THE GENIUS OF OZZIE NEWSOME: Reality or Myth?

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If you have ever paid attention to the NFL’s Draft you’ve probably heard the oft-used axiom, “The draft is an inexact science.”

Most in and around the game would concur yet teams still invest countless man hours and huge sums of money each year to: scout; refine the scouting process; shoot film; study film; interview, workout and give physicals to collegiate players; run background checks; populate and re-seed draft boards; and so on and so forth.

It is a rather exhausting process and desirable results are hardly guaranteed.

The draft has interestingly enough developed into its own cottage industry. Thanks in large part to NFL Draft pioneer Mel Kiper, Jr., draftniks across the nation have developed websites to  post a seemingly endless supply of mock drafts and player ratings only to be followed by immediate draft grades despite the fact that not a single player drafted has yet to play in a meaningful NFL game.

In many ways this cottage industry is comical but hey, if people are buying who are we to judge the industry’s marketing efforts? Clearly it’s a competitive business. And so too is the NFL Draft, hence the ample investments.

Teams are always looking for an edge in order to create some separation. Competition exists on the field, in scouting departments and in front offices. Each club seeks to gain an edge in uncovering value in players in order to develop quality of depth within salary cap constraints.

The Ravens have received their fair share of accolades over the years for their collective acumen on draft day. Ozzie Newsome as long been lauded as one of if not the best general manager in the league when it comes to possessing a keen eye for collegiate talent.

But is it deserved?

Clearly the Ravens have done well in Round 1 for the most part since their inception. Of the seven players chosen in the top 10 by Baltimore, five have earned Pro Bowl status. Two of those players – Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs – also earned Rookie of the Year honors.

During the 15 drafts that they’ve participated in organizationally, the Ravens have selected 16 players in the first round (traded away 2004 first-rounder) and these picks have racked up a total of 46 Pro Bowl appearances.

Overall the Ravens have had 14 homegrown players make Pro Bowl appearances. Thirteen were drafted while another (Bart Scott) was an undrafted free agent.

On the surface, this looks impressive.

But what if I told you that of the 46 Pro Bowl appearances, 3 players (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed) accounted for 30 of them? Does that make their draft day prowess more or less impressive? Or might this suggest that the Ravens have been successful choosing Hall of Fame caliber players but they haven’t been very consistent otherwise?

By their own admission, the Ravens preferred LB Napoleon Harris (25th pick) in 2002 over Ed Reed.

Was that the byproduct of an inexact science or luck?

To their credit the Ravens stuck to their draft board in 2002 and next in line after Harris was Reed.  But if both players had fallen to them, Harris would have been a Raven and not the game’s best ball hawk.

After the first round where Newsome’s touch seems best, the Ravens have seemingly struggled organizationally in rounds 2 through 4 yet they’ve uncovered a few gems later in the draft and by way of undrafted free agents.  

Does this inconsistency support the lofty reputation the Ravens have enjoyed on draft day?

It’s easy to sit here years after a draft and criticize the Ravens for passing on talent that in several instances was vastly superior to the player they selected. Some would argue that perhaps the player chosen was expected to fit a system or a positional need yet Newsome, if you take his word at face value, has and always will pick the best player on their draft board.

This then brings in to question the quality of the draft board. If the Ravens back in 1998 picked the best player on their board in Round 1 (Duane Starks), what does it say then about the positioning on their board when Tra Thomas, Keith Brooking, Takeo Spikes, Randy Moss and Alan Faneca were all available in Round 1? Those players combined for a total of 26 Pro Bowl appearances.

Starks never made it to Honolulu.

Today in retrospect that pick has to be considered a draft day black eye for Newsome.

In their defense, the Ravens aren’t alone in missed draft day opportunities. The list is long and well dispersed and some of the misses you might find shocking! Many teams passed on Moss back in ’98 for far less accomplished players just as they did with Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers in 2005.

So in order to fairly evaluate the Ravens draft day prowess, we need a means of comparison and for purposes of our analysis, we will measure the Ravens on draft day against the teams that they have aspired to be like: The Pittsburgh Steelers; New England Patriots; and Indianapolis Colts.

We will evaluate each pick and measure them with a point system that we’ve developed which takes into consideration the following:

·         A player’s tenure with the team

·         The number of games the player has started

·         Where in the draft the player was selected

·         How many Pro Bowl appearances each player has had

We will also consider the number of Pro Bowl players passed on by the Ravens’ war room team in exchange for less accomplished players and penalize those picks accordingly.

