The Baltimore Ravens franchise has been blessed with impeccable leadership since their founding. The incomparable Ozzie Newsome has a long history of signing veterans and drafting rookies who elevate the play of their teammates. The team lost some of their most vocal leaders following their 2012 championship, but the tradition of strong leadership still permeates the organization.
Head coach John Harbaugh is the unquestioned commander of the Ravens. Throughout his nine seasons in Baltimore, he has proven to be one of the best motivators in the NFL. His fierce work ethic and competitive personality have been fully embraced by the team.
By virtue of his position and the commitments made to him by the Ravens, franchise quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the team’s leading players. He does not show much emotion on the field, but leads through example as a nine year veteran and Super Bowl MVP who holds himself accountable. Stalwart offensive guard Marshal Yanda may be the toughest player in the entire league. They will be joined by Dennis Pitta, Mike Wallace and Danny Woodhead to provide veteran presence on offense.
Terrell Suggs is the longest tenured Ravens player and sets the tone on the practice field. Brandon Williams anchors the defensive line, while consummate captain Eric Weddle provides communication in the secondary. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley may be Baltimore’s best overall player and has relayed the play calls on defense for the last two seasons.
Even Jimmy Smith has shown a fiery demeanor at times and the recently re-signed Lardarius Webb is a role model off the field . New additions Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr both possess the characteristics the Ravens desire from their veteran acquisitions. Baltimore’s special teams units are also manned by high character veterans.
The majority of the Ravens coaching positions are staffed by men with long NFL resumes. And several consecutive years of tweaking the draft formula to support ‘red star’ prospects has produced a roster that is stacked with hard working, professional young players.
This confidence in the Ravens current leadership should not be construed to mean the team ought to now pivot towards strictly boom-or-bust players in the upcoming draft. The point is that the Ravens already have the foundation in place to mentor immature players who offer tantalizing potential along with risky attributes.
The first commandment of drafting is to never reach for a good player when a great player is available. With this in mind, the Ravens would be wise to stack their draft board accordingly by emphasizing the game day ability of each prospect. After all, the value of leadership is diminished without followers.