We're into the top 10.
We here at BaltimoreRavens.com got debating the NFL Network's Top 100 All-Time list and the current ranking of Top 100 of 2011.
So Mike Duffy and Ryan Mink decided they would take on the arduous task of ranking the all-time Ravens. With the franchise only being around since 1996, we decided it would be best to go with 50 instead of 100.
After much debate, Duffy and Mink came to a consensus list. We gave you numbers 11-20 last week and are now getting into the best of the best. We'll give you five this week and another five next week.
The criterion for ranking the players is their contribution to the Baltimore Ravens, not their career accomplishments. Thus, for example, while Deion Sanders is one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game, his two twilight years in Baltimore landed him at No. 47 on our list.
Of course, there will be widely different opinions on the order of the list, and your take is appreciated and encouraged. Our hope is to spark some debate and relive some great Ravens memories in the process. Use the all-time roster to help make your choices.
Without further ado, the fifth edition of the Ravens All-Time Top 50:
No. 10: DT Haloti Ngata, 2006-2010
Known as one of the best defensive tackles currently playing in the NFL, Ngata defines what a complete 3-4 defensive tackle is. At a rock-solid 6-foot-4, 345 pounds, Ngata is nearly immoveable in the trenches, but his amazingly nimble feet and reflexes allow him to make plays men of his stature simply shouldn't.
And Ngata is only getting better. Coming off his second Pro Bowl berth, Ngata posted a career-best 5.5 sacks last year to go along with 65 tackles. The former 13th-overall draft pick also owns three career interceptions from dropping back into coverage and has even played fullback in goal-line situations.
No. 9: CB Chris McAlister, 1999-2008
When the Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith this April, they had visions of McAlister dancing in their head. They wanted another McAlister, and for very good reason. McAlister is one of the few players of his time who was a legitimate shutdown cornerback, a title often thrown around but rarely appropriate. He was big (6-1, 210 pounds), physical and an explosive playmaker.
The Ravens drafted McAlister with the 10th-overall pick of the 1999 draft and he became a starter four games into his career. McAlister had nine interceptions in his first two seasons until teams largely stopped throwing at him. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2003, 2004 and 2006, showing the respect he garnered around the league.
McAlister was a huge part of the Ravens' victory in Super Bowl XXXV, and made countless big plays. Who can forget his 107-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown in 2002? He finished with 26 career interceptions and five touchdowns, and played nearly his entire career in Baltimore.
No. 8: DE Michael McCrary, 1997-2002**Even though he was a somewhat slight 260 pounds, McCrary was a do-it-all defensive end for many years, including the Ravens' Super Bowl team. After a four-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks, McCrary joined the Ravens in 1997 and immediately totaled 68 tackles and nine sacks.
McCrary turned in two double-digit sack seasons for the Ravens, including a 14.5-sack performance in 1998. A two-time Pro Bowler, McCrary was inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor in 2004. One of his most-memorable showings came in the Super Bowl, when McCrary logged two sacks and forced a fumble in Baltimore's 34-7 win over the New York Giants.
Unfortunately, a history of knee injuries shortened McCrary's career, and the Ravens were finally forced to release him.
No. 7: RB Jamal Lewis, 2000-2006**The Ravens' all-time rushing leader was an absolute monster of a back. Perfectly suited for the physical AFC North, Lewis ran over opponents for six years in Baltimore, including five seasons of more than 1,000 rushing yards.
Lewis doesn't get enough credit for carrying the Ravens' offense during its Super Bowl run. While the passing game struggled, Baltimore relied on the 21-year-old rookie out of Tennessee. The fifth-overall pick ran for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, he became only the second rookie to rush for more than 100 yards and the youngest player to score a touchdown.
Lewis' 2003 season was simply magical. He nearly set a new NFL single-season rushing record by rushing for 2,066 yards, just 39 yards short of Eric Dickerson's record. He was only the fifth player to ever run for 2,000 yards in a season. Lewis also broke Corey Dillon's single-game rushing record by running for 295 yards against the Cleveland Browns. It was one of the greatest single-game performances in NFL history.
No. 6: LB Terrell Suggs, 2003-2010
Soon after the Ravens selected Suggs 10th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, the loquacious pass rusher unleashed his brand of havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Suggs set a franchise rookie record with 12 sacks in his first year, earning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and followed that up with a 10.5-sack sophomore outing.
It was no fluke. Suggs has quickly shot up team annals by consistently finding ways to get in the backfield and drop signal callers. Suggs' 68.5 career sacks are already second most in team history behind Peter Boulware's 70.
Suggs finds himself so high on this list because of the way he's rounded out his game in recent years. As he matured, Suggs has become a reliable defender against the run and even drops in coverage at times. What's more, the 27-year-old Suggs is also one of the more respected locker room voices.