While most of us are studying and reviewing on what the Baltimore Ravens will be doing with the 26th pick of the first round of the NFL Draft starting on Saturday, April 25, 2009, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has probably already moved on to April 26th.
That's when the final four rounds take place, and although they don't get anywhere near the fanfare from the press or the casual fans, we all know of Newsome's success at finding those future Pro Bowlers in rounds four through seven - and beyond. Let's take a look at some of the second day draft picks of the Ravens throughout the years, and you will see how the "Wizard of Oz' earned his reputation as a master of finding the diamonds-in-the-rough in the latter stages of the NFL Draft.
NOTE: The Ravens have also had a few undrafted free agent signings rise to stardom, such as RB Priest Holmes (1997) and LB Bart Scott (2002). They also have a couple of other current roster players who were undrafted, and while the jury is still out on whether or not they will become future stars, they are LB Jameel McClain and WR Ernie Wheelwright (2008).
7th Round: Surprisingly, for all the great players he's found, the only one worth mentioning is current Practice Squad member, WR Justin Harper, selected in 2008.
6th Round: One of Ozzie's two best rounds for finding great players. Safety Haruki Nakamura (2008), LB Prescott Burgess (2007), Punter Sam Koch and DB Derrick Martin (2006), QB Derek Anderson (2005), RB Chester Taylor (2002), LB Adalius Thomas (2000).
5th Round: Three current Ravens stand out from Newsome's recent drafts. QB Troy Smith (2007), Safety Dawan Landry and TE Quinn Sypniewski (2006).
4th Round: This is where the Wizard really shines best. The list of those 4th rounders alone could be the basis for the nucleus of a very good team by themselves. OT David Hale and WR Marcus Smith (2008), LB Antwan Barnes and RB Le'Ron McClain (2007) Note: McClain was actually a 4th round Compensatory Pick! WR Demetrius Williams (2006), Center Jason Brown (2005), LB Jarret Johnson (2003), FB Ovie Mughelli and Punter Dave Zastudil (2002), LB Edgerton Hartwell (2001), WR Brandon Stokley and OG Edwin Mulitalo (1999).
While most of the future stars will probably come from the first day of the draft, these guys certainly are major contributors to the Ravens success over the years. For some reason, we Ravens fans know and have confidence that Ozzie will find the next great unknown future star soemwhere in the last four rounds of the Draft later this month.