Exploring Ozzie Newsome’s Declining Draft Results
“Ozzie Newsome hasn’t had a good draft since 2008″ has become a catchphrase in Baltimore. But is this statement actually true?
Ozzie Newsome is a legendary general manager. He has built two Super Bowl teams. He has given the Ravens long runs as a power in the AFC. Nothing that happens from this point on can change the fact that we owe Mr. Newsome our undying gratitude. There is an overwhelming sentiment going around that he has struggled in recent years in the NFL Draft. The general manager is of course the first place you look when your team has a 5-11 season.
Newsome has gotten diminished results from his draft classes. There really is no disputing that. However, Newsome built his reputation on the fact that he brought legends into the Ravens organization. In the Ravens first draft he selected Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round. He built much of the Ravens legendary 2000 defense through the draft. Overall he had hit more than any other general manager in the NFL. He had such a good start that a handful of bad drafts doesn’t really diminish his reputation.
Every time I turn on 105.7 the fan, I hear a caller say that the Ravens have not had a good draft since 2008. On face value this seems unlikely. If this were true the five straight trips to the playoffs from 2008-2012 were miraculous. The Ravens may have a problem now, but did it really start this far back. Let’s go back to 2009 and re-evaluate the Ravens draft record from 2009-2016.
The 2009 Ravens Draft Results:
- Round 1: Michael Oher, OT (Ole Miss) 23rd Overall Pick
- Round 2: Paul Kruger, DE (Utah) 57th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Ladarius Webb, CB (Nicholls State) 88th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Jason Phillips, LB (TCU) 137th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Davon Drew, TE (East Carolina) 149th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Cedric Peerman, RB (Virginia) 185th Overall Pick
Before we begin, we have to define a good draft. In a good draft, you have to get a few key contributors or one superstar that changes everything. Even in good drafts there are misses. A good draft makes the team better.
Right off the bat, this myth is dispelled. This is a solid draft class. Michael Oher may not have been the Ravens next Jonathan Ogden, but he had a solid run as their right tackle. Ozzie Newsome clearly got more than third round production from Lardarius Webb. Webb has played in 102 games for the Ravens. He has had over 300 tackles and 12 interceptions. The Ravens got a key player in Webb. Oher and Kruger were solid contributors.
The Ravens 2010 Draft Results
- Round 2: Sergio Kindle, OLB (Texas) 43rd Overall Pick
- Round 2: Terrence Cody, DT (Alabama) 57th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Ed Dickson, TE (Oregon) 70th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Dennis Pitta, TE (BYU) 114th Overall Pick
- Round 5: David Reed, WR (Utah) 156th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Arthur Jones, DE (Syracuse) 157th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Ramone Harewood, OT (Moorehouse) 194th Overall Pick
Alright, this draft class is not Mr. Newsome’s best work. Sergio Kindle was perhaps one of the most disappointing picks the Ravens ever made. Terrence Cody was a waste of great size and strength. David Reed was a frustrating return man and a very average wide receiver. Ramone Harwood was a sixth round pick for a reason.
The Ravens did get two key players in Dennis Pitta and Arthur Jones. Pitta became the preferred target of Joe Flacco at the tight end position. Before the back to back hip injuries, Pitta was a Super Bowl hero. The Ravens hit with Jones. He grew into a really good football player. Just when he was beginning to shine, the Ravens lost him in free agency.
The bad certainly outweighs the good in this draft. Overall five of seven picks were a bust. Pitta and Jones did help the team, but not enough to forgive this poor draft class.
The Ravens 2011 Draft Results:
- Round 1: Jimmy Smith, CB (Colorado) 27th Overall Pick
- Round 2: Torrey Smith, WR (Maryland) 58th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Jah Reid, OT (UCF) 85th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Tandon Doss, WR (Indiana) 123rd Overall Pick
- Round 5: Chykie Brown, CB (Texas) 164th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Pernell McPhee, DE (Miss St.) 165th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Tyrod Taylor, QB (VT) 180th Overall Pick
- Round 7: Anthony Allen, RB (GT) 255th Overall Pick
I would argue that this is a good draft class. Jimmy Smith has been a solid cornerback for the Ravens. He isn’t Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson, but he is a player that makes a difference. Torrey Smith had some real great moments with the Ravens.
