2016 NFL Offseason: Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens (Last Year: 5-11)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Mike Wallace, TE Ben Watson, CB Jerraud Powers, S Eric Weddle.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Ronnie Stanley, DE/OLB Kamalei Correa, DE/DT Bronson Kaufusi, WR Tavon Young, WR Chris Moore, OT Alex Lewis, DT Willie Henry, RB Kenneth Dixon, DE/OLB Matt Judon. Ravens Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
WR Chris Givens, OT Eugene Monroe, G/OT Kelechi Osemele, DE/DT Chris Canty, ILB Daryl Smith, CB Tray Walker, S Will Hill.

2016 Baltimore Ravens Offense:
The Ravens had so many hurt players last year that they probably could’ve fielded a team exclusively from those on the injured reserve, and it would’ve beaten the players who were able to suit up. It seemed like half the roster went down, including Joe Flacco.

Flacco’s injury was obviously the most significant. He’s a quarterback, after all, and the drop-off from him to either Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen was colossal. Flacco tore his ACL after playing 10 games, but there’s no reason to think that he’ll be hurt again in 2016, given that Flacco hadn’t missed a single contest prior to last year’s injury.

Flacco posted meager numbers last season, including an Alex Smith-like 6.8 YPA because he had no one to work with. His weapons dropped like flies, with Breshad Perriman never taking the field, to Steve Smith tearing his Achilles in Week 8, to Dennis Pitta never making it back from his bothersome hip. The Ravens were expected to add to Flacco’s arsenal this offseason, and they did, in fact, add a couple of players. They might prove to be underwhelming, however. Mike Wallace was signed over from the Vikings, which is a dubious move. Wallace was once a very good receiver for the Steelers, but he hasn’t put forth maximum effort in a very long time, even quitting on the Dolphins during an actual game a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, Ben Watson, who had a career year in New Orleans, was brought in on an $8 million deal over two seasons. However, Watson’s stats figure to decline, given that he’s both 35 years old and no longer playing with Drew Brees.

As for the rest of Flacco’s weaponry, there are some concerns as well. For instance, Smith is working hard to return from his injury, but an Achilles is very difficult to come back from in 10 months, especially for a 37-year-old. It’s difficult to doubt someone as tough as Smith, but Father Time is undefeated. The one dependable wideout could prove to be Kamar Aiken, who came out of nowhere last season to catch 75 passes for 944 yards.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear what the Ravens will get out of both Perriman and Pitta. The former is finally expected to take the field, but given that he has never played a single NFL game before, it’s unclear what exactly he’ll provide. Pitta, on the other hand, has been a solid player when healthy, but he may never be 100 percent again because of his devastating injury. He is practicing without limitations though, so he could see some action. Fortunately for the Ravens, they don’t have to rely on Pitta because of Watson, Crockett Gillmore – who was also injured (shoulder) – and 2015 second-rounder Maxx Williams.

There was concern on the offensive line as well, which is why the Ravens planned on drafting Laremy Tunsil at No. 6 overall. They were scared off by Tunsil’s bong video, however, so they settled for Ronnie Stanley instead. Stanley is physically gifted, obviously, but teams were worried about him because of his lack of toughness and passion for football. Still, he might be a better option than the recently released Eugene Monroe, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Stanley will start across from Ricky Wagner, who is coming off an underwhelming 2015 campaign.

The interior of the offensive line used to be a major strength for the Ravens. It’s still a strong area, but not nearly as much so because they lost Kelechi Osemele, one of the NFL’s top guards. Osemele signed with the Raiders, so 2013 sixth-rounder Ryan Jensen may have to start in his place. Jensen saw limited action in 2015, but wasn’t very effective. He’ll play alongside Marshal Yanda, who is even better than Osemele, and Jeremy Zuttah, a very solid center.

Yanda and Zuttah will have to make sure Baltimore’s ground attack is humming if Flacco’s receivers let him down. Lead back Justin Forsett also dealt with injuries last year, breaking his arm after playing 10 games. Forsett wasn’t very effective as a runner, averaging just 4.2 yards per carry, but caught 31 passes to compensate for that. Fourth-round rookie Kenneth Dixon might steal some of Forsett’s workload.

