2020 NFL Offseason: Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens (Last Year: 14-2)

2020 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
G D.J. Fluker, DE Derek Wolfe, DT Calais Campbell.
Early Draft Picks:
LB Patrick Queen, RB J.K. Dobbins, DT Justin Badubuike, WR Devin Duvernay, LB Malik Harrison, OT/G Tyre Phillips, G Ben Bredeson. Ravens Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
TE Hayden Hurst, OT James Hurst, G Marshal Yanda, DT Michael Pierce, DT Chris Wormley, LB Josh Bynes, LB Patrick Onwuasor, CB Brandon Carr, S Tony Jefferson.

2020 Baltimore Ravens Offense:
Lamar Jackson was the 2019 NFL MVP after a magical season. The passing yardage wasn’t great (3,127), but he threw for 36 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. More impressively, he broke the single-season quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards on the ground. Most defenses had no answer for Jackson.

To his credit, Jackson works very hard, so he figures to improve as a passer in future seasons. However, there are some reasons to expect a decline in production in 2020. First, and most obviously, scrambling quarterbacks are at greater risk for injury than pocket passers. Jackson told the press that he’d like to run less this year, which sounds like a good idea until it’s considered that he won’t be using his best asset as often. Second, and this is something people aren’t considering, is the state of the offensive line.

One of the reasons Jackson was so successful in just his second season was because he was shielded by one of the NFL’s top blocking units. That may not be the case in 2020 because of Marshal Yanda’s retirement. One of the top guards in the NFL, Yanda will be missed. The current favorite to replace him is D.J. Fluker, who is an abysmal blocker. There’s a chance mid-round rookie Ben Bredeson can win the job, but either way, the Ravens’ interior offensive line has taken a major hit. Left guard Bradley Bozeman was already somewhat of a liability, so center Matt Skura, an average blocker, is the top player in the group.

Fortunately for the Ravens, the offensive line has its positives. That would be the tackles, Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. Stanley is one of the best left tackles in the league, while Brown is an improving young player with plenty of upside.

With a decline on the offensive line, the Ravens needed to upgrade Jackson’s supporting cast. Marquise Brown, last year’s first-round rookie, wasn’t 100 percent for most of the season because he was banged up, so he’ll be better in his sophomore campaign. The Ravens used a third-round selection on slot receiver Devin Duvernay, who should be a solid contributor. Last year’s third-rounder, Miles Boykin, could see in an uptick in production. And then there’s tight end Mark Andrews, who has emerged as a very reliable threat for Jackson.

Meanwhile, Baltimore used its second-round choice on J.K. Dobbins to bolster the backfield. Baltimore allegedly had a first-round grade on Dobbins, so getting him at the end of the second frame was a steal. Given how often the Ravens run the ball, they needed a better second fiddle for Mark Ingram, though it’s possible that Dobbins will take over the starting job at some point.

2020 Baltimore Ravens Defense:
The Ravens blitzed more than any other team in the NFL last year. Given that they lost a pair of talented edge rushers, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs, during the previous offseason, it’s easy to understand why the team employed this strategy. It was a rather successful one for the most part, thanks to how talented the secondary was in 2019.

The front office was expected to address the edge rush this offseason, but that didn’t happen, so Baltimore will need 2019 third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson to make a jump in production across from Matt Judon, who is the team’s best edge rusher by a mile. Judon was an impending free agent entering the offseason, but the team smartly franchised him.

Rather than finding upgrades at edge rusher, the Ravens focused on bolstering the middle of their defense. This included trading a mid-round pick to the Jaguars in exchange for Calais Campbell. While Campbell is entering the final years of his career – he turns 34 in September – he’s still a dominant presence up front. There’s a chance for regression, but even at 80 percent, Campbell will provide a huge boost to the pass rush and run defense. The Ravens also acquired Derek Wolfe this offseason. Wolfe was a cheap signing – one year, $3 million – but only because of his dubious injury history. Wolfe is a talented player, and he’ll help immensely if he can remain on the field. He and Campbell will sandwich monstrous run stuffer Brandon Williams.

