The Baltimore Ravens add to physicality, future offensive weaponry in the 2020 NFL Draft:
In a draft that will be remembered largely for introducing technology to the selection process and whatever the hell was going on at Mike Vrabel’s house, the Baltimore Ravens solidified their defensive front seven and injected talent into the offense.
But no dominant edge rusher. And no established “X” receiver.
Let’s take a look at some initial thoughts on how the draft played out for the Ravens, and how it will translate to where it’s actually important — the field.
• The Ravens were able to keep the proverbial dam from imploding last season with their inside linebacker position group by adding on Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort, but the front seven got exposed in their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison could very-well be the long-term answer to that position, and they will most likely make their presence felt strongly as rookies.
• The Ravens added to the strength of that front seven through free agency with major additions in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. That did not stop them from adding Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington to the equation through the draft. The draft is all about projection, so there is no crystal ball to tell us how it will turn out for these picks, but this front seven is formidable.
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• Oh, yeah. The Ravens have arguably the best defensive backfield on the planet.
• So, the question mark on defense — literally, the only question mark one could possibly have now with this defense — is the pass rush. It was surprising to me that the Ravens didn’t at least take a flier on a Josh Uche or Bradlee Anae, but my guess is the Ravens brass just wasn’t impressed.
• Consider this, however: The Ravens could line up in obvious passing situations with a four-man front of a combination of Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Wolfe, Madubuike, Washington, Campbell and Matt Judon. That is a foursome that should generate far superior push than any four-man front the Ravens offered last year. Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale could then rush with Queen or Harrison, or Tavon Young or Chuck Clark or any cornerback combination. Could they still, sign a Clay Matthews or old friend Pernell McPhee? Absolutely. But they can chase some quarterbacks with this group.
• I had visions of Jerry Jeudy. There was a moment I allowed myself to dream of a trade for CeeDee Lamb. I had hopes of Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Reagor, and maybe most of all, I really wanted Michael Pittman to fall into the purple and black, Didn’t happen. That leaves the Ravens with basically Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead, and rookie newcomers Devin Duvernay and James Proche. It doesn’t exactly keep opposing coordinators up at night.
• That being said, the Ravens are a run-heavy team that won’t utilize a lot of receivers on any given play unless everything went bad and they fall way behind. Lamar dropping back on third down with Brown, Duvernay and Boykin/Snead, along with tight end Mark Andrews and Justice Hill or rookie J.K. Dobbins in the backfield isn’t the end of the world. There are targets there, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see sticky-handed rookie James Proche get significant snaps as the season progresses.
• What the Ravens do better than any team in the world is run the ball, and they should be even better next season. Dobbins adds a lot of juice to the running back room and Hill’s progression last year offers some optimism for his future growth. Mark Ingram was a borderline elite back last year before his injury, but he is getting a little older, and Gus Edwards is under contract for one more season. The team is loaded at back going forward.
• All three interior line positions could be up for grabs this coming season. Rookies Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson will join Bradley Bozeman, Matt Skura, Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari, and R.J. Prince begin the competition… now.
• Your 2020 Baltimore Ravens are loaded. Let’s hope there’s a 2020 season to watch them play.