*Marlon Humphrey Divulges Draft Suggestions for Ravens at No. 16 *
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey turned out to be a stud 16th overall pick in last year’s draft.
Does that qualify him to evaluate talent for the Ravens’ No. 16 selection this year?
Nah, possessing talent doesn’t automatically correlate to evaluating talent. But it’s still fun for Humphrey to engage with fans and offer a couple guys he’d like to see come to Baltimore.
It’s interesting that Humphrey first pointed to a quarterback, which the Ravens said they’re open to drafting this year, but he quickly (and correctly) pointed out that Joe Flacco is the franchise QB. The Ravens likely won’t use a first-round pick on a quarterback this year, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield probably won’t last until the second day.
So, Humphrey zeroed in on two wide receivers – Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk – that Ravens fans would be ecstatic to get. Both were popular picks for Baltimore in the first round of NFL mock drafts.
Before I get to breaking each receiver, one big question is whether either would realistically fall to No. 16. Remember the endless debate last year about whether one of the top three receivers would slip to the Ravens? Each got plucked LONG before Baltimore ever got on the clock: Corey Davis (Tennessee Titans, No. 5), Mike Williams (Los Angeles Chargers, No. 7) and John Ross (Cincinnati Bengals, No. 9).
Well, there’s one big difference between this year and last that could help the Ravens’ chances … the quarterback class.
“This year's quarterback draft class is the talk of the NFL town,” wrote ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “It has been since last offseason. Seriously, at the combine last year, teams would moan about the quality of the quarterbacks in the draft and say, ‘But next year ...’ Well, next year is here.”
There are also plenty of teams ahead of Baltimore that could use quarterbacks, including the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and potentially the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals.
Sprinkle in some impressive pass rushers, defensive backs and franchise left tackles, and maybe some of the top receivers will slide.
Here’s a breakdown of the top two wideouts:
WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Junior; 6-foot-1, 190 pounds
*2017: 63 receptions, 967 yards, 5 touchdowns
*If the Ravens want Ridley, even with a strong quarterback class, they may have to trade up to get him. ESPN’s Mel Kiper says in the video below that he sees Ridley going in the 7-12 range. This year’s wide receiver class is deep, but Kiper says Ridley is the cream of the crop “by a wide, wide margin.” Kiper believes that Ridley could have been even more productive had Alabama recruited better quarterback talent, and can be better than another top Alabama receiver in the Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper.
WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Junior; 5-foot-11, 200 pounds
2017: 71 receptions, 919 yards, 10 touchdowns
“He’s ready made. It’s clear packaging. I know exactly what I’m getting with him, which is a premier slot receiver who can also help you in the return game,” NFL draft analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah says in the video below. “I think he’s strong enough to play outside if you wanted him to. I just love everything about him from his maturity as a person and the maturity of his game. To me, he’s a can’t-miss guy. Go ahead and pull the trigger and you’re going to be very happy with him.” Kirk is compared to the Detroit Lions’ Golden Tate because both are built like running backs, who are hard to bring down and can create yards after the catch.
Ravens Rookie Class Superlatives
ESPN gave Baltimore a “below average” grade for their 2017 draft class, which got an immediate return from Humphrey in the first round but not so much from later picks.
Below are the superlatives the website handed out:
*Best rookie: Marlon Humphrey *Duh. There’s no arguing this one. Humphrey was graded out (82.7) as the seventh-best overall rookie in this year’s draft class by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Not too shabby for the 16th pick. Many wanted the Ravens to select Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (41.9 PFF grade), but the Ravens went with Humphrey and never looked back.
*Most improved rookie: Chuck Clark *This sixth-rounder ascended slowly up the ladder, starting out as a special teams player and by the end of the season was in a defensive back rotation. He even seemed to pass Lardarius Webb on the depth chart, getting more snaps than him in Week 17. “His football IQ has made him a favorite of the coaching staff. Clark has the potential to grow into an Anthony Levine-type role for the Ravens,” wrote ESPN.
