An interesting question for fans is which historical Raven would help this year’s squad the most. The discussion would obviously begins with the 3 pillars in Ravens history: Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, and Ed Reed. All three are 1st ballot Hall of Famers, and among the best ever at their respective position.
Unfortunately, positional needs prevent us from giving real consideration to some players. Ray Lewis, the GOAT for the Ravens and historically for the entire NFL at LB too, is not needed on this year’s Ravens. Although he is the greatest leader to ever play the game, and his dominance at the position is unparalleled, the inside linebacker position is under control. Manned by 2nd year ILB C.J. Mosley, a Pro Bowler in his only season, and Daryl Smith, also a top 8 ILB in the entire NFL, this unit is the strongest on the team. So while Lewis would be an upgrade, there are other area’s of need that are much bigger.
Ogden, while a large upgrade at left tackle, would only strengthen an already strong unit. The current starter, Eugene Monroe, while not an all-pro, is a solid performer who is expected to bounce back in a big way. Despite a down season in 2014 where he was battered with injuries and was only mediocre, the offensive line was still a top performer in the entire NFL. So while Ogden would be a large upgrade, he would only make a strength even stronger.
While the big 3 were the obvious candidates, I bandied around a 3rd name due to him also being a Ravens great at a position of need: Todd Heap.
Heap’s Ravens career spanned about 10 years, with a litany of sub-par Quarterbacks slinging the ball. Yet he consistently performed on a Pro-Bowl level, despite Randall Cunningham, Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Chris Redman, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Troy Smith. Heap had 1 year with Steve McNair playing at a high level, and caught passes from Flacco during Joe’s first 3 seasons, so we have an idea what he would look like on this year’s team, although Flacco is better at this point than himself and McNair when Heap played with them.
However, while Heap would be a great addition to this year’s squad, he played a low priority position. So with solid yet unproven options in Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams currently on the roster, I think the position is solid. That leaves only one player who would make a world of a difference on the 2015 Ravens: perennial All-Pro safety Ed Reed.
Ed Reed was a game changer. He played both safety spots at different points in his career, and he could impact the game in so many ways. In his prime, he was a hard hitter, ball hawk, and had no flaws in his game. I mean no disrespect to our current safeties, but Ed Reed would be a massive upgrade. Reed was a player quarterback’s had to account for on every play. Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were known to write on their play sleeves to find #20 before the play. Bill Belicheck, arguably the best coach in the NFL has been effusive in his praise of Reed over the years. Reed could help you cover your flaws, and win games for you. He is the among the leaders in defensive touchdowns scored, and is #1 all time in defensive return yardage . He is 6th on the list of career regular season interceptions, but he has played at least 2 less seasons than anyone ahead of him.
Ed Reed was a stud safety, and that is a position the 2015 Ravens would benefit most from an upgrade. Reed played the game at an extremely high level, and would upgrade the defense’s ability to force turnovers, a big weakness for the 2014 defense. Reed, Will Hill, and Jimmy Smith manning the back end would result in the #1 pass defense in the league, and it wouldn’t even be close. Coupled with our top notch pass rush lead by Sizzle and Doom, the defense would give 2006 and 2000 a run for the title of best Ravens defense ever.
So Ed Reed would be my choice, and its not really even close. If Ed in his prime were here in 2015, I would be starting the countdown to 16-0. Obviously we don’t have time travel, so this can’t be a reality, but a man can dream!