The Baltimore Ravens are on the doorstep of a Super Bowl. Many thought they could make it this year on the back of MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Then the Ravens were run over in the playoffs by Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
Baltimore has always been a team focused on defense. That is until it traded back into the first round of the 2018 draft to take Jackson. Now the Ravens are one of the most diverse offenses in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens (14-2), lost in Divisional Round
For much of the 2019 season, the Ravens were considered the best team in the NFL. They’re one of the favorites to be in the Super Bowl, but they would be smart to address these positions this offseason.
Before free agency
- Pass rusher: Over the years, regardless of the head coach or defensive coordinator, Baltimore’s best defenses have had a good pass rush. With Matthew Judon entering free agency for the first time, Baltimore is faced with needing to address that aspect of their game. If Baltimore doesn’t land someone in free agency, it could turn to the draft. Terrell Lewis of Alabama in the first round or likely Day 2 picks like Zack Baun of Wisconsin or Josh Uche of Michigan make sense.
- Defensive line: Baltimore’s defensive line played well last season and led one of the NFL’s better run defenses. But nose tackle Michael Pierce is a free agent, as is midseason acquisition Domata Peko. The team could find veteran help on the open market.
- Wide receiver: The Ravens used two of their first three picks in last year’s draft on wide receivers, grabbing Marquise Brown in the first round and Miles Boykin in the third. Still, the Ravens could use another pass catcher. There are a few veteran options in free agency, but there will be even more value in the draft, especially when the Ravens pick at No. 28. Clemson’s Tee Higgins is not known for his speed, but the 6’4 outside receiver makes plenty of plays going up and attacking the ball. If Colorado’s Laviska Shenault should fall — and it’s possible in a loaded wide receiver group — he should be in play.
What Baltimore Beatdown wants most this offseason: The Ravens have been effective in recent years at moving back to accumulate picks while still getting their guys. I believe this is the year to take the opposite approach and be aggressive targeting blue chip players while utilizing their 10 picks to move up the board in the first round. Depth is not an issue and getting a day one starter in the first round gives them all kinds of options with their available cap space. — Eric Misotti
After free agency
The Ravens addressed their need of a pass rusher by picking up Calais Campbell from the Jaguars, who had 31.5 sacks over three seasons in Jacksonville. There are still some needs Baltimore needs to fill during the draft, though.
1. Defensive tackle: If Baltimore wants a squatty plugger like Pierce, who signed with the Vikings, Benito Jones of Ole Miss would be a good Day 3 pickup. A four-year starter in college, the 6’1, 316-pound Jones can get leverage and driver blockers backward.
2. Wide receiver: The Ravens re-signed De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Moore, but neither of them were primary starters. Picking up a wideout in the draft would be a smart move. Beyond the first round, Baylor’s Denzel Mims is riding high after a strong Senior Bowl week and could be a second-round possibility. Southern California’s Michael Pittman should be in that range as well. On the third day of the draft, South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards has value.
3. Offensive line: The Ravens placed a low tender on OL Matt Skura, who suffered a knee injury in early January last season, as a restricted free agent. if Baltimore doesn’t end up re-signing him, drafting a lineman this draft cycle would be pretty important.
After the draft:
Arguably no team did a better job in this year’s draft than the Ravens. Their first-round pick, linebacker Patrick Queen, is the C.J. Mosley successor they were missing last year. Ohio State star J.K. Dobbins, considered by the Ravens to be the No. 1 running back this year, fell to them with the No. 55 pick, making Baltimore’s already deadly rushing attack even deadlier.
They found value in every round, but none more so than the third. Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay, Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison, and Mississippi guard Tyre Phillips all fill a need. Late-round picks James Proche (SMU WR) and Geno Stone (Iowa safety) are sneaky-good additions, too.