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#TBT: Jacoby Jones and the 2007 NFL Draft

Transactions that would change the course of the Ravens' destiny

Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Jacoby Jones' release brings to a sad but not altogether unexpected close one of the great free agency acquisitions in Baltimore Ravens history. Many members of Baltimore Beatdown gave him an appropriate eulogy, thanking him for what he did in these past three years.

I think I speak for others when I say that no matter how bad a day the team had, the Ravens never felt out of any game with #12 returning kicks.

What might not be so fresh in your minds are the distant events that transpired to bring this all about.

Anatomy of a Trade

Tracing even one thread of a trade in an NFL draft tends to reveal a spider's web of subsequent transactions and impacts across many teams and even many years. 2007 was no different.

As the first round of the 2007 Draft unfolded, Mike Shanahan's Broncos found themselves becoming more enamored by the second with a Gator out of Gainesville, defensive end Jarvis Moss. Not able to wait for him, Denver traded up with Jacksonville, giving up a third rounder (86) and a sixth rounder. Jacksonville moved back to 21 where they selected Reggie Nelson, who now plays safety for the Bengals.

The Ravens were coming up on their pick and were looking to shore up left tackle with Jonathan Ogden firmly in his twilight years. Instead of grabbing Joe Staley as Ravens' VP Kevin Byrne indicated was their target, San Francisco traded up with New England by giving away a future first round pick and some change. Staley became a 49er, while Newsome simply had his guys in New York write a new name down: G Ben Grubbs.

On the second day, another series of moves occurred. Buffalo had a linebacker zeroed in on their gun sights. Detroit was sitting at 34 and Buffalo couldn't wait.  Using their first 3rd-round pick (74) as incentive, the Bills initiated a trade to swap their 43rd pick for Detroit's 34th. The Bills drafted Paul Posluszny who would go on to become a serviceable starter, before moving on to Jacksonville. The Detroit Lions were happy to sit back and draft quarterback Drew Stanton at 43, hoping he might be an answer to their long suffering. He would not be. In fact, their suffering had not yet reached its apex.

But the Matt Millen era was not done yet. Not this year. With that 74th pick, the Lions came calling to the Baltimore Ravens who were sitting on the 61st pick at the tail end of the second round.

Dangling their 74th and 101st selections, the Lions were able to execute the trade with Baltimore.  While the Lions selected Gerald Alexander, who would play only one full season for Detroit (his rookie year) before being traded to Jacksonville and ultimately washing out of the league, Baltimore mused on what to do with the 74th.

As it turns out, no impact players were selected between 61 and 72 thus suggesting that the trade worked out well for the Ravens in moving back.

At 73 though just might have gone the player they had targeted from a little school called Lane College in Tennessee. Instead, Jacoby Jones, a prototypical wide receiver build at 6'3" with blazing speed, went to the Houston Texans.

Maybe Baltimore had him targeted,  maybe not. We'll never know. Instead they selected Yamon Figurs, also a receiver whose main value was in the return game. Figurs would bounce around the team for a few years before being cut before the 2009 season where he would briefly be picked up by the Lions (whose trade made his selection by BAL possible) before finally finishing his career quietly in the CFL.

Baltimore strikes gold on an Iowa farm

Not to be outdone, the Ravens began plotting what to do with the 101st.

They evidently saw a player falling that they liked and made a bold move. They gave a ring to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were sitting on that newly acquired 86th pick from Denver.

The first official article I ever did for Beatdown explained the Ravens' preeminence at generating compensatory picks. 2007 was no different as the Ravens had a 4th, 5th, and 6th accrued thanks to departures in 2006. They would need them as the team had no 4th round pick, having traded that to Tennessee for Steve McNair the year prior.

Because the Ravens had locked in picks in these rounds (comp picks are untradeable), Baltimore could afford to use their remaining tradeable picks as ammunition without sacrificing too many opportunity costs to get players.

That they did. Baltimore swapped the 101st for the 86th while tossing Jacksonville their draft picks in the 5th and 6th round as well. Neither the 101st, 166th, nor 203rd picks would go on to be of much consequence in the NFL.

The 86th did. Marshal Yanda is, almost without question, one of the best picks Baltimore has ever made and arguably their most valuable offensive selection in terms of expected value for where they got him.

Today, doubling up on guards in the first three rounds would be viewed as heresy. It would likely invite all manner of derogatory "D+" grades from self-proclaimed post-draft grading experts and fans. Alas, to be in those simpler times before Twitter and fantasy football.

Jacoby Jones finds his way to Baltimore after all

The Ravens did not draft Jones but it's fair to say they might have admired him from afar. Jones was a productive returner in Houston scoring four of his nine career return touchdowns there. He was not quite the WR2 the Texans sought and unfortunately his worst mistake came at the worst time for his team.

Baltimore, ever one to have their beady Raven eyes on untapped values and released players in order to sustain their compensatory pick empire, was watching. Not long after the dust settled on the 2011 season and Jones met his untimely demise in Houston, he found himself in Baltimore.

The Ravens 2011 season effectively ended short of a Super Bowl because of the failure of certain wide receiver, a sadly common refrain in Ravens postseason annals.

Jones recalls saying at the time when he found out Baltimore was interested:  "OK, let's go win a Super Bowl". The role of these two 2007 draft picks in hoisting the Lombardi could not have been larger.

Jacoby Jones' place in Ravens history is carved in marble where it will remain forever. Marshal Yanda yet has time to add to his.

Follow me on Twitter @jerreegarcia