The Ravens allowed him to move on because he was good, not great. The Ravens got a solid deep threat with Smith, but they thought they could replace what he brought to the table with a cheaper option. I liked Tandon Doss coming out of Indiana. Hind sight tells us this was a bad pick, but I see what the Ravens saw.
Pernell McPhee was just the next Arthur Jones. Once he became a real contributor, he took a pay day with the Chicago Bears. Tyrod Taylor is now a functional franchise quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens had four really strong picks in this draft. Would the Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2012, without Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith?
The Ravens 2012 Draft Results
- Round 2: Courtney Upshaw, OLB (Alabama) 35th Overall Pick
- Round 2: Kelechi Osemele, OG (Iowa State) 60th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Bernard Pierce, RB (Temple) 84th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Gino Gradkowski, C (Delaware) 98th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Christian Thompson, DB (South Carolina State) 130th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Asa Jackson, DB (Cal Poly) 169th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Tommy Streeter, WR (Miami) 198th Overall Pick
- Round 7: DeAngelo Tyson, DT (Georgia) 236th Overall Pick
This draft has a lot of disappointment, but the first two picks weigh the heaviest. Trading back into the second round instead of drafting a first round pick, is never a sexy move. Courtney Upshaw wasn’t great, but he did set the edge and was pivotal to the run defense. Kelechi Osemele replaced Ben Grubbs seamlessly at left guard. Now the Raiders have made him the highest paid guard in NFL history.
The Ravens had possibly the least sexy draft of all time, but they got two important pieces of the puzzle. The myriad of horrible drafting after round two cannot be overlooked. This may not be a great draft, but the impact of Upshaw and Osemele means it was not a horrible draft either.
The Ravens 2013 Draft Results
- Round 1: Matt Elam, S (Florida) 32nd Overall Pick
- Round 2: Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State) 56th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern) 94th Overall Pick
- Round 4: John Simon, DE (Ohio State) 129th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Kyle Juszczyk, FB (Harvard) 130th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Ricky Wagner, OT (Wisconsin) 168th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Kappron Lewis-Moore, DE (Notre Dame) 200th Overall Pick
- Round 6: Ryan Jensen, OL (CSU-Pueblo) 203rd Overall Pick
- Round 7: Aaron Mellette, WR (Elon) 238th Overall Pick
- Round 7: Marc Anthony, DB (Cal) 247th Overall Pick
This draft hurts to look at. Matt Elam has given every indication that he is a bust. Arthur Brown was a flashy draft pick that fizzled out like an open can of soda. The Ravens gave up on John Simon too early and his success with the Houston Texans proves that. There was very little to smile about in this draft.
Brandon Williams however was a great find. He may be the best nose guard in football. Wagner has been a solid right tackle and he filled a big need for the Ravens. While under utilized, Juszczyk is a good fullback. The Ravens got a star and two contributors. This draft is awful in many respects but it has some redeeming quality.
The Ravens 2014 Draft Results:
- Round 1: C.J. Mosley, LB (Alabama) 17th Overall Pick
- Round 2: Timmy Jernigan, DT (FSU) 48th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Terrence Brooks, S (FSU) 79th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Crockett Gillmore, TE (Colorado State) 90th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Brent Urban, DT (Virginia) 104th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB (Coastal Carolina) 138th Overall Pick
- Round 5: John Urschel, OG (Penn State) 175th Overall Pick
- Round 7: Keith Wenning, QB (Ball State) 194th Overall Pick
- Round 7: Michael Campanaro, WR (Wake Forest) 218th Overall Pick
I don’t think we can call this a bad draft. C.J. Mosley has become a heck of a linebacker. Timmy Jernigan is starting to live up to his potential. Crockett is a great blocking tight end who needs to get more chances in the passing game. Brent Urban is finally healthy and is a handful on the defensive line. If it were not for Campanaro’s injuries, he could have been a star. Campanaro’s future still has some potential.
