A couple of days ago, former Cleveland Browns quarterback, Brady Quinn, made it public that the Baltimore Ravens were on the phone with him, and ready to trade up from #29 to #23 in the 2007 draft to select him. The Ravens were a minute away from announcing the trade, and being on the clock with the pick of Quinn, when the Cleveland Browns leapfrogged them and traded up to #22, owned by the Dallas Cowboys. The Browns selected Quinn at #22, and the Ravens stood pat with pick #29 that they used to select Pro Bowl guard, Ben Grubbs out of Auburn.
First, a brief look leading up to the 2007 draft.
In June 2006, the Ravens traded their 2007 fourth round pick to the Tennessee Titans for quarterback, Steve McNair. Then in March 2007, the Ravens traded away their third, seventh, and 2008 third round picks to the Buffalo Bills for running back, Willis McGahee.
Entering the 2007 draft the Ravens had picks in the first (29th) second (61st) compensatory fourth (137th – Le’Ron McClain) fifth (166th) compensatory fifth (174th – Troy Smith) sixth (203rd) and compensatory sixth round (207th – Prescott Burgess).
Now the draft is underway, the Ravens select Ben Grubbs. Soon after, they traded away their second round pick to the Detroit Lions for their third round pick, #74, which they used to select Yamon Figurs, and a fourth round pick (101st)
Later in the third round, the Ravens traded away their newly acquired fourth round pick (101st) fifth round (166th) and sixth round picks (203rd) to the Jacksonville Jaguars for their third round pick. It was the 86th pick the Ravens received from the Jags, and with it, they selected All-Pro, Marshal Yanda.
After the Yanda pick, the Ravens had afore mentioned compensatory picks left, and their draft was done.
But what if the Ravens had made a trade to move up from #29 to #23 in the first round to select Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame? In order to do so, the Ravens would have had to make other deals to gain some ammunition to make the trade. It would have cost likely in the neighborhood of a fourth round (101st) and fifth round (166th) pick. But they didn’t have the fourth round a pick at #101 to trade until the deal with Detroit went down. Detroit made their deal with the picks in question to the Bills at pick #34. Not too much farther down the board, so maybe it gets done. Then again, maybe the Ravens trade a fifth rounder and a player, or a combination including a pick in the 2008 draft, we don’t know.
Let’s say the picks came from the draft at hand, fourth and fifth round picks. The Ravens move up to #23, select QB Brady Quinn. They have no second round pick now. In the third round, Baltimore still selects Yamon Figurs, but they don’t have the other third round pick used to take Marshal Yanda. Still have the compensatory fourth and fifth round selections, but they will keep their sixth round pick after all, #203. So, who was taken with the 203rd pick in the draft you ask? Daren Stone. You know. He is the linebacker for the Saskatchewan Roughriders? Crickets… Actually, Stone did have himself a short stint with the Ravens in 2008. Signed mid-season, he was a special teamer, and committed an unnecessary roughness penalty in the AFC title game with Pittsburgh that year.
Daren Stone’s 15-yard penalty occurred on a punt after the Ravens had scored a touchdown to cut the Steelers lead to two, 16-14, and the defense held Pittsburgh to a three and out with the punt returned out to the Ravens 39 yard line and seven minutes to play. Instead, the penalty pushed the Ravens back to their own 14 yard line, boosting the pressure, igniting the Pittsburgh crowd, and a Joe Flacco interception would be returned for a TD by Troy Polomalu to seal the Ravens fate.
If the Ravens make the trade up to #23, select Daren Stone with the sixth round pick they would have kept by not having the ability to trade up for Yanda, and released Stone before 2008 like Atlanta did, he’s not around to have a hand in the Ravens demise, right? Wrong…because Brady Quinn, and not Joe Flacco would be our quarterback and the demise would have started long before anyone would think of an AFC title game trip. It’s also not fair to pin that heartbreaking loss on Stone. In that 2008 season, the Ravens were essentially playing with house money at that point, exceeding all expectations with a rookie head coach, quarterback, and running back. It was your typical, violence filled, hard fought Ravens-Steelers matchup, and the experienced team came away the victors.
I digress. It’s just funny how these things work out sometimes, and how players sometimes cross paths.
Back to the 2007 draft that could have been. The Ravens draft Quinn instead of Ben Grubbs. In order to make the trade, they don’t draft Marshal Yanda. So the line looks like this: LT – Jonathan Ogden, LG- Jason Brown, C – Mike Flynn, RG – Matt Katula, RT – Jared Gaither. Rather than Grubbs and Yanda, originally a tackle on that right side. Without all of those key pieces on the line, maybe the Ravens retain Jason Brown as the second best lineman on the team behind JO, and he moves to center with the retirement of Mike Flynn after the 2007 season. Now there is no need to bring in Matt Birk, a key piece in the Ravens success over the last four years before his retirement last year. Once Ogden retired, no Grubbs, no Yanda, no Birk, the line would have probably been comprised of Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful… I don’t know the rest… Sweaty, Hungry?
