NFL

Baltimore Ravens’ Mount Rushmore

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For a franchise that’s only been around 21 years, the Baltimore Ravens are looked at as one of the premiere organizations in the NFL.

Just about every year, you can count on the Ravens being right in the thick of things.

However, this past season was one of the most underwhelming campaigns in franchise history, as Baltimore stumbled to a 5-11 record.

Nonetheless, one down season doesn’t take away from the greatness to don the purple and black over the years.

Ray Lewis – Not only is Ray Lewis the best player in Ravens history, he’s arguably the best linebacker ever.

When looking at Lewis’ resume, you ask yourself, where do you begin?

After Jonathan Ogden, Lewis was the second player ever to be drafted by the Ravens during the 1996 NFL Draft and boy did it pay off.

Lewis went on to be the anchor of the Ravens defense for nearly two decades.

The former Miami standout reached the Pro Bowl 12 times, was first-team All-Pro seven times, NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and AFC Defensive Player of the Year three times.

Not to mention, Lewis helped propel Baltimore to their two Super Bowl titles, while being named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV.

Aside from all the impressive accolades and numbers, what Lewis is remembered for most is his leadership. During his playing days, there was no doubt who was the voice of the Ravens on and off the field.

Ed Reed – For as great as Ray Lewis was, safety Ed Reed wasn’t too far behind.

Just like Lewis, Ed Reed is a product of ‘the U’.

Reed was the 24th overall pick of the 2002 draft and he surpassed every expectation laid upon him.

When you think of ball hawks, Reed should be right at the top of your list because that’s exactly what he was. The nine-time Pro Bowler led the league in interceptions not once, not twice, but three times.

What made Reed even more deadly is the fact when he picked you off, your offense had to immediately pretend to be a part of the special teams unit because Reed had natural return skill ability.

Throughout his career, Reed returned seven interceptions for touchdowns, while returning two fumbles to the end zone.

Nowadays, Reed is an assistant defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.

Jonathan Ogden – It’s only fitting the first draft pick in franchise history makes the list.

After being selected as the fourth-overall pick of the 1996 draft, expectations were through the roof for Ogden straight out of UCLA.

Typically, when players are handed huge expectations, more often than not they tend to disappoint, but not Ogden.

If anything, he was everything and much more than Baltimore could’ve ever imagined.

Ogden spent his entire 12-year career in a Ravens uniform, while reaching the Pro Bowl every season with the exception of his rookie campaign.

The 6-foot-9 beast was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Joe Flacco – Although there seems to be a love-hate relationship with Joe Flacco among fans, there’s no denying his ability to step up in big moments.

In 15 career playoff games, Flacco has a touchdown to interception ratio of 25:10, which includes his remarkable run during the 2012 postseason, in which he tossed 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions en route to Baltimore’s second Super Bowl title.

There are a few other guys you could’ve placed here, but when you consider the importance of Flacco’s position to go along with his longevity within the organization, it was hard to leave him off this list.

Is he elite?  Who cares?  He’s good enough to win with and plays his best football when it counts most.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.