2008 Draft Re-Grades Favor Ravens

What was considered a risky draft with Joe Flacco has proven outstanding.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The Ravens, accustomed to exceptionally high draft grades, received just decent marks immediately following their 2008 draft.
 
But as conventional NFL wisdom goes, it takes three years to get an accurate gauge on draft-day success.
 
Well, three years later, the grades have significantly improved.
 
Finding a franchise quarterback is a pivotal moment, and Baltimore secured one by moving back, then back up to snare Joe Flacco at No. 18. Pundits then expressed concern about how Flacco’s small-school success at Delaware would translate to the NFL.
 
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports even said, “Brian Brohm and Chad Henne were better options,” and that the Ravens “reached for Flacco.”
 
The Ravens traded back again in the second round and still got explosive running back Ray Rice at No. 55. Prisco said, “I didn’t really like the pick of Ray Rice in the second round.”
 
Baltimore took linebacker Tavares Gooden, safety Tom Zbikowski and tackle Oniel Cousins in the third round. Wide receiver Marcus Smith and offensive lineman David Hale came in the fourth, before Baltimore found versatile safety Haruki Nakamura in the sixth. Wideout Justin Harper and running back Allen Patrick rounded out the seventh round.
 
Here’s what analysts are giving the Ravens in their 2008 draft re-grades:
 
USA Today, Nate Davis
Grade now: A (2nd highest)
Grade then: C
“They gambled and won, climbing the board in Round 1 for QB Joe Flacco, who wasn’t exactly regarded as a sure thing coming out of Delaware. But he’s started from Day 1 and already thrown for more yards and TDs than anyone in Ravens history while being under center for three playoff teams. RB Ray Rice, one of the league’s premier running-receiving threats, was plucked in the next round. Baltimore loaded up with quality depth and special teamers with LB Tavares Gooden, S Tom Zbikowski, OL Oniel Cousins and S Haruki Nakamura.”

ESPN, James Walker
Grade now: A-
Grade then: B
“Without a doubt, this turned out to be the best draft of 2008 in the division. The Ravens found their franchise quarterback and starting running back in the first two rounds with Flacco and Rice. Both players are now the young centerpieces Baltimore is building its offense around. Rice, who recorded back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, has already been to one Pro Bowl. Baltimore also picked up Zbikowski in the third round. He’s a part-time starter at safety and may be a full-time option this upcoming season. Later picks such as Cousins and Nakamura have found their way on the field and contributed the past three seasons. The only disappointment from this draft is Gooden. The former third-rounder has been plagued by injuries and never developed into a reliable starting linebacker next to future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Other than that, this was a stellar draft by general manager Ozzie Newsome and Co. from top to bottom.”

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco
Grade now: B
Grade then: C
“They did the right thing by trading out of the No. 8 spot to No. 22 and then back up to No. 18 to get Joe Flacco. At the time, it was a questionable move, but one that proved to work out. Flacco isn’t a top-tier quarterback yet, but he has the skills. Second-round pick Ray Rice has worked out well. Now the Ravens need to give this running back the ball more. The rest of the draft, which was eight picks, didn’t produce another starter. There are some quality backups in linebacker Tavares Gooden and safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, but that’s it.”

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