This is not one of Ozzie Newsome’s best draft hauls, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. From 1996-2008 Newsome had built a reputation as a draft expert. Not every draft pick can be a Ray Lewis or a Terrell Suggs. The Ravens got two really good defensive players and a couple contributors. This is a good draft.
The Ravens 2015 Draft Results:
- Round 1: Breshad Perriman, WR (UCF) 26th Overall Pick
- Round 2: Maxx Williams, TE (Minnesota) 55th Overall Pick
- Round 3: Carl Davis, DT (Iowa) 90th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Za’Darius Smith, OLB (Kentucky) 122nd Overall Pick
- Round 4: Javorius Allen, RB (USC) 125th Overall Pick
- Round 4: Tray Walker, CB (Texas Southern) 136th Overall Pick
- Round 5: Nick Boyle, TE (Delaware) 171st Overall Pick
- Round 5: Robert Myers, OL (Tenn St,) 176th Overall Pick
- Round 7: Darren Waller, WR (GT) 204th Overall Pick
Before I talk about this draft class, take a moment to remember Tray Walker, who was taken from us in a tragic accident. We’ll never know what he could have been as a professional football player and more importantly a person.
It’s too early to tell, but this is leaning towards being a lackluster draft. Breshad Perriman was a risky pick, even if he had no injury concerns. After a knee injury sidelined him for the 2015 season, he still hasn’t proven that he was worth a number one draft pick. I thought Carl Davis was a steal. He has a chance to be a good player. Za’Darius Smith has shown flashes but still has a lot of developing to do as an outside linebacker. Javorius Allen stepped up last year when Justin Forsett was injured. However he has barely got into the mix this season.
The Ravens 2016 NFL Draft Class:
- Round 1: Ronnie Stanley, OT (ND) Sixth Pick Overall
- Round 2: Kamalei Correa, LB (Boise State) 42nd Pick Overall
- Round 3: Bronson Kaufusi, DE (BYU) 70th Pick Overall
- Round 4: Tavon Young, CB (Rutgers) 104th Pick Overall
- Round 4: Chris Moore, WR (Cincinnati) 107th Pick Overall
- Round 4: Willie Henry, DT (Michigan) 132nd Pick Overall
- Round 4: Kenneth Dixon, RB (LT) 134th Pick Overall
- Round 5: Matt Judon, LB (Grand Valley State) 146th Pick Overall
- Round 6: Keenan Reynolds, WR (Navy) 182nd Pick Overall
- Round 6: Maurice Cannady, CB (Virginia) 209th Pick Overall
I can’t hate on this draft right now. Alex Lewis has been one of the few Ravens offensive linemen that hasn’t driven me up a wall this season. Lewis has a chance to be something. Stanley played admirably for a rookie left tackle before getting hurt. So far the Ravens haven’t won without Stanley on the field. Dixon and Judon have time to blossom into stars. Tavon Young is full of potential and Bronson Kaufusi got hurt before we even got to see what he can do. It’s too early to tell but Newsome had a solid draft by the looks of it.
The Bottom Line:
Ozzie Newsome hasn’t brought in the kind of draft hauls that we are used to. He also hasn’t filled the Ravens roster with weapons for the offense. There are definite failings that we can point to here.
The Ravens draft results have gone down hill, but there have been some solid drafts after the Ravens stellar 2008 draft. To say the Ravens have been terrible in the draft is painting with to broad of a brush. However giving Newsome and company too much credit would be a mistake.
If you want to make the argument that the Ravens need to move on from Newsome, I can go along with that. After all, we won’t know what we truly have with Eric DeCosta until he is running the show completely. The Ravens do need to do better in the draft, particularly at the skill positions. However if you want to say that Newsome has lost his marbles, or that he has been doing awful in the last eight seasons, I don’t agree with you. There is reason to criticize Newsome but there has been some good with the bad.