Nobody has meant more to the Baltimore Ravens’ franchise than General Manager Ozzie Newsome. I think that much is safe to say. Through the organization’s two-plus-decade existence, he has been the lone consistent presence and has guided the personality and personnel of that team well during that time, something that most Pittsburgh Steelers fans should be able to begrudgingly acknowledge.
He made his final call to a draft pick he will ever make yesterday. And it’s worth watching, if you love football and the people who are responsible for putting it all together. Or if you simply empathize with how much this all can mean to a person, both professionally and personally.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 29, 2018
I just have to start off by pointing out how ridiculously fitting it is that final draft pick Newsome will ever be directly responsible for is a small-school defensive lineman. Zach Sieler from Ferris State has the honor of being the final Newsome draft pick, in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, 238th overall. I don’t think any team or general manager has given more opportunities in the draft to small-school talents.
As anybody who follows the Pittsburgh Steelers knows, they don’t often dabble at that level at all. There have only been a couple of such picks under Kevin Colbert in recent years, those also being defensive linemen Nick Williams and Javon Hargrave. Cornerback Cortez Allen from back in 2010 is another rare example.
It’s hard to imagine a more Newsome draft than this, though, when all was said and done. Not only did he have the small-school prospects, he drafted a pair of tight ends, including Hayden Hurst in the first round and Mark Andrews in the third, he was able to grab for himself two more Alabama players.
And he drafted the son of Orlando Brown, whom he originally brought in as an undrafted free agent while the Ravens were still the old Cleveland Browns. Orlando Brown, Jr. was even announced by a former teammate of his father’s along the offensive line. There was some magic going on.
Of course, Newsome also wheeled and dealed all up and down the draft board. He made half a dozen trades, including trading back in the first, then trading back up into the first to draft Lamar Jackson, whom he hopes will help secure the franchise at the quarterback position long into the future.
The Ravens ended up making 12 selections in the draft, drafting three offensive linemen, two tight ends, two wide receivers, a quarterback, a safety, a cornerback, an inside linebacker, and a defensive lineman. Perhaps he hopes his final legacy will be to have rebuilt the offense’s passing game, having also added three new wide receivers in free agency.
Think what you will of the Ravens or of Newsome, but his final day at the helm of the 2018 NFL Draft was undoubtedly the end of an era that is worth noting, helping a semi-expansion franchise win a pair of Super Bowls.