Ravens 'Lacking in Depth and Playmakers' at Edge Rusher
The Ravens have put together one of the most complete rosters in the league, but every team has holes.
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra ranked the NFL's 10 biggest remaining roster holes, and the Ravens' need at edge rusher came in at No. 6.
"Baltimore spent the offseason stocking up on offensive weapons for Lamar Jackson, but the defensive front has serious questions," Patra wrote. "2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh took a step back in Year 2 and will look to rebound this fall. 2022 second-rounder David Ojabo had most of his rookie campaign wiped out due to a pre-draft injury. The Ravens are relying heavily on the Michigan product becoming a consistent force.
"Two of Baltimore's top sack producers from last season aren't on the roster. Calais Campbell left for Atlanta, and Justin Houston remains a free agent. Could a Houston reunion be in the cards? It wouldn't be a surprise if General Manager Eric DeCosta added multiple veterans at some point to round out a group lacking in depth and playmakers."
The team is indeed counting on Oweh and Ojabo to make an impact. It's encouraging that both players were among the standouts at mandatory minicamp.
A return to form for outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, who was dealing with a knee issue at minicamp, would bolster the pass rush. Fourth-round rookie Tavius Robinson also could be a factor.
"Our outside backers [are] young, and we'll kind of plug those guys into their spots [and] see how they emerge," Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week when asked about position groups he's focused on.
As for signing a veteran before the start of the season, that seems more likely than not. In addition to Houston, pass rushers available in free agency include Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, and Melvin Ingram.
Another reason for optimism regarding the pass rush is the presence of new Outside Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith. The former NFL defensive end isn't called "Dr. Rush" for nothing.
Lamar Jackson Named a Potential Fantasy Football Bust
There is reason to be excited about Baltimore's revamped offense if you're a Ravens fan. However, if you draft Jackson to your fantasy team, you might want to temper your excitement, according to Sports Illustrated’s Michael Fabiano.
Fabiano named Jackson one of five quarterbacks who could be a fantasy bust this season.
"Folks, I'm not saying Jackson is going to be a complete bust. But hear me out," Fabiano wrote. "He has missed 10 games over the last two years due to injuries, and now he's going to run less under new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. If that's the case, we could be looking at a 30-plus point decline right off the top. Maybe his passing stats will increase, but running less won't be good for Jackson's overall value."
On the flip slide, Jackson throwing more could boost the fantasy value of Ravens' wide receivers, namely Rashod Bateman. Fabiano listed Bateman among his five sleeper candidates at the position.
"The Ravens were busy this offseason, adding two veterans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, and a rookie in Zay Flowers at wide receiver. Still, some would say it is Bateman who will be their top fantasy option at the position," Fabiano wrote. "A first-round pick just two years ago, Bateman has plenty of potential in an offense that projects to throw the ball more."
Revisiting Ravens' Failure to Finish in 2022
Sharp Football Analysis' Warren Sharp posted two statistics on Twitter that illustrated just how close the Ravens were to being an elite team last season rather than just a good one.
The Ravens (10-7) held a lead of more than seven points in 14 games, tied for the most with the Philadelphia Eagles. While the NFC champions only lost one of those games, the Ravens dropped five, which was tied for the most with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Failing to get defensive stops and score touchdowns in the red zone in the second half of those games proved to be the Ravens' undoing.
With more weapons in the passing game and a defense that has inside linebacker Roquan Smith from the start and safety Kyle Hamilton entering Year 2 with momentum, the Ravens appear poised for a change in fortune in 2023.
Ravens Ranked No. 2 in Pass Protection Last Season
Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness looked at which quarterbacks got the most help in 2022 in terms of pass protection, receiving talent, and schematic difference-makers such as play-action, RPOs and screens.
The Ravens had the second-highest pass-blocking grade, trailing only the Eagles.
"The return of left tackle Ronnie Stanley and the addition of Morgan Moses at right tackle gave the Baltimore Ravens a boost up front, with the front five ranking second league-wide in team pass-blocking grade," McGuinness wrote.
Now here's a statistic that will probably shock Ravens fans: Baltimore was No. 2 in expected points added per play on screen passes last season. The caveat is that the Ravens were 29th in total number of screen attempts.