2016 Baltimore Ravens Defense:
The offense wasn’t the only part of Baltimore’s roster that was dealing with injuries. Several players on this side of the ball were hurt as well. In fact, it started immediately when Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles in the season opener, setting the tone for what would be a disasterous 2015 campaign for the Ravens.

As mentioned earlier, recovering from an Achilles is difficult for anyone in their 30s, but Suggs has two things going for him. First, he’s not 37 like Smith; he’s 33, which makes a big difference. And second, he sustained the brutal injury in September, so he’s had two extra months to make his return. Suggs may not be 100 percent, but the Ravens will take 80 percent of him, given how horrible the pass rush was last year. No one, save for Elvis Dumervil, was capable of putting heat on opposing passers. Two draft choices were used on depth at edge rusher: Kamalei Correa was chosen in the second round, while Matt Judon was picked in the fifth frame. At least one of those players should pan out and help provide a better pass rush than what the Ravens saw last year from their backups.

Two other draft choices were used to help the defensive line. The Ravens have a quality nose tackle in Brandon Williams, who is great against the run, but he was their only good player up front this past season. Timmy Jernigan could’ve helped, but he dealt with a knee injury last year. Jernigan fought through the pain and missed just one contest, but wasn’t as effective as the Ravens anticipated. With that in mind, the two rookies might be able to help here as well. Third-rounder Bronson Kaufusi is an athletic specimen with lots of upside, while fourth-rounder Willie Henry also has the potential to eventually become a starter.

It was a bit surprising to see the Ravens eschew addressing the secondary until the third day of the draft, since it was a woeful area for them in 2015. The cornerbacks were especially brutal, though part of that was the injury (notice a trend here?) to Jimmy Smith. The talented corner was bothered by a foot problem all year and was horribly ineffective, routinely getting torched in coverage. No Raven corner performed well, except for perhaps Shareece Wright, who isn’t with the team anymore. No-name players like Will Davis and Sheldon Price will have to step up. Perhaps fourth-round rookie Tavon Young will be able to contribute.

All isn’t lost in the secondary, however, as the safeties are pretty set. Converted cornerback Lardarius Webb looked good in his new position. He’ll start next to the newly acquired Eric Weddle, who gave the Chargers nine great years of service. The two parted ways, however, after the organization treated Weddle poorly, prompting the stud safety to declare that he wouldn’t be returning to the team. Weddle turned 31 this offseason, but countless safeties have performed well into their mid or even late 30s.

Speaking of players in their mid-30s, Daryl Smith is no longer with the team. Smith was great for two years in Baltimore, but saw his play diminish this past season considerably. Now, the Ravens have a huge hole next to stud linebacker C.J. Mosley. There’s no obvious solution. Perhaps it’ll be 2013 second-rounder Arthur Brown, but he has been atrocious as a pro thus far.

2016 Baltimore Ravens Schedule and Intangibles:
John Harbaugh has done a terrific job of maintaining a dominant homefield advantage during his tenure as Baltimore’s head coach. The Ravens are an outstanding 50-16 as hosts since 2008, though they were just 3-5 at home in 2015.

Justin Tucker is one of the top kickers in the NFL, but he had a down 2015 campaign. Tucker went 33-of-40, and most of his misses were from 50-plus (4-of-10). On the bright side, he didn’t miss a single extra point.

Sam Koch was No. 1 in net-punting average in 2014, and he almost got there in 2015, ranking second. He does a good job of placing punts inside the 20.

The Ravens were excellent on punt returns, scoring once and outgaining their foes by 6.3 yards. They were about even on kickoffs.

Per the early Vegas lines, the Ravens are favorites in just six games: Bills (home), Browns (twice), Raiders (home), Redskins (home) and Dolphins (home). However, they are only large underdogs in three contests: at Patriots, at Steelers and at Bengals.

2016 Baltimore Ravens Rookies:
Go here for the Ravens Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 Baltimore Ravens Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 Baltimore Ravens Analysis: The Ravens will be hoping that they don’t even sustain half the amount of injuries they suffered in 2015. However, even a quarter of that could be an issue, given the lack of depth on the roster. Baltimore will undoubtedly be competitive early on, but the team won’t be able to recover from several players going down again.

