With $6 million in cap savings in the balance this March, the Ravens were set to cut Anquan Boldin if he would not accept a salary reduction. When the sides could not agree on a new contract, the Ravens traded Boldin for a 6th round draft pick, generating some salvage value.
The 6th round selection the Ravens acquired from the 49ers is better than many of those they have used in the past because it’s earlier than the compensatory 6th round selections (albeit 31st in round 6), and it can be traded, giving the Ravens some valuable draft-day currency to move up a few spots in other rounds if the opportunity presents itself.
I should note that I significantly discount what a player accomplishes beyond the end of the period for which he may be tendered without competition. For players like Jon Ogden, Ed Reed, and Ray Lewis, a deep discounting of the career value each produced after 5 seasons still is a mess of value, but the Ravens had to compete with other teams and pay a market price after their rookie deals.
Here is how I would rank and grade the team’s 6th round selections as players (ignoring the option value of the tradable selection):
1. Adalius Thomas 2000 (186): A. The Ravens acquired a versatile Pro Bowler who would eventually play parts of 7 seasons. He was occasionally used as a gunner on special teams, was a solid cover LB, and could put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer. He had 38.5 sacks, 39 PDs, 13 FF, 6 FR, and scored 5 defensive TDs and a safety. Thomas was allowed to walk after the 2006 season – his best as a Raven – and was signed by New England in 2007. His first year in NE was solid, but he dropped off the table beginning in 2008. He was an outstanding Raven who could be considered for the ring of honor, but Ozzie let him go at the right time.
2. Chester Taylor 2002 (207): B+. Most notably, he was the backup to Jamal Lewis in 2003. He rushed for almost 1,600 yards as a Raven with 4.3 YPC. He played in 62 of 64 games in his 4-year tenure including 8 starts. Taylor would score 32 TDs, rush for 4,740 yards, and Catch 299 passes in a 10-year career.
3. Chad Williams 2002 (209): B. A dime safety with a nose for the football, Williams had more big plays per defensive snap than any other player in Ravens history. He played 4 years with the Ravens and was active for all 64 games, but started just 5, so his snaps were limited (I would estimate between 1 and 1.5 full seasons). Still, he had 8 interceptions, returned those for 320 yards (40 yard average, 3 TDs), forced 5 fumbles, recovered 4, had 4.5 sacks, and accumulated 24 PDs. When Ed Reed set the NFL record for interception return yards in 2004, Williams was 4th in the entire NFL with 156 INT return yards on 3 picks. He’s one of a long string of quality dimes who have played for the Ravens.
4. Cornell Brown 1997 (194): B-. Brown played 108 games (25 starts) in 7 years as a Raven (1997-2004). He had the second most career snaps as a Raven of all sixth rounders, but he simply wasn’t as good a player as either Taylor or Williams. He was an effective 2-down OLB for the 2000 defense (18% of snaps) who allowed Peter Boulware to play just 70% of snaps. Not much of a pass rusher, he had just 7 career sacks.
5. Haruki Nakamura 2008 (206): C. He played dime and quarter snaps for the Ravens for 4 years (56 games, 0 starts) and was a solid special teams performer, but never had an interception and recorded just 4 career PDs in 444 defensive snaps (394 regular season + 50 playoffs).
6. Sam Koch 2006 (203): C. A tough punter who has played 7 seasons with the Ravens and has never missed a regular season game. He got a long-term contract with 71 punts inside the 20 versus just 9 touchbacks in 2009-10. Since then, he’s taken a step back with 63 punts downed inside the 20 and 21 touchbacks.
7. Prescott Burgess 2007 (207): C-. He was one of the Ravens’ best special teams players during his 4-year tenure, but was on the field for just 23 defensive snaps. Burgess was cut from the 53-man roster and resigned several times and had a stint on the New England practice squad as one of Belichick’s “advance scouts”.
8. Gerome Sapp 2003 (182): C-. He played his rookie year with the Ravens, was traded to Indianapolis, and was then reacquired to replace Chad Williams following the 2005 season. He would play the next 2 seasons with the Ravens and contributed on special teams and as a dime.
Quick game of Jeopardy: A. Ravens Defensive History for $1,000…Jarret Johnson, Corey Ivy, Gerome Sapp, Kelly Gregg, and Terrell Suggs.
Q: Who were the 2007 Ravens co-leaders in sacks at the 2-minute warning of their week 9 game at Pittsburgh (2 each)
Rex Ryan’s defense made significant use of safeties to provide pass rush flexibility and the Ravens pass rush was rendered impotent by the departure of Thomas and injury to Trevor Pryce. Sapp played just 85 defensive snaps in 2007, but the Ravens sacked opposing QBs on 15.4% of drop backs with Gerome on the field.
9. Tyrod Taylor 2011 (180): D+. He provides a credible threat as a slash player, but the Ravens have only used him in that manner for a few snaps. He’s been a consistently effective runner in the preseason and versus Cincinnati in the 2012 finale, but he’s too inconsistent as a passer to be anything but a “finish-this-game” backup if the unthinkable were to happen.
10. Clarence Moore 2004 (199): D+. A big red-zone target, Moore caught 2 TD passes from Kyle Boller in the 2004 game versus the Jets when the Ravens came back from 14-0 down to win 20-17 in OT. That game was the first done for NFL films in what many now refer to as the “Sound FX” style. Billick can be heard congratulating Moore on his second TD and letting him know that it redeemed him for alligator arming a previous pass. The unwillingness to put his midsection at risk contributed to Moore’s inability to become a valuable receiver. He caught 4 TD passes as a rookie, but totaled just 29 receptions and 5 TDs for his 3-year career.