Baltimore continued to address the middle of the defense by using two early selections on linebackers. Patrick Queen was expected to be chosen in the late teens or early 20s, and yet he plummeted to No. 28 for some reason. Queen is an outstanding talent, and he could emerge as the next great inside linebacker in Baltimore’s defense. Third-rounder Malik Harrison should help as well. The Ravens missed C.J. Mosley, but between Queen and Harrison, they should have better play at linebacker.

The Ravens didn’t touch the secondary this offseason, but they didn’t need to because they have the best defensive backfield in the NFL. It was nearly impossible to throw on Baltimore, thanks to a pair of elite cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The latter didn’t play very well with the Rams in the early portion of 2019 because he was disgruntled, but his performance improved immensely ever since joining Baltimore. Depth is also plentiful, as Jimmy Smith is a terrific third cornerback.

Baltimore also has great play-makers at safety. Earl Thomas may decline soon because he’s 31 now – plus, there were some bizarre off-the-field situations during this offseason – but he’s still one of the better safeties in the NFL. Tony Jefferson started next to Thomas to start last year, but he suffered a torn ACL. He was replaced by Chuck Clark, who performed well in his absence, so the Ravens felt comfortable allowing Jefferson to walk.

2020 Baltimore Ravens Schedule and Intangibles:
John Harbaugh has done a terrific job of maintaining a dominant home-field advantage during his tenure as Baltimore’s head coach. The Ravens are an outstanding 75-26 as hosts since 2008, though that includes the divisional-round loss to Tennessee.

Harbaugh used to be a special-teams coach, so it’s not surprising that the Ravens have outgained the opposition on punt and kickoff returns most years. That, however, was not the case in 2019.

Justin Tucker is arguably the top kicker in the NFL. He whiffed on just nine of his 144 attempts in the past four years, drilling a remarkable 21-of-25 tries from 50-plus in that span. Tucker has missed just three extra points in his career.

Sam Koch was No. 1 in net-punting average in 2014, and he almost got there in 2015, ranking second. He dropped to 18th in 2016, and he fell even further in 2017, sliding down to 21st. He improved to 16th in 2018, but plummeted again to 25th in 2019.

Baltimore has an easy start to its schedule, battling the Browns, Texans, Redskins and Bengals in four of its five initial games. Things will get much more difficult after that, however.

2020 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.

2020 Baltimore Ravens Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2020 Baltimore Ravens Analysis: The Ravens finished with the best record in the NFL last year. That could happen again if the offensive line is better than expected, thanks to improvements the front office made to the defense and Lamar Jackson’s supporting cast. However, Marshal Yanda’s retirement and substantial risk for a Jackson injury could derail Baltimore in 2020.

Projection: 12-4 (1st in AFC North)

2019 Projection: 5-11. 2019 Actual Result: 14-2.
2018 Projection: 6-10. 2018 Actual Result: 10-6.
2017 Projection: 7-9. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 9-7. 2016 Actual Result: 8-8.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2020 NFL Draft: The Ravens have some defensive needs, like edge rush and linebacker, but they should focus on their offense in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lamar Jackson needs help at receiver mostly, but talent must be added to the offensive line and running back rotation. Jackson’s protection was elite last year, but Marshal Yanda’s unexpected retirement has greatly changed things.

2020 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Ravens are masters at drafting, and their 2020 class wasn’t any worse than the standard we’ve grown accustom to. They dominated the 2020 NFL Draft, from start to finish.

I never expected Patrick Queen to drop to No. 28, but the Ravens, laughing at incompetent teams as always, were able to have him fall into their lap. The same thing happened in the second round when J.K. Dobbins plummeted to the 55th spot, and also Justin Madubuike at No. 71. I expected the Ravens to use one of their three picks on a receiver, but how could they with all of this great talent dropping to them?

