Mel Kiper, Todd McShay Agree on Inside Linebacker to Ravens
Predictions for who the Ravens will draft at pick No. 28 are ever-changing, but ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper agree that it should be Kenneth Murray. In their recent mocks, both draft experts have the Oklahoma linebacker landing in Baltimore.
"A trade for Marcus Peters added a jolt to the secondary, and Matthew Judon just missed double-digit sacks," McShay wrote. "What was missing? A chase-him-down, bring-him-down linebacker in the middle of the defense. Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes led the front seven with just 64 and 46 tackles, respectively, and they're both free agents. While Murray doesn't have ideal coverage skills, he has great speed and tackling ability, manifested in his 102 tackles this past season at Oklahoma."
Get used to hearing Murray's name linked to the Ravens in the coming months. He's your do-it-all type linebacker. In addition to topping 100 tackles, Murray totaled 17 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and four passes defensed during his junior season at Oklahoma.
Ranked as Pro Football Focus' fifth-best linebacker prospect, Murray fills an immediate need for the Ravens. Kiper also pointed to LSU's Patrick Queen as another first-round option at linebacker.
"Did the Ravens ever really replace C.J. Mosley?" Kiper wrote. "Not really, though that defense didn't have many weaknesses for the last few months of the season. Journeyman Josh Bynes took the reins, but he's a free agent, and general manager Eric DeCosta could upgrade with Queen, a fast, athletic, run-and-hit middle linebacker who is rising up boards because of his play down the stretch of LSU's title run. He was tremendous in the two College Football Playoff games, picking up four tackles for loss and 16 total tackles. This is a great fit. Baltimore also could address another spot in the front seven."
The Ravens juggled with the position on the fly last season. They traded Kenny Young and signed Bynes and L.J. Fort early in the season. Fort signed a two-year extension to stay in Baltimore, but Bynes and Onwuasor are set to become unrestricted free agents.
Back in October, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller named Murray and the Ravens one of his perfect team-player pairings. Murray's athleticism and explosiveness play right into the hands of an aggressive defensive coordinator in Wink Martindale.
"Murray doesn't have the versatility of Clemson's Isaiah Simmons (a former safety), but he's exactly what modern NFL defensive coordinators are longing for at MIKE linebacker," Miller wrote.
Oklahoma players have become a popular pick for the Ravens in recent drafts, and it wouldn't be surprising to see DeCosta target another one.
La Canfora: Ravens Must Address Wide Receiver
It's crazy to think wide receiver is a position of need following a season where Lamar Jackson led the NFL in touchdown passes, but that remains true heading into the offseason.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora believes adding another receiver for Jackson should be the first order of business.
"Jackson showed you what he could do with middling-at-best overall pass-catchers during his unanimous MVP season," La Canfora wrote. "Imagine what he might do with a bonafide size target opposite speed by slight Marquise 'Hollywood Brown' on the other side? And what about if he had Emmanuel Sanders instead of Willie Snead as the top slot target?"
Brown led the wide receivers with 584 yards and seven touchdowns during a season where he wasn't 100 percent. Baltimore expects big things from their first-round pick heading into his second season, and pairing Brown with even more talent makes a lot of sense.
During his season-ending press conference, John Harbaugh told reporters the Ravens have a "really good feel" for the type of receivers they want to bring in.
"Without letting the cat out of the bag too much, we want a certain type of guy, and we want a certain type of other guy that would fit us," Harbaugh said. "And we'll be looking hard for those guys. You know what I mean?"
If we're going by La Canfora's belief, then targeting a free agent wide receiver is the first plan of action. It all comes down to price, but the Ravens have targeted veteran pass catchers like Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Seth Roberts in recent years.
The other avenue is the draft. DeCosta has said the Ravens need to "take more swings" drafting wide receivers, and he began that trend in 2019, selecting Brown in the first round and Miles Boykin in the third round.
Ravens Right Behind Super Bowl Teams in End of Season Power Rankings
It didn't take long following the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV for pundits to weigh in on the top teams heading into the offseason.
NFL.com's Dan Hanzus put together his offseason rankings, and the Ravens came in at No. 3, behind the two teams that played last Sunday.
"It's still hard to believe the Ravens' 2019 campaign -- one that seemed destined for immortality after a 14-2 regular season -- ended with an unceremonious one-and-done exit in January," Hanzus wrote. "Football, man. One of the biggest offseason decisions will center around defensive end Matt Judon, a free-agent-to-be who reportedly could be a franchise-tag-and-trade candidate. Judon stepped up with a career-best season when Baltimore's front seven was in a vulnerable time of transition, but he is also the type of player who -- like Dee Ford and Frank Clark in similar situations last year -- could fetch a substantial return on the trade market. A trade of Judon would give the Ravens increased financial flexibility and another influx of young talent through the draft. Feels like a move that would make sense for a forward-thinking franchise."
There's still plenty of optimism surrounding the Ravens despite an early postseason exit.
"The Ravens won't lose much from the NFL's most balanced and efficient offense," The Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "Jackson's 0-2 playoff record will hang over his offseason, but he should only improve as a passer in his second year as a full-time starter."
NFL.com's Adam Schein believes the Ravens have the second-best Super Bowl window only behind the Chiefs.
"Jackson just followed in Tom Brady's footsteps as the second unanimous MVP in NFL history," Schein wrote. "No surprise … A majestic season by any measure. The frightening thing for opponents is that it feels like he's just scratching the surface of his ultimate potential.
"Having just turned 23 last month, Jackson will only get better in every element of being a quarterback … And Jackson has the right people around him to maximize his truly rare skill set. John Harbaugh is a fantastic coach. DeCosta is an astute general manager. The coaching staff, overall, is excellent. The talent is strong and deep. Get used to Baltimore being squarely in the title hunt for a long, long time."
Bleacher Report Predicts Matthew Judon On the Move
The possibility of a tag-and-trade for Judon remains a possibility and Bleacher Report thinks he could be on the move this offseason.
BR's Maurice Moton predicts Judon could be traded to the Miami Dolphins. In return, Moton has the Ravens receiving a 2021 second-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick.
Moton prefaced his prediction by saying he thinks the Ravens should do whatever it takes to re-sign Judon.
"Without a doubt, Judon would garner interest," Moton wrote. "He's coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he logged a career high in sacks. The 27-year-old can also sniff out the run in the backfield, registering 45 career tackles for loss.
"If the Ravens prefer to move Judon after the draft, they should call rebuilding teams that have high chances of finishing with sub-.500 records, which would boost the value of the returning pick."
- Harbaugh was one of the many to congratulate Andy Reid on his first Super Bowl title. "It means the world," Harbaugh said." I never once heard him talk about it but saw how hard he worked for it. I'm SO happy for him and Tammy."