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Late for Work: Former MVP RB Says Derrick Henry Is 'Going to Do Something Really Special' With Ravens

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

Former MVP RB Says Derrick Henry Is 'Going to Do Something Really Special' With Ravens

When Derrick Henry signed with the Ravens in March, photoshopped images of King Henry in a Ravens jersey immediately appeared on social media, and we subsequently saw him pose with his purple jersey at his introductory press conference.

Yesterday, the glorious reality of Henry being a Raven reached another level when the four-time Pro Bowl running back took the field for the first time in a Baltimore uniform as OTAs began.

As the anticipation surrounding Henry joining last season's No. 1 rushing attack mounts, how much the 30-year-old has left in the tank has been a talking point.

Former MVP running back Shaun Alexander believes his fellow Alabama alum can play a vital role in bringing a championship to Baltimore.

"I think he's really that good," Alexander said on FanDuel TV's "Up & Adams" show. "He's such a special, dominant athlete. He trains like he's a little guy, always trying to stay fit. But he also throws so much weight around — weight room, ball machines. I think that his body can still do it for a few years, so I think he's going to do something really special."

Pro Football Focus’ John Kosko also sees Henry continuing to be one of the best running backs in the league. Henry was No. 10 in Kosko's rankings of the top players over 30 entering the season.

"He'll enjoy the most space yet in his career due to Lamar Jackson's dual-threat abilities," Kosko wrote. "Henry's two-year 91.7 PFF grade indicates he still has plenty left in the tank."

Two Ravens Make PFF's Top Players Under 25 Rankings

PFF also ranked the top 25 players under 25, and both of the Ravens' 2022 first-round picks made the list.

Safety Kyle Hamilton, 23, was No. 5, while center Tyler Linderbaum, 24, came in at No. 20.

"Hamilton had a true breakout second NFL season, as his 86.4 PFF overall grade ranked sixth among safeties," PFF's Zoltan Buday wrote. "He established himself as one of the most versatile players in the league, logging 14 quarterback pressures to rank fourth among safeties. Hamilton's two-year 89.6 PFF overall grade ranks third among all safeties.

"Linderbaum was already good in his rookie season, but he showed some weaknesses in pass blocking. Now two seasons into his career, he is one of the best centers in the NFL. He was the only player at the position to earn pass-blocking and run-blocking grades both over 78.0 in 2023."

Director of College Scouting David Blackburn Reportedly Being Hired by Commanders

One of the biggest stories for the Ravens this offseason is the large number of players, coaches, and front office members who have left for opportunities elsewhere. That's what happens when you have such a successful organization.

There reportedly will be another departure, as Director of College Scouting David Blackburn is expected to be hired by the Washington Commanders as director of player personnel, according to The Athletic.

The Baltimore Banner's Giana Han said Blackburn, who joined the Ravens in 2007 and was promoted to director of college scouting in 2022, appeared to be poised to take on a bigger role with the Ravens.

"Although Blackburn's title remained the same on the Ravens' website, Blackburn sat in [former Director of Player Personnel and new Los Angeles Chargers GM Joe] Hortiz's former position next to General Manager Eric DeCosta and [Head Coach John] Harbaugh as they held their post-NFL draft press conference," Han wrote.

How Vulnerable Are Ravens in Defending AFC North Crown?

Of the eight defending division champions, the Ravens were ranked as the fourth-most vulnerable by’s Judy Battista.

Battista acknowledged that the Ravens still appear to be one of the best teams in the league, but the teams chasing them in the AFC North are formidable.

"The Ravens led the league in point differential last year (+203), had the NFL's best record and added Derrick Henry this offseason," Battista wrote. "But the caliber of competition in the AFC North means nothing is a given, even for an excellent team. (It also means the Ravens play 10 games against 2023 playoff teams, the most in the NFL.) In the cases of the Bengals and the Steelers, the quarterback play is likely to be vastly better than it was last season.

"If Joe Burrow is healthy, the Bengals are an annual Super Bowl contender, especially because they continue to bolster their offensive line, and because Tee Higgins will likely still be on the team in the fall, despite the franchise-tagged receiver's trade request. The Steelers were a playoff team last season and now have two starting-caliber quarterbacks (Russell Wilson and Justin Fields). They also swiped linebacker Patrick Queen from the Ravens and are coming off a boffo draft in which they bolstered the offensive line. The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, went to the playoffs using a revolving door of backup quarterbacks (Joe Flacco most prominently and successfully) after Deshaun Watson was hurt early last season. And they added receiver Jerry Jeudy to the receiving corps. If Watson can finally look consistently like the quarterback the Browns thought they were trading for, this division will be a dogfight from beginning to end."

Justice Hill's Value Should Not Be Overlooked

While the addition of Henry and the vast potential of Keaton Mitchell are cause for excitement about the Ravens' running back corps, Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko said Justice Hill should not be overlooked, especially with Mitchell's return date unknown as he makes his way back from last year's season-ending knee injury.

Hill, 26, is coming off a season in which he posted career-highs in rushing yards (387), receiving yards (206), and touchdowns (four).

"While Hill earned more flowers than usual, he's still an under-the-radar player in the larger spotlight," Platko wrote. "That figures to remain true following the team's addition of Derrick Henry this offseason, which will keep Hill in the background. However, his valuableness to the Ravens' offense as a complimentary player should not be overlooked.

"Hill's skill set meshes well with the incoming Henry and he's a seamless fit as a third-down back given his receiving and pass-blocking abilities. Hill will be especially useful in the absence of Keaton Mitchell to give the Ravens' backfield a change-of-pace and added juice behind Henry."

While Hill may not get a lot of national attention, the Ravens brass is fully aware of how valuable Hill is to the team.

"I'm glad we have Justice on a two-year deal," DeCosta said a few months ago. "Last year, [Vice President of Football Administration] Nick [Matteo] was able to get a two-year deal done with Justice, and Justice was really one the unsung heroes of the team this year, down the stretch. I mean, the guy had a phenomenal season."

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