The Ravens were on the clock during the 2009 NFL Draft as they prepared to make the 88th overall selection in Round 3.
They turned in the pick: Lardarius Webb, a 5’10”, 179 pound cornerback from Thibodaux, Louisiana’s Nicholls State.
Immediately I thought back to a conversation I had with Ravens Assistant GM Eric DeCosta about a very similar selection they made back in 2006.
Then while on the clock with the 87th overall pick the Ravens chose 5’11”, 182-pound cornerback from Natchitoches, Louisiana’s Northwestern State, David Pittman.
DeCosta shared that the Ravens had learned a lesson taking a corner from a small school that high in the draft. The concern centered upon the level of competition corners face in small school programs compared to what they face in the NFL.
So I wondered why they would make the same “mistake” twice with Webb.
I was told that Webb would be different. That he had overcome adversity in his life and was mentally prepared to handle the failures that would certainly greet him at the next level. It was also pointed out to me that Webb did compete against Division I teams while a member of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.
Clearly DeCosta was right and Webb is different.
But did Pittman and Webb really differ that much that the former was such a flop?
Apparently there was more to the story.
The Ravens aren’t over-the-top when it comes to the hazing of rookies but one of the things the veterans demand of the young newcomers is that during dining hours, the rookies have to carry the vets’ food trays, essentially serving them at their dining table.
Pittman wouldn’t oblige.
When the team vets implored Pittman to, “Carry the chicken” he steadfastly refused to succumb to the mild form of hazing.
The refusal was costly.
Pittman was ostracized, became a loner and soon thereafter a former Raven.
The lesson for the Ravens in part was that it takes more than talent to be successful. The ability to overcome adversity and to mesh with teammates is also key to a player’s development or lack thereof.
And sometimes you just have to give in and carry the chicken.