The Baltimore Ravens must have tremendous trust in their own organization to make some of the moves they have made so far this off season. The team has signed several first round draft picks that have not yet lived up to their draft status of yet to help their team deal with the departure of some very good players.
Why are the Ravens so confident? Probably because they have a proven track record of getting the best out of the players they bring in. In the past they have signed castoffs like Jacoby Jones and Bernard Pollard and turned them into Pro Bowl caliber players and have taken undrafted free agents like Bart Scott and Dannell Ellerbe and turned them into rich men only for them to fail to replicate the production they showed here in Baltimore. There is a long list of ex-Ravens that have signed big money contracts other places and never lived up to them. The list of players that the Ravens have brought in for pennies on the dollar only to turn into valuable assets to the team is nearly as long. Ellerbe has yet to show what he will do as an ex-Raven but the track record of Adalius Thomas, Edgerton Hartwell and many other former Raven linebackers is not good.
This season the Ravens are hoping they continue that trend with three once very highly touted players.
Defensive End Marcus Spears was drafted 20th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005. He was though to be a DeMarcus Ware type of player but never put up the pass rushing numbers that Dallas hoped he would. In turn he is now a salary cap casualty that the Ravens are hoping can can help solidify their run defense. Spears has had many injury issues over his career. Perhaps , if he can stay healthy, he will help Baltimore return to their run stopping ways.
Safety Michael Huff was the seventh overall pick in 2006 for the Oakland Raiders and has joined a long line of Oakland draft "busts" that stretches back nearly a decade. Although Huff has shown excellent versatility in his professional career for the Raiders, he never quite lived up to his status as the seventh overall pick to their fans. Huff is a very capable safety and corner who can help in the run and passing game. He may be the Ravens most underrated signing this season if he stays healthy.
Lastly, the Ravens most recent signing is middle linebacker Rolando McClain. McClain was labeled as a "can't miss" prospect coming out of Alabama where he was the captain of the best defense in college football. Subsequently he was drafted eighth overall in 2010. McClain has suffered from several off the field issues that translated into on the field issues and lead to him losing playing time and then his job in Oakland as part of their recent purge. Rolando is still only 23 years old, younger than some players that are being drafted this year, and shows tremendous potential. The Ravens are hoping that a scenery and culture change as well as a change back to the 3-4 defense that he played in college will turn his career around. Again only time will tell. One thing is for sure however, the Ravens have shown incredible respect for themselves this off season.