The Baltimore Ravens are generally viewed as being one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to the draft. ESPN recently completed a study quantifying which teams have gotten the best draft value since 2012, and the Ravens ranked third. Anecdotally, growing up outside of Pittsburgh, it always feels like great players just seem to be served on a silver platter to Baltimore when they’re on the clock.
With the 2022 NFL Draft this week, the Ravens will turn to the draft once again to fill some holes on their roster. After starting the season 8-3 and sitting atop the division, Baltimore, which did not have starting QB Lamar Jackson for the final four weeks of the regular season, lost its final six games and finished at the bottom of the AFC North along with Cleveland.
As the Ravens are finalizing their big board for the 2022 NFL Draft, let’s take a look at some of their best and worst first-round draft picks since 2000.
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Baltimore Ravens’ Best NFL Draft Picks
Ed Reed, 2002
Who better to lead off the list of best Ravens’ first-round draft picks than Ed Reed? Even though I’m supposed to hate the Ravens as a Steelers fan, Ed Reed gets a pass. The dude was one of the most disruptive and impactful defensive players, not just of my generation, but of all-time. Reed was the third first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee for Baltimore, joining Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis.
Terrell Suggs, 2003
It’s legitimately unfair to think the Ravens added Reed and Terrell Suggs in back-to-back drafts, but that’s what they did. Straight out of Ball So Hard University, Suggs is the current NFL leader in career tackles for loss and is 8th all-time in sacks. Among Suggs’ career awards were seven Pro Bowls, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year.
Jamal Lewis, 2000
I could’ve made this entire list surrounding defensive players, but let’s give some love to the guy with the third-most rushing yards in an NFL season (2,066) — just behind Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson. In Lewis’ rookie season, he gained more than 1,600 scrimmage yards and scored six touchdowns. In the playoffs, he tacked on nearly 400 scrimmage yards and an additional four touchdowns, with 102 rushing yards and one touchdown coming in the Super Bowl victory against the Giants. Lewis’ 7,801 career rushing yards and 45 rushing touchdowns are tops in Ravens history, and his 81.0 career yards per game average is good for a top 20 mark in the NFL.
Honorable mentions: Todd Heap, Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, and Haloti Ngata.
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Baltimore Ravens’ Worst NFL Draft Picks
Breshad Perriman, 2015
After posting a 1,000-yard receiving season on 50 catches as a junior at Central Florida, Perriman blazed a 4.25 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and landed with Baltimore at 26th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. The hype around Perriman was basically the highlight of his career as a Raven. A knee injury prevented him from playing during his rookie season. Two years and 43 receptions later, he got cut.
Matt Elam, 2013
Another Raven coming out of the state of Florida with a short-lived stay in Baltimore, DB Matt Elam never lived up to his draft-day expectations. It also doesn’t help he was stepping in for that Ed Reed guy I talked about a few paragraphs earlier. Elam had a nice rookie season with nearly 80 tackles, but it was all downhill from there. Decreased play in 2014, a biceps tear and a lost season in 2015, and a drug arrest in 2016 eventually were the nail in the coffin for Elam.
Kyle Boller, 2003
You knew it was coming, right? Boller was supposed to be the answer at quarterback for a team that was searching for an answer for quite some time. Spoiler alert: it never came to fruition. Boller started a full 16-game slate just once in his five years for Baltimore. The Ravens made the playoffs twice during that five-year span, but Boller wasn’t on the field for either appearance.
Honorable mentions: Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, Michael Oher, Hayden Hurst (for the record, I was always #TeamAndrews).
AP Photo/Roberto Borea