Baltimore finally addressed wideout at No. 92 with Devin Duvernay, which was a solid choice. Another receiver, James Proche, was a terrific steal in the sixth round. Proce earned an A+ grade, which was one of five A+ marks the Ravens earned in this class. Ben Bredeson, who also earned this high distinction, should be able to step in and replace Marshal Yanda.

The Ravens had the top 2020 NFL Draft class out of every team in the league. Considering that they had the best record in the NFL last year, it’s scary to wonder how good they’ll be with some terrific rookie reinforcements improving their roster.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

28. Patrick Queen, LB, LSU – A+ Grade
It must be very amusing to work for the Ravens’ front office. Year after year, they watch dumb teams ahead of them do stupid things in the draft, allowing them to scoop up great talents. Apparently, 2020 is no different. Bad picks were made ahead of the Ravens once more, opening up this selection. Patrick Queen easily could’ve been chosen in the late teens, but Baltimore is somehow getting him at No. 28 overall as a replacement for C.J. Mosley.

55. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State – A+ Grade
Once again, the Ravens get to laugh at the dumb teams in the NFL and select a talented player because half the league is incompetent. J.K. Dobbins could’ve easily been chosen early in the second round. He’s a talented, explosive back who should be able to supplant Mark Ingram in a year or so. In the meantime, Dobbins will get a healthy number of carries, as there are many rushes to go around for the team that runs more than any other.

71. Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M – A Grade
Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal. Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal. Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal. Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal. Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal. Watch bad teams make bad picks. Get a steal.

The Ravens keep doing great work with the draft. It’s truly baffling how they can do this so well, while other teams can’t. The Ravens missed out on signing Michael Brockers because of a failed physical, so they obtained a disruptive force in the interior. Madubuike should’ve been taken in the second round.

92. Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas – B Grade
It can’t be a surprise that the Ravens picked a receiver, though I expected them to do so earlier. That said, with all the values they landed, I can’t blame them for waiting this long. Duvernay is a talented athlete and a potential slot receiver in Baltimore’s offense. He’ll likely be an upgrade over what the team had last year. I don’t love this pick, but it makes sense.

98. Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State – B Grade
Another linebacker makes sense for the Ravens. The range does as well, which is shocking because the Ravens aren’t getting a steal for once. Still, this is a solid pick. Harrison was a late bloomer at Ohio State, so there’s a good chance he’ll continue to blossom into a quality player.

106. Tyre Phillips, OT/G, Mississippi State – C Grade
Tyre Phillips played tackle at Mississippi State, but he may have to move inside to guard in the NFL. In fact, Roger Goodell announced him as a guard. The position had to be addressed, given Marshal Yanda’s retirement. I think this is a bit too high for Phillips, but the pick makes sense.

143. Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan – A+ Grade
Surprise, surprise, the Ravens just made an excellent pick. Ben Bredeson is a guard with great technique and quickness. He should be able to become a solid starter in the NFL, so this is a steal. It also fills a need with Marshal Yanda retiring.

170. Broderick Washington, DT, Texas Tech – B- Grade
This isn’t an exciting pick, as Broderick Washington is just a two-down run stuffer who provides nothing as a pass rusher. It makes sense to take him in the middle of Day 3.

201. James Proche, WR, SMU – A+ Grade
The Ravens are owning the 2020 NFL Draft. They just traded up to acquire a steal in James Proche. I imagine Proche dropped because of injury concerns, but he’s a terrific route runner who should be able to contribute sometime soon for Baltimore.

219. Geno Stone, S, Iowa – A+ Grade
Geno Stone has incredible instincts, so naturally, he fell to the Ravens in the seventh round. He’s not very athletic, but he’s a smart player who can potentially be a mediocre starter at some point. This is a steal.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Ravens had a magical regular season, but once again were yanked out of the playoffs in their first game. Lamar Jackson needs to continue to improve his passing game, and the front office must help him by adding some new receivers.

