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What if… the Jets drafted Warren Sapp

What if… is a new column that speculates how things might be different if things went just a little bit differently. We all know there is a domino effect of actions. If this happened then this wouldn’t happen and this would happen… It’s all speculation, but it can be a fun discussion and that’s what we’re doing there.

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The Jets passes on Warren Sapp to take notable bust Kyle Brady, the man Bill Belichick was targeting for Cleveland with the No. 10 pick.

The Jets passes on Warren Sapp to take notable bust Kyle Brady, the man Bill Belichick was targeting for Cleveland with the No. 10 pick.

The 1995 draft, before the Ravens were even in existence, saw one bad decision by another team end up shaping the existence of the Baltimore franchise for 17-years. The Cleveland Browns ended up making a trade in a direct reaction to the New York Jets making a questionable draft decision and passing on Warren Sapp.

Going into the 1995 NFL Draft, Warren Sapp was clearly one of the elite players but off-the-field issue caused his stock to drop. He ended up falling all the way to No. 12 and was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for whom he helped win a Super Bowl.

But anybody who remembers that draft knows there was no way Sapp should have lasted that long.

A young Bill Belichick, who was then the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, loved Warren Sapp and wanted to take him with the 10th overall pick. However, General Manager Michael Lombardi refused to draft him because of his off-the-field issues. But that didn’t really even matter because Jets fans were clamoring for the talented University of Miami Defensive Tackle, a player everybody knew that as long as he kept his head on straight could be the best defensive player in the league.

But the Jets passed on him and selected Penn State tight end Kyle Brady. We don’t even have to look in the benefit of hindsight to see why this was a terrible decision. It was just three years earlier that the Jets drafted tight end Johnny Mitchell with the No. 15 overall pick. In 1994, he caught 58 passes for 749 yards and four touchdowns. He was actually fourth in the league among tight ends in catches that year. He did have serious locker room issues, though, and that led the Jets targeting Brady.

For some reason, teams loved Brady. He was very big and ran well and was a great blocker but they all forgot about his questionable hands and about how the most passes he ever caught in college was 27.

With Lombardi refusing to draft Sapp, Belichick had a hard time keeping it secret that he too absolutely loved Brady and planned on picking him with the 10th pick in the draft. That only became possible because of an earlier trade in which the Browns sent star return man Eric Metcalf and the No. 26 pick to Atlanta for the pick. But when the Jets swooped in, it left the Browns scrambling.

Had Cleveland not scrambled and traded for a 1996 first round draft pick after the Jets selected Kyle Brady, Ray Lewis never would have ended up in Baltimore and helped them win not just one but two Super Bowls.

Had Cleveland not scrambled and traded for a 1996 first round draft pick after the Jets selected Kyle Brady, Ray Lewis never would have ended up in Baltimore and helped them win not just one but two Super Bowls.

Cleveland traded the pick to San Francisco for a boat-load of picks, No. 30, 94, 119 and a 1996 first round pick. The 49ers selected wide receiver J.J. Stokes and the Browns drafted Craig Powell, Mike Frederick and Dave Barr, respectively. But the crown jewel was the first round pick the following year that turned out to be Ray Lewis, the greatest linebacker in NFL history and the man who is still the face of the Ravens despite being retired. He helped lead the Ravens to two Super Bowls…you know his resume.

Had the Jets not made a huge draft blunder, the Ravens would have had a disappointing tight end on their roster for quite some time and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to select Lewis with the 26th pick in the 1996 draft.

Lewis probably would have ended up in New England with Belichick. Lewis caught Belichick’s eye while he was scouting Sapp and even more the following year. Bill Parcells was still the Patriots head coach at the time and Belichick was his defensive coordinator. Both focused on upgrading at linebacker that offseason and were planning on taking Lewis with the No. 36 overall pick.

Shannon Sharpe never would have come to Baltimore for two years to help the Ravens offense either since his entire reason for coming was to play on a team with Lewis.

Ravens fans should probably be thanking the Jets for their mistake ever single opportunity they have.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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