Looking back: Ravens 2003 draft class

Looking back: Ravens 2003 draft class
April 1, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Now that the calendar has turned to April, talk of the NFL Draft hits overdrive. This year's draft begins on Thursday, April 25, at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Looking back at past drafts is always entertaining; hindsight is always 20/20, and every team's draft history includes some hits and misses, some gems and some busts. Over the next two weeks, we will go back and revisit each Ravens draft class of the past 10 years, looking at the great picks, the busts and the ones that got away.

We begin with the draft class of 2003, which included linebacker Terrell Suggs. With the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free agency departure of Ed Reed, Suggs is now the longest-tenured Raven.

As with this year, the Ravens enjoyed a big haul in the 2003 draft, selecting 11 players. So how did it go? Let's have a look back.

2003 Ravens draft class:

1st round -- Terrell Suggs, LB, Arizona State

1st round -- Kyle Boller, QB, California

3rd round -- Musa Smith, RB, Georgia

4th round -- Jarret Johnson, LB, Alabama

4th round -- Ovie Mughelli, FB, Wake Forest

5th round -- Aubrayo Franklin, DT, Tennessee

5th round -- Tony Pashos, OT, Illinois

6th round -- Gerome Sapp, S, Notre Dame

7th round -- Trent Smith, TE, Oklahoma

7th round -- Mike Mabry, C, Central Florida

7th round -- Antwoine Sanders, S, Utah

The Ravens' two first-round picks defined this class: Suggs burst onto the scene as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and has become one of the most accomplished players in team history; Boller became one of the more polarizing figures in team history.

But had things panned out differently, it's possible this draft class would have looked a lot different.

The Ravens had their eye on Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich, and apparently had worked out a trade with the Vikings to move up and take the Vikings' pick at No. 7 in an attempt to grab Leftwich.

The trade never happened, as it wasn't submitted to the league in time. The Vikings ended up missing the deadline to make their pick, and Leftwich was snatched up by Jacksonville at No. 7. The Ravens then took Suggs at No. 10.

The 2003 draft had three quarterbacks viewed as first-round talent: Carson Palmer, Leftwich and Boller (Rex Grossman also went in the first round, 22nd overall). Palmer went first overall to the Bengals,  and with Leftwich also off the board, the Ravens, desperate to find a long-term answer at quarterback, traded up to get Boller at No. 19.

It was viewed as a coup at the time, as both Suggs and Boller were perceived as top-10 talent.

Jarret Johnson, taken in the fourth round, turned out to be a great find for the Ravens, but running back Musa Smith, taken in the third round out of Georgia, was labeled the biggest bust of the class of 2003 running backs by Football Outsiders.com.

"Smith was supposed to be a big, bruising back, but he was the one who spent most of the time bruised," wrote Football Outsiders' Sean McCormick. "Smith could never stay healthy, and his production was pedestrian at best, as he only gained 496 yards during his five-year career."

 

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