LB RAY LEWIS. Like LaDainian Tomlinson last year, Brett Favre the year before and Junior Seau in 2015, he was the obvious choice. So there was little debate, with Lewis the shortest of all modern-era discussions at 6:04.
LB BRIAN URLACHER. That he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer is no surprise. That he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in the same year as Ray Lewis is. Lewis was the one sure thing in this class. Urlacher might have been a sure thing in any other year, but, with five offensive linemen — or one-third of the class — up this time around, the thought was that voters might make him wait a year and look to clear the queues elsewhere. Didn’t happen. The presentation for Urlacher was strong and so was the support. So he and Lewis continue to be joined at the hip as first-team all-decade choices, former Defensive Players of the Year, multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro choices and now … Hall of Famers.
Some were disappointed that Urlacher joined Lewis as a first ballot Hall of Famer. First ballot is usually reserved for the best of the best. The revelation that Ray was a unanimous choice who only required six minutes of discussion should provide some separation between him and the Bears great.
Football Outsiders What does Injury-Prone Mean in the NFL?
On average, 40 percent of players who played or would have played in Week 1 missed at least one game due to injury that season. Among those with no reported injuries in the prior two seasons, though, that figure is just 26 percent.
The risk of missing time increases rapidly with a longer injury history. Thirty-five percent, 41 percent, and 46 percent of players with one, two, or three injuries in the prior two years miss time in their upcoming season, respectively. As injury histories get very long (six or more total injuries in the previous two seasons), risks flatten out at around 55 or 60 percent.
Apparently there is a correlation between past injuries and future injuries. The Ravens have been hit hard by injuries in recent seasons. They should keep this information in mind when they consider releasing players such as Danny Woodhead and offering contracts to impending unrestricted free agents Brent Urban, Crockett Gillmore and Michael Campanaro.
The Eagles overcame a variety of key injuries to key players on offense and defense this season en route to their Super Bowl victory. For starters, they lost future Hall of Fame offensive linemen Jason Peters. In addition, they lost Carson Wentz, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles to name a few more. Key players at key positions, yet Philadelphia was still able to defeat the best teams in the NFL in order to claim the Lombardi trophy.
The Ravens lack of quality depth has been a major part of their regression over the last five seasons. Some injuries can be schemed around, but others cannot when the margin for error is razor thin. This is the risk of piecing together a roster with minimal cap space year after year. Hopefully the front office can stock the depth chart this offseason, especially at the premium positions, to be in position to overcome the inevitable injuries that will arise in 2018.