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Ravens News 4/17: Draft picks of the Century and more

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Ranking the 32 Most Valuable NFL Draft Picks of the 21st Century - Robert Mays

32. Lamar Jackson

Year: 2018

Pick: Round 1, no. 32 overall

Pick AV: 17.3

Games started with drafting team: 22

AV with drafting team: 33

All-Pro selections: 1

OK, let me stop you right there. I know what you’re going to say: He’s played 1.5 seasons! But the strength of Jackson’s MVP campaign—and a reasonable projection of how he’ll perform in the future—is enough to sneak him in. Since the 2007 Patriots ushered in the modern passing game, only two other MVPs have been drafted outside of the top 10. And those guys are ranked much higher on this list. Teams just don’t find quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round. That range is typically reserved for the Andy Daltons, Derek Carrs, and Teddy Bridgewaters—solid but unspectacular QBs who can guide a team but rarely carry one. Even if Jackson is merely an above-average quarterback for the rest of his career, he’ll have dramatically outperformed his draft slot.

18. Marshal Yanda

Year: 2007

Pick: Round 3, no. 86 overall

Pick AV: 8.1

Games started with drafting team: 166

AV with drafting team: 112

All-Pro selections: 7

Jahri Evans would have been considered the best guard of his generation if this guy never existed. Yanda announced his retirement last month, but the Ravens great had plenty left in the tank. He looked no less dominant last year at age 35 than when he made his first Pro Bowl in 2011. Yanda set the standard for interior offensive linemen. It’s tough for anyone to rule their position like Yanda did over the last decade, and for a guy drafted late in the third round, it’s almost impossible. Looking at the historic 2007 draft class, the pick AV difference between Yanda (86th overall) and future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas (third overall) was equivalent to the no. 11 pick. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking the Yanda side of that deal.

17. Ed Reed

Year: 2002

Pick: Round 1, no. 24 overall

Pick AV: 19.9

Games started with drafting team: 159

AV with drafting team: 131

All-Pro selections: 8

Every time I went through this list, Reed seemed to move up a spot or two. Would I rather have Reed and the 106th pick, or J.J. Watt? Reed and 106. Would I rather have Jahri Evans and the 59th pick, or Reed? Still Reed. Even as the 24th overall pick in the 2002 draft, Reed returned an incredible amount of value during his tenure with the Ravens. He affected the game unlike any modern safety before or since, and he did it for a ridiculously long time. Reed was 25 when he made his first All-Pro team. He was 33 when he made his last. For a position that forces a player to cover ground like safety does, that’s hard to fathom. I’m still kind of bummed we never got to see Reed play at the height of the league’s passing boom. It doesn’t take much to imagine him picking off a dozen passes during a single season—and returning a few of them for touchdowns. I should also note that while “being the coolest player of your generation” isn’t part of the official rubric, it’s impossible to ignore in Reed’s case.

Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe Get Their Jersey Numbers - Ryan Mink

Campbell and Wolfe have been officially assigned No. 93 and No. 95, respectively. They are the same jersey numbers they wore with their previous teams.

Cory Redding is the most prominent former Raven to wear No. 93. Jarret Johnson and Sam Adams are two Ravens legends who donned No. 95.

3 Baltimore Ravens NFL draft streaks at risk this year - Aaron Kasinitz

They’ve selected a defensive back within the first four rounds each of the past nine years

The Ravens like to keep their secondary stocked with young talent. Some of their early-round defensive backs have panned out well, like All-Pro corner Marlon Humphrey, while safety Matt Elam represents one of Baltimore’s misfires.

It’s certainly possible the team will extend this streak, which began in 2011, when it took Jimmy Smith in the first round. But Smith and Humphrey remain on the roster. The Ravens also agreed to a three-year contract with another All-Pro cornerback, Marcus Peters, in December, and top-tier slot corner Tavon Young is in line to return from a neck injury in 2020.

Baltimore’s tendency to draft cornerbacks has afforded the team depth at the position in the form of recent fourth-rounders Iman Marshall and Anthony Averett.

At safety, Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark are in place as starters, Anthony Levine offers a veteran backup and Deshon Elliott could add youth to the mix if he heals properly from a torn ACL.

2020 NFL Draft: Biggest pro and con for every top wide receiver prospect - Anthony Treash

MICHAEL PITTMAN JR., USC

PFF Draft Board rank: 22

Biggest Pro: Near perfect ball skills

Standing at 6-foot-4 with 32.5-inch arms, Pittman owns a massive catch radius and near-perfect ball skills. He dropped just 2.8% of his catchable targets throughout his college career (among the five lowest rates in the FBS in that span) and can adjust to any off-target throw and snag what would typically be an incomplete pass.

Biggest Con: Doesn’t offer much after the catch

With that size, Pittman offers very little after the catch. In his career, Pittman has averaged about 5.3 yards after the catch per reception and has broken just 20 tackles on 171 career receptions, which forms a rate that barely cracks the 25th percentile. But that shouldn’t sway teams away from Pittman — he’s very much a top-25 prospect in this class and a great possession receiver.

2020 NFL Draft: PFF’s All Trump Card Team - Michael Renner

RG – OHIO STATE – JONAH JACKSON (BALANCE)

At a position where holding on for dear life is paramount, having balance like Jackson’s makes life a lot easier. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many reps over the past couple of seasons where Jackson ends up eating turf. That’s rare with the violence of the collisions that occur in the trenches.

EDGE – NOTRE DAME – JULIAN OKWARA (LONG-ARM)

Between his springy get-off that saw him make Bruce Feldman’s freaks list last offseason and his 34 ⅜-inch arms, Okwara was tailor-made to bull-rush at the NFL level. The encouraging thing is we’ve already seen him do it consistently on tape at Notre Dame even against some of the top tackles in the country.