Monday, April 15, 2024

Top 8 Biggest NFL Draft steals in Baltimore Ravens history


These players show how good the Ravens are at drafting

By Mike Luciano | Apr 14, 2024

Unlike most expansion franchises that came into being in the last few decades, the Baltimore Ravens have set themselves apart as an exceptional drafting team. Two Super Bowl teams and a host of contenders have been built on the back of wise decisions from both Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta.

The Ravens have landed some of the best players in franchise history with premium draft picks, but Baltimore has also become known for finding some gems later in the draft. Be it tremendous scouting or just plain old good luck, the Ravens have been the proving ground for some of the best in the game.

These players all stand out as the biggest eight steals in Ravens NFL Draft history. Baltimore only started drafting in 1996, and their list of steals far outnumbers teams with a few extra decades of experience. This solidifies Baltimore as one of the best drafters in the business without question.

8. P Sam Koch (No. 203 overall, 2006)

While it might be unfair to put a punter here, as they are so rarely picked before the end of Day 3, nabbing a high-end starter for 15 years with a pick often used on players who get cut after the preseason makes this a solid move. The former Nebraska star is the greatest punter in team history.

Koch averaged 45.3 yards per punt for a Ravens team that won a Super Bowl in 2012 and challenged for many others along the way. Jordan Stout will have quite a ways to go if he wants to break all of the records Koch managed to set during his very productive career with the Ravens.

7. OG Edwin Mulitalo (No. 129 overall, 1999)

The powerful guard from Arizona was added for some extra depth at the turn of the millenium, but it didn't take long for Mulitalo to work his way into the starting lineup. Mulitalo was the starting left guard for the 2000 Super Bowl winning team, and his career with the Ravens didn't stop there.

Mulitalo was a frequent starter in Baltimore until 2006, after which he joined the Lions for two more seasons. With 102 starts, a 2,000-yard rusher in Jamal Lewis that did a lot of his damage running behind him, and a championship ring, Mulitalo is still one of the best guards the Ravens ever had.

6. Matt Judon (No. 146 overall, 2016)

While it's hard to call a fifth-round pick risky, taking a pass rusher from Division II Grand Valley State certainly qualifies. Judon helped validate the Ravens' trust in his ability, as he spent the next few years as one of the team's more reliable starters before moving to the Patriots in free agency.

By the end of his Ravens career, Judon turned his fifth-round status into 34.5 sacks, multiple big plays in the postseason, and two Pro Bowl nods during his five years with Baltimore. Even with him thriving in New England, Judon put together a quality career in Baltimore.

5. Adalius Thomas (No. 186 overall, 2000)

Before Judon, the former Southern Miss star signed with the Patriots in 2007 after seven seasons with the Ravens. In that seven-year span, Thomas put up gaudy numbers as a productive pass rusher on some lethal Ravens defenses in the early 2000s.

Thomas recorded 38.5 sacks in seven years with the Ravens, capping his tenure off with an All-Pro season in which he amassed 83 tackles, 24 quarterback hits, and 11 sacks. While Thomas was solid in New England, the last two years of his Baltimore tenure were clearly the best two seasons of his career.

4. Mark Andrews (No. 86 overall, 2018)

Andrews had some doubters despite a fantastic career at Oklahoma. Due to how he was used, many wondered if his inability to become a high-end blocker would overshadow his amazing receiving skills. With Andrews heading into 2024 as a featured passing option yet again, it seems as though he's doing just fine.

Andrews is already third in Ravens history in receiving yards, and there's a chance that he could surpass Todd Heap and Derrick Mason atop their all-time list in the 2024 or 2025 seasons. Lamar Jackson's MVP seasons have both been made easier by Andrews' presence over the middle.

3. Marshal Yanda (No. 86 overall, 2007)

Pick No. 86 has been kind to Baltimore, as Yanda went from Iowa to a starting role with the Ravens almost immediately. By the end of his 13-year career, Yanda piled up so many accolades that some will wonder if he ends his football journey with a gold jacket and a bust in Canton.

Yanda has eight Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams (two First-Team) in his career, choosing to retire on top after another All-Pro year at age 35. Yanda started more games (166) than the combined number of NFL games played between the next four players picked after him (155).

2. Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall, 2018)

Sometimes, a first-round pick can be a steal, especially when you're the fifth quarterback taken in your draft class. While major busts like Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen floundered with their teams, Jackson put together a six-year stretch that is among the best any quarterback in NFL history has ever had.

Jackson has two MVPs to his name and he's turned the Ravens into a perpetual contender. It was tough watching Jackson sit there as interior offensive linemen and strong safeties were picked ahead of him, but Baltimore had enough foresight to realize what he could be in the NFL.

1. Ray Lewis (No. 26 overall, 1996)

Likewise, if you manage to draft the greatest linebacker in NFL history after busts like Tim Biakabatuka, Rickey Dudley, and Alex Molden were picked above you, that counts as a steal. The Ravens pulled off one of the greatest drafts in NFL history in their first such affair, as they snagged Lewis and Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden with consecutive picks.

With 12 Pro Bowls, 10 All-Pro teams, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and two Super Bowl rings, Lewis' career with the Ravens can't be equaled by any linebacker in NFL history. The Ravens' ethos as a defense-first franchise was due to Lewis setting the tone when he arrived in Baltimore.



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