Ranking 10 Best and Worst Picks of Ozzie Newsome Era
Have you fully wrapped your mind around what you're witnessing?
Ravens fans have had a front-row seat to absolute greatness, and it's coming to an end.
We're in the final year of the Ozzie Newsome era – the only general manager to assemble a Super Bowl roster, completely tear it down, reconstruct it and bring a second Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore.
"This marks more than an end to an era. This is the finale for the most important person in franchise history," ESPN writes. "The Ravens have had two owners, three head coaches and countless star players. For 22 years of existence, the Ravens have only had one general manager and Newsome has been a masterful architect, relying on his calm demeanor, keen eye for talent, unwavering patience and desire for inclusiveness.
"Anywhere he goes, he's typically the most qualified football person in the room. He's just a leader who doesn't need to constantly prove he's one."
Newsome's resume is well-known.
He's drafted 18 Pro Bowlers, two first-ballot Hall of Famers, a Super Bowl MVP quarterback, three NFL defensive players of the year, an offensive player of the year and a rookie of the year.
"I would make the argument that if he wasn't in the Hall of Fame as a player, he would be in as a general manager," said ESPN analyst, Hall of Famer and six-time executive of the year Bill Polian. "That's maybe the rarest of occurrences."
Newsome has been hard on himself lately for not delivering as many recent home-run selections as he did in the first decade and a half of his GM career. He chose 16 Pro Bowlers in his first 13 years, and just two over his last nine. The drop in successful drafting has contributed to the Ravens missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
"When we were having success, we were getting all the credit," Newsome said last week. "When we're not having success, we take all the blame. It falls right on me."
Still, in Polian's estimation, Newsome's overall record is among the best in NFL history.
"You look at the big picture, he's one of the most successful general managers of all time," Polian said. "Keeping that team competitive over a long, long period of time – that's the hardest thing for a general manager, and he's done it."
ESPN took on the massive task of ranking all 181 of Newsome's draft selections. You can check out the entire list here, and I highlight the website's top 10 best and worst picks below:
- LB Ray Lewis (first round, 1996): Hall of Famer, Super Bowl MVP, DPOY
- OT Jonathan Ogden (first round, 1996): Hall of Famer, SB ring
- FS Ed Reed (first round, 2002): Hall of Fame next year? DPOY, SB ring
- OL Marshal Yanda (third round, 2007): 6x Pro Bowler, SB ring
- LB Terrell Suggs (first round, 2003): 7x Pro Bowler, DROY, DPOY, SB ring
- RB Ray Rice (second round, 2008): 3x Pro Bowler, SB ring
- DT Haloti Ngata (first round, 2006): 5x Pro Bowler, SB ring
- OLB Adalius Thomas (sixth round, 2000): 2x Pro Bowler, SB ring
- QB Joe Flacco (first round, 2008): SB MVP, 10-5 postseason record
- RB Jamal Lewis (first round, 2000): Pro Bowl, 2003 rushing yards leader, OPOY, SB ring
- CB DeRon Jenkins (second round, 1996): "Worst cornerback in team history"
- LB Kamalei Correa (second round, 2016): Two undrafted rookies beat him for a starting job
- WR Patrick Johnson (second round, 1998): Never notched 30 catches in a season
- LB Arthur Brown (second round, 2013): Never started
- LB Dan Cody (second round 2005): Injuries limited him to two games played
- LB Sergio Kindle (second round, 2010): Fractured skull in fall down stairs
- WR Travis Taylor (first round, 2000): Only notched two 100-yard games
- SS Matt Elam (first round, 2013): 1 INT, injured reserve twice
- WR Breshad Perriman (first round, 2015): Injuries, dropped passes, little production
- QB Kyle Boller (first round, 2003): "A flop" as a franchise QB
After Bears Decline to Match Cameron Meredith Offer, Ravens Have Realistic Shot at Willie Snead
The Chicago Bears decided not to match the offer sheet given to wide receiver Cameron Meredith. He signed a $9.6 million, two-year offer from the New Orleans Saints.
The Bears chose not to re-sign their 6-foot-3, 207-pounder, who is one year removed from an 888-yard season, because of medical concerns, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Meredith is coming off a serious torn ACL and they weren't as confident in the knee as the Saints were to put nearly $10 million behind it, added NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Ravens reportedly also made Meredith an offer, but it's unknown how confident they were in* *his knee and if their offer reflected more concern.
