Ravens Move Up In Post-Free Agency Power Rankings
Slowly, but surely, the Ravens are movin' on up.
Overhauling the secondary, retaining their top free agent and adding a pass-catching safety valve for quarterback Joe Flacco moved Baltimore to No. 11 in ESPN's power rankings.
"What does $63 million in guaranteed money buy you? Apparently, it's six quality players and two spots up on ESPN's post-free agency power rankings," wrote Jamison Hensley.
Climbing two spots from the post-Super Bowl rankings doesn't sound like much, but the team's overall position is a positive sign with the initial moves of free agency in the books:
Key Offseason Additions:
NT Brandon Williams
S Tony Jefferson
RB Danny Woodhead
CB Brandon Carr
QB Ryan Mallett
DB/key special teams contributor: Anthony Levine
Key Offseason Losses:RT Rick Wagner
FB Kyle Juszczyk
WR Steve Smith Sr.
WR Kamar Aiken
C Jeremy Zuttah*OLB Elvis Dumervil
S Kendrick Lewis
CB Shareece Wright *
"This obviously impressed the power ranking voters," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens, who finished 8-8 last season, are the highest-ranked team that didn't have a winning record last season."
Only five AFC teams are ranked ahead of Baltimore, including the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. It's hard to argue the Ravens should leapfrog any of them because all except Denver advanced to the playoffs last January.
The Ravens are the second-ranked team in the AFC North: Steelers (No. 5), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 23) and Cleveland Browns (No. 32).
In order to break into the top 10, Hensley says voters will want to see Baltimore address its many holes on offense. There's still work to be done at wide receiver and by filling two vacancies (center, right tackle) along the offensive line.
The Ravens know they still have a lot of work to do in building the offense. During last week's introductory press conference for Carr, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he got two texts from his coordinators when the signing was announced. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees expressed joy for another new piece to his unit.
"I got a text from Marty [Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator], too, by the way," said Harbaugh. "He thought it was a good signing, too — just for the record.
"We've got some work to do over there too."
10 Important Notes From Harbaugh's Hour-Long PresserHarbaugh spoke with reporters for an hour Tuesday at the annual AFC coaches breakfast at the league meetings in Phoenix.
An abundance of topics were addressed, and in case you missed them, here are the highlights:
1) Harbaugh didn't shoot down reports about trade discussions for defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan. He said teams have been asking about Jernigan, but he didn't say the Ravens are actively looking to move him.
2) The head coach is in favor of a reunion with wide receiver Anquan Boldin, if the 15-year veteran is interested in returning and General Manager Ozzie Newsome can make it work. The Ravens are only looking for one receiver.
3) Harbaugh also confirmed the team explored re-signing another former Ravens receiver in Torrey Smith. After being released by the San Francisco 49ers earlier this month, Smith ended up signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
4) The Ravens are "very confident" last year's second-round pick Kamalei Correa can fill the inside linebacker job next to C.J. Mosley.
5) Speaking of Mosley, Harbaugh said it's essentially a "formality" for the Ravens to pick up the fifth-year option on the Pro Bowler's rookie contract. Ryan Mink will have more on this situation later today.
6) The offensive line is very much up in the air as the team looks to find replacements for Wagner and Zuttah. Harbaugh said rising sophomore Alex Lewis could fill either spot, and someone else could play left guard. Lewis is a "wild card" and the goal is to get the five best offensive linemen on the field, however they line up. Also, guard Marshal Yanda underwent offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to be 100 percent by training camp.
7) The competition at tight end should be "fun," says Harbaugh, with Dennis Pitta, Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller all set to return. Watson is ahead of schedule in his recovery from Achilles tendon surgery.
8) Terrance West is considered the No. 1 running back on the depth chart as Kenneth Dixon will start the season with a suspension and Woodhead is a receiving threat. Harbaugh added that Lorenzo Taliaferro or Boyle could fill the fullback duties left open by Juszczyk's departure.
9) Harbaugh made headlines by saying it's "stupid" and "intellectually lazy" to say quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was drafted into the league by brother Jim Harbaugh while coaching the 49ers, is being "blackballed" by teams for his political and social beliefs. Harbaugh said it is a more "nuanced" situation and believes Kaepernick will be signed before the season starts.
10) Shortly after the Steelers' playoff run ended, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger floated the idea of retirement, but has since said it is more likely he will play in 2017. Harbaugh said he never took seriously the idea of Big Ben actually hanging it up, and the Ravens are prepping to see him again. Harbaugh joked, however, that he could give Roethlisberger plenty of suggestions for a post-NFL career if he's looking for them.
What Is Anquan Boldin's Preference?
It's clear the Ravens are interested in Boldin, but is he interested in the Ravens?
Outside of promoting his 13th annual "Q Fest," which is a weekend of events to benefit underserved youth, the Super Bowl XLVII star has mostly been quiet on social media.
Shortly after he announced earlier this month he'll return for his 15th NFL season instead of retiring, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Boldin's preference is to find a team close to his family in south Florida.
But the Ravens may provide a better opportunity.
"The Dolphins (Jarvis Landry), Buccaneers (Adam Humphries) and Jaguars (Allen Hurns) all have established slot receivers, though, limiting Boldin's Florida market," wrote NFL.com's Chris Wesseling.
To preserve the one or two compensatory picks the Ravens could get in 2018, they'd prefer not to sign anymore unrestricted free agents like Boldin until May 9, when such signings no longer count against the compensatory formula.
That timing may not be bad for Boldin.
"If there's mutual interest between the veteran receiver and the Ravens, Harbaugh shouldn't expect to see Boldin before training camp," Wesseling wrote. "At this stage of his career, Boldin prefers to work out on his own during the offseason. He chose the Lions over several other teams when he delayed his signing until late July last year."
In the meantime, Boldin has several other things to keep him busy. According to the Detroit Free Press, Boldin will "take part in a congressional forum for lawmakers to hear from National Football League players about how to improve relationships between minority communities and the police."
Last year's Walter Payton Man of the Year will speak Thursday about his personal experiences with police as a young athlete growing up in Florida.
Mayock: Pair Of Florida Corners Could Be Drafted In Second Round
It wasn't long ago when Florida cornerback Teez Tabor was rated among the top-5 cornerbacks in this year's draft class.
But a disappointing 40-yard dash time at the combine, and again yesterday at his Pro Day (4.75 seconds), makes him a polarizing pick, says NFL Network's Mike Mayock in the video below. Tabor has solid tape in the best division in college football, but his slow 40 time drops him down the board. Mayock now believes Tabor will be selected on the second day of the draft.
"In my heart, I'm a first-round pick, I know I'm a first-round pick," Tabor said. "But, you know, guys slide sometimes. Tom Brady went in the sixth round. Josh Norman, fourth. Richard Sherman, fifth. They're first-round picks, though. They get paid like them. You see a lot of these guys, these top-flight guys who go out here and run 4.3, and they'll be out of the league in four years, you know what I'm saying? I'm in for the long run."
Mayock also believes fellow Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson, who has good tape and ran a 4.54-second 40, could be picked late in the first round or early in the second around like Tabor.
Below is Mayock's top-5 cornerbacks, which was updated after the combine:
1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
2. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
3. Kevin King, Washington
4. Gareon Conley, Ohio State
5. Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Rise: Lattimore (2), Humphrey (3), King (NR), Conley (NR), Moreau (NR)
Fall: Sidney Jones, Washington (1, added to special exceptions), Teez Tabor, Florida (4), Tre'Davious White, LSU (5)