Upon conclusion of our series, we will attempt to effectively unlock the mystique of Ozzie Newsome.

Is his alleged draft day genius reality or a myth?

In the end, we’ll let YOU be the judge…

 
Below are links to the scores for each of the Ravens’ 15 drafts as we present them.
 
 
 
 

 

This entry was posted in NFL Draft ~ Baltimore Ravens by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

11 Raves on “THE GENIUS OF OZZIE NEWSOME: Reality or Myth?

  1. richieg on said:

    WOW TL,
    G R E A T idea! I have thought for a few years now that the “wizard” was living on his Ogden/Reed/Lewis/Suggs picks. And, since you now have revealed that Reed was a “second” choice, I am even more convinced of my opinion.
    PLEASE penalize him for not picking DezBryant in the last draft (EVERYONE knew J Jones coveted him and I am certain that Oz could have had him if …)
    I have had a long-standing dispute w/JerryB on this exact issue. I can’t wait for the results.
    Richard

  2. richieg on said:

    TL,
    Just read the ’96 draft scores – wasn’t that prior to Bill Polian/Peyton; Belichek/Pioli/Brady; and the Steelers current brain-trust … and should that be taken into account?
    Richard

  3. dave on said:

    I wrote the following hoping that someone would write about Aaron Rodgers post-SB. This is my closest opportunity to use it.

    BPA or need

    I don’t understand all this postseason fuss about Aaron Rodgers. After all we had the services of Mark Clayton from 2005 til this past season. We chose Clayton with the 22nd pick in 2005; Rodgers was picked 24th. We must have thought that Clayton was the BPA, the mantra of FO’s all over the NFL – THE best player available.

    And we couldn’t have made that choice based upon need because we had the established Kyle Boller who had just finished his 2nd season in the NFL.

    So, either we thought that Clayton was the BPA & better than Aaron Rodgers; or we thought that our incumbent Boller was better than Rodgers.

    The Sunpapers’ Laura Vecsey wrote once how handsome Boller was. Something like what a sweet face he had. Maybe that’s the reason we thought Boller was better than Rodgers who followed Boller at Cal.

    Or perhaps ESPN’s Colin Blowhard was secretively working in our FO. Blowhard had been belittling Rodgers all-yr long. Now he’s back-tracking by changing the criteria.

    I don’t want to hear that some twenty other teams passed on Rodgers too. So what if we thought Rodgers was flawed; we had Kyle Boller, Kyle freakin’ Boller !!! You would have had to draft Sammy Baugh, who was 91 at the time, if Boller was your QB.

    Some of Oz’s reputation was based upon “discovering” Edgerton Hartwell & Adalius Thomas. I stipulate that their performance was largely due to playing with one of the greatest defensive players of all time Ray Lewis. How good were Hartwell & Thomas when they were no longer playing with Ray ?

    Btw, when the Packers wasted their 1st rd pick on Rodgers they still had Brett Favre who was almost as good as Kyle Boller.

  4. jws on said:

    I am glad two yeras after I wrote on this subject a more elite writer follows me. Tony I hope you kept the one I wrote and sent you over a yera ago!

  5. Tony Lombardi on said:

    Richie,

    I hear you on the change in the front office but is a Bill Parcells run front office that bad? Also, we have to be consistent in the comparisons and I felt it only fair that we start from the beginning.

    We’ll also strip down our research with cumulative numbers by round and by position to hopefully reveal other areas of strength and weakness.

    JWS…you are a pioneer sir! Will be interesting to see how your results compare to ours…

    And Dave, funny post. I’ll never look at Boller quite the same way. Laura Vescey, now there was a misplaced “talent.”

  6. dave on said:

    Some may say it’s hindsight. No. I was trying to recreate the conditions at that time. If you’ve been watching Kyle (Sweet Face) Boller for two yrs, how do we pass up a 1st rd talent QB ?? Worse, how do we pass up that QB to draft Mark Clayton ? Either, based upon need or BPA a colossal mistake.

    Now some may say that Rodgers fell because there must have been something wrong with him. Duh, Oz has been given a lot of credit for being wise enough to draft Ray Lewis & others who fell to him because “there was something wrong with them”.

    We either passed up Rodgers because Clayton was better or because Boller was better than Rodgers. BPA or need.

    The last two yrs I got really excited anticipating our draft. This yr I just cannot.