Regardless, the news likely means the Saints will be less inclined to match an offer to their own restricted free-agent wide receiver Willie Snead. When the Ravens had Meredith in for a visit, they also reportedly hosted Snead the same day and brought him back a second time to catch passes from Robert Griffin III III.
"Now, with New Orleans adding Meredith to their roster, Snead is rather expendable," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy. "Snead would seemingly be an upgrade from last year's receiving corps and not to mention, he is only 25 years old."
Levy's not wrong. That said, other teams could jump in the mix, like the Saints did for Meredith, and potentially outbid the Ravens if they make an offer.
If signed in Baltimore, Snead could fill the slot role and return punts on special teams. He has big-play ability and reliable hands, as he dropped three of 103 targets in 2016, according to Fox Sports. That same year, he produced the league's fourth-most yards (707) from the slot, per Pro Football Focus.
"Signing Snead to pair with Michael Crabtree and John Brown would seemingly be a great move for the Ravens, who are certainly committed to rebuild their wide receiver corps," Levy wrote. "Even if they do land Snead, Baltimore should still draft a receiver early in the upcoming NFL Draft."
Ravens Fans Nervous About Injuries With an Extra Preseason Game and Training Camp Practices
The Ravens' preseason schedule was released last night, and it caused some to start sweating.
The more nerve-racking aspect was the addition of a fifth preseason game, and consequently an extra week of training camp practice. Additional practice can be good, but based on how many injuries the Ravens sustained last year BEFORE the season-opener, fans are keeping their fingers crossed that players stay as healthy as possible.
Head Coach John Harbaugh did say at NFL League Meetings last month that the starters will not play in the Hall of Fame game.
More Rumors About Baltimore Being Interested in QB Lamar Jackson
These Lamar Jackson rumors aren't slowing down.
The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner has been linked to the Ravens in the first round again, this time by Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.
"I'm keeping my eye on the Ravens here. … [T]hey have an offensive staff with the infrastructure to build for Jackson," Breer wrote. "Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg built an offense for Mike Vick in Philly. And senior assistant Greg Roman put in option packages for Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. So Jackson could be an interesting fit. Remember, Joe Flacco's underperformed of late, is 33, and has a balky back and no guaranteed money left on his deal."
Ravens Have a 'Major Joe Flacco Problem.' What's His Bounce-Back Potential?
The Big Lead's Jason Lisk says the Ravens have a "Joe Flacco problem."
The basis for his stance?
Lisk looked up Flacco's rankings over the last five years, after he was named Super Bowl MVP and signed a $120 million contract, and here's how the franchise quarterback stacks up against 33 other signal callers that have attempted at least 800 passes over that span:
- last in yards per attempt
- last in touchdown pass percentage
- last in touchdown to interception ratio
- 32nd in passer rating
- last in net yards per pass attempt
- last in adjusted net yards per pass attempt
The Ravens need a big year from Flacco as they try to get over the hump and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. NFL.com's Adam Schein analyzed whether Flacco can have a bounce-back year.
"Is Joe Flacco elite? I don't care," Schein wrote. "But last year, Joe Flacco wasn't healthy. Yes, he started all 16 games – that's a testament to his mettle. … With a clean bill of health and some new toys at his disposal (free-agent additions Michael Crabtree and John Brown), Flacco could be poised for a bounce-back campaign. At least that's what John Harbaugh's expecting. When asked at the Annual League Meeting about the level of improvement Baltimore's passing game could see in 2018, Harbaugh mused, 'A healthy Joe Flacco plus the weapons is ... I'm sure there's a math term for that ... exponential. It's exponential. How about that? That's what I'm counting on.'
"Cheers to that! There's something special about Flacco airing it out in clutch fashion in a division game, leading the Ravens to a hard-earned win. The NFL is always better when the Ravens and Flacco are the epitome of toughness."
- "Late first-round picks lack value," writes Breer. "The other day, I was spit-balling on a potential Bills-Giants swap with a team exec, who said to me, 'The problem is that the 22nd pick might as well be in the third round.' He was exaggerating, but only a little bit. The consensus I've heard is the difference between 22 and 52 is minimal this year, which is part of why the Colts did well to land a couple high second-rounders in their trade with the Jets." [Sports Illustrated]