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Eisenberg: 50 Words Or Less


Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

Why Mark Ingram II might be right that he can still be a Pro Bowl back at 30, an age when many other backs decline: He has averaged 197 touches per season in Baltimore and New Orleans, far less than Ezekiel Elliott (339), Le'Veon Bell (308) and Christian McCaffrey (308).

In the long buildup to the draft, I think I've read/heard just about every position other than quarterback mentioned as a direction the Ravens might go in the first round. I still believe inside linebacker is the likeliest direction, followed by offensive line and defensive line, then wide receiver.

Why rank wide receiver behind the others? The 2020 draft is so deep in quality there that the Ravens conceivably can get as much value on Day 2 as they can at the end of the first round -- unless someone they deem special falls to them, of course.

Like you, I'm following the news as various sports entities consider how they might get back to business, if possible, when health officials deem the coronavirus situation sufficiently safe. And like you, I'm having a hard time envisioning NFL games played in empty stadiums. But it seems a real possibility.

Maybe I'm wrong, but football is an intensely physical game and thus players depend on their emotions more than athletes in other sports. And the crowd's roar is integral to generating those emotions. I'm sure NFL players would adjust to not hearing that roar, but it wouldn't be easy.

As noted in Late For Work, one online bookmaker set point spreads for every 2020 NFL game and the Ravens were the only team favored in every game (by two points over the Chiefs in Baltimore). Interestingly, the Cleveland Brows were favored in 10 games, the Miami Dolphins in 12.

Reflecting back on the occasion of the Ravens' 25th draft next week, it's easy to single out their two best drafts over a quarter-century: 1996 (slam-dunk with two Hall of Famers) and 2018 (Lamar Jackson's transformative arrival and Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown also energized the offense).

Other highly successful drafts: 2008 (Joe Flacco and Ray Rice galvanized the offense); 2011 (Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith, Pernell McPhee and Tyrod Taylor become quality players); 2013 (top picks didn't pan out but Brandon Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Rick Wagner and Ryan Jensen all signed record contracts for their positions).

It was nice hearing GM Eric DeCosta state "there's definitely a luck component" to the draft, because boy, is that ever true. As much as it's a science, the reality is you can't trade up for every guy you want, which means you can only hope some fall to you.

It surprises me that the Ravens have the NFL's fifth-oldest roster, as measured by the average age of players under contract for 2020 (according to Spotrac). Of the 13 Ravens who are 30 or older, three play offense (with Ingram the only starter), three are specialists and seven play defense.

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