11. Joe Maese 2001 (194): D+. The Ravens knew exactly what they were getting with Maese, who was a cheap alternative at a position where very few players earn more than the minimum salary (long snapper). He played 4 seasons and was released. The most memorable play of his career was a fumble recovery that bounced off the head of Seattle punt returner Ken Lucas in the 44-41 OT thriller in Baltimore during the 2003 season.
12. James Roe 1996 (186): D+. Roe played in 23 games in 3 years as a Raven, including 7 starts. He had 15 receptions to go along with some time returning both punts and kickoffs. There were more “smurfs” playing in the NFL in the mid 1990s, so he was large for a WR at 6’1”.
13. Ramon Harewood 2010 (194): D. After 2 years on IR, Harewood started the 2012 season at LG and played slightly above the replacement level. If he is to move up significantly in these rankings, he’ll need to contribute as a tackle. He was not tendered an RFA deal for 2013 and I would estimate a 75% chance his career will be over following this season.
14. Tommy Streeter 2012 (198): D. The D shouldn’t be taken as a record of his cumulative accomplishments (none to date), but expected value of the selection when his career is over. He’s got the right size and shape, but sat out his first season, which isn’t a good sign. His value will either skyrocket if he has some success as a receiver or head towards the bottom of this list because he does not provide much in the way of special teams value.
15. Derrick Martin 2006 (208): D-. Martin was a replacement level corner who got an opportunity to play during the “Secondary-of-Dying-Men” season of 2007. He flashed some skill with a pair of interceptions against the Seahawks, but his season was otherwise a disaster. The next season he played 0 defensive snaps in 4 games. The Ravens traded him before the 2009 season to Green Bay to acquire tackle Tony Moll. It’s been almost 7 years since he was drafted, but he is still just 27 years old.
16. Sammy Williams 1998 (164): D-. The Ravens cut Williams before he played a game for them, but he returned to play 16 games (7 starts) in 2000-01 after a stint with the Chiefs. The Ravens were familiar with who he was because he went to camp and may have been on the 1998 practice squad, so I ascribe some draft value.
17. Derek Anderson 2005 (213): F. The Ravens identified a player with some talent, but he never played a snap for Baltimore. Had the Ravens retained him and he had played well in 2007 as he did for the Browns, they might not have drafted Flacco.
18. Javin Hunter 2002 (206): F. Hunter was a smallish (5’11”) Notre Dame WR who played just the 2002 season with the Ravens. He had 5 receptions, returned 4 kickoffs, and fumbled twice.
19. Cedric Peerman 2009 (185): F. The Ravens didn’t have room for Peerman alongside Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee, and Ray Rice. He’s since played for Detroit and Cincinnati with his only contributions coming in 2012 in the form of 370 rushing/receiving yards and 1 TD.
20. Cedric Woodard 2000 (191): F. The Ravens failed to find a spot for him, but he played 4 years for the Seahawks, including 29 starts from 2001-04. This is a case where the talent evaluation was good, but circumstances and/or coaching may have precluded him from contributing in Baltimore. It nonetheless makes him a slightly better pick than the bottom 5.
21. Dexter Daniels 1996 (172): F. He played 4 games for the 1996 Ravens. That’s a lot less than any team would expect from pick 172 today.
22. Wes Pate 2002 (236): F. I can’t imagine why the Ravens thought they needed a QB with both Chris Redman and Jeff Blake on the 2002 roster. They drafted Pate anyway and he would never play an NFL game.
23. Josh Harris 2004 (187): F. Another QB who never played in an NFL game.
24. Steve Lee 1997 (167): F. Never played in an NFL game.
25. Ron Rogers 1998 (154): F. Never played in an NFL game despite being the Ravens’ earliest 6th round selection ever. With compensatory picks, this selection would be early in round 5 today and it would be a bad miss to fire a blank like Rogers.
A few things jump out from this list.
- You’ll hear Mike Mayock talk about core special teams players being a priority in rounds 5-7. Despite taking a number of players whose primary opportunity to contribute was on special teams, the Ravens have drafted only 5 non-specialist players who made significant contributions (not to be mistaken with “played some”) on special teams. The Ravens have many more such players from their UDFA acquisitions.
- The Ravens have now tried twice to acquire a developmental tackle in round 6 and both have failed so far.
- The other size-and-shape selections Ozzie has favored in round 6 are big wide receivers (Roe, Moore, Streeter).
- With compensatory selections, it seems like it should be more likely for a sixth round selection to be cut today as opposed to 10-12 years ago, but that hasn’t happened often with the Ravens. Peerman (2009) is the only sixth round selection since 2005 who never played a game for the Ravens.
- The Ravens have drafted 4 developmental QBs in round 6, but have yet to find their equivalent to Tom Brady.
Back to our original question as to the salvage value the Ravens received for dumping Boldin’s salary…
The Ravens’ historical median selection to date is Ramon Harewood (13th of 25 on my list), but because:
- more value comes from a few key players at the top,
- draft information is better these days, and
- Eric DeCosta is more talented than Phil Savage,
I’d place the mean expectation today at a player like Haruki Nakamura.
This is one of a series of articles grading/ranking the Ravens’ historical draft selections. Here are links to the others: