For weeks I’ve been saying I’d be happy to see the Ravens draft a cornerback with the 16th pick in the first round. Welcome to Baltimore Marlon Humphrey!
Reports on the Alabama corner tell us he’s a physical press-corner with good size (6-0, 197) and 4.41 speed and is outstanding taking on the run. The Ravens secondary has been a weakness for years but now it looks like a strength. Last year, Baltimore added Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle and drafted talented slot corner Tavon Young. This year safety Tony Jefferson (Arizona) and cornerback Brandon Carr (Dallas) were added in free agency and now Humphrey joins Jimmy Smith as first round corners on the Ravens defense.
I like the pick, but is Humphrey the right cornerback? It may take 3-4 years to answer that, but Ozzie Newsome is confident he got the right guy. “He was by far the best player,” Newsome said.
The NFL’s best minds spend 12 months working on their draft boards but history is proof that the best laid plans sometimes go up in smoke. How else do you explain first round busts like these?
2007–JaMarcus Russell, QB Oakland, No. 1 Overall
1998–Ryan Leaf, QB San Diego, No. 2 Overall
1996–Lawrence Phillips, RB St. Louis Rams, No. 6 Overall (Ravens passed and took Ogden)
1994–Heath Shuler, QB Washington, No. 3 Overall
1992–David Klingler, QB Cincinnati, No. 6 Overall
1982– Art Schlichter, QB Baltimore Colts, No. 4 Overall
1979–Russell Erxleben, K/P New Orleans, No. 11 Overall, 1979
While teams have whiffed at the top of the draft they’ve also hit Hall of Fame home runs in rounds that don’t even exist today. How about picks from the following rounds, these busts reside in The Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Round 5—Dick LeBeau (1959), CB Detroit: Mike Webster (1974), C Pittsburgh: Kevin Greene (1985) LB, LA Rams.
Round 7, 1990 —Shannon Sharpe, TE Denver.
Round 8, 1983—Richard Dent, DE Chicago.
Round 9, 1955—Johnny Unitas, QB Pittsburgh (Cut by Steelers and signed by Baltimore in 1956).
Round 10, 1964—Roger Staubach, QB Dallas.
Round 12, 1949 —George Blanda, QB-K Chicago.
Round 14, 1961—Deacon Jones, DE LA Rams.
Round 17, 1956—Bart Starr, QB Green Bay.
Round 20, 1954- Raymond Berry, E Baltimore.
Round 27, 1953—Roosevelt Brown, T (Morgan State) NY Giants.
And how about the players passed over by the entire league that went undrafted? Kurt Warner didn’t need a draft round to punch his ticket to Canton, Tony Romo, Wes Welker, Rod Smith, Priest Holmes, Antonio Gates and James Harrison all had terrific careers as undrafted players.