The Cleveland Browns swoop in and trade with the Dallas Cowboys at #22 in order to acquire Quinn, and the rest is history. The Kansas City Chiefs, who would have moved back to #29 if the Ravens made the trade, chose wide receiver, Dwane Bowe at #23. At #27, the New Orleans Saints selected wide receiver, Robert Meachem. Is it possible that the Saints would have taken the home state favorite from LSU if there at #27, with the Chiefs waiting at #29? I think so. Could you imagine that tandem of Bowe and Marques Colston? As if their passing game could get any more prolific down in the Big Easy.
Now we take a look at the 2008 draft. The Ravens enter the draft with picks in the first (8th) second (38th) compensatory third (99th – Oniel Cousins) fourth (106th) compensatory fourth (133rd – David Hale) sixth (173rd) compensatory sixth (206th – Haruki Nakamura) and seventh rounds (215th). The third round pick was traded the year prior for McGahee, and the fifth round pick was forfeited by selecting Jared Gaither in the supplemental draft in 2007.
It’s safe to say with Quinn’s track record, he would have been no better off than Kyle Boller and Troy Smith coming in for Steve McNair part way through the 2007 season, and the Ravens keep their 8th pick in the first round. A pick they ultimately traded all the way back to #26 with to the Jacksonville Jaguars. To move up 18 spots, the Ravens acquired from the Jags in addition to the 26th pick, two third round picks (71st and 89th) and a fourth round pick (125th). Who did Jacksonville sell the farm to get at #8? They selected defensive end Derrick Harvey out of Florida. He held out from signing a contract for 38 days. His career spanned three full seasons in Jacksonville, and a five game stint in Denver. His career ended with 72 tackles and eight sacks. I think if we know Ozzie Newsome as well as we think we do, there is no doubt he makes this trade, even with Brady Quinn as his QB, to stockpile more picks.
Now, if Quinn was the Ravens supposed franchise QB, the Ravens then have no need to trade picks away to move up from #26, to #18 to select Joe Flacco. They didn’t get Ben Grubbs or Marshal Yanda the year before, Jonathan Ogden has retired, so offensive line is a major priority. At #26, the Texans selected, and the Ravens could have selected Duane Brown, tackle out of Virginia Tech. Brown has started every game since day one in Houston, with the exception of four games missed in 2010 and two in 2013. Brown was a Pro Bowler each of the last two years and an All-Pro in 2012. Not bad for a guy tasked with filling the shoes of a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The Ravens trade back in the second round to nab running back, Ray Rice, trading the 38th pick to the Seattle Seahawks for their second round pick, used on Rice, and third round pick (86th).
For those of you keeping track, that means the Ravens selected T-Duane Brown, RB-Ray Rice, and now have three third round picks (71st, 86th, 89th), two fourth round picks (106th, 125th),a sixth, seventh, and the afore mentioned compensatory picks. 12 draft picks! But the latter fourth round pick was used to acquire Fabian Washington, cornerback from the Oakland Raiders. So, 11 draft picks.
The Ravens really squandered the opportunity with two new picks in the third round. The 71st pick was used on linebacker, Tavares Gooden. The 86th pick was used on safety, Tom Zbikowski who was a role player, and that’s about it. But guess who was taken at #83? Who the Ravens, with needs on the offensive line, could have moved up three spots to take? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, Jeremy Zuttah. With their new found picks, the Ravens could have afforded to trade up three spots in exchange for probably a sixth round pick. With the 89th pick (the Texans used it on running back, Steve Slaton) the Ravens could have chosen one of Jermichael Finley (TE), Cliff Avril (DE), Mario Manningham (WR), or Thomas DeCoud (S) rounding out the notable names in that area of the draft board.
The Ravens whiffed again in the fourth round selecting wide receiver, Marcus Smith. But, in this bizarro world where Brady Quinn is the quarterback and the offensive line is in shambles, the Ravens could have selected Kory Lichtensteiger, guard/center, who was taken by the Broncos just two picks later. Lichtensteiger battled some injuries early on including a torn ACL, but has been solid since, earning a five year, 17.5M dollar contract last offseason in Washington.
The Ravens offensive line situation now would look like this: LT – Duane Brown, LG – Jason Brown, C – Jeremy Zuttah, RG – Kory Lichtensteiger, RT – Jared Gaither.
Yes, certainly things would be much different if the Brady Quinn trade happened. There would be no Bryant McKinnie drama to worry about. No Gino Gradkowski experiment gone horribly wrong, and maybe Michael Oher still gets drafted in 2009 as Jared Gaither’s work ethic begins to taper.
But if you think for a second that even with the other upgrades, that this team would go to three conference title games in five years, and win a Super Bowl with Brady Quinn, think again.
It’s just one more thing the Ravens fans can thank Cleveland for. Art Modell, Ozzie Newsome, and who ever made that phone call one minute before the Ravens were likely to make their worst trade in franchise history. Thanks Cleveland.