The Ravens Built Through the Draft

hi-res-77913083_display_imageThe Baltimore Ravens moved from the Cleveland after the 1995 season. Cleveland fans have regretted that move ever since. Yes for just the hatred for Art Modell moving their beloved Browns. Even more for what the old Browns became through wise draft choices.

In 1996 the ravens Drafted Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round. These two may go down as the best first round pair ever drafted. Ogden set them at left tackle for 12 years, and we all know the storied career of Ray Lewis. With this draft the building blocks were in place and the Ravens haven’t missed on early round picks.

Jamie Sharper, Peter Boulware, Chris McCalister, and Jamal Lewis set up the early Ravens. Lewis gave them the ground game they needed in 2000 that let the Lewis driven Ravens defense set all-time NFL records on their way to a Super Bowl title.

This Super Bowl team has been built the same way, from the inside and not through free agency. The Ravens know what they are looking for in a Ravens player, same as the Steelers know a Steelers player when they see one. Good teams know who they are and draft guys that will excel in their systems.

In 2008 The Ravens selected Joe Flacco 18th overall. Flacco was a big armed quarterback that left Pittsburgh after not getting the starting job. He transferred to Delaware and was able to show off his talents. Knowing they had their quarterback in the second round of the 2008 draft the Ravens selected Ray Rice with the 55th overall pick. Now they had their future at quarterback and running back. Oddly Rice was the sure bet in that draft and Flacco was the “well if he” guy.

hi-res-152863526The following year in the 2009 draft they took Sandra Bullock’s boy OT Michael Oher with the 23rd overall pick. Now they were building a line to protect Flacco and open up running lanes for Rice. They drafted DE Paul Kruger with the 57th overall pick, and also landed CB Lardarius Webb with the 88th pick. Kruger has a non stop motor and Webb is one of the best cornerbacks in the league when healthy.

In 2010 they missed on Sergio Kindle in the 2nd round. No worries their next three picks were DT Terrence Cody(57th), TE Ed Dickson(70), and TE Dennis Pitta(114). They surrounded Flacco with two tight ends that could flank out and added depth to their defensive line .

In 2011 the Ravens were looking for  cornerback to put across from Lardarius Webb and found one in Jimmy Smith grabbing him with the 27th pick. In the second round they chose burner Torrey Smith with the 58th pick. The Ravens again addressing needs but drafting guys that fit their mold. Smith is one of the top deep threats in the league and Jimmy Smith is starting to come into his own this season.

This past draft the Ravens took Courtney Upshaw with the 35th pick, and found a surprise in Bernard Pierce with the 84th selection. Pierce has given the Ravens a second option behind Rice, running for 532 yards and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Upshaw started nine games this season and had 55 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

The Ravens have drafted well, as the good teams do. Yes they have signed or trade for the likes of Vonta Leach, Bernard Pollard, and Anquan Boldin. Still, most of this Ravens roster is Raven draftees. The front office has made wise decisions that have enabled John Harbaugh and his staff to coach their way to next Sundays Super Bowl. These wise draft selections could send Ray Lewis off a champion. I wonder if Sandra Bullock will star in that movie also? By Steve Kish

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