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Late For Work 4/20: Ravens Don't Need More Weapons? That's What Joe Flacco And Mike Wallace Say

Posted Apr 20, 2017

Reserve offensive linemen James Hurst and Ryan Jensen signed their restricted free-agent tenders. Want ESPN's Mel Kiper to give the Ravens a high draft grade? Just copy this cheat sheet.

Ravens Don’t Need Any More Weapons? That’s What Joe Flacco And Mike Wallace Say 

Quarterback Joe Flacco and top wide receiver Mike Wallace are unfazed by the defensive-dominated offseason signings the Ravens have had thus far.

The offense has lost two veteran wide receivers, two starting offensive linemen and its starting fullback.  

At this point, Flacco isn’t sweating the lack of offensive additions beyond running back Danny Woodhead. He said he’s used to the NFL and goes into the offseason with no expectations, and he also knows players can be added all the way up until the season starts.

Does he specifically hope a wide receiver will eventually be added? 

“No. No, I do not,” Flacco said. “I think we have a lot of young, talented guys – guys that are ready to make a name for themselves and are going to work really hard this offseason to get that done.” 

Meanwhile, Mike Wallace said he’d welcome another receiver if the front office adds one, but he feels people are “sleeping” on the unit, specifically singling out second-year player Chris Moore. “I think we have more than enough wide receivers, honestly,” he said. 

WNST’s Luke Jones praised both Flacco and Wallace for their team-focused comments, but would be shocked if the Ravens didn’t add any more pieces. 

“Flacco expressing confidence in the players currently on the roster is hardly surprising — it’s the appropriate public stance to take — but two openings on the offensive line and the lack of an intermediate receiver don’t exactly inspire confidence for a team trying to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014,” wrote Jones.

“It would be tough to fathom the Ravens not adding another wideout between now and the start of the season, but the organization is clearly counting on 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman and 2016 fourth-round pick Chris Moore to take steps forward this season.”  

A lot more was said at the podium session with Flacco, Wallace, cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Eric Weddle and Director of Performance Steve Saunders. Here are some highlights in case you missed them: 

  • Flacco talked about potential reunions with Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. He also reached out to his brother, who is a backup quarterback at Western Michigan, to get a scouting report on first-round receiver prospect Corey Davis. Flacco’s brother said Davis plays on a whole other level. 
  • Weddle thinks Flacco will be “10 times better” another year removed from surgery. 
  • Smith is sick of the various injury issues that have prevented him from playing a full 16-game slate in four of his six NFL seasons. He committed to stay in Owings Mills all offseason to participate in Saunders’ new workout program instead of working out with his personal trainer like he’s done in the past. He’s hoping for his best season yet. The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Smith is vital to the Ravens’ chances of returning to the postseason. 

“[T]here's a case to be made that the defensive key to ending a two-year playoff drought is a healthy Jimmy Smith,” Schmuck wrote. “No one really disputes this, except maybe Smith himself, and that's only because he wants to be deferential to the talented defensive players around him. He's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and might well have been the difference maker during the final month of last season if not for the high ankle sprain that ended his year in Week 14.” 

  • Wallace smiled when he was asked about the team’s decision to pick up his 2017 contract option. "Smart decision by them," he quipped back. "Good job." Wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: “The Ravens could've gained $5.75 million in cap space by not picking up the option, but they would've lost even more. In his first season with the Ravens, Wallace led the team with 1,017 yards receiving, his first 1,000-yard season since 2011.” 
  • Flacco and his wife, Dana, will travel to Arizona to offer support to former teammate and good friend Todd Heap after his 3-year-old daughter’s tragic death last week. Having four young children himself, Flacco hopes to be some sort of distraction for the Heaps. “Flacco was reluctant to say too much out of respect for what [Heap] is currently going through,” wrote Schmuck. 
  • Weddle said the players returned to Baltimore this week still feeling salty about how last season ended short of the playoffs. They’re using it as motivation. 

James Hurst, Ryan Jensen Sign Tenders 

Two key reserve offensive linemen signed their restricted free-agent tenders, according to the NFL’s transaction wire Wednesday. 

Guard/center Ryan Jensen and tackle James Hurst will be in Baltimore for the 2017 season after signing their original-round tenders worth $1.797 million. Had another team tried to sign Jensen and the Ravens didn’t match its offer sheet, Baltimore would have received a sixth-round pick as compensation. As an undrafted rookie, there would have been no draft compensation for Hurst. 

The signings will make few headlines, but with two starting holes along the line, their presence is key. 

The Ravens are looking for a center to replace three-year starter Jeremy Zuttah, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. And right tackle is a need with Rick Wagner signing with the Detroit Lions. 

Depending on who the Ravens add in the draft and free agency, both Jensen and Hurst could compete for those starting roles. 

Hurst has filled in as a starting tackle 16 times over his three years with the team, including two starts in the 2014 playoffs. Hurst has mostly played left tackle, but he has also worked on the right side of the line. Jensen has played in 19 games over the last three years with nine starts. 

Wide receiver Chris Matthews also signed his exclusive rights free-agent tender. Running back Terrance West reportedly remains the only Ravens restricted free agent yet to sign his tender. 

Want Mel Kiper To Give Ravens A High Draft Grade? Just Copy This Cheat Sheet 

The Ravens couldn’t care less what grades analysts give their draft the day after the selections are finished. 

Nonetheless, ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper released a three-round mock draft that was based on how teams could get an “A” grade from him. This mock draft is not what he thinks teams will do; it’s what he thinks they should do. 

I’ve added reaction from Hensley, who doesn’t seem very high on a few of Kiper’s decisions. 

Round 1 (16): Forrest Lamp, OG, Ball State
Hensley: “Lamp, the consensus top offensive lineman in this draft, would not be a popular pick. The Ravens need playmakers at pass rusher and wide receiver. So, taking an interior offensive lineman doesn't seem to be the immediate impact player who will help Baltimore reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Plus, the Ravens have Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and believe Alex Lewis' best position is guard. Lamp is a sound technician and can be a 10-year starter in the NFL, but Baltimore has bigger priorities at the No. 16 overall pick.”

Round 2 (47): T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
Hensley: “Watt compares more to former Ravens second-round pick Paul Kruger than his older brother J.J., a three-time NFL defensive player of the year. He played only one season as a full-time starter, but he posted impressive numbers. Watt totaled 63 tackles (15.5 for loss) and 11.5 sacks.”

Round 3 (74): Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
Hensley: “Butt is a reliable and productive target who probably would've been taken in the first two rounds if not for tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the Capital One Orange Bowl. It would be surprising to see the Ravens take a tight end in the draft because it's one of the team's deepest positions.”

Round 3 (78): Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
Hensley: “Henderson would help the Ravens in two areas. He's a deep threat as well as a returner (Kiper has him as his No. 2 returner in this draft). Henderson ranked fourth in the FBS with 23 total touchdowns (19 receiving, two rushing and two kickoff returns), even though he missed two games with an ankle injury. The Ravens have struggled to find an explosive and dependable returner since parting ways with Jacoby Jones two years ago.” 

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