Dan Orlovsky Says 'Lamar Jackson Is Going to Absolutely Flame the NFL,' Win MVP
Lamar Jackson has slid in the various quarterback and top player rankings this offseason, but ESPN's Dan Orlovsky believes the Ravens star is going to have a monster season.
In fact, Orlovsky is predicting Jackson will top his historic 2019 season and capture his second NFL MVP award.
"I think Lamar Jackson is going to absolutely flame the NFL this year," Orlovsky said. "They added Tyler Linderbaum at center; Lamar's finally healthy off of that injury last year; Rashod Bateman in Year 2; they've got three tight ends in Mark Andrews, Nick Boye Boyle, and Isaiah Likely, that are going to play awesome football — that's the strength when Lamar is at his best with those multiple tight ends on the field.
"I think he's going to have an even better performance than he did in his 2019 MVP season."
Fox Sports’ Warren Sharp also thinks Jackson is primed for a big season.
"I fully expect Jackson to carry the Ravens to the playoffs in 2022, something he has done every season in his NFL career when healthy," Sharp wrote.
Sharp isn't basing his lofty expectations for Jackson on a hunch; he's basing it on Jackson's track record.
"The Ravens were a run-first team and the No. 2 most run-heavy team in the two seasons leading into 2021. The Ravens then lost every key running back before the season and had to sign RBs off the street, so they pivoted to the pass," Sharp wrote. "They ranked as the No. 7 most pass-heavy offense in the NFL, completely changing their philosophy overnight. They leaned entirely into Jackson and asked him to carry them. And he did. He was the league's No. 1 passer outside the numbers on early downs. But then he injured his ankle, missed the rest of the season, and the Ravens lost every game without him (0-5).
"Do you want to know how many players in NFL history are responsible for at least 80 total touchdowns before turning 24? One. His name is Lamar Jackson. As far as only passing touchdowns? Jackson is tied with Dan Marino at No. 2 (behind Justin Herbert) on the all-time list of total TD passes before turning 24."
Report: Kenyan Drake Visiting Ravens Today, Expected to Sign
Veteran running back Kenyan Drake is visiting the Ravens today and will likely sign, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.
"My understanding is he is expected to sign if all goes well," Rapoport said on "Good Morning Football." "This makes sense for numerous reasons. First of all you have Gus Edwards on the PUP list, going to miss the first four games. J.K. Dobbins still somewhat in doubt for Week 1, this gives you reinforcements there. Plus, the Raiders are paying Drake's salary, so this is likely going to be a minimum deal. Just based on the offsets he has, [this] makes a ton of sense for the Ravens."
Drake, 28, was cut last week by Las Vegas. He signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Raiders last year, but fell short of expectations, rushing 63 times for 254 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.
Drake's best season was in 2020 with the Arizona Cardinals, when he ran for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Running backs competing for roster spots on the Ravens are veterans Mike Davis and Justice Hill, rookie Tyler Badie and Nate McCrary. None have made a big splash during the preseason.
Three Questions That Will Help Determine Today's Roster Moves
With all 32 teams needing to trim down their rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET today, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec looked at questions that will help determine the Ravens' roster activity. Here's a look at three of them:
Will General Manager Eric DeCosta do some wheeling and dealing?
"He'll certainly try. The Ravens aren't in line to get any compensatory picks this year, so recouping a draft pick or two will surely be a goal. At this time last year, the Ravens made three trades and got back draft picks in each of them, jettisoning offensive linemen Greg Mancz and Ben Bredeson and rookie cornerback Shaun Wade. The Ravens have more NFL-caliber offensive linemen than they can afford to keep, and they also have some depth in the defensive backfield. Those are usually two of the more targeted areas for teams looking to make some upgrades before Week 1. DeCosta would feel a lot better about waiving a solid backup, who may not have a spot in Baltimore, if it meant getting a draft pick in return. Trystan Colon, the team's No. 3 center, could have some value elsewhere. The Ravens could also look to deal from their left guard glut if there's any interest in Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips or Ben Cleveland."
With all the talk about roster subtractions, could the Ravens make some additions?
