Top Five Draft Classes In Baltimore Ravens History

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Top Five Draft Classes In Baltimore Ravens History

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Evan Habeeb- USA Today Sports

After the NFL Draft concluded, on paper it looks the Baltimore Ravens have out done themselves again after addressing the two primary needs of the off-season drafting Safety Matt Elam in the first round and Inside Linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round to help stabilize the loss of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. But obviously, it is too early to tell how good this draft class may be. But this draft class brings an interesting question as to what are the top-five drafts in Ravens history.

There are so many to choose from. The 2008 draft class with Joe Flacco and Ray Rice helped set the tone for what the team has become today. The 1997 draft with Outside Linebackers in Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper and Center Jeff Mitchell helped set the tone for the Ravens Super Bowl run in 2000. And of course, we have the ultimate tone setter in the 1996 draft with Lewis and Jonathan Ogden. With two Super Bowl championships in the last 17 years, you could make the case that General Manager Ozzie Newsome has been the best GM in the league over that time from the draft success to the on the field success. No matter how the Ravens had to change their team from 1998-2001, then 2002-20007 and 2008 till now the team has gone through so many changes and the blueprint for stability has remained the same. There is a reason why the Ravens have the most compensation picks in the NFL since 1996 with 37. They know who to keep and when to let go more times than not.

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5. 2000 NFL Draft

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Evan Habeeb- USA Today Sports

When the Ravens needed a spark on offense, running-back Jamal Lewis was there more times than not to save the day. When the offense went five-straight games without scoring a touchdown in 2000, Lewis was bell cow. He too was critical to the team when at times it felt like the Ravens had religious beliefs in not having a potent passing game. Linebacker Adalius Thomas was another gem waiting in the wings for the Ravens as he was able to sit and learn for a couple of seasons until finally getting his real first crack into the starting lineup in 2002-2006 becoming one of the most versatile linebackers in the league, playing anywhere from the defensive line to safety.

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4. 2002 NFL Draft

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JD Mercer- USA Today Sports

Reed is the primary player from this draft and his legacy speaks for itself. His ability, early in his career to play strong safety at a high level and later switching to free safety, proves his worth as arguably the greatest safety to ever play the game. His impact on the field for Ravens was scary for opposing offenses. Peyton Manning has been on record saying he is the best safety in the league and Tom Brady has even gone to the extent to having Reed's name on his wristband for calling plays. Enough said.

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3. 1997 NFL Draft

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Maxwell Kruger- USA Today Sports

Boulware and Sharper were part of the arguably-best linebacker corp in NFL history. Certainly, they are top 10 for their performance in 2000 with the record-setting defense still holds the NFL record for least points allowed in a season with 165, least rushing yards allowed in season in NFL history with 970 and the only defense in NFL history to allow under 200 points in 20 games from week one to the Super Bowl. As a unit that year, the defense only allowed 174 points. Good luck topping that.

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2. 2008 NFL Draft

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Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

Flacco and Rice are the future. To pave the way from Lewis and Reed, they will hold down the fort. The Ravens knew this day would come. It was just a matter of when. To win the Super Bowl with Lewis and Reed on the way out is more than symbolic. It shows the character of the team and what they can do going forward. The Ravens, for years, have been known as a physical team, especially with their defense. But this offense will now hold it's own, and rightfully so.

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1. 1996 NFL Draft

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Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

Lewis and Ogden are the greatest players in the team’s history. Their value could not be matched. When the offense went through their struggles, Ogden and the rest of the offensive line were put through more pressure by opposing defenses because of the Ravens conservative approach. Yet, Ogden relished the pressure and made himself a top-five left tackle of all time. Lewis is the unquestioned leader of the franchise even though he is no longer there. His leadership brought the Ravens where they are today on the field. He and Ogden helped create the physical brand that the team is known for around the league. Two locks for the hall of fame in your first two picks as a franchise does not get any better than that. Not to mention, a key cog in the Ravens first championship run in Kick Returner Jermaine Lewis, an exciting player who helped lift the Ravens through the worst of times and changing the momentum of the game in Super Bowl 35 with the kick return for a touchdown.

 

 

 


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