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Late for Work: Justin Tucker a Candidate for Madden NFL 25 Cover? 

K Justin Tucker
K Justin Tucker

Here's the Kicker: Justin Tucker a Candidate for Madden NFL 25 Cover?

Justin Tucker is a five-time first-team All-Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler, ESPY award recipient, Super Bowl champion, and NFL talent show winner.

So, what's left for Tucker to put on his resume?

How about Madden cover athlete?

A kicker has never graced the cover of the wildly popular video game, but’s Bobby Kownack suggested that Tucker be the one to do it.

Tucker was among five players Kownack named as deserving candidates to be on the cover of Madden NFL 25.

"During the aughts, the skill sets of Madden cover athletes often coincided with specific innovations seen in the video game," Kownack wrote. "Thanks to the league's new kickoff rule, Madden is set to overhaul the play this year to match, creating an explosive opportunity for action across the real and virtual football landscape.

"Enter Justin Tucker, the greatest kicker of all time in the only year it'd make sense to consider one on the cover. He holds the record for career field goal percentage (90.18) and also boasts the longest field goal in NFL history (a 66-yard game winner). He's an opera singer, to boot. Throw him in a commercial and watch him sing his way to some sales."

The Madden NFL 25 cover will be revealed on June 11.

Two Ravens have been on the Madden cover: Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005), who was the first defensive player to receive the honor, and Lamar Jackson (Madden 21).

Kyle Hamilton, Marcus Williams Make Top Five in PFF's Safety Rankings; Roquan Smith Is PFF's No. 2-Ranked Linebacker

In All-Pro Kyle Hamilton and veteran Marcus Williams, the Ravens have arguably the best safety tandem in the league, and that was reflected by their individual placement in Pro Football Focus’ safety rankings.

Hamilton (No. 2) and Williams (No. 5) both made the top five.

"Hamilton was the NFL's highest-graded safety as a rookie in 2022 (87.6), and he nearly replicated that in his second season, earning an 86.4 PFF overall grade," PFF's Zoltan Buday wrote. "While Hamilton led all safeties in pass-rush grade and was the only player at the position to earn pass-rush and coverage grades over 90.0 in 2023, he could stand to improve in run defense, which keeps him out of this list's top spot.

"After playing at least 999 snaps in all five of his seasons with the Saints, Williams has failed to log more than 800 snaps in either of his first two years in Baltimore. But when he is on the field, he is still among the best safeties in the league, especially in coverage. Williams' 76.4 PFF coverage grade in 2023 ranked 16th among safeties, and he places sixth among 94 qualifying safeties in coverage grade (92.5) since entering the league in 2017."

Former Raven Geno Stone, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, was No. 20.

PFF also released its linebacker rankings, and Roquan Smith came in at No. 2.

"Smith's trade to the Ravens midway through the 2022 season has taken his career to another level, with the former eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft putting together the two highest-graded years of his career since arriving in Baltimore," PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote. "He missed just 6.7% of his tackle attempts in 2023, the 10th-best mark at the position."

Former Ravens linebackers C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets (No. 5) and Patrick Queen of the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 7) also were ranked in the top 10.

Trenton Simpson Named One of NFL's Leading Defensive Breakout Candidates

Speaking of linebackers, Trenton Simpson was named one of four defensive players who have the biggest breakout potential in 2024 by The 33rd Team’s Marcus Mosher.

"One of the reasons the Ravens let Queen walk was because they drafted Trenton Simpson in 2023," Mosher wrote. "The Ravens have become a draft-and-develop team, allowing them to be competitive for so long. Rather than paying Queen elite money, they are handing Simpson the reins and hoping he can fill the void. The good news is Simpson has all the athletic traits to be a fantastic linebacker. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at 235 pounds and has above-average height and length.

"Simpson didn't play much as a rookie, but he made an impact anytime he was on the field. Simpson will open the season as a starting linebacker next to Roquan Smith. Together, they will form one of the league's most athletic linebacker duos. While Simpson is under a lot of pressure to become a big-time player in Year 2, at this point, we should trust that the Ravens will find a way to ensure he is productive."

Simpson looked the part last week at OTAs, where he was one of the biggest standouts.

