A Bill Belichick trade down got Ray Lewis for the Ravens

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Bill Belichick loves to trade down in the draft. But the best trade down he ever made has been largely overlooked.

As Peter King noted in today’s Football Morning in America, it was Belichick trading down in the draft that resulted in Ray Lewis landing on the Ravens.

In 1995, Belichick was head coach of the Browns, who owned the 10th overall pick in the draft. Belichick traded that pick to the 49ers, who used it to draft wide receiver J.J. Stokes. One of the picks Belichick got in that deal was the 49ers’ 1996 first-round pick.

Unfortunately for Belichick, he got fired at the end of the 1995 season, and by the time the 1996 draft rolled around, the Browns had moved to their new home in Baltimore and become the Ravens. The 49ers’ first-round pick was No. 26 overall, and the Ravens used that pick to draft Lewis.

Lewis would go on to become perhaps the greatest linebacker in NFL history. He can also serve as a reminder of how trading picks in the present for more picks in the future is often wise — even if the coaches and general managers who make those trades often do not last long enough to enjoy the fruits of their wisdom.