Projection: 9-7 (3rd in AFC North)

NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: It’s a good thing the Ravens have plenty of picks because they have terrible depth. They need to hit on most of their selections, all while addressing the many holes on their roster. The top priorities have to be left tackle, cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker. However, there are many more areas that need improving, so taking the best available player at most spots could do the trick.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Ravens were the first team truly affected by Bong-gate (yes, I’m calling it that.) Adam Schefter reported Saturday that as speculated, the Ravens were planning on drafting Laremy Tunsil before the video of him taking a hit from a bong surfaced on Twitter. I can understand why Baltimore was cautious, but I think it’ll end up costing them. Ronnie Stanley may seem like a fine replacement, but teams that needed tackles told us that they weren’t fans of him; they disliked his lacking toughness and low passion for football.

As expected, however, Ozzie Newsome had a strong draft after that. Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi, Tavon Young and Chris Moore were solid subsequent picks, and then the rest of the class featured six prospects, all of whom earned a B+ or higher in their individual grades. My only qualm is that the Ravens didn’t address the cornerback position until late.

Had the Ravens selected Tunsil, I would be giving them an A- right now. Stanley is quite the downgrade, unfortunately, but i don’t think I can harshly penalize Baltimore, considering the circumstances. I think a solid “B” here seems appropriate.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

6. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame C- Grade
Over Laremy Tunsil? I wonder if Tunsil’s bong picture/video had something to do with this. Still, picking Stanley over Tunsil doesn’t make much sense. Some teams told us that they were scared of Stanley’s lack of passion for the game. They were also concerned about Stanley not being tough enough. That would terrify me if I drafted him. Plus, passing on Tunsil in the process just doesn’t seem like a smart move, given how talented Tunsil is. The Ravens have done well with chracter-issue guys in the past, so I don’t really understand this.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

42. Kamalei Correa, DE/OLB, Boise State A- Grade
This pick, in a vacuum, is probably worth a “B.” I heard some buzz about Kamalei Correa possibility sneaking into the end of the first round, but he definitely belonged in the middle of the second frame. The reason I’ve bumped this up to an A-, however, is because Baltimore was able to trade down twice. Smart teams understand the importance of accumulating as many picks as possible, so it’s no surprise that the Ravens have begun doing so once again.

70. Bronson Kaufusi, DE/DT, BYU B Grade
It’s definitely not a surprise to see the Ravens drafted a five-technique defensive lineman, as they lost Chris Canty in free agency and needed to find a replacement. Bronson Kaufusi is highly athletic and possesses major upside. He needs to work on being more consistent, but I think this is a solid pick.

104. Tavon Young, WR, Temple B Grade
I mocked Tavon Young to the Ravens in the fourth round, so I can’t really give this a bad grade, can I? I thought that Young was going to be a solid fit in Baltimore’s defense. He figures to be a strong nickel, and he obviously addresses the team’s biggest need. Baltimore should still look into adding another corner.

107. Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati A- Grade
I didn’t like what the Ravens did in the first round, but they’ve picked well since then. Chris Moore is a tall (6-2) receiver with some major game-breaking ability. He’ll be able to stretch defenses, and he could’ve gone earlier than this if it wasn’t for some injury concerns. Kudos to Ozzie Newsome though for buying low, as usual.

130. Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska B+ Grade
There was some buzz that Alex Lewis would be chosen on Day 2, so the Ravens are getting value here, as far as that’s concerned. Lewis has the potential to start at left tackle at some point in the future, but he needs some work. In the meantime, Lewis will provide needed depth at the position.

132. Willie Henry, DT, Michigan A Grade
It figures that Ozzie Newsome would hit on one of his supplemental picks, where he has thrived over the years. Everyone was talking about Andrew Billings being a ridiculous steal, and rightfully so, but Willie Henry turned out to be a great bargain as well. Henry can generate a solid pass rush, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he emerged as a starter in a year or two.

134. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech A Grade
It’s amazing how some of the talented running backs in this class slipped in the draft. I don’t know exactly why, but it’s further proof that taking a back in the top-five picks is pretty ridiculous. The Ravens will be happy with Dixon, who was very productive at Louisiana Tech and then tested well at the Combine. Running back was needed, so why not draft a talented runner at this spot?