"Second-year inside linebacker Trenton Simpson is flying around the field," our Ryan Mink wrote. "He's always had the physical speed, but now he's playing with more decisiveness and instincts. Plus, it looks like he bulked up some since the end of last season, when he offered a preview of what's to come with seven tackles and a sack in the regular-season finale against the Steelers."

Four Ravens Primed to Bounce Back From Injuries

Simpson also made Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed’s list of 10 Ravens who are primed to either bounce back or break out this season.

Here's a look at some of the players Reed believes can bounce back from injuries:

CB Marlon Humphrey

"The three-time Pro Bowler had his 2023 debut delayed by four games after he had to undergo foot surgery during training camp. but unfortunately that would not be the end of his injury woes. He also suffered a calf injury that caused him to miss four games including the Ravens' divisional round victory over the Houston Texans in the playoffs. … Contrary to what a recent clickbait article poorly tried to imply, Humphrey's play hasn't been slipping as of late and he is only one year removed from being voted to his last Pro Bowl after not allowing a single touchdown in 626 coverage snaps according to Pro Football Focus. The eight-year veteran is among the highest-paid players at his position in the league and with all of his ailments behind him and no new ones to report, he is primed to get back to proving he is worth every penny of what the Ravens are paying him."

WR Rashod Bateman

"Despite Bateman's checkered injury history since entering the league, the Ravens proved they still believe in his ability to become an explosive and all-around playmaker by awarding him with an extension this offseason. Bateman is slated to have an expanded role as the offense heads into Year Two under Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, which means as long as he can stay on the field during offseason practices, private workouts, and training camp, 2024 could be the year he puts everything together and finally breaks out."

OLB David Ojabo

"The 2022 second-round pick has had a similar start to his career as Bateman in terms of showing promising flashes but being limited by injuries … After having a lot of hype and raised expectations last offseason, there isn't as much pressure on Ojabo heading into a pivotal Year Three. The Ravens brought back veteran Kyle Van Noy, drafted rookie Adisa Isaac in the third round, and have a talented trio of fellow young returners in 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh and second-year pros Tavius Robinson and Malik Hamm. As long as he stays healthy and makes a full recovery [from a partially torn ACL], carving out a key role as a designated pass rusher could pave the way for a big breakout and bounce-back campaign for Ojabo in 2024."

LT Ronnie Stanley

"The former All-Pro has unfortunately been dealing with and battling injuries since before the ink could even dry on the lucrative multi-year extension he signed during the 2020 season. … After agreeing to restructure his deal this offseason, which included voiding the final year, Stanley is entering a contract year where he will have to prove he can not only continue playing at a high level but that he can stay on the field. If the nine-year veteran can finally put his injury woes behind him and return to form, the Ravens would likely seriously consider retaining him to continue protecting Jackson's blindside for the foreseeable future."

Ravens' 2018 Draft Class Named One of 21st Century's Best

ESPN's Aaron Schatz ranked the 12 best draft classes of the 21st century, and the Ravens' 2018 haul landed at No. 6.

"This was an interesting draft because it had so many valuable players despite the Ravens whiffing on their first selection," Schatz wrote. "Nine players selected by the Ravens in 2018 have accumulated at least 10 career Approximate Value points. Tight end Hayden Hurst was chosen at No. 25 but has only one season with at least 10 games started — and that was for Cincinnati in 2022. The Ravens traded back into the first round and selected quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick. He has only won two MVP awards for them. The Ravens didn't have a second-round pick but had two in the third round, and those picks became offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who has made four Pro Bowls so far, and tight end Mark Andrews, who has made three.

"The fourth round brought cornerback Anthony Averett and linebacker Kenny Young, who each had five-year NFL careers. In the sixth round, the Ravens got safety DeShon Elliott, who became a starter in his second season before playing for Detroit and Miami. He signed a two-year contract with Pittsburgh this offseason. But wait, we aren't done! Three picks after Elliott came offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman, who moved into the Baltimore starting lineup in his second season and has started three seasons for the Ravens and two for the Panthers at left guard or center. Even seventh-round defensive lineman Zach Sieler has had a nice career since he went to Miami in the middle of the 2019 season, spending the past two years as a regular starter."

The Ravens' 2018 class fared even better when The 33rd Team ranked the best draft classes of the millennium in April, as it took the No. 1 spot.

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