The 2008 NFL Draft paid off huge dividends for the Baltimore Ravens, who took QB Joe Flacco (Delaware) and RB Ray Rice (Rutgers) in the first and second rounds, respectively. Not a bad pair to develop your team around and that has been exactly what they've done. But what if the current status of these players were fully evident prior to the 2008 draft, where would these, as well as other players, have gone.
NFL.com is doing a series of stories titled, Draft Do-Overs and they just posted the 2008 draft, which featured some names a lot bigger than both Flacco and Rice were back then. The Ravens dropped back in the first round after a horrible 2007 season (5-11), starting over with a new head coach in John Harbaugh, who replaced Brian Billick. However, then they traded back up to the 18th spot to grab Flacco, which many people considered a huge reach for a little-known guy coming out of what was basically Division 2 football.
Next they took a running back when they already had Willis McGahee doing pretty well in their backfield. Skeptics thought they could have found many other players rather than what they thought would end up being a backup running back. No one, including the Ravens and their fans, had much of an inkling that these two would become the cornerstone of the future of an annual Super Bowl contender for at least the next four years.
(To find out where both Flacco and Rice might have gone in NFL.com's 2008 Draft Do-Over, click on the 'Jump')
The NFL.com story still sees the Miami Dolphins taking tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick and the Atlanta Falcons retaining QB Matt Ryan with the third pick. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs, who ended up trading for New England Patriots QB Matt Cassel and giving him a huge contract, this time took Flacco with the fifth overall pick, instead of selecting DT Glen Dorsey and then trading for Cassel later.
The nightmare for the Ravens gets worse, as not only do they lose Flacco to the team they would end up beating in the 2011 playoffs (or now would they?), they sit helplessly as they watch the Patriots snatch Ray Rice with the tenth overall pick. Originally, they took LB Jerod Mayo, who has done relatively well, but could imagine adding a playmaker like Rice to that offense?
The story rates the Ravens draft that year second best behind the Falcons and then slams the Cleveland Browns, who have pretty much received absolutely nothing in return for what they spent on their rookies in 2008. They mention a couple of players who went late in the draft and now have become known as steals based on their performance over the past four years.
However, it's the Ravens who have gotten more out of the 2008 draft than any other two players on a single team. Had Baltimore not ended up with those two guys, one can only guess who they would have taken with those first two picks. I recall that I thought the team might take CB Aqib Talib with their first pick and QB Chad Henne with their second round selection. Wonder what difference that would have made?