Ask about the best personnel departments in the National Football League, and it won’t be long until someone mentions the Baltimore Ravens. Over the years, GM Ozzie Newsome has developed a reputation to be one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL, building championship-level teams with quality talent from all rounds of the draft.
But even the best strike out at times. Not every pick works out as intended – and some fail spectacularly. For Ravens fans willing to endure some pain, and fans of other teams simply looking to engage in some Schadenfreude, here are the top 5 Baltimore Ravens draft busts of all time.
1. Kyle Boller, QB
Quarterbacks can make or break an entire football team. But in retrospect, the Ravens were fortunate to rely on such a dominant defense throughout the years. Kyle Boller, the 19th pick in the 2003 draft, was supposed to be the future of the franchise after it had faltered to 7 and 9 season. Instead, the opposite came to pass.
In five seasons with the Ravens, Boller managed to throw almost as many interceptions (44) as touchdowns (45). He finished with a 0.426 winning percentage. Considering the fact that the Ravens gave up a second round pick in 2003 and a first-round pick the following year to get him, he is the single biggest draft bust in Ravens history.
2. Matt Elam, S
His rookie season looked so promising. Elam was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, the former Florida Gator started 15 games his rookie season and recorded 77 tackles. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
Elam was supposed to replace Ed Reed, the ballhawking safety who left the Ravens before the 2013 draft after a hall of fame-worthy career. Instead, he struggled in coverage and tackling throughout 2014, losing playing time and falling out of his coaches’ favor. A torn biceps forced him to miss the entire 2015 season, and only saw limited playing time in 2016. Elam was arrested for marijuana possession at the end of last season, ending his tenure with the Ravens.
3. Arthur Brown, ILB
Something must have been in the water at the 2013 draft. After selecting Elam in the first round, the Ravens traded three draft picks to move up six spots and get the former Kansas State linebacker in the second. Needless to say, it did not turn out to be a wise decision.
In his three years with the Ravens, Brown failed to start a single game. He recorded just 17 total tackles during that time, 15 of which came during his rookie season. The team decided to cut their losses before the end of his rookie contract in late 2015, after he had been surpassed by two undrafted rookies. Brown is currently trying to catch on with the Seattle Seahawks.
4. Sergio Kindle, OLB
He was supposed to be the Ravens’ next great pass catcher. Instead, he lives on in ignominy as a cautionary tale. Before the 2010 draft, Kindle was considered a first-round talent who fell to the second round. The Ravens liked him so much that they made him their first pick of the year in the second round, after trading out of the first.
But Kindle never had a chance to reach his ceiling. Just three months after the draft, he fell down two flights of stairs, fracturing his skull. His only contribution on the field came in the form of three active games and one tackle, two years after his injury. Kindle was waived after the 2012 season, and never caught on with another team.
5. Terrance Cody, NT
Every great defense is built in the trenches, and Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama players. As a result, Terrance Cody was hailed by many as the perfect fit to plug at nose tackle and stifle opposing run games. There may have not been a less surprising selection during the 2010 draft than the Ravens’ second round pick.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. Cody struggled with his weight from his rookie season. His second year with the Ravens was his most productive, starting all 16 games and recording 17 tackles. But the overall production never justified the pick. In 2014, just a year after resigning him following his rookie contract, Baltimore released Cody following a season in which he only played in one game and recorded no tackles.
Even the best can get it wrong. Ozzie Newsome may be an ace evaluator, but he’s made some significant mistakes in the NFL draft. Will this year’s crop of prospects add to Newsome’s legacy or to the above list? Only time will tell. We can’t wait to find out, starting this season! Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social to stay on top of all things Ravens.