Back in 2012, with general manager Ozzie Newsome at the helm, the Baltimore Ravens had developed a strong reputation for finding gems later in the draft. That’s why when they selected Tommy Streeter at No. 198, everyone expected him to play.
Except, well, he didn’t.
Streeter would go on to play just two games in his NFL career, and neither of them came with the Ravens. Those lone two appearances were, in fact, with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This isn’t to say that Streeter was a bust or a pick to be held against the organization. Later-round selections don’t work out. It happens. But it’s fair to wonder whether the Ravens deserved the reputation they built at the time as end-of-draft connoisseurs.
Consider that Baltimore’s two biggest success stories who were drafted after the third round between 2006 and 2012 were running back Le’Ron McClain and quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the latter of whom never actually played for them. They did select quarterback Derek Anderson in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, but he, too, never took the field under center for them.
It is somewhat amazing, then, that the Ravens were applauded so heavily for maximizing their late-draft resources under Newsome. They found some gems relative to draft (and undrafted) position, but that’s true of nearly every team. Baltimore really just received more of the benefit of the doubt than most teams during that time, because they were considered to be among the NFL’s best squads—especially between 2008 and 2012, a period of time that includes their last Super Bowl victory.
If there’s one thing to credit the Ravens for throughout their draft history, though, it’s their ability to recognize franchise quarterbacks. They picked up Joe Flacco in Round 1 of the 2008 draft, and he stayed under center for them until early in the 2018 season. They then immediately transitioned into Lamar Jackson, who they had the foresight to trade up for and who went on to become a unanimous MVP by 2019.
Early-round draft picks are seldom considered steals. Those guys are supposed to be sure things. But the NFL draft is a crapshoot, and finding franchise QBs is tough. The Ravens should be commended for the efficiency with which they’ve acquired their past two—particularly Jackson, who they scooped up with the final pick of the first round in 2018.