Although the Ravens’ history in Baltimore is one of the shortest in the NFL, they’ve played just as many years in this decade as any other team. With the first 10 years of the new millennium coming to an end, we’ll take a look at the best Ravens at each position since 2000.
- The player must have worn the purple and black for two full seasons, or must be in their second with the team this season, so Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, etc. would count.
- The two full seasons must be consecutive.
- The team is based off the player’s whole body of work as a Raven, not one great season or one famous play.
- The lineups will be the Ravens’ standard lineups throughout the decade, with a fullback, two receivers and a tight end on offense, and a 3-4 formation with two safeties on defense.
Quarterback: Steve McNair-Air McNair was brought in to huge fanfare and delivered when he arrived in Baltimore. Although he had a few injuries, what quarterback hasn’t in a Ravens uniform? He has the highest completion percentage of any Ravens QB and went 15-7 in 22 games, including the memorable 13-3 season where he led the Ravens’ offense out of total mediocrity. Beyond his accomplishments on the field, he was a great leader, and you could see that by the way his death this summer impacted the team.
Running Back: Jamal Lewis-Without question, Lewis was the greatest offensive skill player to put on a Ravens uniform, and he leads the team in carries, rushing yards, total yards, touchdowns and most total yards in one season. Even after losing steam going to the Browns, Lewis had a respectable end to his career and in my opinion, deserves to be a Hall of Famer.
Fullback: Le’Ron McClain-McClain was the only Ravens fullback to ever play in, and start in, a Pro Bowl. Granted, he spent most of last season as a tailback, but in his three seasons with the team, he’s added a dangerous option to the offense that was never present during Alan Ricard or Ovie Mughelli’s time as Ravens.
Receiver #1: Derrick Mason-Mason joined the team in 2005, and instantly became a huge hit with the fans. His sure hands and his toughness were always talked about and revered (minus this season), and when Steve McNair joined the team, their old connection in Tennesee was re-ignited. His presence helped Joe Flacco adjust to the NFL and he became a great veteran presence
Receiver #2: Mark Clayton-Ok, you figured it out. Clayton and Mason have been the receiving battery the whole time since they both got here, but they have been the two most prolific receivers of the decade. Clayton has been able to stretch the field sometimes, and when he plays well, he is a good offensive weapon.
Tight End: Todd Heap-Heap was the Ravens’ leader in receiving yards until Mason passed him on the list last week, but Heap still leads the team in career catches and receiving touchdowns with 32. He’s a fan favorite and has been a fixture of the Ravens during the decade.
Left Tackle: Jonathan Ogden-Not only is Ogden the Ravens’ best left tackle of the decade, he’s the NFL’s best of the decade. Arguably, he is the NFL’s best lineman of the decade or of all-time. Without Ogden, there would have been no Jamal Lewis success and the great smashmouth reputation the Ravens gained in only 10 years. His impact was always evident and unquestionable on the left side of the line.
Left Guard: Edwin Mulitalo-Mulitalo, a freak of nature, was a rock on the left side with Ogden throughout the decade until his quiet and slightly sudden retirement. He was one of the NFL’s best guards while he played, and helped take the burden off of Ogden throughout their time together.
Center: Mike Flynn-Flynn was the Ravens’ starting center 6 out of 10 years and was always solid. A good blocker and solid leader, Flynn always was kind and very approachable in Baltimore.
Right Guard: Bennie Anderson-The Ravens’ starting right guard from 2000-2004, Anderson was quietly a solid blocker on the Ravens’ solid lines of the first half of the 2000s.
Right Tackle: Tony Pashos-Pashos was a nice breath of fresh air for the Ravens, who has been plagued by big Orlando Brown’s penalties and oft-injured Ethan Jones at right tackle. A bit of a weak position for the team during the decade, Pashos filled it well.
Right Defensive End: Terrell Suggs-During the decade, the Ravens jumbled up the positions of their defensive ends, so Suggs went from playing linebacker to end, and back to linebackers. During his two years on the line however, Suggs racked up 17.5 sacks and became a fear of many opposing offensive tackles.