Offseason Moves:
  • Ravens sign G D.J. Fluker
  • Ravens sign DE/DT Derek Wolfe
  • Steelers acquire DE/DT Chris Wormley from Ravens
  • Falcons acquire TE Hayden Hurst from Ravens
  • Ravens acquire DT Calais Campbell from Jaugars

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Wide Receivers: The ineptitude of Baltimore’s receiving corps was on full display in the playoff loss to the Titans. Two new receivers are needed to join Marquise Brown.

    2. Two Edge Rushers: Once the Ravens find two new receivers, they’ll need to focus on finding better players to get to the quarterback. Two edge rushers will be needed unless Matt Judon is re-signed. The Ravens blitzed more than any other team in the NFL last year, so that needs to change. Franchised Matthew Judon

    3. Guard: It sounds like Marshal Yanda is considering retirement. A replacement will be needed if the Pro Bowl guard decides to hang up the cleats. (Update: Yanda has retired.) Signed D.J. Fluker

    4. Nose Tackle: Michael Pierce is an impending free agent. If he leaves, there will be a huge void in the middle of the defensive line.

    5. Cornerback: Jimmy Smith is another key player set to hit free agency. It must also be noted that he doesn’t have too many great years remaining. Re-signed Jimmy Smith

    6. Inside Linebacker: Add Josh Bynes to the list of players who need to be re-signed or replaced.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2020 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Derek Wolfe, DE/DT, Broncos. Age: 30.
      Signed with Ravens (1 year, $3 million)

      Derek Wolfe would be ranked higher than this if it weren’t for his very dubious injury history. Wolfe always seems to be hurt, which is especially scary, considering that he just turned 30.

    Baltimore Ravens Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Matt Judon, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 28.
      Franchised by Ravens

      Matt Judon became the Ravens’ top edge rusher in the wake of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith departures. He logged 9.5 sacks in 2019.

    2. Michael Pierce, NT, Ravens. Age: 27.
      Signed with Vikings (3 years, $27 million)

      Michael Pierce is a massive run plugger. He’s coming off a bit of a down year because he was dealing with an ankle injury. He should bounce back with a strong 2020 campaign.

    3. Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Ravens (1 year, $6 million)

      Jimmy Smith is a talented cornerback, but he has a checkered injury history; he hasn’t played a full season since 2015. He’s also turning 32 in July, so that’s a concern.

    4. Matt Skura (RFA), C, Ravens. Age: 27.
      Tendered by Ravens (original)

      Matt Skura was having a strong 2019 campaign before suffering a season-ending knee injury. It’s currently unknown if he’ll be 100 percent by the 2020 opener.

    5. Tony Jefferson, S, Ravens. Age: 28.
      Tony Jefferson is a talented safety, but he missed most of 2019 with a knee injury. He could rebound in 2020, but was cut because he was due more than $11 million.

    6. Josh Bynes, LB, Ravens. Age: 31.
      Signed with Bengals

      Josh Bynes is a solid, two-down linebacker who specializes in run support.

    7. Brandon Carr, CB, Ravens. Age: 34.
      Brandon Carr’s option wasn’t picked up, which is why he’s now a free agent. Carr’s play has dropped off in recent years, but he’s still a serviceable player.

    8. James Hurst, OT, Ravens. Age: 28.
    9. Patrick Onwuasor, LB, Ravens. Age: 28. — Signed with Jets
    10. Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Ravens
    11. Seth Roberts, WR, Ravens. Age: 29. — Signed with Panthers
    12. Parker Ehinger, G, Ravens. Age: 27.
    13. Domata Peko, DT, Ravens. Age: 35.
    14. Anthony Levine, S, Ravens. Age: 33.
    15. Brynden Trawick, S, Ravens. Age: 30.
    16. Chris Moore, WR, Ravens. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Ravens
    17. Hroniss Grasu, C, Ravens. Age: 28.

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

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