Baltimore Ravens 1st Championship Built In NFL Draft
If you ever wanted an example of how important the NFL Draft is, just look at the 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense. Arguably the greatest defense of all time, the 2000 defense was built primarily through the NFL Draft. From 1996-1999 the Ravens drafted six of the starters on the historic defense.
It started in 1996 when the Ravens selected Ray Lewis with the 26th overall pick. Lewis was the middle linebacker and the centerpiece that Ozzie Newsome built the defense around. In 1997 the Ravens added three more starters to the mix. They drafted Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper and Kim Herring with their first three choices in that draft.
Lewis, Boulware and Starks had two things in common. They could all fly and they all hit hard. The Ravens defense made it seem like they had more than 11 defenders on the field. A large part of that was the speed of their linebackers.
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In 1998 the Ravens drafted Duane Starks. In 1999 Chris McAlister was taken. The Ravens had a great pairing of cornerbacks that could make the quarterbacks pay. In the 2000 season, Starks had six interceptions and McAlister had four. It is also worth noting that Herring had three interceptions as well in the Super Bowl season.
You can see how the Ravens built the majority of the defense with the NFL Draft, each year they added great players to the mix.
Here is a review of the draft picks that did the magic for the Ravens:
- 1996: Ray Lewis, LB (Miami) 26th pick overall
- 1997: Peter Boulware, LB (FSU) 4th pick overall
- 1997: Jamie Sharper, LB (Virginia) Round 2 34th pick overall
- 1997: Kim Herring, SS (Penn State) Round 3 58th pick overall
- 1998: Duane Starks, CB (Miami) 10th pick overall
- 1999: Chris McAlister, CB (Arizona) 10th pick overall
The other members of the Ravens defense were Rob Burnett, Tony Siragusa, Michael McCrary, Rod Woodson and Sam Adams. So while the entire defense wasn’t built through the draft, you can see the impact good drafting can have.
The Ravens would be wise to give the same kind of focus on defense in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Ravens didn’t just stumble onto a long run as a top-tier defense. They drafted well and their good investments paid off. If the Ravens want to get back to dominating on defense, it starts with the draft.