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Ranking Ozzie’s best Ravens draft classes

NFL Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After twelve years in the wilderness, ‘Charm City’ leaders lured an NFL club back to Baltimore in 1996. General manager Ozzie Newsome has been the ever-present architect since the Ravens founding. Ownership has changed hands, coaching staffs have been replaced and players have moved on over the franchise's 22 seasons, but Newsome have been the constant captain throughout.

No man has been more influential in charting the Ravens course than ‘The Wizard.’ And no aspect has been more instrumental in the team’s success than their drafting. The best Ravens draft classes of all-time:

Honorable Mention

2000 - Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas

2003 - Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson

2006 - Haloti Ngata, Dawan Landry

6. 2011

Notable Selections: Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith, Pernell McPhee, Tyrod Taylor

This class has yet to produce a Pro Bowl season for the Ravens, but Newsome reaped tremendous value with players that helped catapult the team to their second championship.

Jimmy Smith has served as the top cover corner on the team for several seasons now. Torrey posted 34 scores in four seasons. McPhee was a potent sack artist found in the fifth round and the lynchpin of the Ravens fierce 2014 pass rush.

5. 2007

Notable Selections: Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda, Le’Ron McClain

This was a physically imposing class that helped pave the way for a streak of five consecutive playoff berths to begin John Harbaugh’s reign.

Grubbs played in 74 games for the Ravens, culminating in Pro Bowl honors. Yanda, the top guard in the NFL for the last half decade and probable Hall of Fame, is undoubtedly Newsome’s best third round choice ever.

4. 1999

Notable Selections: Chris McAlister, Brandon Stokley, Edwin Mulitalo

Newsome made the most of his four selections in 1999, as this class was a vital part of the Ravens first championship squad.

‘C-Mac’ was among the top corners in the league during his ten season stint in Baltimore, providing 29 interceptions and seven valuable touchdowns. Stokley was a quality complimentary receiver, while Mulitalo was an anchor on the offensive line, starting more than 100 games in purple.

3. 1997

Notable Selections: Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Kim Herring, Jeff Mitchell

Potentially the deepest crop in Ravens history, depending on how the recent classes perform in future seasons, Newsome hit on each of his first three picks with late round contributors to boot.

Boulware was a four time Pro Bowler with 73 sacks over eight seasons. Sharper, Herring and Mitchell were key starters for multiple seasons before moving on to other teams

2. 2008

Notable selections: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice

Ozzie uncharacteristically struck out in the late rounds, but the top two picks prop up the 2008 class.

Flacco has guided the Ravens to ten playoff victories at the most important position on the field and earned well deserved Super Bowl MVP acknowledgement. Rice was a three time Pro Bowler who accumulated over 10,000 yards from scrimmage in six seasons.

1. 1996

Notable selections: Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Jermaine Lewis

Perhaps the best single draft haul in the history of the sport. Newsome built the foundation for the team by selecting two first ballot Hall of Famers with the first two selections in franchise history.

Ogden played a dozen seasons in Baltimore, and was the premier blindside protector in the league for the majority of his career, earning eleven consecutive Pro Bowl invitations. Lewis outlasted ‘J.O.’, spearheading a mostly dominant defense for seventeen seasons, including thirteen Pro Bowl years. Ray is arguably the best to ever play the middle linebacker position, and was honored with a statue outside the stadium. Jermaine was an impactful fifth round pick, scoring 24 touchdowns for the Ravens.

Disagree? Post your draft class rankings in the comments below