The signature moments of the Ravens’ first season in Baltimore happened not on the field but in the draft room. Owner Art Modell handed the brush to a young master named Ozzie Newsome, and with his first two strokes, Newsome added Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis to a picture that, until then, had lacked focus.
As the Ravens grew into a consistent winner on the field, Newsome’s reputation for bolstering and replenishing his roster only deepened. April was his time to shine. Few teams in the league could match the Ravens when it came to building through the draft.
This month, they’ll select players for the 25th time since they moved to Baltimore, with Newsome still in the room (virtually anyway) beside his carefully groomed successor, Eric DeCosta. This silver anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on the Ravens’ draft triumphs, and their less frequent whiffs.
In Part 1, we count down the worst 25 picks in Ravens history, with the 25 best to follow:
25. TE Crockett Gillmore — 3rd round, 99th overall in 2014
What they said then: ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. questioned whether the Ravens did enough to bolster their passing offense but pointed to Gillmore as a bright spot in that quest, describing him as “a big target with wide catch radius who can stretch the seam.”
What he did: Gillmore was supposed to be part of a young tight end trio (sound familiar?) that would help Joe Flacco extend his prime. He did show real talent on the field, catching 33 passes for 412 yards in just 10 games in his second season. No defender looked forward to tackling the 6-foot-6, 260-pound behemoth once he got rolling. But Gillmore simply could not stay healthy, playing a mere 32 games before his career was over at age 25.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DB Bashaud Breland, RB Devonta Freeman, LB Anthony Hitchens
24. RB Musa Smith — 3rd round, 77th overall in 2003
What they said then: “He is a starting running back in this league, and we got him in the third round,” Ravens scout Terry McDonough said.
What he did: The 6-foot-1, 232-pound Smith was known as a power runner coming out of Georgia, but he struggled to earn playing time behind Jamal Lewis. His career was derailed when he suffered a gruesome leg fracture as the result of a horse-collar tackle by Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams in 2004. Smith came back but finished his five-year Ravens career with just 496 yards on 132 carries.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DB Chris Crocker, TE Visanthe Shiancoe
23. LB Tyus Bowser — 2nd round, 47th overall in 2017
What they said then: NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock praised Bowser’s potential, saying his best football was ahead of him. “In sub-packages, he’s a joker,” the NFL Network analyst commented. “He’s a real good chess piece.” ESPN’s Kiper was even more effusive, referring to Bowser and Tim Williams as “perfect fits for the Ravens’ 3-4 and potential Terrell Suggs replacements.”
What he did: As Kiper suggested, the Ravens hoped they would rejuvenate their pass rush with the additions of Bowser and Williams. But neither player made an immediate impact. Bowser is still with the team and had his best season in 2019. But he’s produced just 8 ½ sacks in 47 career games and has never played more than 40% of the team’s defensive snaps in a season.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB Alvin Kamara
22. S Terrence Brooks — 3rd round, 79th overall in 2014
What they said then: Kiper praised Brooks as “a potential immediate starter” and said the Ravens scored a coup by picking him when they did. Mayock also pegged Brooks as a solid value, rating him the 81st best player in the 2014 class.
What he did: Brooks was still in the league in 2019 but has started just one game in his career. He lasted 23 games in Baltimore, playing a mere 299 defensive snaps. The Ravens waived him before the 2016 season; they’ve rarely given up on a third-round pick so quickly.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: WR John Brown, G Trai Turner
21. LB Tavares Gooden — 3rd round, 71st overall in 2008
What they said then: Kiper liked the pick, saying: “The Ravens need to start bringing in young linebackers and [Gooden] had a very good 2007 season.” Pete Prisco of CBS Sports was more effusive, rating the Gooden pick Newsome’s finest of the 2008 draft. He called Gooden the “best defender on a Miami defense that had two players picked above him” and said Ray Lewis would be an ideal mentor.
What he did: Gooden started 12 games in his second season but played just 26 total for the Ravens before they waived him at the end of training camp in 2011. They ended up facing him in Super Bowl XLVII when he was a reserve linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, but Gooden played just one more NFL game after that.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: RB Jamaal Charles, TE Jermichael Finley
20. WR Devard Darling — 3rd round, 82nd overall in 2004
What they said then: “We think there is a big upside,” gushed Phil Savage, then the Ravens’ director of player personnel. “He fits our profile: He’s got size, got suddenness and he can make plays.”
What he did: Darling was part of perhaps the least productive draft class in Ravens history, one hampered by the absence of a first-round pick, which had been sacrificed for Kyle Boller the year before. Darling started one game and caught just 20 passes in his four-year Ravens career, which was consistently undermined by injuries. He lasted one full season with the Kansas City Chiefs after departing Baltimore but went on injured reserve in 2009 and never played another NFL snap.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: QB Matt Schaub, DE Shaun Phillips.