"They could and they should. The Ravens have a talented roster, but they are dangerously thin at a few spots and have a few other areas where they could clearly upgrade. It's hard to imagine that DeCosta and [Head Coach John] Harbaugh would be especially comfortable going into the regular season with Steven Means and Daelin Hayes as the two top outside linebacker reserves for Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston. The team's inside linebacker depth is nearly as concerning. There is certainly room to upgrade the wide receiver corps, and another area of interest is at running back. With J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards sidelined this preseason, the Ravens didn't get much production at all from their cadre of running backs. The Ravens need a dynamic back for the offense to hit its peak and it's just not clear whether Dobbins will be that guy in his first year back from a major knee injury. The Ravens haven't traditionally been very active on the post-cutdown day waiver wire, but this is a year that could change. Whether it's via a waiver claim, trade or signing a street free agent, DeCosta needs to consider bringing in outside help at a few spots."
Will the Ravens prioritize getting an undrafted rookie free agent on the roster?
"For much of the last two decades, it's been almost a given that the Ravens would have an undrafted rookie on their 53-man roster. The Ravens have kept an undrafted rookie free agent in 17 of the past 18 seasons. The team's scouting department takes great pride in its ability to unearth quality undrafted free agents and it has benefits, too. Getting young and cheap players to be key backups and special teams contributors as rookies and then potentially develop into starters is an important part of balancing the salary cap. The Ravens have a few candidates this year. Wide receiver Shemar Bridges (Fort Valley State) is in the mix for the fifth receiver spot. Inside linebacker Josh Ross (Michigan) has been one of the team's top performers in the preseason. Outside linebackers Jeremiah Moon (Florida) and Chuck Wiley (Texas-San Antonio) could benefit from the team's lack of depth at their position."
Brother Jim Harbaugh said yesterday in a radio interview that it "looks great for Josh Ross."
Ravens Reportedly Cutting Tony Jefferson
One move the Ravens reportedly are planning to make today is to cut veteran safety Tony Jefferson.
Jefferson, 30, had a strong preseason but the Ravens have a plethora of talent at safety. If Jefferson is cut, the Ravens could re-sign him later this week once rookies David Ojabo and Charlie Kolar are placed on injured reserve or bring him back on the practice squad.
As a vested veteran, Jefferson is not subject to going through waivers.
Jefferson, who is well-liked and respected in the Ravens' locker room, took to social media to acknowledge the report that he will be cut.
More Praise for Rookies Tyler Linderbaum, Isaiah LIkely
Linderbaum and Likely continued to be recognized for their strong play in the preseason.
As noted in yesterday’s Late for Work, Linderbaum needed just nine snaps to make a good impression in his first game action as a Raven during Saturday's win over the Washington Commanders. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter gave the first-round center an A- grade for his performance.
"Linderbaum showed his savviness inside on the team's second play from scrimmage by getting into his man after the snap, moving his feet into the correct blocking position while engaged and doing his best to push the big man to the ground," Reuter wrote. "Linderbaum plays with an athletic stance in pass protection, keeping leverage against defensive tackles and resetting his hands when needed to hold his ground. He handled stunts and combo blocks adeptly and negated those second-level targets once off the line."
As for Likely, SB Nation’s James Dator ranked the tight end as the sixth-best rookie in the league in the preseason.
"The Ravens were given huge props for their 2022 draft haul, and it's picks like this that made the class worthy of praise," Dator wrote. "Likely was a huge weapon for the Ravens this preseason, and showed he can make a big impact in his rookie year.
"Lamar Jackson is in dire need of weapons after the team traded Marquise Brown during the draft, and he's already used to leaning on tight ends in the Baltimore offense with Mark Andrews. Likely brings a slightly different dimension, and he's more of a deep threat who can stretch the field. This preseason he caught 12 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown — despite only playing in two preseason games. This is a player to watch, and all it cost was a fourth-round pick."
- Andrews, Jackson and cornerback Marlon Humphrey made ESPN’s top 100 players rankings, which were determined by a panel of more than 50 NFL experts. ESPN's Seth Walder named Justin Tucker as the biggest snub and safety Marcus Williams as the eighth-biggest snub.
- Humphrey was listed among the players who just missed the cut for the NFL Top 100.