First round of 1996
(4th overall, Jonathan Ogden; 26th overall, Ray Lewis) -- Can you do any better than picking a pair of future Hall of Famers in the same round? Actually, if you're Ozzie Newsome, you can. Ogden and Lewis aren't just HOFers: they might be the best to ever play their respective positions. Not a bad way to get things started in Baltimore after the move from Cleveland.
- Sidenote: That first round of the '96 draft is a study in the feast-or-famine potential when hiring 21-year-olds to be football-playing millionaires. Besides the pair of Ravens, the class also included Marvin Harrison, Eddie George, Terry Glenn, Simeon Rice & Willie Anderson. Then again, it also included Lawrence Phillips, Tim Biakabutuka, Kevin Hardy and Jamain Stephens. *
Joe Flacco -- 2008 (No. 18)
The big-armed kid out of Delaware (where he went after failing to beat out Tyler Palko for the starting gig at Pitt) seemed like a gamble with the Ravens' first pick in '08, but Flacco validated the choice by getting Baltimore to the AFC title game in his rookie season. Since then, his completion percentage and slow delivery have caused some consternation ... at least until that whole Super Bowl thing.
» 2008 NFL Draft | Photos: Flacco through the years
Ed Reed -- 2002 (No. 24)
The debate over the Super Bowl era's best safety boils down to this 'Cane and two USC guys, Ronnie Lott & Troy Polamalu, the latter of whom served as Reed's big-play counterpart in the Ravens/Steelers twice (or thrice) annual showdown. Now in Houston, Reed still has a little gas left in the tank, as big-name youngsters/interception victims Andrew Luck & Colin Kaepernick found out in the 2012 postseason.
Travis Taylor -- 2000 (No. 10)
After four seasons in Baltimore, the former Florida receiver would play for, among others, the Vikings. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or bad thing, but the fact he was on a certain infamous cruise with his Minnesota teammates was more memorable than anything he did in Baltimore. I'm gonna go with bad.
» 2000 NFL Draft
Jimmy Smith -- 2011 (No. 27)
Considering he's only been in the league for two seasons (during which he's been hurt a lot), this one could be a little unfair. Then again, even when healthy, he's been beaten out by guys with lesser pedigrees for a starting spot in the lineup. Time to step up in 2013, Mr. First Rounder.
» 2011 NFL Draft
We'll leave this one empty as an homage to Ozzie Newsome's near-flawless draft record. Sure, we could round things out here with the team's 2010 trade of the 25th overall pick to Denver (which the Broncos used on Tim Tebow), instead taking star-crossed Texas LB Sergio Kindle in the second round. Had they kept that first-round choice, they could've taken Rob Gronkowski... but overall, Newsome & Co do too good a job in the draft to quibble. In fact, no team has swung and missed so rarely as the Ravens since '96. (And for what it's worth, Baltimore ended up drafting TEs Ed Dickson & Dennis Pitta in the third & fourth rounds of 2010 -- both of whom would go on to grab TD passes during the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Pretty good pair of consolation prizes.