19. OT Jah Reid — 3rd round, 85th overall in 2011
What they said then: “I think he will blossom in our system,” said DeCosta, then the Ravens’ director of player personnel. “I just think the arrow is pointed up on him. Reid might be one of the guys who comes in and adapts very well, a guy who can learn the system and compete right away.”
What he did: The Ravens traded up five picks to select the 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle, but he started just seven games over four years. Reid struggled with injuries and stress from failing to meet expectations, and the Ravens cut him at the end of training camp in 2015. He did start 10 games for the Kansas City Chiefs that season but saw his last NFL action in 2016.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DE Allen Bailey, LB K.J. Wright
18. RB Jay Graham — 3rd round, 64th overall in 1997
What they said then: “Everybody who saw Jay run at our minicamps already knows how explosive he can be,” Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said. “He is a player who could help us in his rookie season and that doesn’t happen often with a running back.”
What he did: Graham used his 4.48 speed to rush for 154 yards in his first start as a rookie, but his production declined as ankle and knee injuries halted his progress. Playing for the Ravens and two other teams, the former Tennessee standout gained just 155 yards over his last four seasons. He went on to a happier post-playing career as a college coach.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DB Ronde Barber, RB Duce Staley, DE Jason Taylor
17. DE Bronson Kaufusi — 3rd round, 70th overall in 2016
What they said then: Kiper gave the Ravens an A overall and noted that the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Kaufusi “hits a need along the defensive line.” Mayock said Kaufusi needed to get stronger but “as he gets more powerful, his game will get better and better.”
What he did: The Ravens saw intriguing developmental potential in Kaufusi because of his massive frame. But he spent his rookie year on injured reserve and rarely pushed his way off the bench in season two, playing in just three games. The Ravens cut him at the end of training camp in 2017, unusual for a third-round pick.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: RB Kenyan Drake, G Joe Thuney, DT Javon Hargrave
16. WR Yamon Figurs — 3rd round, 74th overall in 2007
What they said then: Figurs ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL scouting combine. “He’s got rare speed,” said Ravens special teams coordinator Frank Gansz. “There’s not that many guys that run that kind of 40 time. When you watch him on film, he plays with that speed. There are guys that are maybe fast but don’t play as fast. He’s definitely explosive.”
What he did: Again, the Ravens tried to unearth a big-play gem at wide receiver and again they came away with little more than a dull rock. Figurs did return two kicks for touchdowns as a rookie but caught just two passes in two seasons before the Ravens dumped him. In team lore, Figurs is best known for going 12 slots ahead of Marshal Yanda.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: WR James Jones, DE Charles Johnson, DT Brandon Mebane
15. TE Maxx Williams — 2nd round, 55th overall in 2015
What they said then: Mayock rated Williams the best tight end in the draft. Kiper said he “was a player the Ravens coveted, and to get him at No. 55 overall was good value.” DeCosta thought Williams could have gone as high as the first round. “We spent a lot of time talking about tight ends, how to find tight ends, and this was our favorite guy in the draft,” he said. “I quite honestly never dreamed he would be there for us in that range of players.”
What he did: Williams caught 32 passes as a rookie but just 31 over his next three seasons with the Ravens. He was neither healthy enough nor consistent enough to establish himself as a starter, and fellow 2015 draftee Nick Boyle passed him in the tight-end rotation. Williams did start 10 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DE Frank Clark, WR Tyler Lockett
14. WR Mark Clayton — 1st round, 22nd overall in 2005
What they said then: DeCosta, then the Ravens’ director of scouting, raved about the Oklahoma wide receiver: “Mark Clayton is my favorite player at that position. I wouldn’t say we had him graded the highest. But if he’s 6-foot-2, in my mind, he’s the best player at that position in the draft.” Kiper also fancied Clayton, calling him “arguably the most polished receiver in the draft.”
What he did: Clayton wasn’t quite the bust that many fans remember; he actually caught 67 passes for 939 yards in his second season. But his production declined from there, and he went down as the headliner of a generally disastrous class. Clayton caught just 26 passes in two seasons after he left Baltimore.
Players selected over the next 20 picks: QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Roddy White, TE Heath Miller
13. OLB Tim Williams — 3rd round, 78th overall in 2017
What they said then: Kiper noted that Williams had plummeted from the top of his Big Board because of off-field troubles and a limited skillset. “Williams does one thing really well — get up the field quickly in pursuit of quarterbacks,” he said. “But that’s a skill teams crave.” Mayock ranked him the No. 2 edge rusher in the draft behind Myles Garrett.
