As it stands today, Jamal Lewis is the best running back the Baltimore Ravens have ever drafted. Now you may be able to make a case for Ray Rice but Jamal Lewis has the better numbers plain and simple. Perhaps in two or three years, if Rice turns out some solid seasons, then maybe we can come back to the table and discuss it. Forget everything off of the field with Jamal Lewis, between the hashmarks Lewis was a beast for Baltimore and really gave the Ravens the identity as a running team.
Lewis was drafted fifth overall out of the University of Tennessee in the 2000 NFL Draft. He was the first overall back selected and expectations were high. In his first season as a Baltimore Raven he didn’t disappoint. In his rookie campaign, Lewis rushed for 1,364 yards (his second highest total) and six touchdowns. Lewis was also the foundation for a very mediocre offense that won the Super Bowl that same year. Lewis rushed for 103 yards and scored a touchdown in the game, becoming only the second rookie ever to rush for over 100 yards in a Super Bowl and the youngest player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl (21).
His third season was by far his finest. In 2003 Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards, at the time was the second most in NFL history; only 39 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s record. That same season he won honors as the AFC Offensive Player of the Year and earned the PFWA NFL MVP. In six full seasons with the Ravens he rushed for less than 1,000 yards only once.
In 2007 Lewis signed with the Cleveland Browns and still had three nice seasons but because he was with the Browns, almost quickly became forgotten, especially in Baltimore when, in 2008, Ray Rice made his debut.
All the griping we give the Ravens rush attack today can almost solely be put on Jamal Lewis’ shoulders. If he wasn’t as dominant and consistent as he was during his tenure with the Ravens, we wouldn’t be as spoiled as were today.