Justin Tucker Considered a Near Lock for the Hall of Fame
In a recent kicker ranking, which to the surprise of nobody featured Justin Tucker at No. 1, CBS Sports' John Breech shared that he considers Tucker worthy of a bronze bust.
"It's not often that you talk about a kicker being a lock for the Hall of Fame, but Justin Tucker is getting close to being in that category after 10 NFL seasons," Breech wrote. "Although the Pro Football Hall of Fame has only inducted two true kickers—Jan Stenerud and Morten Andersen—in its 59-year existence, Tucker is making a strong case for being the third (or fourth, if Adam Vinatieri gets in), so needless to say, he's at the top of our best kicker list."
Along with his praise of Tucker deserving a bid for the Hall of Fame, Breech also shared why he was the easy choice for No. 1 on the list.
"Being a great kicker in the NFL comes down to one main thing, and that's the ability to make field goals," Breech wrote. "No one does that better than Tucker. Over the course of his career, he's made 91.1% of his kicks, which makes him the most accurate kicker in NFL history…The crazy thing about Tucker is that he actually seems to be getting better with age. Not only did he lead the NFL in field goal percentage last season (94.6%), but he also made every single one of his extra points. Not to mention, there's no one more clutch than Tucker, who has made 58 STRAIGHT field goals that were attempted in either the fourth quarter or overtime."
Though Tucker stands above the rest, Breech's list was heavy on the AFC North, with Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell at No. 2 and Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson at No. 8.
Ravens are a 'Sleeper Team,' But They're Not the Only One in the AFC North
Former Ravens quarterback turned ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III joined the Rich Eisen Show and was asked who his "sleeper team" was. Eisen narrowed the question, specifying the team needed to be good last season and could "win it all."
"My sleeper team, to be quite honest, would have to be the Baltimore Ravens," Griffin III said. "They were good last year. Even though they were banged up—the most banged up team in the entire league and Lamar Jackson was the MVP halfway through the year and then he got banged up. So, I think the Ravens coming back with a healthy Lamar Jackson—they're going to get Marlon Humphrey back, Marcus Peters back, their offensive line is going to better with the additions that they made and getting back Ronnie Stanley… So, I think that would be my sleeper team 'cause they're kind of forgotten about right now in the AFC North with the Bengals going to the Super Bowl and the Browns with all the controversy going on with them right now."
However, Eisen believes the Ravens aren't the only ones in the AFC North who should be considered a 'sleeper team.'
"I went the Bengals," Eisen said. "I don't recall a team that went to the Super Bowl, lost it, and almost won it and lost it [and] nobody talks about them. Honestly. And their one glaring weakness, their offensive line, they hit the heck out of it in free agency. They actually shored it up and they're coming back. Nobody's talking about the Bengals. That's number one for me."
John Harbaugh Places Top 5 in Head Coach Ranking
This offseason, the Ravens signed an individual in the organization whose contract was set to expire after the 2022 season to a three-year extension: Head Coach John Harbaugh.
According to CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin, the Ravens are keeping a Top 5 head coach in the NFL, one he would consider as "the head of the pack."
"The big notch on Harbaugh's belt, besides his 2012 Super Bowl title and 64% hit rate for playoff seasons, is reinvention. He's led pass-happy teams. He's led run-heavy teams. He's led defensive teams. Injuries really rocked the boat in 2021, so he's due for a rebound."
Coming with the territory of being a top head coach, Benjamin has high expectations of what's next for Harbaugh and the Ravens.
"You just wonder if and when the next reinvention may come, considering the Ravens haven't advanced past the Divisional Round in a decade and QB Lamar Jackson is looking to prove he's more than just an electric regular-season star."
Rashod Bateman Almost Left Football
In 2021, the Ravens netted wide receiver Rashod Bateman with their first-round selection. But according to Bateman in a recent interview with USA Football's Samuel Teets, the Ravens might not have been able to draft him due to other commitments in high school.
"Around my junior year of high school, questions started coming up about my future because I was committed to Georgia Southern for football at the time," Bateman told Teets. "I was ready to put down football and commit to Virginia Tech to play basketball. I just stayed true to the game because I know football is what I love most, and all the hard work paid off."
Fortunately for Bateman and the Ravens, he stuck with football and his production "skyrocketed during his final season."
"According to MaxPreps, the Tifton, Ga. native nearly doubled his receiving totals, improving from 825 yards as a junior to 1,539 yards as a senior," Teets wrote. "He also scored 21 touchdowns in 2017 after reaching the end zone five times in 2016."
- Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters were named the second-best cornerback duo by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks. Tight ends Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle were also named the second-best tight end duo.