Baltimore Ravens 2021 Offseason Preview

The Ravens finished last season with a 11-5 record, after a 14-2 campaign in 2019. Former 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson won his first-career playoff game against the Titans in the wild-card round, but were defeated by his fellow draft class QB Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. 

It’s time to start feeling like there’s a sense of urgency to go “all-in”, as their time with Lamar playing on a rookie contract is almost up. Lamar’s affordable rookie deal allows them the cap flexibility of paying the other star players on their roster. They will need to approach this offseason on finding which guys are the ‘missing pieces’ that could potentially push them over the hump; increasing their chances of competing for a Super Bowl title next season.

Current Estimated Salary Cap: $20.2M

Total Draft Picks: 7; 1st (27 overall), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, (2) 5th, 6th

Key Positional Needs: WR, OT (If Brown gets traded), Interior OL, Backup QB 

Offense:

Free Agents: Willie Snead, Dez Bryant, Chris Moore, D.J. Fluker, Matt Skura

Rankings: Pass: 32nd (171.2 yards per game); Rush: 1st (191.9 yards per game); Scoring: 7th (29.3 points per game)

Quarterback

Starter: Lamar Jackson

Backups: Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley

Jackson was coming off an MVP season in 2019, and he followed that up with a pretty good season in 2020 for the most part, some ups & downs. The playoffs is where he needs to start improving, as he’s now had 1 TD-4 INT (3 games) in the past two postseasons. Veteran Robert Griffin III was let go after the season, so it will be interesting to see if they chose to go with Trace McSorely as the backup, or sign another veteran backup to mentor Lamar.

Running Back:

JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams

Baltimore had the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL last season, (averaging 191.9 yards per game) which a lot of that had to do with Jackson adding 1,005 yards (67 yards per game) to that total. With the release of veteran Mark Ingram, it now appears next season will be the JK Dobbins show. The former Ohio State RB was a terrific addition in the 2nd round, providing an explosive rusher to pair alongside Lamar. 

They placed a tender on RFA Gus Edwards, who has been solid the past few seasons as a backup role, he’ll take on more of a role next season if they don’t add anybody. Justice Hill has been a disappointment so far, they need more out of him if he wants to stick around here.

Player to Target: Chris Evans (Michigan), Elijah Mitchell (Lousiana): A mid-round prospect like Evans and Mitchell would make sense in adding to this backfield. 

Fullback:

Patrick Ricard

Wide Receiver:

Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Antoine Wesley, Jaylon Moore, Deon Cain, Binjimen Victor, FA: Willie Snead, Chris Moore

Wide receiver is arguably without a doubt the biggest need of any position this offseason. They desperately need to find a No. 1 option for Lamar, they had a terrible run-pass balance last season – they were the No. 1 rushing offense, but the worst passing offense in the NFL last season (averaging only 171.2 yards per game). 

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is a dynamic, explosive wideout but does not have the size to be a No. 1 to take on consistent press coverage from opposing No. 1 corners. They need to spend money on a reliable receiver with size that Lamar can look for, especially when things get cold and nasty weather late into the season.

Players to Target: Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, Sammy Watkins, Trade for Allen Robinson:

The fact of the matter is you can pretty much name any top receiver in the NFL and add them to this list, because the Ravens NEED to add one… This team seems like they have pretty much everything going for them to compete for a Super Bowl, but what they lack is receivers, which is starting to really limit the potential of this offense. They need to do whatever they can to land a top receiver.. Try first in free agency for a guy like Kenny Golladay or Will Fuller, even Sammy Watkins, then if that fails, they might have to try and leverage OT Orlando Brown who made it clear he wants out…

Tight End

Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Eric Tomlinson, Jacob Breeland, Eli Wolf

This group is led by Mark Andrews who is one of the best TEs in the league entering the prime of his career, alongside Nick Boyle who is one of the best blocking TEs around, so there really is not much of an immediate need to upgrade here.

Offensive Line:

LT: Ronnie Stanley, Orlando Brown

LG: Bradley Bozeman, Ben Bredeson 

C: Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Greg Mancz, FA: Matt Skura

RG: Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips, FA: D.J. Fluker

RT: Orlando Brown, Tyre Phillips

The Ravens offensive line has a very rare problem and that is they have two All-Pro caliber offensive tackles that both want to play on the left side.. It’s rare to come across and draft a franchise left tackle in the draft, but doing it twice with Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown is starting to cause a logjam. Brown only wants to play LT, but they already paid Stanley top dollar.. 

Players to Consider: Cedric Ogbuehi, Jermaine Eluemunor:

If Orlando Brown gets traded, they need to pick up a RT to step in and replace him. If they chose to add his replacement in free agency, two players to consider are Cedric Ogbuehi & Jermaine Eluemunor who was drafted in the 5th-round by Baltimore.

Defense (3-4):

Free Agents: Derek Wolfe, Jihad Ward, Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser, Anthony Levine, Morgan Cox

2020 Rankings: Pass: 6th (221.1 yards per game); Rush: 8th (108.8 yards per game); 2nd (18.9 points per game)

Key Positional Needs: Edge (DE/OLB), SS, ILB

Defensive Line:

Ends: Chauncey Rivers, FA: Derek Wolfe

Tackles: Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington Jr., Braxton Hoyett, Aaron Crawford

The defensive tackles is a pretty loaded group after they added veteran Calais Campbell last offseason. Williams & Ellis are two reliable veteran defensive tackles, while Madubuike & Washington Jr. are two young developing tackles that were each selected in last year’s draft. They can benefit from adding an edge rusher on the defensive line.

Player to Target: Brent Urban: Urban would provide a nice replacement for Derek Wolfe if he is unable to return. Urban previously spent 5 years in Baltimore (14-18’), so a return could be possible. 

Linebackers:

Outside: Pernell McPhee (RS), Jaylon Ferguson, Aaron Adeoye, FA: Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser

Inside: Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, L.J. Fort, Chris Board, Otaro Alaka, Kristian Welch

General Manager Eric D’Costa added to this linebacker group in last year’s draft by adding rookies Patrick Queen & Malik Harrison. Queen flew all over the field and made a lot of impactful plays, racking up 106 combined tackles, but the one downside to his game that he’ll need to improve upon was missed tackles. Queen had the most missed tackles (21) in the NFL. In terms of the outside, Judon & Bowser are both free agents, so if both of them leave, this will be a need for them to replace both of them.

Player to Target: OLB Tarell Basham: Basham is an edge-rushing outside linebacker that fits in a 3-4 scheme, who is about to turn 27 this month. He’s played on the Colts and Jets and has 7 ½ career sacks, but the best football appears to be ahead of him; he had 3 forced fumbles last season and a career-high 3.5 sacks.

Secondary:

Cornerbacks: Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett, Iman Marshall, Davontae Harris, Khalil Dorsey, Chris Westry

Free Safety: DeShon Elliot, Jordan Richards

Strong Safety: Chuck Clark, Nigel Warrior, FA: Anthony Levine

After finishing 6th in pass defense last season, secondary help isn’t a dire need for them this offseason like it has in the past. They have 2 of the Top CBs in the NFL in Peters & Humphrey, as well as Jimmy Smith & Tavon Young who always are dependable as long as they can stay on the field. DeShon Elliot took on a huge role replacing Earl Thomas, and he did an excellent job proving he’s more than capable of starting at FS. 

Player to Consider: S Duron Harmon: Adding a veteran strong safety to compete with Chuck Clark would make sense, one name to consider is former Patriots and most recently, Detroit Lions.

Special Teams:

Kicker: Justin Tucker

Punters: Sam Koch, Johnny Townsend*

 

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