The 2017 NFL Draft is only two weeks away, marking another step to the beginning of the 2017 season. It's a special day for all these college prospects who have dreamt of this moment for their entire lives. Some will end up having productive careers, but some, unfortunately, will have careers that don't live up to their college promise. Not only does unfulfilled potential hurt the player, it sets a team back big time.
With the draft coming up, ESPN's NFL Nation reporters decided to take a look and list each NFL team’s biggest draft bust in their entire histories. Baltimore Ravens NFL Nation reporter Jamison Hensley gave his pick for the Ravens biggest bust. His pick was the recently departed Matt Elam, the team’s 2013 first round pick. Hensley stated:
“Elam came to the Ravens with expectations he would help fill the void left by Ed Reed's departure. He left with one career interception and two stints on injured reserve. An arrest in February, which included possession of 126 grams of marijuana and three grams of oxycodone, according to police, became the final stamp on his underachieving time in Baltimore. Selected three months after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, Elam started 26 games before being benched midway through his second season. He struggled to cover receivers deep and make tackles. Of all the 21 players selected in the first round by the Ravens, no one disappointed quite like Elam."
Yes, we can all agree Elam is officially a bust after the team decided to not bring him back this season. They made that very clear after Elam's arrest. What's sad is that Elam actually did show promise in his rookie season. His regression in 2014 was not just a sophomore slump, it was a sophomore disaster. For that to be general manager Ozzie Newsome's first post-Super Bowl draft pick has hurt his reputation in recent years.
Hensley however, makes a bold final statement. Saying that no one disappointed quite like Elam of all the players selected in the first round by the Ravens is not true. That goes to the team’s second player drafted in the first round in 2003; Quarterback Kyle Boller.
The peak of the great Ravens defenses were, in my opinion, from 2000-2006. All they needed was a quarterback to help them out, they already had core offensive guys like Jonathan Ogden, Todd Heap, and Jamal Lewis. They needed a quarterback to complement them and help put them over the top. The front office knew this, which is why the team traded their 2004 first round pick to the New England Patriots to move back up and select Boller. They felt he was the guy to lead them to multiple championships with that defense.
We all know the rest of the story. Boller never fulfilled his potential and three years after he was drafted, the team traded for Steve McNair. Two years later, they selected Joe Flacco. Those two moves cemented Boller's status. The Ravens bet on Boller and lost.
The Patriots, meanwhile, reaped the benefits of that deal as they drafted Vince Wilfork with the pick that was given to them by Baltimore a year later. Talk about a punch to the gut, unfortunately that is the consequence you might have to pay to try to draft a franchise quarterback. Kyle Boller is another reason why the Ravens are lucky to have Flacco because there is no way Boller plays as well as Flacco did on Christmas night against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year with everything on the line.
To me, that is why Boller is forever the Baltimore Ravens biggest draft bust. The Ravens knew they had a Super Bowl championship defense that was led by two Hall of Famers who were in the prime of their careers in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They gambled on Boller by trading their 2004 first round pick and it set the franchise’s quest for a quarterback back another five years. Matt Elam is a big draft bust, and is surely in the top five of biggest busts in Ravens history. But there is no way he surpasses Boller.