The Most Pivotal Ravens for 2019 and Beyond
As the Ravens enter a "new era," there are a lot of people that will be massively important in shaping the franchise's direction.
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker compiled a list of the 10 most pivotal Ravens for 2019 and beyond, and gave his reasoning on each.
Here's the full list, and we'll break down the top five and do some quick hits on the bottom five below:
- QB Lamar Jackson
- HC John Harbaugh
- GM Eric DeCosta
- LB C.J. Mosley
- OC Greg Roman
- CB Marlon Humphrey
- LT Ronnie Stanley
- OLB Matthew Judon
- TE Mark Andrews
- K Justin Tucker
Jackson Can Be Ravens' Most Exciting Playmaker Ever
Jackson is the Ravens' future at quarterback, and considering it's by far the most important position on the field, his continued growth is paramount.
"The team's future has not depended so heavily on the development of a single player since Flacco took over as starting quarterback in 2008," Walker wrote.
"If the skeptics are right, the Ravens could spend the next four years discovering Jackson isn't the right focal point for their offense. Or he could continue the trajectory he began in college and become the most exciting playmaker in team history."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec added that, "Harbaugh understands the team's success is directly tied to Lamar Jackson's improvement, and they are revamping their offense around him."
Harbaugh Is the Next Chuck Noll?
As he enters his 12th season in Baltimore in 2019, Harbaugh has the fourth-longest tenure in the NFL. As Walker pointed out, he's spanned three eras of Ravens football – first with veteran stars such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, then a second era building around Joe Flacco, and now a third era with Jackson.
"Can he continue to adjust and become the Chuck Noll or Tom Landry of the Ravens? Such figures were always rare and have become rarer still in the modern NFL. Harbaugh at least has a chance to become a true institution," Walker wrote.
This isn't the first time Harbaugh has been compared to Noll. In January of 2015, with the Ravens in the playoffs, Peter King wrote that Harbaugh "has a chance to be the modern-day Chuck Noll." Fast forward four years, and Harbaugh is still on track.
Chemistry Could Change Under DeCosta
It's not fair to expect DeCosta to be just like Newsome, despite being his understudy for his entire NFL career. They're different people. But, as Walker wrote, it will be interesting to see if the chemistry in the building will change with DeCosta.
"Both Harbaugh and Bisciotti have described how Newsome's natural calm and patience mitigated their tendencies to overreact in some situations," Walker wrote. "Will DeCosta, who has well-established working relationships with the owner and the coach, play a similar role?"
Mosley Departure Could Rock Ravens Defense
It's clear that Mosley, a Pro Bowler in four of his five seasons, is really, really good. Now that he's an unrestricted free agent, the buzz about how essential he is to Baltimore's defense is growing. Mosley isn't a loud or flashy player, but he's getting the attention he deserves now when thinking about what his loss in free agency would mean.
"There's a strong case for re-signing Mosley. He calls the defensive signals, plays hurt, serves as a role model for younger teammates and delivered his best games of 2018 when the Ravens needed him most," Walker wrote. "No, he'll never be Ray Lewis. But the team's defensive plans will be thrown into flux if Mosley is no longer the fulcrum."
Will Roman Have Success in Passing Game?
Roman's track record of building strong rushing attacks is clear, and it makes him an ideal fit for Jackson and a Ravens offense that will shade toward running the ball. But there's no doubt that Baltimore must have success in the passing game and Jackson needs to improve in that area.
"It's less clear how [Roman will] expand the second-year quarterback's confidence and efficiency as a passer," Walker wrote. "His offenses in San Francisco and Buffalo ranked in the bottom half of the league through the air. Does that mean the Ravens will continue to swim against the NFL's high-flying tide under their new coordinator?"
Humphrey: The Ravens could part ways with Jimmy Smith, which "would put the onus on Humphrey to play almost every snap and step forward as a central figure in the franchise."
Stanley: "[Marshal] Yanda has been the team's best and most respected offensive lineman for almost a decade. Stanley seems the obvious candidate to succeed him. But the Ravens will likely have to pay a hefty sum to keep him as a long-term centerpiece."
Judon: "The Ravens need Judon to play more consistently from the start in 2019; his worst games have tended to come early in the schedule. He'll be a free agent after the season and could earn a lucrative deal in Baltimore or somewhere else."
Andrews: "If Jackson is to grow into an all-around quarterback, he'll need help. Andrews could be his greatest ally."
Tucker: "He'll be a free agent after next season. It's hard to imagine the Ravens failing to re-sign a player who's been so important to them on the field and so popular for them off it, but Tucker will likely command an unusually lucrative deal for a kicker."
King Predicts Reed Will Be a First-Ballot HOF'er
King will be in the room Saturday when 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors gather to determine the Class of 2019. And he predicts that former Ravens safety Ed Reed will get in on his first try.
There are 15 modern-era candidates and there will be five finalists.
"The five remaining finalists are voted, one by one, yea or nay, and a finalist must get 80 percent of the vote to be elected," King wrote. "Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed are heavy favorites."
Of course, this isn't shocking news to Ravens fans. Reed has long been considered a near-lock to get into the Hall of Fame.
But coming from someone in the room, it means Ravens fans should be ready on Saturday to watch Reed get the knock (we'll be there to deliver it!).
Tony Jefferson Slams Pro Bowl's Competitiveness
First, Ravens safety Tony Jefferson was jealous of others being at the Pro Bowl. This was when he was seeing all the clips of players having fun during the "practices" leading up to Sunday's game.
Well, after watching Sunday's game, a 26-7 AFC win in the pouring rain in Orlando, Jefferson has some beef.
No doubt, I think everybody would love to see Jefferson lay someone out in the Pro Bowl like one of his idols, Sean Taylor, did in the 2006 all-star game.
Eric Weddle was one of the Ravens' four Pro Bowlers this season, and it seems he believes Jefferson could be in line to play in the game next year.
- If you haven't watched our video with Brandon Williams interviewing other Pro Bowlers, stop and watch it right now. One of the best parts was when Williams cut off a Chiefs interview and they started some friendly trash talk.