A Re-Draft Reveals The Value of Ravens Recent Picks
Since the last Ravens Super Bowl, their drafting has been heavily criticized until recently. Some criticism has been warranted, with the likes of Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Breshad Perriman, Kamalei Correa and Tim Williams. Those players were all early-round picks that never panned out. Now, while the Ravens are riding the greatest win streak in franchise history, the critics are radio silent.
It’s hard to criticize a team that just tied the record with 12 Pro Bowlers and another 2 alternates. Eleven of the 14 are home grown players.
I’m going to do a re-draft with some of the current Ravens to demonstrate just how incredible both Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have been in recent years. Draft picks are like lotto tickets and why the Ravens covet them so much. To expect every pick to pan out is unrealistic.
Lamar Jackson– 1st Overall Pick (Actual pick: 32nd overall)
There has to be little to no doubt that in a re-draft Lamar Jackson would not only be the first overall pick in 2018 but maybe the first overall pick going back several years. The only justifiable debate would be Patrick Mahomes in 2017, last season’s MVP. Beyond Mahomes, I’m not sure you can make a case for anyone in the last decade that’s as important to a franchise.
Mark Andrews– Top 10 Pick (Actual pick: 86th overall)
The Ravens have had some great tight ends over the years but never this good this quickly. In only his 2nd year Andrews has already made the Pro Bowl and already set the franchise record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 8. He’s the focal point of the passing offense and still can’t be stopped. Along with Lamar, Andrews will be a cornerstone offensive player for years to come.
Side Note: In a 2018 re-draft, if Hayden Hurst was taken in the third and Andrews in the first, how might you then view the first 3 picks of that draft?
Orlando Brown– 1st Round (Actual pick: 83rd overall)
With a poor combine performance, Brown’s draft stock plummeted, paving the way for the Ravens to get exceptional value, land Zeus, Jr. in the 3rd round. It was not only a perfect story with his dad being a Raven but his play on the field is certainly first-round worthy. The Pro Bowl alternate nod this year is evidence of that.
Matt Judon– 1st Round (Actual pick: 146th overall)
I’m going to pat myself on the back with this one because I wrote about Judon being a sleeper pick. I wanted the Ravens to draft the Grand Valley State DE a couple of months before the draft in 2016. Judon made an impact early on and continued to make strides every year, making his first Pro Bowl this season.
Marlon Humphrey-Top 10 Pick (Actual pick: 16th overall)
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve listed Marlon here putting since we’re still talking first half of Round 1. Looking back, most draft pundits didn’t think Humphrey was worth the 16th pick. The difference between a top 5 or 10 pick or a mid-round first pick can be a pretty big difference in talent level depending on the depth that year.
Humphrey has not only lived up to his first-round grade he has exceeded it greatly. Looking back at the 2017 draft I think he would fall just out of the top 5. Last year Humphrey was voted the team MVP and is still the Ravens best defensive player, even edging out the ball-hawking Marcus Peters. Humphrey is not only a great cover corner but his physicality is that of a linebacker.
Patrick Ricard– 3rd or 4th Round (Actual pick: Undrafted Free Agent)
Not often do fullbacks get drafted and when they do it is typically in the later rounds. However, Ricard wasn’t even recruited as a fullback but rather, as a defensive lineman where he has also contributed to the team. In recent weeks he has primarily been a fullback but his versatility makes him extremely valuable and why the Ravens rewarded him with an early contract extension. Now also a Pro Bowl player, Ricard is a very important piece to this Lamar led offense.
Jaylon Ferguson– Late 1st round (Actual pick: 85th overall)
Ferguson went later than expected in the draft as he was projected to be in the first or second round. Edge rushers don’t typically flourish in their rookie year even as top 5 picks sometimes. Unfortunately, Bosa brothers don’t grow on trees. In the Ravens scheme, a lot is asked of them beyond just getting after the quarterback. They are expected to set the edge in the run game and be adept in coverage as well. Ferguson has made significant strides during his rookie season and is already outplaying his 3rd round draft status.
Justin Tucker– 1st or 2nd round (Actual pick: Undrafted Free Agent)
Does anything really need to be said? If a team knew that Tucker was going to be the most accurate kicker in NFL history do you think they would hesitate to draft him early? I don’t. Let me remind you the Buccaneers drafted Roberto Aguayo in the 2nd round in 2016 and traded up to do so. Aguayo is now out of the league and was a bust right from the start of his rookie year.
So, there you have it, my re-draft.
But the success and the accolades don’t stop there.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about making the case for John Harbaugh as Coach of the Year. That distinction is every bit the lock as Lamar for MVP. And then when you consider recent drafts and what Eric DeCosta has done with roster in the form of trades, managing comp picks and signing street free agents in midseason, shouldn’t he be a lock for Executive of the Year?
It has been quite a season so far. Yet there’s more work to be done.
Next up, the No. 1 seed in the AFC.