Ravens rookies are due to report for training camp Wednesday, a week before veterans report on July 24. Here are some key questions facing a 2019 rookie class the Ravens will be counting on after losing many familiar faces this offseason.
Is Marquise “Hollywood” Brown ready for his first take?
No Ravens rookie has created more anticipation than Brown. He was the first pick in Eric DeCosta’s tenure as general manager, but Brown’s recovery from Lisfranc foot surgery has kept him sidelined for offseason minicamps. Whether Brown is ready for the start of camp or joins practices later, the Ravens will want to see the same explosiveness he displayed at Oklahoma. Brown was more than just a deep threat in college. He was a versatile open-field nightmare for opposing defenses, capable of turning short passes into huge gains with change of direction and acceleration. Even with his small stature (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) and the foot injury, Brown was the first wide receiver drafted and his stock as a first-round pick never wavered. That tells you how much scouts were enamored with his ability. The transition from college to the NFL isn’t easy for rookie receivers, especially if they miss offseason time. The quicker Brown gets up to speed in the Ravens’ offense, the more options Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman will have.
Will Jaylon Ferguson have an instant impact on the pass rush?
The loss of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith leaves question marks about the Ravens’ ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Ferguson broke Suggs’ FBS record for all-time sacks, and he’ll be given every opportunity to earn reps as a rookie. Ferguson looks the part of an elite pass rusher with size and athleticism. Was he a steal for the Ravens as a third-round pick? Or is he a raw talent who will need years to develop? The answers will begin to unfold during training camp, when Ferguson puts on the pads and tries to win one-on-one battles against left tackle Ronnie Stanley.
Is Miles Boykin a sleeper in this draft class?
Brown is the rookie receiver with the big-play pedigree, but Boykin has impressive size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and a wide catch radius. Boykin was slowed by a hamstring injury during some OTA practices. but if he has a strong training camp, he could build chemistry with Lamar Jackson that could earn trust once the season begins. But first of all, Boykin needs to stay healthy. He’s also the only rookie that hasn’t signed his contract yet.
Can Justice Hill deliver some home runs out of the backfield?
The Ravens are deep at running back, but Hill is their fastest back and showed good hands as a receiver during minicamp. Hill doesn’t have to carry the ball 10-15 times to make an impact. His speed is a nice compliment to the more physical styles of Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. If Hill makes a few splash plays during training camp and the preseason, it bodes well for his chance to earn touches once the season begins.
Can Ben Powers challenge for the starting job at left guard?
Powers would love to emulate former Oklahoma teammate Orlando Brown Jr., who became a starting offensive lineman as a rookie. But James Hurst, Alex Lewis, and Jermaine Eluemunor are also competing to start at left guard, the Ravens’ most competitive position battle. The reps that Powers gets during training camp and the preseason will be important. Coming from a top program like Oklahoma, Powers is used to battling for playing time and the Ravens saw enough to make him a fourth-round pick. Even if Powers doesn’t start this year, the Ravens will want to see him develop so that he’s ready to play well if called upon. Remember, Brown became a starter in Week 7.
Will Trace McSorley’s versatility land him a role?
During minicamp, McSorley showed potential as a punt returner and special teams contributor, while throwing the ball well as the No. 3 quarterback. However, McSorely is not guaranteed a role on Sundays or even a 53-man roster spot. His versatility is a plus, but it will be important for him to make plays during training camp and the preseason, regardless of how he is utilized.
Will an undrafted rookie make the Ravens’ roster for the 16*th* straight year?
Several undrafted rookies have a chance to stick, such as defensive tackle Gerald Willis and wide receivers Sean Modster and Antoine Wesley. The wide receiver battle will be interesting to watch, because the Ravens will likely keep no more than six receivers and Snead, Brown, Boykin and Chris Moore are not going anywhere. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for an undrafted rookie, but Modster and Wesley made plenty of plays during minicamp. They will need to continue that during training camp to have a realistic chance to stay.