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Late for Work: Derrick Henry Is Top Non-QB in NFL, Analytics Show

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry Is Top Non-QB in NFL, Analytics Show

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and the Ravens are fortunate to have one of the best in Lamar Jackson. They also have the best player who isn't a quarterback.

Running back Derrick Henry is the top non-QB in the league, according to statistical analysis by Sports Info Solutions.

The study was based on a player's Points Above Average per play (how much the player excels relative to the position on a play-to-play basis) and Points Above Replacement (how valuable a player is in general, incorporating a notion of relative positional value) over the past two seasons. It also computed an aging factor for the metrics.

Henry was the only running back in the top 10. SIS explained why Henry was ranked above San Francisco 49ers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

"Over the last two years, Henry has generated almost 30 more PAA than McCaffrey as a rusher, which doesn't get sufficiently counterbalanced by McCaffrey's receiving excellence," SIS wrote. "The gap in rushing is in large part to the difference in their circumstances. Henry has continued to be productive year after year despite having the most carries in the NFL when the offensive line blew a block in front of him over the last two years, and last year he turned more than 60 percent of those into gains. Henry's elusiveness has not eluded him yet, with similar or better broken and missed tackle rates to McCaffrey's."

In addition to the analytics-based rankings, SIS compiled a ranking of the top 10 non-QBs based on scouts' opinions.

Henry was excluded from that list. Ravens middle linebacker Roquan Smith was No. 9.

"[Smith is] a downhill player and an 'enforcer,' per [ex-NFL scout] Matt Manocherian, and while he doesn't have the crazy athleticism that other potential candidates do, he closed the gap in that respect in 2023 in terms of being an excellent well-rounded player," SIS wrote.

Ravens Have League's Best Duos at Two Positions

Pro Football Focus identified the best duos at each position, and the Ravens got the nod at two of them: Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely at tight end, and Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams at safety.

"Losing a player of Mark Andrews' caliber due to injury in 2023 was a big blow to the Ravens, but it at least allowed them to see Isaiah Likely's capabilities, potentially pushing the offense to use two-tight end sets more frequently in 2024," PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote. "Andrews' 1.93 yards per route run average ranked fourth among tight ends last season, while Likely proved himself tough to bring down after the catch with 12 missed tackles forced on 34 receptions.

"Marcus Williams battled through injuries last season but still impressed while healthy. He has earned PFF coverage grades above 70.0 in both of his seasons with the Ravens and led all safeties with eight pass breakups in the regular season despite missing some time. Kyle Hamilton is a Swiss Army knife who can be deployed all over the field. His 90.1 PFF coverage grade in 2023 ranked third among safeties, but he also impressed as a blitzer, racking up 16 quarterback pressures from 45 pass-rushing snaps. His 40 tackles that resulted in a defensive stop ranked second at the position."

On a side note, Hamilton, 23, was ranked No. 14 on CBS Sports’ list of the top 25 players 25 and under.

"The Ravens defense is littered with standouts, but Hamilton impacted every level as a second-year All-Pro: the backfield (10 tackles for loss), open field (81 tackles) and secondary (four picks, 13 pass breakups)," CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin wrote. "His positional flexibility should keep him at the heart of the 'D' moving forward."

Daniel Jeremiah Ranks Ravens' Secondary Last in AFC North

As good as the Ravens' safeties are, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah believes Baltimore has the worst secondary in the AFC North.

Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks ranked the secondaries in every division on the “Move the Sticks” podcast. In the AFC North, Jeremiah had the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 1, followed by the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Ravens.

Despite putting the Ravens at the bottom, Jeremiah was complimentary of the unit and acknowledged that he "could make a case that No. 4 is No. 1 and No. 1 is No. 4."

"Nate Wiggins comes in, big-time pure cover corner; tackling was an issue and a concern of ours, but we'll see how he does in that department. They intend to get the toughness out of people there in Baltimore," Jeremiah said. "Obviously love the safety combo; Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams is as good as it gets. Brandon Stephens, who can do a lot of different things. You got Marlon Humphrey who's kind of the old head there, the vet. You've got a couple young guys there, led by T.J. Tampa. I'm excited to see how he fits in there. So that's a good group, but I have them at No. 4."

Brooks ranked the Ravens third, behind the Browns and Steelers and ahead of the Bengals.

John Harbaugh Makes Top Three in PFF's Returning Head Coach Rankings

John Harbaugh is one of the best head coaches in the NFL by any measure. He landed at No. 3 PFF’s top 10 rankings of returning head coaches entering the 2024 season.

"Harbaugh's strength has been his ability to make the right decisions on coordinators, as the switch to Mike Macdonald in 2022 led to a defense that allowed an average of -0.134 EPA per play in 2023," McGuinness wrote. "On offense, he switched from Greg Roman to Todd Monken, which helped them bounce back to eighth in EPA per play in 2023. They have been the No. 1 seed twice in the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid era in Kansas City but just haven't been able to make it count in the playoffs yet."

Reid and 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan were the only coaches ranked above Harbaugh. The Los Angeles Rams' Sean McVay (No. 4) and Steelers' Mike Tomlin (No. 5) rounded out the top five.

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