The Baltimore Ravens' 1996 draft was not only the best in team history, it's arguably the top one in the NFL over the last two decades.
This class featured one Hall of Famer (which will become two in 2018, when Ray Lewis is expected to join Jonathan Ogden), 26 Pro Bowl invitations and 14 first-team All-Pro selections. The remarkable twist to this success is that it came just 19 days after team officials moved into their new headquarters, an old training facility for Baltimore police. The Ravens, who relocated from Cleveland that year, didn't have an official logo or team colors by the time of this draft.
As NFL Nation takes a look at the best draft classes for each team, here's a closer look at the seven players from the Ravens' first one:
Jonathan Ogden, OT, UCLA, first round, fourth overall: GM Ozzie Newsome chose his top-rated player in the draft over running back Lawrence Phillips, who was the preferred choice of owner Art Modell. Ogden was named to the Pro Bowl in his final 11 seasons and became a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection. Phillips played for three teams in three NFL seasons and died in prison this year at the age of 40.
Ray Lewis, LB, Miami, first round, 26th overall: He was the best player on one of the all-time great defenses in 2000 and was the unquestioned leader on the Ravens' other Super Bowl team 12 years later. Not too bad for the fourth linebacker taken in this draft. He finished first in career tackles for the Ravens with 2,643, which are 1,820 more than anyone else in team history. He also ranks second in interceptions with 31 and is the only non-defensive back in the Ravens' top 10. In other words, Lewis made plays all over the field.
DeRon Jenkins, CB, Tennessee, second round, 55th overall: The Ravens were human after all. Following perhaps the best first round in NFL history, Baltimore moved up in the second round to take Jenkins, who is one of the bigger busts in team history. Jenkins made two interceptions in four seasons with the Ravens.
Jermaine Lewis, WR, Maryland, fifth round, 153rd overall: Landing Lewis this late in the draft was a steal and would have gained more recognition if not for the selections of Ogden and Lewis. He remains the Ravens' best punt returner in terms of career average (11.8) and ranks second in career kickoff return yards (3,153 for the team). Lewis scored six touchdowns off returns for Baltimore and his electric, 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown sealed the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV triumph.
Dexter Daniels, LB, Florida, sixth round, 172nd overall: He played in four games in the Ravens' inaugural season, recording five special teams tackles. It was his only season in Baltimore.
James Roe, WR, Norfolk State, sixth round, 186th overall: In two seasons with the Ravens, he caught 15 passes and scored one touchdown. Roe went on to have a successful career in the Arena League, where he won three championships.
Jon Stark, QB, Trinity International, seventh round, 238th overall: The Ravens took a flier on a quarterback from an NAIA school in Illinois. He never played a snap for the Ravens in one season in Baltimore, where he was placed on the physically unable to perform list before training camp and was suspended in December while the NFL investigated a possible violation of league rules regarding gambling.
Next-best Ravens draft class: 2008. The Ravens got their franchise quarterback in the first round, and they get extra points for how they skillfully maneuvered to draft Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. To get the best value for Flacco, Baltimore traded down from No. 8 to No. 26 to acquire more picks but then moved back up eight spots at No. 18 to make sure it secured its future Super Bowl MVP. In the second round, the Ravens were so sure they could get Rice later that they traded back 17 spots for an additional third-round pick and still got the running back who would become the franchise's all-time leader in career yards from scrimmage.