Rating the drafts

As each year begins starting as early as late January, every NFL Team begins to build their football team for the next season. They decide in which direction they which to travel in free agency, re-signing of their own players and they begin to prepare for the college draft .All of this plays an important part in reaching their goal of having a Playoff team and one day a Super Bowl Champion.

Their Management Team looks at all the possibilities, both in the draft and free agency, and takes steps hopefully in the right direction that is best for them. They begin the process by asking questions of coaches, scouts and other important management team members such as:

• How many free agents do we want to sign this year and how much Cap Money do we want to spend on them? What positions on our football team had weaknesses that need be addressed in free agency before the draft?

• How much value in filling position weaknesses should we as a team put on the draft in terms of overall roster make-up?

• How much Salary Cap Money should be spent in each area (free agents, drafted players and their own current players)?

• What current roster players should we re-signed when their current contracts expire?

• What additional players are needed and in what areas to get our team to the next level to compete for a chance to play in the Super Bowl as soon as possible?

When deciding what are the needs that must to be filled in each year's draft, the team must look at what players coming out of college can we draft in our position of selection this year This is determined by compiling our draft board. The team also must try to select players that they project as possible starters on their team, both immediately and by year three after the draft.

Let's look at the Baltimore Ravens' draft history as one example of how NFL teams go about the draft process and see how the players they have drafted have done in years after being selected. Most people believe Ozzie Newsome does a good job at drafting future players.

Most draft experts and NFL executives, as well as the media feel that a draft cannot be judged for at least three years after the drafting year….even at that point most people differ in what kind of grade to put on each draft, and more importantly, what grade to place on the organization for all previous drafts combined.

How does anyone judge how productive these players have been and how much they have contributed to their teams? The final judgment must be calculated in Playoff and Super Bowl victories.

Even though fans do not know the internal workings and reasons why each team has drafted as they have, the average fan can, by watching their football team perform on Sundays, judge for themselves how they rate each player drafted and their progress over the years.

Each of us has our own mental grading system and opinions as to how these players are doing. Let's break down the Ravens drafts each year and the players they have drafted to see how we would grade the Ravens success on the field.

Since we are not supposed to rate or pass judgment on previous drafts in the last few years, let's work backwards and move forward from year 2002 through 2005 to establish the progress of players the Ravens have selected.

Year 2002 – Round Player Was Selected in: Round 1 – Ed Reed (S) - A very successful selection in year 2002.. Ed has turned out to be one of the top Safeties in the NFL.

Round 2 – Anthony Weaver (Dt/De) - Played and started most of his rookie contract before leaving for the Texans after his rookie contract expired. Was a run stopper, never had many sacks, and has not done well since.

Round 4 – Dave Zastudil – (P) – Was the Raven Punter until his rookie contract expired and then he signed with the Cleveland Browns where he still is their Punter.

Round 4 – Ron Johnson (WR) – Played as a Special Teams player and was used as a third Wide Receiver in some offensive packages.

Round 5 – Terry Jones (TE) – Played some Tight End on Offense, but mostly Special Teams, but was an important player and a good late round selection.

Round 6 – Lamont Brightful and Javin Hunter (WR) – Both not very productive players overall which is the norm for this late in the draft.

Round 6 – Chester Taylor (RB) – Might have been the steal of the draft in the sixth round this year. A good Special Teams and part-time starter, third down back and is still a very important productive part of Minnesota Vikings team.

Round 6 – Chad Williams (DB)

Round 7 – Wes Pate (QB) – both cut

VERY EXCELLENT DRAFT

YEAR 2003 – Round Player Was Selected in:

Round 1 – Terrell Suggs (DE/LB) – Best defensive lineman ever drafted by Ravens in any draft so far. Has had 40 sacks in his first 4 years and is one of the fastest players in NFL history to achieve that goal..

Round 1 – Kyle Boller (QB) – Although started as a rookie and played as a starter until Steve McNair was signed as a free agent, Kyle has not been a really successful NFL Quarterback in many areas and has had a 500 win/loss record as a starter. He was not a total bust as was Ryan Leaf and other NFL Quarterbacks but will go down in Raven history as a below-average performer and considering the Ravens gave up their number one draft choice the following year, must be considered a negative draft selection.

Round 3 – Musa Smith (RB) – A very good Special Teams player and third down Back when healthy, but had a very serious injury and never developed into the Running Back that the Ravens thought he might become.

Round 4 – Jarret Johnson (DE/LB) – Started out as Special Teams player, moved into a back-up role on defense, and last year became a starter. One of the few drafted players other than number one draft choices that Ravens have re-signed after rookie contract was up.

Round 5 – Aubrayo Franklin (DT) – Even though 0nly a part-time starter, was a valuable part of the defensive line when activated for games. Currently a starter for the 49ers and must be considered a decent NFL player.

Round 5 – Tony Pashos (OT) – Although a slow starter in his first few years, by the final year of his rookie contract, had developed into a good starting right tackle who the Ravens did not re-sign. He is now an important part of Jacksonville's offensive line.

