Thursday, April 05, 2012

Marshal Yanda: Ravens All-Time Best Draft Pick


April 4, 2012

By John Eisenberg

The Ravens have been drafting players since they arrived from Cleveland in 1996. There have been plenty of highs and lows. Here's a look at their best and worst selections, by round:

First round

Best: Ray Lewis (1996) – Heavy competition here between numerous Pro Bowl stars, but no one ranks ahead of the iconic linebacker.

Worst: Kyle Boller (2003) – He was supposed to be the answer under center but was never more than a question mark. His failure eventually got Brian Billick fired.

Second round

Best: Ray Rice (2008) – He has made the Pro Bowl twice in four years and led the league in yards from scrimmage in 2011. It’s hard to believe the Ravens’ offensive centerpiece was not a first round pick.

Worst: Dan Cody (2005) – Trumpeted as a high-motor sackmaster-in-waiting, he suffered a serious knee injury on the first day of training camp and never really came all the way back.

Third round

Best: Marshal Yanda (2007) – The Ravens love to take rugged linemen in the middle rounds and developed them into starters. Yanda is a classic. He made the Pro Bowl in 2011.

Worst: David Pittman (2006) – The Ravens reached for a small-college player (Northwestern State) and got their hands slapped. Pittman made one start in two seasons, grabbed a cup of coffee with a pair of other teams and now plays for the Edmonton Eskmos.

Fourth round

Best: Brandon Stokley (1999) and Jarret Johnson (2003) – Ozzie Newsome satisfied his Bama fix with Johnson, a rugged linebacker who became a cornerstone, starting a franchise-record 80 straight games. Stokley caught the Ravens’ first touchdown in the Super Bowl and played 13 years in the league.

Worst: P.J. Daniels (2006) – A running back from Georgia Tech, Bounced around the fringes of the roster for three years, suffered an injury, never gained a yard for the team.

Fifth round

Best: Dawan Landry (2006) – Despite being picked so low, he was a starter virtually from the moment he joined the team, and played alongside Ed Reed through 2010 before departing as a free agent.

Worst: Ryan Sutter (1998) – The former Colorado safety was cut in training camp, got hurt on his first play with another team (Carolina) and never had a career. But he did win the first “Bachelor” reality show contest. His wedding was on TV.

Sixth round:

Best: Adalius Thomas (2000) – The linebacker from Southern Mississippi became a starter, two-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the best in the game for a brief period. Didn’t play as well after leaving Baltimore for New England. (Honorable mention to Chester Taylor, who has rushed for 4,740 yards in a decade in the league.)

Worst: Tie between numerous players who didn’t make the team, such as Josh Harris (2004), a quarterback from Bowling Green who later sat on the bench in Cleveland for two years, wound up in indoor ball and recently came out of retirement ro play for the Marion (Ind.) Blue Racers.

Seventh round

Best: Cam Quayle (1998) – Slim pickings here. He never played for the Ravens but, as the last player taken in the draft, was given the Mr. Irrelevant treatment, invited to California for a week of fun. He broke up with his fiancĂ© during the week.

Worst: Tie between numerous other players who didn’t make the team, such as defensive end Dwayne Missouri (2001), who was cut off the practice squad and later played for the Colorado Crush, Philadelphia Soul and Utah Blaze.

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