    Btw, kudos to you, Tony & Scot because questioning Oz’s reputation is like treading on sacred ground.

  7. jws on said:

    Sorry about the word ‘yeras” that should be years of course sometimes my key board gets stuck at times. I do question how you can use pro bowl appearences in your rating system to determine best drafted players. As I am sure you know pro bowl selections for the most part are popularity contests not always the best players that year, which it should always be.A good example this year was like leaving off QB Rogers of Green bay although he could not have played but deserved to be selected. As far as who second guesses drafted players and how well they do as with the blogger here and his comments on us drafting Rogers since he was still there I do agree, most say it after the fact but not me. as far as DEz Bryant the Ravens wanted him and he would have been a bad pick and I was against that too. Rumors are Dallas lokking to trade him now.
    I write most of my thoughts on who and what positions the Ravens should draft befores the draft or on draft day before they select not after and text on draft day my thoughts with my website guy Ken.I always put my comments in writing who the Ravens should take not two years later. BEFORE other drafts I wanted such players as center Kalil from USC (this was when he was still on the board in RD2 that year and the Ravens had not selected, it required giving up a 6th rd pick to Panthers and moving ahead of them for Kalil.A few years ago,Conners LB from Penn St instead of Gooden and last year I wanted to stay in first round and take DT Williams from Tenn and Chris Brown OT USC in RD2 and not get selections in rds 3 and 4. Some moves required trading draft picks to get in the right postion like getting OT Chris Brown USC in rd 2. or moving up to 4th pick last yr by giving up picks in RD5 and RD6 to get a TE. We now have no future center and I wanted TE Cook a few yeras ago and they would also have Brown at RT , a young center in Kalil and a future TE or two. Mistakes in passing on players makes future drafts more diffcult because the players they should have darfted early a few years ago are now pressing needs along with current other needs. Adding patched up one year free agents or aging free agents is never the anwser. I know how hard it is to put together what you are doing in your draft articles. I know it will be great like most things you do. Best website except of course for my articles on Raven football!

  8. richieg on said:

    Hi TL,
    I like the way this is starting out. I also think the Belichek brain-trust is superior to Parcells et al, but I can’t argue too strenuously on that point. On the other hand, if theyreally were that smart, they’d have drafted Brady in … the 5th round.
    SOOOOO glad someone else agrees w/me re the”wizard” (Dave & his perfect A Rodgers comment).
    BTW, the yellow “ink” is not working re totals column.
    And, JWS, if the ‘boys are trying to trade DezzieB, 1. I live in Dallas and they LOVE him per the Dallas media, so that’s a scoop for you, and 2. He is a fantastic talent, any flaws will be corrected by the X-Packer receiver coach, AND, the ‘boys would be NUTS to trade him/JJones will never do it!
    Richard

  9. Tony Lombardi on said:

    We didn’t really enter this project with any preconceived notions about Ozzie…in other words we aren’t on an Ozzie witchhunt. We are really just trying to see how he really measures up.

    In the end, we’ll also break it down by round and by position to see if there are more clues to strenghts and weaknesses.

    Hope you all stay tuned!

  10. dave on said:

    @richieg, thank you, sir, and to JWS, we must never ever be seen together or THEY (The True Believers) will throw the three of us in the Inner Harbor.

    Doncha just love those comments that you can see all too often that go something like “If Oz is making that move it HAS TO BE right” ??

    The True Believers must be binary – either on/off; for/against.

  11. JWS on said:

    THE DALLAS FANS OPINIONS IS ANY RECIEVER A GOOD CHOICE IN ROUND ONE? STATS SAY NO! DEZ BRYANT HAD MANY PROB4EMS IN COLLEGE, ONLY A BAD GM OR OWNER ARE HAPPY WITH HIS OFF THE FIELD ACTIONS, ENTER ONLY THE JONES,SYDNER AND DAVIS OWNERS. HE CAUGHT 46 PASSES FOR LESS THAN 600 YARDS IN 12 GAMES. lET’S SEE WHERE HIS CAREER GOES FROM HERE. DALLAS ALSO HAS SIGNED OWNENS, DEION SANDERS AND PACKMAN JONES HAVEN”T THEY? DALLAS WITH BAD DRAFTS AND MANY BAD DECISIONS BY JONES ARE NOT AND HAVE NOT BEEN A PLAYOFF TEAM IN YEARS!

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