General manager Ozzie Newsome has been in charge of drafting players to the Baltimore Ravens for 20 years. He has built two championship teams and one of the most consistently successful franchises in the NFL on the strength of his drafting prowess. However, he has been better at drafting some positions than others. What is the best possible starting lineup created strictly from Ravens draft selections?
Offensive Skill: Joe Flacco (#18), Ray Rice (#55), Torrey Smith (#58), Brandon Stokley (#105), Todd Heap (#31), Le'Ron McClain (#137)
Flacco is a no-brainer as the best QB by far Ozzie has ever drafted. Jamal Lewis was a better player than Ray Rice, but Ray Rice was a more valuable draft pick since he was selected 50 slots after Jamal.
Wide receiver is probably Ozzie's worst position in the draft and the Ravens have been more successful brining in veteran free agent wide receivers. Torrey Smith and Brandon Stokley, along with Jermaine Lewis and Mark Clayton who just missed the cut, were quality complimentary players but not Pro Bowl Caliber.
Todd Heap is the gold standard for Ravens tight ends, Dennis Pitta was on a path towards challenging Heap as a highly productive 4th round pick until a hip injury derailed his career. McClain edges out Ovie Mughelli and Kyle Juszcyzyk at the thankless fullback position.
Offensive Line: Jonathan Ogden (#4), Edwin Mulitalo (#129), Marshal Yanda (#86), Kelechi Osemele (#60), Michael Oher (#23)
Jon Ogden was the first draft pick in Ravens history and the first player selected by the team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as one the very best to ever play the left tackle position. Mulitalo was a road grader who opened plenty of holes for Jamal Lewis in his heyday, he played for longer and provided better draft value than Ben Grubbs.
Yanda is one of the best draft picks Ozzie has ever made as a third round pick who has been dominant for nearly a decade, he will be enshrined into the Ravens Ring of Honor once his playing days are through. Osemele and Oher round out the line, but 5th round pick Ricky Wagner could overtake them with several more strong seasons.
Defensive Front: Pernell McPhee (#165), Brandon Williams (#94), Haloti Ngata (#12), Terrell Suggs (#10), Ray Lewis (#26), Jamie Sharper (#34), Adalius Thomas (#186)
McPhee beats out Arther Jones in a battle of highly productive 5th round picks due to his advantage in disruption. Williams is the least experienced player in this lineup as Ozzie's best pure nose tackle selected.
Ngata represents the best defensive lineman ever drafted by the Ravens and should earn Ring of Honor placement in the near future. Suggs is the franchise's all time leader in sacks and leader of the post-2012 teams.
Ray Lewis is an easy selection as the Ravens franchise's defining player and statue honoree. Sharper was a big part of the Ravens dominant defenses in the early 2000s and deserves the spot ahead of C.J. Mosley and Ed Hartwell based off draft value and impact.
Adalius Thomas earns a very close decision over Peter Boulware and 4th round pick Jarrett Johnson due to his draft slot value and superior pass rushing ability, respectively.
Defensive Secondary: Chris McAlister (#10), Lardarius Webb (#88), Ed Reed (#24), Dawan Landry (#146)
McAlister is the best corner in the Ravens history who shutdown opponents' best receivers for almost a decade. Webb edges Duane Starks and Jimmy Smith because of better draft slot value and longevity with the Ravens.
Ed Reed is the best ballhawk in the history of the NFL, Ozzie received excellent value by selecting him near the end of the first round. Landry was a highly productive 5th round pick who deserves the nod ahead of Kim Herring
*Center Mike Flynn and inside linebacker Bart Scott would have received strong consideration for this lineup if they were drafted by the Ravens instead of being signed as undrafted free agents.
Top to bottom this starting-22 lineup compares favorably to any franchise's draft selections over the last 20 years. Armed with one of his highest draft slots ever and a draft class that aligns well with the Ravens positional needs, there is a high probability that Ozzie Newsome will select a player or two who displaces someone on this lineup later this week in the 2016 NFL draft.