been a nice pick for depth on the line. But the Ravens didn't know Gaither wouldn't play this year; Beadles is starting at Left Guard due to injuries.
After Beadles was DT Linval Joseph, who went to the Giants. Joseph has only been active for four games this year, with just two tackles—certainly not impressive production thus far.
The next player in line was Daryl Washington (LB), drafted 47th by the Cardinals. Washington has 66 tackes and an interception this year.
At 6'2" and 230 pounds, he's not as big as Kindle (or Suggs) and would have certainly played a backup role to the already deep Ravens linebacking unit. That said, while the Ravens have depth at the position, none of the three linebackers playing next to Ray Lewis have the stats Washington has as a rookie. There's no way to say what he'd be doing in this defense, but he certainly seems to have potential.
The fifth player picked after Kindle was Jimmy Clausen (QB). There's little chance the Ravens would have picked a QB here. His value can't be known given the development time required for an NFL QB, but he's not lighting the world on fire for Carolina.
Looking at these five players, there's clearly a significant loss of a potentially valuable player in Kindle's place. Both Houston and Washington have played well this year and would have added value to the Ravens.
While there is a significant cost associated with the loss of Kindle, the Ravens have won more games this year than they did last year, and barring a catastrophe they are on their way to their third playoff appearance in three years.
The Ravens front office continues to perform at a very high level, attracting, developing, and keeping great talent, such that losing Kindle for this year, possibly next (or longer) didn't change their ability to get to the playoffs this year.
We hope Kindle can be part of that mix next year.
If not, the team probably won't pay too high a price.
Paul Stagg is a Ravens Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report
Follow Paul on Twitter @Paul_Stagg