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Ravens News 2/29: Critical Position

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By: Vasilis Lericos

Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is excited about his revamped staff

Giana Han, The Baltimore Banner

DeLeone has a prior relationship with linebacker Roquan Smith, who has been a key to the Ravens’ success, from their two seasons together in Chicago. Harbaugh mentioned DeLeone’s relationships with players, especially with Smith, as something that stood out, along with DeLeone’s understanding of the game.

“When you start listening to him talk ball, he just blew me away with his knowledge,” Harbaugh said.

Meanwhile, Johnson was notable to Harbaugh because of his “energy and his fire, his attention to detail.” Those were similar compliments Harbaugh gave Weaver, who Harbaugh said “lights up a room” and develops players.

In Mallory, Harbaugh is convinced Baltimore got “one of the greatest secondary coaches in the world right now.” Mallory, who coached with Harbaugh’s brother Jim at Michigan, worked in a very similar system as the Ravens, he said.

Orr, who worked with Macdonald for two years, will “provide continuity,” Harbaugh said, and will not change the defense’s structure. That means Mallory will be walking into a familiar situation.

Twelve Ravens Thoughts on DeCosta, Harbaugh media sessions in Indianapolis

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

While acknowledging long-term benefits and flexibility, DeCosta maintained the greater-than-expected increase to the salary cap “doesn’t mean that we’re going to just open up the books and go shopping” for free agents. That’s especially true if he has to use the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike, which costs $22.102 million.

That’s why I have a difficult time believing Baltimore is going to jump to sign a veteran running back early in free agency. It’s worth noting that the three backs tagged in 2023 — Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard — haven’t signed long-term contracts a year later.

Asked about Odafe Oweh, DeCosta is “very, very excited about what he brings to the table this year as one of our primary edge rush guys.” Some injuries overshadowed progress he made, but Baltimore needs a big jump with both Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy being free agents.

Harbaugh echoed the big expectations the organization still has for Rashod Bateman, insisting “the ball is going to get to him a lot more.” The talent is there, but he and Lamar Jackson must get on the same page to a much greater degree than we saw this past season.

NFL Free Agent Rankings

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer

Tier 4 Quality Starters

Robert Hunt



Hunt will be an attractive option for teams looking for an O-line upgrade. NFL coaches love versatility up front, and Hunt has experience starting games at both right guard and right tackle. Injuries limited him to 10 starts last season, but he allowed just one quarterback hit on 376 pass-blocking snaps.

Jonah Jackson



Jackson, who is so proud of our shared Pennsylvania hometown that he cites it in his Sunday Night Football intro, has started 57 games in four seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 2021. O-line guru Brandon Thorn had Jackson as his fifth-ranked left guard going into the 2023 season, and Jackson once again performed well for the high-powered Lions offense. Last offseason, guard Ben Powers signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Broncos in free agency, and Nate Davis signed with the Bears on a three-year, $30 million deal. Those two players could be good comps for Jackson as he hits free agency.

Kevin Dotson



All it took for the Rams to acquire Dotson from the Steelers in a trade last summer was a Day 3 pick swap. Dotson struggled at left guard in Pittsburgh, but he moved back to right guard with the Rams and had an excellent season, likely earning himself a lot of money this offseason. Dotson, who will turn 28 in September, will likely generate the most interest from teams that employ gap scheme run games.

Ravens’ 2024 draft will set the tone for the future

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

DeCosta knows this is a big draft that could set the tone for the future. A lot of teams have gone through this situation before, especially when they sign franchise-caliber quarterbacks such as Jackson. The Ravens had a similar situation when they made Joe Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL after signing him to a six-year, $120.6 million contract in March 2013.

Unfortunately, the Ravens went to the playoffs only once, in 2014, during the next five years. It isn’t coincidental that they had first-round busts during that time such as Florida safety Matt Elam (2013) and Central Florida receiver Breshad Perriman (2015) as well as second-round failures in Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown (2013), Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams (2015), Boise State outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (2016) and Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (2017).

The Ravens don’t want to duplicate history. A top priority in the draft should be selecting quality offensive linemen such as Georgia’s Amarius Mims or Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, or replacing Zeitler or Simpson with players such as Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe or Michigan’s Zak Zinter.

Ravens could target wideout with first-round pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Todd Karpovich,

“That’s a critical position; the data supports that,” DeCosta said at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. “And that’s a position, too, where some of these guys are like race cars; they break down at times. And so, having depth at that position is critical, [and] we saw that this year. We think we built the room out pretty well this year and were able to sustain some injuries along the way.

“So, we will look at that. I think it’s a very, very deep year in the draft. This draft class is pretty impressive from a receiver standpoint. We’ll assess that talent and see what kind of falls our way and then look at the free agency crop, as well.”

“I think with Zay Flowers, I think he is going to be a No. 1 if he isn’t a No. 1 already,” said NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “That would be the person I would be looking to complement. I’m going to go look for some size.”

2024 NFL Draft: Best-case scenarios for all 32 NFL teams

Dalton Wasserrman, PFF


Goal: Keep adding to the receiving corps

Ideal first pick: WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

The Ravens are still incredibly loaded despite their disappointing playoff loss to the Chiefs. They have the NFL MVP at quarterback, field arguably the best defense in football and are stacked at tight end with Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely.

Their wide receiver room still needs work, though. Zay Flowers had an excellent rookie season, but Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman didn’t give them consistent enough production.

A second consecutive first-round selection at wide receiver would be a wise move. Florida State’s Keon Coleman could give Baltimore a contested-catch option that they don’t currently possess. Georgia’s Ladd McConkey also makes sense as a smooth route runner who has familiarity with offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Originally posted on Baltimore Beatdown – All Posts