What he did: Williams showed glimpses of his quickness off the edge in training camp and preseason games but often lived in coach John Harbaugh’s doghouse because of his unreliable effort and conditioning. He played just 19 games and produced two sacks before the Ravens released him midway through last season.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: WR Chris Godwin, RB Kareem Hunt, WR Kenny Golladay
12. CB DeRon Jenkins — 2nd round, 55th overall in 1996
What they said then: Jenkins’ secondary coach at Tennessee, Kevin Ramsey, believed his promise was unlimited after he was hardly challenged by college receivers. “He has all the tools that you want,” Ramsey said. “Without a doubt, he can play in the NFL. There is no question he has the ability."
What he did: After an astonishingly successful first round, the Ravens made their first draft misstep by trading three picks to move up for Jenkins. They believed his rugged style would fit perfectly, but he never established himself as a standout playmaker. Jenkins was solid enough in his fourth season, starting 15 games and making 63 tackles. Then, he continued his journeyman career with the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DE Lance Johnstone, S Brian Dawkins
11. OT Adam Terry — 2nd round, 55th overall in 2005
What they said then: Kiper described Terry as “one of the most outstanding athletes at the tackle position in college football.” Kiper foreshadowed Terry’s struggles, calling him “a bit of a finesse player,” but predicted he would become a “solid all-around tackle.”
What he did: The 6-foot-8, 335-pound Terry looked impressive in a uniform but drew criticism for his lack of toughness from early in his Ravens career. He started just 18 games in four seasons with the team and is widely regarded as the worst offensive line pick in franchise history.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: RB Frank Gore, DE Justin Tuck, G Evan Mathis
10. DT Terrence Cody — 2nd round, 57th overall in 2010
What they said then: The Ravens regarded the ballyhooed Alabama star as a first-round talent. “He’s a guy who is a force on first and second downs,” Eric DeCosta, then the team’s director of player personnel, said. “He’s the kind of guy Baltimore has typically played with on their defensive line. He’s got the right demeanor.”
What he did: Cody stuck around for five seasons but started just 21 games and never became the inside force the Ravens imagined. He was released in January 2015 while under investigation for animal cruelty allegations that led to a nine-month jail sentence. He never recorded an NFL sack.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: WR Golden Tate
9. OLB Kamalei Correa — 2nd round, 42nd overall 2016
What they said then: Kiper praised Correa as a “pass rusher who could also play inside.” Mayock said he was not a complete player but relentless coming off the edge. “If you’re using him intelligently in the pass game, and again it’s a pass-first league, and you got to go chase Ben Roethlisberger and you got to go get Andy Dalton, then he’s the type of guy that makes sense,” the NFL Network analyst said.
What he did: The Ravens gave Correa chances to play both outside and inside, but he did not thrive in either role, starting just four games and making 19 tackles in two seasons. They traded him for a sixth-round pick before the 2018 season. Correa helped the Tennessee Titans upset the Ravens in the AFC divisional round in January.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: RB Derrick Henry, WR Michael Thomas, WR Tyler Boyd
8. LB Arthur Brown — 2nd round, 56th overall in 2013
What they said then: Draft analysts loved the pick. Kiper: “He’s a steal at No. 56 and takes over the void left by Ray Lewis.” Mayock ranked Brown the 36th best player in the class. DeCosta, then the team’s assistant general manager, said the Ravens traded up “because the idea of not getting him was pretty scary.”
What he did: The Ravens traded up for the Kansas State linebacker, whom they saw as part of the solution to replacing the retired Lewis. But he never started a game and played just 10 defensive snaps after his rookie season.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: TE Travis Kelce, DB Tyrann Mathieu, WR Keenan Allen
7. WR Travis Taylor - 1st round, 10th overall in 2000
What they said then: Kiper loved the Florida wide receiver, ranking him fifth overall in the 2000 class. "Travis gives you some great runs after the catch,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “One of the things I’m most excited about is his upside is huge. Certainly, Travis Taylor being in Steve Spurrier’s offense has been exposed to a few concepts. So he will probably come in here, open the playbook and say: Are you kidding me?”
What he did: This is the only top-10 pick the Ravens have blown. Taylor arrived late to his first training camp because of a contract holdout and caught just 28 passes as a rookie for the 2000 Super Bowl champions. He would have better seasons, peaking with 61 catches for 869 yards and six touchdowns in 2002. But he never grew into a No. 1 receiver and signed with the Minnesota Vikings after five disappointing seasons in Baltimore.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DE John Abraham, LB Julian Peterson, RB Shaun Alexander
6. LB Dan Cody — 2nd round, 53rd overall in 2005
What they said then: Kiper regarded Cody as a potential first-round pick and compared him to former All-Pro pass rusher Kevin Greene. “I’ll go out on a limb right now and say our first pick will be Dan Cody,” DeCosta said in a scene captured by author John Feinstein. “Our kind of kid.”
