Ravens Land Yetur Gross-Matos in Joint Mock Draft
In less than two weeks, Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce the first round of the NFL Draft in his basement in New York.
That's the reality of the NFL right now and essentially what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Peter Schrager did in their latest mock draft.
It still doesn't feel like we have a good grasp on who the Ravens will select, but three of the most prominent mock draft picks are either inside linebacker Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen or center/guard Cesar Ruiz.
Only problem is, in Jeremiah and Schrager's mock draft, all three were off the board by the Ravens' pick No. 28. So what happens then? Schrager went with Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos landing in Baltimore.
"Everything I've heard about the guy is that he's a fantastic player, but also a great kid," Schrager said. "He's overcome incredible tragedy in his life. I think he's a first-round pick, and I think he fits that Wink Martindale, John Harbaugh kind of mentality of, 'I'll punch you in the mouth but I'm also a smart player up here.'"
"He's somebody that the more I watched him, the more I liked him," Jeremiah said. "... This kid is a really polished pass rusher. He's got great hands, he's a finisher at the top of his rush. Doesn't have that elite get off or twitch, but he can spin inside, he's really outstanding when they loop him and stunt him."
Murray (Eagles, No. 21), Ruiz (Patriots, No. 23) and Queen (Saints, No. 24) could all be plucked early, but that would leave the Ravens with other options, and a lengthy pass rusher is a good one.
ESPN's Mel Kiper told reporters in February that Gross-Matos makes sense for the Ravens if Queen and Murray aren't available. Even after retaining Matthew Judon, adding a young pass rusher would benefit the defense.
Gross-Matos has the size to be a disruptive presence up front at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. He was productive at Penn State, an attribute the Ravens value, racking up 17.5 sacks in three seasons.
After General Manager Eric DeCosta said trading up is "risky," Baltimore may very likely stay put at its current position in the first round. If some of the prospects the Ravens covet are already gone in the first round, a player like Gross-Matos makes sense.
"The Ravens would put their pass rush over the top by selecting Gross-Matos," Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw wrote. "His value with the 28th pick is terrific for the upside he possesses. Even if it's a bit of an awkward fit in the Ravens 3-4 defense, the team runs enough odd fronts to flex him around and watch him excel as a versatile pass rusher."
One Pundit Doesn't Consider Lamar Jackson a Transcendent Quarterback
Coming off an MVP season, it'd be fair to view Lamar Jackson as a transcendent quarterback.
After all, he led the NFL in touchdown passes and broke the single-season quarterback rushing record in one of the league's most dynamic offenses.
Jackson has cemented himself as one of the top young quarterbacks, but one pundit doesn't view him as that transcendent talent just yet.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks ranked his top five transcendent quarterbacks, and the list included Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Matthew Stafford.
"[T]here are only a handful of signal-callers with the skills to perform at an exceptional level without an elite supporting cast or specific scheme," Brooks wrote. "The transcendent superstars at the position erase organizational mistakes, coaching flaws and personnel shortcomings to excel in their current situations. These players can step in as the QB1 on Day 1 without the coaching staff needing to radically overhaul its playbook or dramatically upgrade its personnel on the perimeter or in the trenches. The transcendent quarterbacks in the league don't require much to succeed and their performances stand out in every situation."
Brooks praised Jackson as one of the NFL's most electrifying playmakers, but his argument is that he wouldn't fit as well in other offenses.
"T]he [Ravens' radical overhaul of their offensive system was needed to accommodate his unique set of skills," Brooks added. "That certainly doesn't diminish Jackson's accomplishments, but it's why I don't currently view him as a transcendent quarterback. He's not a perfect fit for every system – some traditional offensive coordinators would have a tough time crafting game plans that would fit his talents as a mobile playmaker."
There's no question the Ravens tailored their offense towards Jackson's strengths, but isn't that what every team should do? They didn't try to fit a square peg into a round hole, and I'd argue that Jackson's success makes him that much more valuable.
Could all five of the quarterbacks on the list have the same success in the Ravens' offense?
We can play hypotheticals all we want, but let's not forget that Jackson won the Heisman Trophy at Louisville playing in a pro-style offense under Bobby Petrino.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal ranked Jackson as the second most valuable quarterback on his current deal behind Mahomes.
I just find it hard not to view a player who has changed how teams view the quarterback position as a transcendent player.
Three Ravens Make Bleacher Report's Top 25 Under 25 List
Speaking of the NFL's top talent, Bleacher Report showed the Ravens some love. Three Ravens made BR's Top 25 Under 25 List, ranking the best players 25-years-old or younger.
Jackson came in at No. 2, Orlando Brown Jr. at No. 19, and Andrews at No. 25.
"On top of being one of the best teams in the NFL last season, the Ravens have much more to look forward to in the coming years," Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle Barber wrote. "... With these three young offensive stars coupled with great coaching and a formidable defense, the Ravens' future shines bright and their limitations are few."
Andrews racked up 852 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in a Pro Bowl season. He was one of Jackson's favorite targets and has entered the conversation among the best at the position.
"[T]he big, fast, athletic Oklahoma product made the first of likely many Pro Bowls in 2019," BR wrote.
While Andrews caught the passes from Jackson, Brown protected the star quarterback in the pocket. Brown played every offensive snap, and quietly solidified himself as one of the top young offensive tackles.
"Based on Pro Football Reference's approximate value metric (which is 'an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year'), only five NFL players who are currently younger than 25 made a larger impact in 2019," BR added.
The Ravens are stockpiling young talent, and all three were a part of Ozzie Newsome's final draft as general manager. It's still early, but the 12-man draft class. It will go down as one of Newsome's best.
Trace McSorley Spending Offseason Training With Dwayne Haskins
Trace McSorley, like many players, is trying to find some sense of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's changed the landscape of the NFL offseason, and the former sixth-round pick told NBC Sports that he's struggled to find places to throw.
When he has, McSorley has linked up with Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
"Both of us push each other, we're always going back and forth on what each of us sees in the other one, what we can do to help each other improve," McSorley said. "It's pretty cool now that we can do that going into our professional careers, it's really helpful to have someone you feel like you are pushing and competing against."
While drafted five rounds apart, McSorley and Haskins know each other quite well. They both played high school in the DMV area, and faced each other during their college careers in the Big Ten.
McSorley appeared in just one game as a rookie and is the third quarterback behind Jackson and Robert Griffin III. He'll compete for a roster spot, and could embrace a Taysom Hill-like role in Greg Roman's offense.
McSorley told Glenn Clark Radio that he wants to contribute to the team's success in whatever way he can but wants to make a career as a quarterback.
"That's kind of where I'm going to be at in the long run, wherever it is," McSorley said. "Obviously the end [goal] for any backup is to be the starter at your position. So that's kind of the end goal. But it's a fine line. You don't want to end up being one of those jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none kind of guys. You always want to have that, 'You're a quarterback, but you can also do some other things.' It is a little bit of a fine line."
- Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey had high praise for Earl Thomas' first year in Baltimore. "I]t was a strong start for one of the best safeties in the NFL on what became one of the [best defenses in the NFL toward the tail end of the 2019 season," Linsey wrote.