Ray Lewis was a standout, hard hitting Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and spent all 17 seasons of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. But before he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, he almost became a Packer.

With the NFL draft coming up in a few weeks, we’ll look at how the Packers almost drafted Ray Lewis in the 1996 NFL Draft.

The Backstory

The Packers held the 27th pick in the 1996 NFL Draft and was looking to draft a linebacker.

Before the draft, many teams saw Lewis as too small to be a middle linebacker, but the Packers didn’t think so.

One week before the draft, General Manager Ron Wolf sent down then Packers scout John Dorsey to Florida for a private 40-yard dash, workout and interview with Lewis.

Dorsey, left Florida so impressed by Lewis that Wolf had him as one of the top middle linebackers in the 1996 Draft.

The 1996 Draft

While the Packers held a late draft pick, the Baltimore Ravens, who had just moved to Baltimore from Cleveland, had two first round draft choices at number four and 26.

They had already drafted offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden at pick four.

The Packers were willing to play the waiting game with Lewis because according to Wolf, many scouts that year categorized the draft class at the position as awful.

But the Packers didn’t know at the time that the Ravens were also willing to play the waiting game with Lewis as well.

The Packers were all locked in on Lewis as Baltimore was on the clock with the 26th pick.

The Packers had already had Lewis’s name written on the card and ready to read by then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Instead the Ravens surprised Wolf and the Packers by taking Lewis with the 26th pick forcing Wolf to change his game plan, with the Packers on the clock.

The Messy Aftermath

Left to make a last minute change in plans Wolf switched his plan to help the Packers offensive line and drafted USC tackle John Michels with the 27th pick.

Wolf Had targeted Michels for months and at the time, the pick did make sense as the team needed a replacement for veteran Ken Ruettgers.

Michels only spent two seasons with the Packers before being traded to the San Fransisco 49ers in 1998.

Meanwhile, we all know Ray Lewis became the face of the Baltimore Ravens defense and went on to have a Hall of Fame Career.

What could have been

If the Packers drafted Lewis in 1996, the Packers defense would’ve been unstoppable.

Lewis would’ve take over for George Koonce, which would’ve been a huge upgrade for the Packers.

Koonce, who was a versatile linebacker would’ve moved to the weak side to replace Brian Williams and Wayne Simmons would’ve stayed on the strong side.

Just imagine how the dominant the Packers defense would be with Reggie White leading the line, Lewis leading the linebackers and LeRoy Butler leading the secondary.

Who knows how many Super Bowls the Packers would have won with Lewis?

We’ll never know but its always fun to think about.


Hau Khuong has been a Packers fan since 1996. He currently works as a video editor in Green Bay and writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @HauKhuongSports.