It could have been so different for the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. If not for one impressive pass break up and one errant field goal kick, that is. Maybe they’d be the last team in our Draft Grader series then, instead of the 29th installment.
But here they are, and as is always the case, we’re going to put their 2008 to 2010 draft classes through the ringer, meaning every pick gets a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Ravens drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Not an easy thing to do on such a deep team.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Lardarius Webb, CB (88th overall pick in 2009): Despite suffering an ACL tear in his rookie year, Webb has gone onto establish himself as one of the league’s best cornerbacks. So much so that his recent 6-year, $50 million contract is something of a bargain. He was one of five Ravens to make the 2011 PFF All-Pro Team on the first or second teams. Only Darrelle Revis finished 2011 with a higher coverage grade, as Webb allowed no touchdowns, intercepted five balls, and broke up 11 more. He’s only going to get better.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Joe Flacco, QB (18th overall pick in 2008): Flacco has certainly been a success for the Ravens, leading the team to a playoff victory in each of his first four seasons. Looking just at his playoff record (5-4 overall) doesn’t paint the whole picture. While he may think of himself as a Top 5 quarterback–and his performance in the playoffs suggested he could be–his play in the regular season (-11.1) should be concerning for Ravens fans. Overall, he needs to become more consistent.
Ray Rice, RB (55th overall pick in 2008): A complete back, Rice isn’t the most dominant runner in the league, but is extremely good in space. He has tallied a +14.6 grade for his rushing over four years, and a +21.6 grade for the rest of his game. A fantastic value, though you feel the Ravens could benefit by finding a complement to him.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Haruki Nakamura, S (206th overall pick in 2008): The former sixth-rounder hasn’t got much action (484 snaps) on defense, but for four years was a contributor on special teams with 33 tackles. He joined the Panthers this offseason looking for more of a chance to start.
Dennis Pitta, TE (114th overall pick in 2010): Somewhat surprising he’s been left as backup to Ed Dickson, when he’s outperformed him when on the field. A far better receiver, he didn’t drop a ball in 2011 and earned a +9.3 grade for his receiving. The Ravens need to make him a bigger part of their offense in 2012.
0.0: It could have been worse
Tom Zbikowski, S (86th overall pick in 2008): When he played, he normally impressed, but having a certain Ed Reed in front of you on the depth chart was always going to limit his chances. He has been one of the league’s better special teamers with 38 tackles over four years (despite not making any in 2010). He has joined former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to help install the defense in Indianapolis.
Marcus Smith, WR (106th overall pick in 2008): It could have gone different for the former fourth round pick, as he only got on the field for 189 snaps on offense. Smith wasn’t helped by an ACL tear in 2009 from which he never seemed to recover, so this move gets a pass.
Justin Harper, WR (215th overall pick in 2008): Played 46 snaps on offense and bounced between active roster and practice squad before being cut in 2010.
Paul Kruger, DE/ LB (57th overall pick in 2009): His 796 snaps on defense shows he’s struggled to get on the field in three years, but a lot of that is down to having Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson ahead of him. Kruger had his most significant action in 2011, where he starred as a situational pass rusher who picked up 29 combined sacks, hits, and hurries on 260 pass rushes (including playoffs). Look for him to get his chance at an every-down role in 2012.
Cedric Peerman, RB (185th overall pick in 2009): Was likely destined for a practice squad spot before being picked up off waivers by the Browns.
Terrence Cody, DT (57th overall pick in 2010): Mount Cody is as big as advertised, but has struggled to do much more than eat up a lot of playing time in his second year. Offers practically nothing as a pass rusher, at his size is always going to have problems when teams don’t run straight at him.
David Reed, WR (156th overall pick in 2010): Reed has managed 33 snaps on offense, but his biggest impact has been felt on special teams. That has not always been a good thing. After looking the part in 2010 with a 29.3 yard kick return average (with a touchdown), Reed went fumble-heavy a year later. His errors arguably cost Baltimore the Week 10 contest with the Seahawks.
Arthur Jones, DT (157th overall pick in 2010): Got on the field for 281 snaps in 2011 without really distinguishing himself. Expect him to fight for more playing time in 2012.
Ramon Harewood, T (194th overall pick in 2010): No snaps for the tackle so far, who has spent two years on injured reserve.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Tavares Gooden, LB (71st overall pick in 2008): Was expected to partner Ray Lewis in the middle of the Ravens’ hybrid scheme. While he had a chance to start in 2009, he struggled to make much of an impact and had his role reduced a year later. Outplayed by others, he was cut before the 2011 season and latched onto the 49ers as a special teams player.
David Hale, T (133rd overall pick in 2008): A former fourth round pick, Hale managed just 17 snaps for the Ravens after they moved him from his college position of tackle to center. It didn’t work out and he was gone after two years.
Allen Patrick, RB (240th overall pick in 2008): Cut after his first preseason and no other teams deemed him a worthwhile pickup for their practice squad.
Michael Oher, T (23rd overall pick in 2009): In some respects, you feel sorry for Oher. It was all going so well for him when he was a rookie right tackle earning a +11.8 grade. A switch to the left side brought with it some struggles, and a switch back to the right side didn’t help rectify them. His last two seasons have resulted in a -37.3 grade as Oher has given up 19 sacks, 19 hits, and 71 hurries over the past two years. Oher needs to rediscover his rookie form and hopefully some positional consistency will help him find that.
Davon Drew, TE (149th overall pick in 2009): The former fifth round pick never got onto the field for the Ravens, failing an early physical and eventually being released as a rookie. They brought him back to their practice squad after the Dolphins gave up on him, but he did nothing for the team.
Jason Phillips, LB (137th overall pick in 2009): Missed his rookie year as he came back from a pre-draft injury then struggled when he was on the practice field. Waived after two years with the team, that is the risk when you select an injured player.
Ed Dickson, TE (70th overall pick in 2010): When you watch Dickson, who became a starter in 2011, the first thing you notice is just how bad a blocker he is. You could live with this if the guy was a difference-making receiving tight end, but he’s not. A former third round pick, his presence highlights the need for them to get improved play from the tight end spot.
-1.0: What a waste!
Oniel Cousins, T (99th overall pick in 2008): A former third round pick, Cousins hung around the roster for a while but was never able to grasp any of the numerous opportunities placed in front of him. As his -11.5 grade on 361 snaps shows, was a liability on the field. He is currently working as a backup right tackle for the Browns.
Sergio Kindle, DE/ LB (43rd overall pick in 2010): There were a lot of concerns with Kindle coming out of college and the Ravens have received just 15 snaps out of the former second round pick. A lot of that is due to a fractured skull from an off-field incident. Even when Kindle was finally healthy Baltimore was reluctant to put him on the field. He could be looking for a new team before the 2012 season rolls around unless he impresses in training camp.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.
The concern for Ravens fans is: what happens once the old guard starts to hang up their boots? This team–and the defense especially–are pushed onward by players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Without them, you wonder if they have the talent coming through to act as suitable replacements. The drafts have found some talent, but nowhere near enough in recent memory as Baltimore has relied more heavily on short-term fixes to patch up positions lacking depth and talent.