<
>

Ray Lewis headlines top 20 all-time Ravens in 20th anniversary season

The Baltimore Ravens begin their 20th season Sunday, when they kick off against the Denver Broncos. There's no better time to compile a list of the top 20 greatest Ravens of all-time.

In putting together the rankings, it's impressive that a franchise that's two decades old can boast three players (Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed) who are arguably the best players of their generation at that position.

The only rule for this list is the player must have played a minimum of four seasons for the Ravens. Here are the rankings:

1. Ray Lewis, linebacker: This is the one spot where there is no argument. Twelve-time Pro Bowl player. Seven-time All-Pro. Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Super Bowl MVP. Lewis is perhaps the best defensive player in NFL history, and he was the motivating drive behind both of the Ravens' Lombardi Trophies.

2. Jonathan Ogden, offensive tackle: The Ravens selected Ogden with their first-ever pick, which set the franchise on the right path. He was the most dominant offensive player in team history, and the 15 starting quarterbacks who played with him never had to worry about their blind side. Some could contend Reed should be No. 2, but Ogden was the more stabilizing force.

3. Ed Reed, safety: He made safety a high-profile position again with his ball-hawking skills. Yes, Reed often took too many chances. But he was in the head of the greatest quarterbacks of his time. And was there a more dangerous Raven with the ball in his hands?

4. Terrell Suggs, linebacker: He's the third Ravens player to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. What's more impressive is Suggs has 36.5 more sacks than anyone else in team history and ranks second to Ray Lewis in career tackles.

5. Joe Flacco, quarterback: Elite or not, Flacco is the greatest Ravens player at the game's most important position. He has won more games than any quarterback since he entered the NFL in 2008, and he put the Ravens on his back in the 2012 Super Bowl run.

6. Jamal Lewis, running back: The 2003 Offensive Player of the Year, he is more than a 2,000-yard running back and the franchise's all-time leading rusher. Lewis was the centerpiece of the Ravens' offense in 2000, when Baltimore had the stingiest defense in NFL history. With no Lewis, there would've been no Super Bowl title in 2000.

7. Haloti Ngata, defensive tackle: The Ravens ranked in the top five in run defense in seven of nine seasons with the five-time Pro Bowl lineman.

8. Marshal Yanda, guard: He was voted the top player on the 2015 Ravens team by local media, and he will go down as one of the toughest ones in franchise history. Only Ogden has been a more dominating blocker.

9. Ray Rice, running back: He has more combined yards than any other Raven, and his big plays -- fourth-and-29 conversion in San Diego and the 83-yard touchdown run in a playoff game in New England -- are among the most memorable.

10. Peter Boulware, linebacker: The four-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher finished as the all-time sacks leader in team history (Suggs later surpassed it), and Boulware would've had more if he hadn't played with a shoulder harness, which basically limited him to one arm.

11. Chris McAlister, cornerback: He was as talented as he was divisive, which is a shame. McAlister is clearly the best cornerback to ever put on a Ravens uniform, but he had the size and skills to be one of the best of his era.

12. Todd Heap, tight end: He has 11 more touchdown catches than any other Ravens player, which is a remarkable feat considering his primary quarterback was Kyle Boller.

13. Matt Stover, kicker: The franchise's all-time leading scorer was the unsung hero of the 2000 Super Bowl team, scoring 49 straight points during one stretch to bail out a struggling offense.

14. Michael McCrary, defensive end: No one will have a higher motor than McCrary, an undersized but relentless pass-rusher who recorded two sacks in the Super Bowl despite breaking his right hand during the game.

15. Derrick Mason, wide receiver: The Ravens' most consistent wide receiver might be remembered as a Tennessee Titan, but he holds the three highest catch seasons (103, 86 and 80 receptions) in Ravens history.

16. Adalius Thomas, linebacker: The Ravens' most versatile player, Thomas could play defensive line, linebacker and defensive back. He reached the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2003 and for defense in 2006.

17. Rod Woodson, cornerback-safety: He provided legitimacy to the Ravens when he became the first marquee free agent to sign with them, and he was the sage leader on Baltimore's record-setting defense.

18. Kelly Gregg, nose tackle: The biggest overachiever in Ravens history was more than a space filler. Gregg finished with more career tackles than Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Jarret Johnson and Bart Scott.

19. Bart Scott, linebacker: The "Mad Backer" first carved his niche on special teams as an undrafted rookie before becoming one of the few players not to get lost in Ray Lewis' shadow. Scott also delivered the most memorable hit in Ravens history and Ben Roethlisberger's lifetime.

20. Jermaine Lewis, receiver-returner: The diminutive speedster tops the Ravens in punt return average (11.8), and his electric 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown sealed the Ravens' first Super Bowl triumph.