146. Matt Judon, DE/OLB, Grand Valley State B+ Grade
If Matt Judon tested better in terms of measureables or played on a higher level, he might have gone in the third round. He was highly productive at Grand Valley State, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually emerged as an important player for the Ravens – though he’d have to likely leap Kamalei Correa to do so.

182. Keenan Reynolds, WR, Navy A- Grade
I have to imagine that Bill Belichick will be crying himself to sleep for months after missing out on Keenan Reynolds. The Navy star had “Patriot” written all over him as another Julian Edelman-type player. The Ravens will surely make great use of him, and he’s a great character guy to have in the locker room.

209. Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia B+ Grade
Maurice Canady is a corner with good size (6-1, 193) and athleticism; he was one of the better testers at his position at the Combine. So, why did he fall to the sixth round? He constantly struggled with consistency at Virginia and needs to develop into a good football player. However, with good coaching, he has the tools to evolve into a quality corner. He’s well worth the risk at the end of Round 6.

Season Summary:
It’s almost as if John Harbaugh or someone in the front office desicrated an Indian burial ground last offseason. That’s the only explanation for the misfortune the Ravens had throughout the 2015 campaign. They sustained crucial injuries every single week, all while losing almost every 50-50 game at the very end.

Offseason Moves (and unfortunate incidents):
  • Ravens sign G Vlad Ducasse
  • Ravens sign QB Josh Johnson
  • Ravens sign CB Jerraud Powers
  • Ravens re-sign TE Chase Ford
  • Ravens CB Tray Walker has passed away
  • Ravens re-sign WR Marlon Brown
  • Ravens sign WR Mike Wallace
  • Ravens sign S Eric Weddle
  • Ravens sign TE Ben Watson
  • Ravens re-sign CB Shareece Wright
  • Ravens cut ILB Daryl Smith
  • Ravens re-sign OLB Albert McClellan

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Cornerbacks: Baltimore’s secondary was an abomination all year. Jimmy Smith being banged up didn’t help matters, but no one else, save for Shareece Wright, played well. Wright is a free agent anyway, so the Ravens need to make big upgrades at this position. They could do it as early as No. 6 overall with either Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves. Re-signed Shareece Wright

    2. Wide Receiver: Steve Smith announced that he’s going to try to play again. However, the Ravens can’t exactly count on him, given that he’s coming off a torn Achilles. Meanwhile, 2015 first-rounder Breshad Perriman is an unknown. The Ravens will have to spend one of their first few picks on a receiver. Signed Mike Wallace

    3. Rush Linebacker: The Ravens had issues getting to the quarterback without Terrell Suggs, who went down in the season opener. But as a 34-year-old (in October) coming off a torn Achilles, Suggs can’t be counted on to be a dominant pass-rusher going forward.

    4. Guard: Kelechi Osemele, who had to play left tackle when Eugene Monroe got hurt, is one of the better guards in the NFL. He and Marshal Yanda formed a great tandem, but Osemele will be an impending free agent. If he isn’t re-signed, there will be a huge hole at guard.

    5. Left Tackle: Eugene Monroe is a talented left tackle, but the Ravens can’t really count on him because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. A reliable option could be used behind Monroe.

    6. Defensive End: Chris Canty has been cut. He showed signs of decline anyway, so the Ravens will be searching for a third defensive lineman to go along with Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams, though 2015 third-rounder Carl Davis could be an option.

    7. Inside Linebacker Depth: Daryl Smith, 34 in March, had shown signs of regression. He was released.

    8. Running Back: The Ravens could use a better running back than Justin Forsett, but they have bigger needs they have to address.

    9. Kicker: Justin Tucker, one of the top kickers in the NFL, happens to be a free agent. Franchised Justin Tucker

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Eric Weddle, S, Chargers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Ravens (4 years, $26 million)

      Eric Weddle isn’t coming off his best season, as he was hindered with some injuries throughout the 2015 campaign. However, he’s still one of the top safeties in the NFL. Weddle, who turned 31 on Jan. 4, should still be able to play on a high level for three or four more seasons, as safeties tend to perform well into their mid-30s.