Nose Tackle: Kelly Gregg-Gregg had a bigger impact on the game than most defensive tackles could ever dream of. Racking up 16.5 sacks and 461 total tackles during his 6 years starting on the Ravens’ line, Gregg was one of many stars on a feared defense.
Left Defensive End: Trevor Pryce-Pryce has jumped back and forth on each side of the line, but in 2006, his year of playing only on the left side, Pryce racked up 13 sacks, and during his whole tenure in Baltimore, he has 25.5. Coming from Denver, Pryce continued his success right away as a Raven.
Outside Linebacker: Peter Boulware-Although he had so much success in the 90s, Boulware made a huge impact during this decade as well. 40 sacks, 245 total tackles and four fumble recoveries were the product of five dominant seasons from the Ravens legend.
Inside Linebacker: Ray Lewis-Didn’t see this coming, did you? Super Bowl MVP, 2-time DPOY, 7 Pro Bowls and 5 All-Pro teams don’t even begin to describe how much of a stud Lewis was this decade. Ray Lewis is the Ravens, and he’s the best player in franchise history.
Inside Linebacker: Bart Scott-Beginning as a special teamer, Scott took his chance to be a star and ran with it. 16 sacks and 436 tackles as a starter made Mad Backer feared throughout the NFL. His trash talk may have helped a small bit also.
Outside Linebacker: Adailus Thomas-Also a ‘backer who took his opportunity and became a star, Thomas was a sack machine with 38.5 in a Ravens uniform, and could play, and did play, literally every defensive position. Including safety. Always a fan favorite and a great guy, the fans were sad to see AT leave for Foxboro.
Cornerback #1: Chris McAllister-His tenure as a Raven ended badly, but during his career, C-Mac shut down whoever he was covering, and more. 21 interceptions, 7 defensive touchdowns and 3 Pro Bowls showed how dangerous he was. And that 100+ yard field goal return wasn’t too shabby.
Cornerback #2: Gary Baxter-Behind McAllister, the race boils down between Samari Rolle and Baxter, and Baxter did just a little bit more. Always reliable to cover a solid receiver, and never missed a game in his three years as a starter (can’t say the same for Rolle).
Strong Safety: Ed Reed-Does it even need to be stated how good Reed is? 46 interceptions, 12 defensive touchdowns, 5 Pro Bowls and the 2004 DPOY are just some of many, many eye-popping accomplishments Reed has put up, and without argument, he is the best safety in the last 10 years in the NFL. Not Troy Polomalu.
Free Safety: Will Demps-Rounding out the defense is Demps, who did not put up stats like Reed, but never made many mistakes and had the occasional big play, which is really all you need to do playing next to a stud like Reed.
Kicker: Matt Stover-The Ravens all-time leading scorer, the longest-tenured Raven and a guy who never missed an extra point as a Raven, Stover was the team’s offense during the decade, and the city loved him for it. He won games and his pre-kick ritual of lining up the ball became a welcome site.
Punter: Sam Koch-A tough decision over Dave Zastudil, but Koch delivers almost every time the team needs him to win the field position battle and consistently boots 60-yard punts and pooches inside the 20.
Return Specialist: Jermaine Lewis-He only played 2 seasons this decade as a Raven before being stolen in the expansion draft, but Lewis was a Pro Bowler and made a splash all 30 games he played in in 2000 and 2001, and returned 2 punts to the house in 2000, in addition to leading the NFL in return yards in 2001.
Tags: All-Decade Team All-Pro Ravens Bennie Anderson Best NFL Players Of Decade Derrick Mason Ed Reed Best Safety Jamal Lewis Jonathan Ogden Le'Ron McClain Mark Clayton NFL All-Decade Team Ogden All-decade Ravens All-decade Team Ravens Best Players Ravens Career Leaders Ravens Stats Leaders Ray Lewis All-deacde Steve McNair