With the 2023 NFL regular season about to be over in a matter of days, the folks over ESPN as well as many other places have started to craft their particular All-Season teams and award lists and predictions.
On Monday, Bill Barnwell gave a try to building his All-Pro Team (first and second) for the 2023 campaign over the outlet, and in doing so he found a place in the first squad for four players rostered by the Baltimore Ravens.
Barnwell only chose one offensive player (quarterback Lamar Jackson), but he deemed three starters of the extraordinary Ravens defense worth of a place in the starting lineup of his team of the season this year: DT Justin Madubuike, LB Roquan Smith, and S Kyle Hamilton.
Here is what Barnwell had to say about the Ravens he picked when building his dream team for the 2023 NFL season.
Quarterback - Lamar Jackson
"It was a good way to go out," Barnwell started. "Jackson was close to perfect as a passer, going 18-of-21 for 321 yards with five touchdowns. It was his first five-passing-touchdown performance since his previous MVP season in 2019."
The analyst added: "Jackson's case [for a second MVP award] isn't as strong as it was in 2019, when he threw 36 touchdown passes, ran for 1,206 yards and added seven more scores on the ground. Sunday's performance got him to 24 passing touchdowns on the season. He has 821 rushing yards with five TDs this season (which is still nearly 200 more rushing yards than any other quarterback). He leads all quarterbacks in rush yards over expectation (RYOE), but 10 other quarterbacks have generated more expected points added (EPA) on the ground."
Barnwell believes "Jackson is a better passer than the guy we saw in 2019," and stated, "Jackson has outlasted his competition.
"After having him as my midseason MVP pick, he'll likely be there when I flip my season-long ballot over next week."
Defensive tackle - Justin Madubuike
"Madubuike's breakout season as an interior pass-rusher has been remarkable," Barnwell said about Madubuike.
"While the 26-year-old flashed at times and looked to be a solid starting tackle over the previous couple of seasons, I'm not sure anybody was expecting him to be the league's most physically imposing interior rusher in 2023."
The ESPN pundit pointed out "Madubuike's streak of games with at least a half-sack ended at 11, leaving him one game short of the league record." That said, he added, "[Madubuike] started a new one with a sack against the Dolphins on Sunday. With 13 sacks, 32 knockdowns, 12 tackles for loss and the league's seventh-highest pressure rate for defensive tackles, it has been one hell of a contract year for a new star on the interior."
Linebacker - Roquan Smith
Barnwell acknoweledged in his story that he "had Quincy Williams in this spot" and ahead of Smith before last Sunday, but his final decision flipped after Ro's performance against the Dolphins.
"Smith has taken a sloppy Baltimore team and turned it into a much more reliable defense," Barnwell wrote.
"When the Ravens blew a 28-7 lead to the Dolphins last season, it was by virtue of allowing 215 yards after the catch, the sixth most for any team in a game this season," the analysts described. "On Sunday, Smith & Co. limited what had been the league's third-best YAC offense to 115. The Ravens have allowed the second-fewest YAC per reception this season. Much of that falls on Smith, who has made the players around him better after joining the organization via a midseason trade in 2022."
Safety - Kyle Hamilton
Barnwell found it easy to make a case for Hamilton, writing "Hamilton has been the league's best coverage safety."
"He has become the ultimate chess piece for coordinator Mike Macdonald, starring as a safety, slot cornerback and off-ball linebacker this season. He has even taken a handful of snaps as an edge rusher, where he has alternately gone after the quarterback and dropped into throwing lanes to take advantage of confused opposing signal-callers."
The analysts kept going, saying Hamilton is "also a problem" near the line of scrimmage. "He has three sacks and 15 quarterback pressures on 35 pass rush snaps; while that's not a huge sample, nobody with more pass-rushing opportunities has gotten after the quarterback more often."
Finished Barnwell: "With the Ravens dealing with injuries at cornerback throughout the season, his adaptability has been essential for one of the league's best defenses."
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