    2. Ben Watson, TE, Saints. Age: 35.
      Signed with Ravens

      Ben Watson came out of nowhere to have the best season of his career, catching 74 passes for 825 yards. Unfortunately for Watson, this success will be short-lived, as he’ll be 36 at the end of the 2016 campaign.

    3. Mike Wallace, WR, Vikings. Age: 30.
      Signed with Ravens

      Mike Wallace is only getting a write-up because he’s a big name. He should be a 1.5-star free agent. He’s a bum who has quit on his teams, and now, given that he’s 30, he’ll begin to lose his speed rather quickly. He’ll probably get one more chance, but he’ll likely fail unless he’s paired with a top quarterback again like Ben Roethlisberger.

    4. Jerraud Powers, CB, Cardinals. Age: 29. — Signed with Ravens
    5. Vlad Ducasse, G, Bears. Age: 28. — Signed with Ravens
    6. Josh Johnson, QB, Bills. Age: 30. — Signed with Ravens

    Baltimore Ravens Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Kelechi Osemele, G/OT, Ravens. Age: 27.
      Signed with Raiders (5 years, $58.5 million)

      Already a very talented guard, Kelechi Osemele helped his earning potential this offseason by playing and thriving at left tackle in the wake of Eugene Monroe being injured. Teams value versatility up front, and Osemele has proven that he has plenty of it.

    2. Justin Tucker, K, Ravens. Age: 26.
      Franchised by Ravens

      Justin Tucker is one of the better kickers in the NFL, as he’s incredibly clutch. However, he’s coming off his worst season as a pro, though he was still better than 80 percent.

    3. Kamar Aiken (RFA), WR, Ravens. Age: 27.
      Tendered by Ravens (2nd)

      Kamar Aiken has been one of the few silver linings for the Ravens in their disastrous 2015 campaign. He has proven that he can be a quality No. 2 receiver.

    4. Eugene Monroe, OT, Ravens. Age: 29.
      Eugene Monroe is a very talented left tackle who would be ranked as a four-star free agent if he didn’t have any health issues. Unfortunately, that’s why the Ravens have gotten rid of him. Monroe has constantly been banged up in Baltimore, missing 15 games the past two seasons. He’s still 29 though, so with plenty of time to rebound, some team should take a chance on him with a small contract.

    5. Will Hill, S, Ravens. Age: 26.
      Baltimore releasing Will Hill is quite confusing. He was the team’s top defensive back in 2015, playing safety extremely effectively. He’s also just 26, so he has a bright future ahead of him if he stays clean. Hill’s off-the-field antics are the only reason he’s not a four-star free agent, but he’s well worth the risk if signed somewhat cheaply. Update: Hill has been suspended for 10 games, which would explain why Baltimore cut ties with him.

    6. Shareece Wright, CB, Ravens. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Ravens (3 years, $16 million)

      To show you how incompetent the 49ers are, they didn’t play Shareece Wright during the early portion of the 2015 season and released him as a consequence. The Ravens picked him up and were rewarded for doing so, as Wright was solid for them down the stretch.

    7. Chris Canty, DE/DT, Ravens. Age: 33.
      Chris Canty played well when he was on the field last year, but he missed the final seven games. Canty has shown durability issues recently, missing 12 contests over the past two seasons. He can be signed as a cheap backup, but no team should rely on him staying healthy from now on.

    8. Daryl Smith, ILB, Ravens. Age: 34.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Daryl Smith had been a very good player for a long time, but it appears as though his career is nearly over. Smith declined rapidly last year, struggling in all aspects. He might have one decent season left in the tank, but that’s about it.

    9. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 26. — Signed with Falcons
    10. Chris Givens, WR, Ravens. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    11. Ryan Jensen (RFA), G, Ravens. Age: 25.
    12. Albert McClellan, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Ravens
    13. Marlon Brown (RFA), WR, Ravens. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Ravens
    14. Matt Schaub, QB, Ravens. Age: 35. — Signed with Falcons
    15. Chase Ford (RFA), TE, Ravens. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Ravens
    16. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Ravens. Age: 28.
    17. Brynden Trawick (RFA), S, Ravens. Age: 26. — Signed with Raiders
    18. Kaelin Clay, WR, Ravens. Age: 24.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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