Over the past decade, much has been made of Ozzie Newsome’s brilliant drafting skills. The thought is that even in the later rounds, Ozzie manages to find guys who can make not only a long-term impact on the team, but also an immediate one. Lately, a few commenters on this site (and many others in the Ravens’ fan community), have started to second-guess some of the Ravens’ decisions in the Draft.

So, today we’ll take a look at how Ravens draftees over the past five years (not counting 2011’s Draft) have done in the NFL, and judge whether Ozzie and Co. have been successful in the Draft.

Let’s start from 2006. Here is a list of the players the Ravens drafted, by order of selection:

  1. Haloti Ngata, DT (1st round, 12th overall)
  2. Chris Chester, OL (2nd round)
  3. Derrick Pittman, CB (3rd round)
  4. Demetrius Williams, WR (4th round)
  5. P.J. Daniels, RB (4th round)
  6. Dawan Landry, SS (5th round)
  7. Quinn Sypniewski, TE (5th round)
  8. Sam Koch, P (6th round)
  9. Derrick Martin, CB (6th round)
  10. Ryan LaCasse, LB (7th round)
VERDICT: Using my statistically advanced “Successful/Average/Poor” judging metric, I’d give this draft a “Successful” rating. Many might disagree with me because of the very weak pro careers of Pittman, Williams, and

Haloti Ngata has been one of the Ravens' best defensive players since being drafted in 2006.

Daniels, but aside from them, the Ravens have gotten great contributions from four of these players. Ngata and Koch are easily among the top 3 in the NFL at their positions. Chester has been a mainstay on the offensive line and was versatile enough to play tackle, guard, or center. His versatility will be missed in 2011. Lastly, Landry was a very good safety aside Ed Reed since he was drafted, and will also be missed this season. Even Sypniewski made some solid contributions during his time with the Ravens. This draft class is classic Ozzie, as he’s gotten a great amount of production from guys outside of the first three rounds.

  1. Ben Grubbs, OG (1st round, 29th overall)
  2. Yamon Figurs, WR/KR (3rd round)
  3. Marshal Yanda, OL (3rd round)
  4. Antwan Barnes, LB (4th round)
  5. Le’Ron McClain, FB (4th round)
  6. Troy Smith, QB (5th round)
  7. Prescott Burgess (6th round)
VERDICT: “Successful.” Grubbs and Yanda are two of the best young guards in the NFL, and have been great run blockers since they’ve been rookies. Obviously, McClain was an All-Pro fullback who also showed he was a good ball carrier. Other than that core, the team has gotten production from pretty much everyone else in this class. Figurs was a dangerous kick returner for a time, Barnes and Burgess provided good depth at linebacker, and although Troy Smith was never meant to be an NFL starter, it’s unfair to say that he was at all a bad pick, considering he was drafted in the fifth round.
  1. Joe Flacco, QB (1st round, 18th overall)
  2. Ray Rice, RB (2nd round)
  3. Tavares Gooden, LB (3rd round)
  4. Tom Zbikowski, S (3rd round)
  5. Oniel Cousins, OL (3rd round)
  6. Marcus Smith, WR (4th round)
  7. David Hale, C (4th round)
  8. Haruki Nakamura, S (6th round)
  9. Justin Harper, WR (7th round)
  10. Allen Patrick, RB (7th round)
Joe Flacco (in white shirt) and Ray Rice (black jacket), were the Ravens' first two picks in the 2008 NFL Draft.

VERDICT: This is obviously “Successful.” With Flacco and Rice at the top, the team has gotten great value out of their higher selections (although it could be argued Rice has performed more like a first round selection). Beyond them, Gooden and Zbikowski have always been in the mix for starting spots since being drafted, and Oniel Cousins has been a solid backup who is likely to become a full-time starter at right tackle this season. Even Nakamura, a sixth round selection, has been a great special teams contributor and is in a battle for the starting strong safety spot this season. Harper and Smith are still in the mix at receiver, and could make some contributions this season. Most importantly, the team still has 8 of these 10 guys under contract and on the roster, which shows the players have delivered on the expectations set for them. Additionally, Jameel McClain was added as an undrafted free agent, and his contribution over the past three seasons has been invaluable for the Ravens’ defense.

  1. Michael Oher, OT (1st round, 23rd overall)
  2. Paul Kruger, LB/DE (2nd round)
  3. Lardarius Webb, CB (3rd round)
  4. Jason Phillips, LB (5th round)
  5. Davon Drew, TE (5th round)
  6. Cedric Peerman, RB (6th round)
VERDICT: I will have to revisit this class after this season, but as of now, this class is “Average,” at least in my opinion. I’m not as high on Oher as others; I don’t think he moves side-to-side well enough to contain the top-notch blind side pass rushers in the NFL, and because of that, feels pressured to jump into false start penalties.

Michael Oher was the Ravens' top draft pick in 2009.

Webb has been the star of this class, an electric defender and a solid return man. Kruger still needs to show he can be a consistent contributor on defense, and after him, virtually no production has come from Phillips and Drew. Peerman is not on the roster anymore. If Oher has a solid season, this draft would be considered “Successful,” but it’s not quite at the level that ’06, ’07, and ’08 were. Dannell Ellerbee was a solid undrafted free agent pickup, but doesn’t quite push this class over the top.

  1. Sergio Kindle, OLB (2nd round, 43rd overall)
  2. Terrence Cody, DT (2nd round)
  3. Ed Dickson, TE (3rd round)
  4. Dennis Pitta, TE (4th round)
  5. David Reed, WR (5th round)
  6. Arthur Jones, DT (5th round)
  7. Ramon Harewood, OT (6th round)
VERDICT: This is another I’d have to revisit after this season and the next, but right now (and I hate to do this), I’d have to call this draft class “Poor.” Very little production came out of this group as rookies last season, with Kindle missing the entire season and Cody only making 13 tackles in as many games. Dickson made a couple nice catches, including a touchdown and a stadium-rocking 58-yard diving reception. David Reed was a very good return man last year, leading the NFL in average yards per return, and running back a kickoff for a touchdown against Houston. Jones is very far down the defensive tackle depth chart, and Harewood has some major injury issues.
With all that said, 2011 may be a great year for this draft class. Kindle, Cody, Pitta, and Dickson might all get starting opportunities at some point during the season, and if they capitalize on those opportunities and produce, this class could quickly become a very good one. With the new rules in place this season, Reed will have much less of an impact on the return game, but he’s versatile and could be used on some end around plays or as a fourth or fifth receiving option.
So, all in all, it looks like the Ravens have had a top-notch draft record over the past five years, although the commenters mentioned earlier do have a point; the last two years have not produced players making the immediate impact we’ve seen over the years as Ravens fans. This upcoming season will just give us an even better idea of how well Ozzie and Co. have performed recently in the NFL Draft.
Edgar Walker writes stuff, and pretty much all of it is about sports. Follow him on Twitter so that you can read more stuff he writes. Pretty much all of that stuff is about sports, too.