Not-so-lucky Number

Ravens Hope History Of No. 26 Pick Doesn't Repeat

April 24, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

The only time the Ravens selected 26th in the NFL draft was in 1996, when they took a chance on an undersized linebacker named Ray Lewis.

No one expects the Ravens to come away with another all-but-certain Hall of Fame player at that position Saturday, but fans hope they can avoid the rocky history of that spot.

Since Lewis was drafted, the No. 26 slot has produced just two Pro Bowl players (guard Alan Faneca and cornerback Lito Sheppard). It's a point in the draft where such busts as quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, defensive end Erik Flowers, running back Chris Perry and defensive tackle John McCargo were selected.

This record makes a solid argument for the Ravens to trade back down into the second round.

Here's a look at the 12 players drafted with the 26th pick since Lewis:

1997: : Jim Druckenmiller, quarterback, San Francisco. He will go down as one of the biggest first-round quarterback flops. His career stats: one touchdown pass, four interceptions and a 29.2 quarterback rating.

1998: : Alan Faneca, guard, Pittsburgh. He has become one of the best guards of his generation. The eight-time Pro Bowl lineman was an anchor for the Steelers for years.

1999: : Fernando Bryant, cornerback, Jacksonville. He never reached Pro Bowl status, but he was a dependable nine-year starter in the NFL.

2000: : Erik Flowers, defensive end, Buffalo. He recorded five sacks and six starts in his forgettable six-year NFL career. Keith Bulluck, a two-time All-Pro linebacker, was drafted four spots later.

2001: : Jamar Fletcher, cornerback, Miami. This is how much the Dolphins coveted him: They sent him to San Diego to complete a trade for wide receiver David Boston. He has been a journeyman since.

2002: : Lito Sheppard, cornerback, Philadelphia. A two-time Pro Bowl defender, he was an integral part of a talented Eagles secondary. He has 18 career interceptions.

2003: : Kwame Harris, offensive tackle, San Francisco. He was a longtime starter for the 49ers, but he built a reputation for being soft. Nnamdi Asomugha, who is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the game, was taken with the 31st pick.

2004: : Chris Perry, running back, Cincinnati. This was the breaking point - Perry was benched in favor of Cedric Benson last season. Perry's career stats: a 3.4-yards-per-carry average and two touchdowns.

2005: : Chris Spencer, center, Seattle. He has become a three-year starter but has failed to live up to first-round expectations.

2006: : John McCargo, defensive tackle, Buffalo. The surprise first-round selection has never started a game. His trade to Indianapolis was voided because he failed a physical.

2007: : Anthony Spencer, defensive end-outside linebacker, Dallas. He started only six games as a rookie, and none last year. Spencer made headlines four months ago when he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct outside an Indianapolis bar.

2008: : Duane Brown, offensive tackle, Houston. He had some rough moments as a rookie, giving up three sacks to James Harrison and two to Dwight Freeney. But he started all 16 games and showed gradual improvement.

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