What he did: Knee injuries derailed Cody from the jump. After a decorated career at Oklahoma, he played just two NFL games. “The most frustrating part is that as soon as I get going, I get the rug pulled out from underneath me,” he said in 2007.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DE Jonathan Babineaux, WR Vincent Jackson, RB Frank Gore
5. WR Patrick Johnson — 2nd round, 42nd overall in 1998
What they said then: Johnson was one of the top college sprinters in the country at Oregon. “Arguably, we got the fastest cornerback and the fastest receiver,” Ravens director of college scouting Phil Savage said in assessing the team’s 1998 draft. “I can see Johnson under the first kickoff in our new stadium.”
What he did: Johnson was the original Ravens wide receiver bust, catching just 60 passes in five seasons with the team. He showed some promise of becoming the deep threat the Ravens envisioned in his second season, averaging 18.1 yards on 29 receptions. But he never approached those numbers again.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DB Patrick Surtain, DB Samari Rolle, WR Joe Jurevicius
4. OLB Sergio Kindle — 2nd round, 43rd overall in 2010
What they said then: Kiper praised the Ravens for picking a potential first-round talent well into the second round. “Every film I pick up, Sergio Kindle dominates,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “He’s a perfect Raven.” On his first call with Baltimore reporters, Kindle predicted he’d win Rookie of the Year.
What he did: Kindle fractured his skull when he tumbled down a flight of stairs two days before his first training camp. He was also arrested for drunk driving at the end of his first year in Baltimore. He never climbed back from that troubled beginning, playing just three games and making one tackle before the Ravens cut him in Jan. 2013.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: DT Linval Joseph, DE Carlos Dunlap, WR Golden Tate
3. WR Breshad Perriman — 1st round, 26th overall in 2015
What they said then: Kiper was one of many analysts who believed the Ravens had found exactly what they needed. “Perriman could have been off the board by No. 14, and I wouldn’t have blinked,” the ESPN analyst said. “To get a big (218 pounds), fast (sub-4.3 speed) big-play threat such as this at No. 26 is a great get. You bet Perriman needs to be more consistent with his hands, but there’s some Dez Bryant in his game.” Mayock rated Perriman the 15th best player in the draft.
What he did: No player frustrated Ravens fans more deeply. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury that proved far worse than originally diagnosed. When he did return, he neither caught the ball consistently nor achieved downfield separation from defenders. The Ravens ultimately cut Perriman before his fourth season, an astonishing admission of defeat on a first-round pick who finished his time in Baltimore with just 43 catches. Perriman finally broke out late last season with three straight 100-yard games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: S Landon Collins, DE Preston Smith, LB Eric Kendricks
2. S Matt Elam — 1st round, 32nd overall in 2013
What they said then: Kiper predicted Elam would contribute right away to a team that had just won the Super Bowl. Elam “has played high-level football at Florida, can move around (particularly up to the line of scrimmage) and make hits,” he said. “He plays with fearlessness, can make plays in coverage with his good instincts and long arms.” The Ravens needed a safety to replace Ed Reed, but Newsome said Elam was the highest-rated player left on their board, regardless of position. “The thing we like about Matt is his speed,” he said. “He’s probably one of the better tacklers that we’ve seen play the position, and he enjoys practice and enjoys playing the game of football.”
What he did: Elam started 15 games and made 77 tackles as a rookie but never showed the playmaking flair fans had come to expect because of Reed. His career quickly went downhill because of injuries and off-field troubles, and he played his last NFL game in 2016, when he was just 25 years old.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: TE Zach Ertz, RB Le’Veon Bell, LB Jamie Collins
1. QB Kyle Boller — 1st round, 19th overall in 2003
What they said then: No one loved the Ravens’ new quarterback more than coach Brian Billick: “Kyle Boller is someone, as you look across the board at every measurement you have, he is the complete package.” This was a rare case in which Kiper disagreed with the Ravens’ brass; he listed Boller No. 1 on his list of overrated prospects. “He has all the tools,” the ESPN analyst said. “But he needs to improve his passing accuracy and his reads as he goes through progressions.”
What he did: Boller wasn’t the least productive player the Ravens ever selected in the first round, but they sacrificed their top pick in 2004 to bet on a quarterback who’d completed less than 50% of his passes in college. For all his physical gifts, Boller was never even an average starter in Baltimore, throwing 45 touchdown passes and 44 interceptions in 53 games. The team had to trade for veteran Steve McNair just to avoid squandering the best defense in the NFL. Boller’s Ravens career ended on injured reserve as the team handed its offense to another first-round pick by the name of Joe Flacco.
Players selected in the next 20 picks: RB Willis McGahee, TE Dallas Clark, RB Larry Johnson, DB Nnamdi Asomugha