Ravens Named Best Fit for This Top Quarterback Prospect
The Ravens have made it clear that they want to sign Lamar Jackson to a long-term contract. If that doesn't happen, there's a growing sentiment that Baltimore would be an ideal landing spot for one of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft.
Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema named the Ravens as the best fit for Florida's Anthony Richardson.
"This makes too much sense, right?" Sikkema wrote. "… If they can't get a deal done, expect Jackson to get the franchise tag. If he gets the tag, one of two scenarios could play out. Jackson could play under the tag, in which drafting a player like Richardson would be ideal since he could sit for at least a full year behind one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league — a skill set Richardson would love to emulate. Or Jackson could not play on the tag, forcing his way out, in which case Richardson could take over an offense that has been well-equipped to emphasize the rushing ability of a quarterback. Though Richardson finished 2022 with a passing grade of just 69.4, he earned an 85.1 rushing grade."
Sikkema is not alone in thinking that the Ravens and Richardson are a good match. As noted in Late for Work earlier this week, both NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks have the Ravens taking Richardson with the 22nd-overall pick in their mock drafts.
The Ravens have selected three quarterbacks in the first round in their history: Kyle Boller (2003), Joe Flacco (2008), and Jackson (2018).
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't see Richardson still being available when the Ravens are on the clock — he has the Carolina Panthers selecting Richardson with the ninth-overall pick in his first mock draft.
Richardson is a polarizing prospect because he's a phenomenal runner but there are questions about his ability as a passer. Kiper believes Richardson needs time to develop and shouldn't play as a rookie.
"He's not an NFL-ready thrower. But he is an awesome talent, a raw quarterback in a 6-foot-4 frame who would be one of the league's most electrifying runners as soon as he steps on the field," Kiper wrote. "His size and physical tools cannot be taught, and NFL coaches will want to work with him and try to take him to the next level. Richardson completed just 53.8% of his passes in 2022 — he has a long ways to go with his mechanics. Again, though, he has a high ceiling if a coaching staff can help him get there."
Kiper Mocks Wide Receiver to Ravens
In his aforementioned mock draft, Kiper has the Ravens selecting TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston at No. 22.
"I think Jackson will be back — potentially on the franchise tag — in which case he needs someone to catch passes," Kiper wrote. "Baltimore still hasn't gotten its receiving corps right; it ranked last in the league in receiving yards by wideouts (1,517). Rashod Bateman, a first-rounder in 2021 who has struggled with injuries, has just three touchdowns in 18 career games.
"Johnston could help the Ravens stretch the field. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch for the Horned Frogs this season. At 6-4, he's still developing as a route runner, and he's a physical mismatch once he gets his body into defensive backs and leaps for the ball. Jackson could use Johnston's length in the red zone."
Not surprisingly, a number of early mock drafts have the Ravens taking a wide receiver in the first round. LSU's Kayshon Boutte, USC's Jordan Addison, and Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba have all been mocked to Baltimore.
CBS Sports Names Perfect Candidate to Be the Ravens' New Offensive Coordinator
With a dozen teams searching for an offensive coordinator, CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin assigned the perfect candidate for each opening. For the Ravens, it's San Francisco 49ers Passing Game Coordinator Bobby Slowik.
"Under former Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens consistently had one of the most effective running games in the NFL," Dubin wrote. "Being able to build a scheme around Lamar Jackson — arguably the best rushing threat at the quarterback position in the history of the league — will do that for you. Early in Roman's tenure, the Ravens were able to marry that run game with a strong, downfield passing attack based mostly around play action. But the passing concepts grew increasingly stale in more recent seasons, and Baltimore's offense took several steps backward.
"Enter Slowik, who has experience incorporating the pass in run-heavy offenses in San Francisco. He was also at the helm of the passing game under Kyle Shanahan for what was the most efficient season of Jimmy Garoppolo's career until he got injured, and obviously for these last two months with Brock Purdy under center. That seems like a good foundation for the Ravens to tap into."
You can keep up with the latest reports on the Ravens' offensive coordinator search here.
Would a Day 2 Pick Be Enough to Acquire DeAndre Hopkins?
As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly on the trade block and the Ravens are being mentioned as a potential landing spot.
What would it take to acquire the three-time Pro Bowler? Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes it's not as much as one might think.
"I think it's going to be hard for [Cardinals General Manager Monti] Ossenfort to get great value for Hopkins, maybe even to the point where keeping him is a better idea than dealing him," Breer wrote. "As it stands right now, if I had to ballpark it, I'd say a Day 2 pick would be what Arizona would get in return in a trade."
If Breer's assessment is correct, it would bode well for the Ravens if they're interested in Hopkins. Baltimore doesn't have a second-round pick (they used it to acquire All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith) and has just five selections overall.
Breer contended that Hopkins' injury history and age (he turns 31 in June) probably drives down his trade value. Also, Hopkins is due $19.45 million next season and $14.92 million in 2024. A trade partner would likely want the Cardinals to pay a significant amount of that salary.
All that said, Hopkins showed this past season that he's still a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver, as he finished with 64 receptions for 717 yards in just nine games.
Demarcus Robinson Was Ravens' Unsung Hero
Veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson signed with the Ravens in August after he was cut by the Las Vegas Raiders and he went on to lead the team's wide receivers in receptions (48) and yards (458). He also caught a 41-yard touchdown in the playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Robinson was named the Ravens' unsung hero by NFL.com’s Nick Shook.
"I could easily fill this spot with Devin Duvernay, an overlooked receiver who also did a solid job in the return game when called upon, but I'm going with a personal favorite whom I've long seen as a player poised to produce with more targets," Shook wrote. "Robinson spent the first six years of his career filling the WR3/4 role in Kansas City, never seeing more than 59 targets in a season while consistently producing between 250 and 475 receiving yards each year. I figured he'd get more looks in Baltimore, where the Ravens have lacked weapons outside and traded Marquise Brown to Arizona last offseason. Instead of fully breaking out, Robinson finished with another solid season.
"He's my unsung hero, though, because he did this while again playing a secondary role with a team that ended up trotting out three different quarterbacks in 2022. No matter the passer, you can count on Robinson as a quality supporting cast member. That deserves some praise."
- PFF named tight end Isaiah Likely as the Ravens' early breakout candidate for next season.
- Tight end Charlie Kolar appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “49ers Talk” podcast to talk about the success of 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, his teammate at Iowa State.