*Most disappointing rookie: Tyus Bowser, Chris Wormley or Tim Williams *These were the Ravens’ consecutive picks at Nos. 47, 74 and 78, but they seldom made it onto the field. Second-rounder Bowser finished with one interception and three sacks, but only played 14.7 percent of the defensive snaps. Wormley (two starts in four active games) and Williams (active for eight games) were frequent healthy scratches. “The Ravens haven't fared well with their second-round picks in recent years, missing on linebacker Arthur Brown (2013), tight end Maxx Williams (2015) and linebacker Kamalei Correa (2016),” ESPN wrote.
*Jury is still out: Nico Siragusa *The fourth-rounder suffered a gruesome knee injury in training camp that tore his ACL and PCL. With injuries to regular starters Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis, there’s a chance Siragusa could’ve been thrown in the fire and gotten valuable starting experience. He’ll be back in 2018, and could even be in the mix at center, along with Matt Skura, if Ryan Jensen isn’t re-signed.
*Undrafted rookies: Patrick Ricard, Jaylen Hill and Bam Bradley *Ricard made the team as a defensive lineman, but primarily played fullback. PFF graded him higher than the man he replaced in Kyle Juszczyk, who signed a $21 million contract in San Francisco last year. Jaylen Hill showed great promise, but tore his ACL in Week 16 which will steal valuable developmental time this offseason and could put his return for the start of the season in jeopardy. “Bradley, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 2, should be a core special-teams player next season and could compete for the starting job at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley,” wrote ESPN.
Carl Davis Recovering From Shoulder Surgery
There’s a list of 10 players who will be on the mend from injuries this offseason, and defensive lineman Carl Davis can be added to it.
Davis had surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder after the regular season, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. The hope is Davis, who started nine games, will be ready for training camp.
“Davis played through shoulder pain for much of the year,” Zrebiec wrote.
“Davis is part of the Ravens defensive line rotation. He’ll likely vie for a starting role next summer with defensive end Brent Urban potentially leaving in free agency.”
Bronson Kaufusi: I’ve Got to Get Ready for the Next Opportunity
After breaking his ankle just months after being drafted in 2016, defensive end Bronson Kaufusi was placed on injured reserve for his rookie year.
He got a fresh start in 2017, but it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. He was a healthy scratch for a team-leading 13 games.
“What began as a season of hopeful beginnings regressed mightily for Ravens defensive end Bronson Kaufusi,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Edward Lee. “Kaufusi was expected to demonstrate the promise he had shown at Brigham Young, where he graduated with the fifth-most sacks (26½).”
Kaufusi had a big opportunity in front of him after starter Brent Urban went down with a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury. In the first game after the injury, Kaufusi got the start in his spot, but it would be the only time.
The Ravens also gave a shot to Wormley, but 2015 third-round pick Carl Davis ultimately won the job.
“It’s always frustrating, but that’s how the game works, and you don’t want to waste time being frustrated because you can get lost in there,” Kaufusi said about not keeping the starting job. “So for me, it’s, ‘What can I do next?’ I’m going to do what I can control to get better.
“I want to do whatever I can and whatever they want to see so that I can be out there. So that’s what I’m excited about — the upcoming opportunity. The upcoming year starts today. So I just want to make every day count.”
After Turning 33, Joe Flacco Expected to be Among NFL’s 10 Oldest QBs
Happy birthday to Joe Flacco!
The Ravens quarterback turns 33 today, which may put him in the top-10 oldest NFL quarterbacks bracket, according to ESPN, depending on some expected retirements.
Below are the quarterbacks older than Flacco:
Tom Brady (40)
Drew Brees (39)
Aaron Rodgers (34)
Carson Palmer (38, could retire)
Josh McCown (38, could retire)
Eli Manning (37)
Ben Roethlisberger (35)
Philip Rivers (36)
Jay Cutler (34, could retire again)
Alex Smith (33)
“Flacco has to prove he can be productive at this age. Before he turned 30, Flacco won 10 playoff games and posted a 72-40 (.643) record in the regular season,” the website wrote. “Since turning 30, he has yet to play in a postseason game and totaled a 20-22 (.476) mark in the regular season.
“ … Many of the aging quarterbacks haven't suffered major drop-offs in performance. Seven of the 13 highest-rated passers were 34 or older, including the top three: Smith, Brees and Brady.”