The Ravens have consistently lingered among the best of the best in the AFC under the direction of John Harbaugh.
Even now, after the departure of former general manager Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore is winning double-digit football games and lighting the scoreboard aflame on Sundays. How do the Ravens do it? How do teams like the Ravens, among others in the NFL, routinely stay in a competitive window?
A lot of it has to do with their draft habits. Baltimore’s 2020 NFL Draft class is a perfect example. If you want to know how good teams stay good, all you need to do is take a look at how the Ravens have handled the draft.
Baltimore hasn't necessarily been aggressive; quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. But what the Ravens have been able to do is to let high-end talent drop into their lap in literally every single one of their first three selections. Baltimore has been able to collect the following talent:
- No. 28: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
- No. 55: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
- No. 71: Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M
In the first two selections, the Ravens watched players at the same position come off the board in the immediate vicinity of their pick. Jordyn Brooks and Kenneth Murray were grabbed within five picks of when Baltimore picked Queen. The Ravens didn't flinch.
They watched D'Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers come off the board shortly before their pick at No. 55, including a trade up for Taylor and Akers just three picks before the Ravens drafted. They didn't flinch.
And at No. 71, Baltimore simply made a best-player-available selection — although it could be easily argued that Dobbins and Queen were also best players available too.
This is how the Ravens stay good. They consistently let the board come to them, they don't overthink the draft order or panic and when good players fall into their lap, they don't draft for need; they take those players and don't look back.
The end result of this approach is that when financial decisions need to be made, such as letting linebacker C.J. Mosley walk in free agency as he searched for a record-setting contract, it can be done without regret.
It's a scary thought. The Ravens were already loaded and held the top seed in the AFC in 2019, and then they follow suit with a disciplined and wise approach to this year's early rounds of the draft.
Just another case of how good teams stay good.