The Baltimore Ravens began their franchise with what now can be considered the best round in NFL draft history.
After relocating from Cleveland in 1996, the Ravens used their first two selections (both first-round picks) on offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. This past Saturday, Lewis joined Ogden in getting voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This marks the first time that two Hall of Fame players were drafted in the same round by the same team and reached Canton in their first year of eligibility, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
"As the first two draft picks in Ravens history, Ray and I came in with the same mentality that we were determined to create something special," Ogden said. "From the beginning, the bond we shared was incredibly special. That connection is even stronger now, as everything has come full circle, and we’re able to stand side by side in the Hall of Fame."
It's well-known how Baltimore could've made different decisions in the first round in 1996. The Ravens could've ended up with running back Lawrence Phillips (the favored pick of owner Art Modell) instead of Ogden at No. 4 overall and linebacker Reggie Brown (their top choice before he was selected by the Lions) rather than Lewis at No. 26.
What many don't remember is how Ogden and Lewis first met. In 1995, UCLA and Miami opened their seasons against each other, and Ogden delivered a cut block on Lewis.
It's something that Lewis has yet to forget.
"We got on the plane to L.A. [for the Playboy All-American event], and I'm like, 'Why did you have to cut me like that?'" Lewis said to Ogden last year on a video shot by the Ravens' website.
Ogden responded, "He's fast. I had to lay out to get him."
Ogden and Lewis eventually landed on the fledgling Ravens and became the cornerstones on offense and defense. They combined for 29 seasons and 23 Pro Bowls as well as being named first-team All-Pro 11 times.
The only players drafted by the same team in the same year and went to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility were Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount. But the Pittsburgh Steelers all-time greats weren't selected in the same round, like first-rounders Ogden and Lewis.
In 2013, Ogden became the fourth offensive tackle to get voted in on his first ballot. Five years later, Lewis became one of six middle linebackers to do so, joining Ray Nitschke (1978), Dick Butkus (1979), Jack Lambert (1990), Mike Singletary (1998) and Brian Urlacher (2018).
"It’s pretty clear Ray was the heart and soul of the Ravens for 17 years," Ogden said. "If anyone is deserving of this honor, it’s Ray Lewis. He is a guy we all looked to -- both on offense and defense -- to lead our team. He was definitely the catalyst for our 2000 Super Bowl team, and throughout the years, he helped define what it means to be a Raven."