While many other NFL teams look to the big conferences for the future NFL stars, the Baltimore Ravens are not afraid to dip into the smaller conferences and schools to find guys who could hit it big in the pros. The SEC is considered the best conference in college football, having produced the last six consecutive National Champions.
While the Ravens certainly can appreciate the SEC, especially since GM Ozzie Newsome's alma mater is the University of Alabama, they also search the smaller schools as much for top talent and have hit pay dirt quite a bit in recent years. QB Joe Flacco (Delaware) and CB Lardarius Webb (Nicholls State) are just two of the guys in recent years to come from smaller programs but blossom into bona fide stars in the NFL.
(Click on the 'Jump' to see who the Ravens drafted from smaller schools as well as a few former NFL stars, including one Ravens QB, who came from non-major conference colleges)
As noted in a story from BaltimoreRavens.com, the Ravens "trolled" the smaller colleges and drafted players from those small schools in three straight rounds last weekend, including guard/center Gino Gradkowski (Delaware), safety Christian Thompson (South Carolina State) and CB Asa Jackson (Cal Poly).
Just because a player did not star in a major football conference does not mean that they cannot make the transition to the pro level. Just ask San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Chicago Bears Hall of Fame RB Walter Payton (Jackson State) and former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens QB Steve McNair (Alcorn State).