Round 6 – Gerome Sapp (S/DB) – Very good Special Teams player and part-time starter for the Ravens. Was not re-signed after his rookie contract expired by was re-acquired later.

Round 7 – Trent Smith (TE) – Showed lots of promise in his rookie training camp, but had a career-ending injury that he was able to recovered from and thus never had an NFL career.

Round 7 – Mike Mabry and Antwoine Sanders – Not a factor on the team and were cut during their first year.

As successful as the 2002 draft was, this 2003 draft has to be rated as good as any draft for overall productivity from contributing players.

Another very successful drafting year.

YEAR 2004 – Round Player Was Selected in:

Round 1 – The Ravens had no first round selection because they had traded away this selection when they moved up in the 2003 draft to acquire Kyle Boller.

Round 2 – Dwan Edwards (DT) – Being the Ravens' first overall selection in this draft, it was very important that the player they selected would be able to start as soon as possible and be successful. That did not happen. It has taken Edwards quite awhile to move into a starting role, and he only did that because of an injury to Trevor Pryce (who the Ravens had obtained in free agency because of the lack of productivity from the defensive line).

Round 3 – Devard Darling (WR) – Another draft choice that had been slow in developing and never was that productive.He Had contributed on Special Teams, but now with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Round 5 – Roderick Green (LB) – Played as speed rusher and a part time starter when starters were injured but mostly special teams.

Round 6 – Josh Harris (QB) – Another unsuccessful QB selection that Ravens have made.

Round 7 – Derek Abney (WR) and Brian Rimpf (T)

OVERALL THIS DRAFT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A BELOW AVERAGE YEAR.

2005 DRAFT – ROUND PLAYER WAS SELECTED IN:

Round 1 – Mark Clayton (WR) – Started as a rookie and had a fairly productive first year, but overall with injuries his productivity has been below average considering his selection in the first round and being the 22nd player taken in 2005 draft.

Round 2 – Dan Cody (DE/LB) – Has to this point hardly stepped on the field because of one injury after another, but Ravens had known his injury-prone history, but took a chance here anyway in Round 2.

Round 2 – Adam Terry (OT) – Still has not started more than five games in any one season. Was not able to adjust to playing another position on the offensive line early in his career. He was considered to be Ogden's future replacement, but has been slow to develop so he must be considered not to be a successful selection. If you add in the fact that the Ravens moved up in the draft and gave up a draft pick to obtain the rights to draft him, then he must be considered a bad choice.

Round 4 – Jason Brown (C/G) – Has to be considered best player drafted in this draft. Even though not allowed to play his natural position of Center, where he played at North Carolina, he eventually became the Ravens' starting Left Guard last year and will be the starting Center this year. He will be a free agent next year and it is important that Ravens re-sign him to keep stability on the offensive line.

Round 5 – Justin Green (FB) – Mostly a Special Teams player and was not on the roster for that many years.

Round 6 – Derek Anderson (QB) – If Ravens had not cut him so Phil Savage and the Browns could pick him off the waiver wire, he would most likely be the Ravens' starting Quarterback today, and the 2005 draft would be considered a good drafting year.

Round 7 – Mike Smith (LB) – Mostly a Special Teams player, but still around after sitting out last year with an injury and but may not be healthy enough to play in first part of 2008. He did back-up and played some in 2006 when Ray Lewis was injured.

OVERALL AN AVERAGE DRAFTING YEAR

The following is current years and the players the Ravens have selected. These drafts should not be judged as to how successful the Ravens were because it is to early to fairly judge their success.Here are some notable players that have performed well:

2006: Round 1 – Haloti Ngata (DT) Round 4 – Demetrious Williams (WR) Round 5 – Sam Koch (P) Players that need to improve to make this draft successful: Round 2 – Chris Chester (C/G) Round 3 – David Pittman (DB) Round 4 – PJ Daniels 2007:

Round 1 – Ben Grubbs (G) Round 3 – Yamon Figurs (KR/PR) Round 3 – Marshal Yanda (G/OT) Round 4 – Antwan Barnes (LB) Round 5 – LeRoon McClain (FB) Round 6 – Troy Smith (QB)

Supplemental Pick – Jarret Gaither (OT) ******This could become one of the best drafts ever******

We can't even comment on 2008 because these players have not made the team or even played in a NFL regular season game.

How do you the fan rate the Ravens ability to draft top quality players year after year? You should not compare other team drafts to the Ravens because drafts should be judged on wins and Playoff appearances of your team. In the last four years from 2007 back to 2004, the Ravens have only had one Playoff appearance and that was a loss in the 13 win season of 2006.The draft is only one way to judge your team success but it is an important one in the overall evaluation of your progress in the NFL.

Other categories that should be a factor as to the success of your team are free agent signings, cap management and the re-signing of your quality starting players. Each plays an important part in playoff wins and Super Bowl Championships.

Drafting quality players who will become starting NFL players for your team is an essential part if you are to be successful in today's NFL.


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