Maurice Jones-Drew: Having Same Routine Makes Ravens 'Scary'
Does the Ravens' perfectly balanced schedule tip the scales in their favor for a Super Bowl run?
NFL Network's Maurice Jones-Drew thinks so.
When the question of which team has the most favorable schedule for a Super Bowl run was raised on NFL Network's "You Make The Call," the former All-Pro running back went with the Ravens.
"I'm not going to go with the toughest or easiest, I'm going to go with the routine of the schedule … and that's the Baltimore Ravens," said Jones-Drew, noting that the Ravens have alternating home and away games throughout the season.
The Ravens are just the fourth team since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to receive a perfectly balanced schedule, according to ESPN Stats Information research.
"You get Lamar Jackson going, you kind of get Mark Ingram going, you start figuring things out, your defense gets going, and they have the same routine, which is important," Jones-Drew said. "That's how you create consistency, and that's a team that's scary."
Jones-Drew's co-host, Dave Dameshek, however, was skeptical.
"I think with an offseason to prepare for Lamar Jackson, [the Ravens] really better have something different cooked up," Dameshek said, "because I think for the long-term, if you're going to try and roll with Lamar Jackson you're going to have an awfully hard time attracting free agent pass catchers there."
In response to Dameshek's concerns about the Ravens' ability to land free-agent wide receivers, Jones-Drew said the Ravens will need to address the position in the NFL Draft.
As for how the Ravens will respond to opposing defenses being better prepared for Jackson this season, Jones-Drew said: "I have a little nugget for you. It will be a little bit different this year. Source told me."
Ozzie Newsome's Draft Legacy Lives On
With the Ravens' first draft without Ozzie Newsome as general manager less than a week away, The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker reflected on Newsome's draft legacy and how it will carry on in the organization.
"As successions go, the change at general manager has felt seamless," Walker wrote of the transition from Newsome to Eric DeCosta. "DeCosta developed his philosophy at Newsome's side and consistently pays homage to his mentor. The Ravens will begin a new era with the 2019 draft, but their future will still be defined by principles Newsome instilled and by choices he made."
Daniel Jeremiah, a draft analyst for the NFL Network and former Ravens scout, told Walker: "There's so many organizations without an identity. The Ravens have had an identity for a very long time, thanks to Ozzie. He's built a culture that's sustained itself for over 20 years now, and it's going to continue."
Walker noted that Newsome's influence on the draft actually extends beyond the Ravens.
"On draft day, his touch will be felt in war rooms around the country, where evaluators who came up in the Ravens' '20/20' club of young scouts will try to make their marks on other franchises," Walker wrote of Newsome, who selected future Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round of his first draft with the Ravens in 1996.
While DeCosta is now the Ravens' final decision-maker on draft day, he has made it clear that he will rely on input from his predecessor, who DeCosta said is "probably renowned as the best drafting GM in the history of the NFL."
"There's something not quite right about memorializing Newsome at this moment," Walker wrote. "He'll be there when the Ravens draft Thursday night, and not as a ceremonial figure. No, he won't be in the chair at the head of the room, flanked by owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh. But no one will be surprised if he's the last person DeCosta consults before a crucial move. Almost a quarter-century after he picked Ogden, this is still Newsome's time of year.
Lamar Jackson Goes 12th-Overall in Latest Re-Draft
Lamar Jackson continues to rise up draft boards – the re-draft boards, that is.
The Ravens traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select Jackson at No. 32, but in NFL.com's Adam Rank's draft do-over, he has Jackson going 12th overall to the Buffalo Bills.
Previously, Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr had Jackson going third-overall to the New York Jets in his re-draft.
In real life, the Bills traded up to No. 7 to select another quarterback in Josh Allen. Rank has the Denver Broncos taking Allen off the board with the fifth-overall pick, with the Bills then grabbing Jackson at No. 12.
"Jackson is a pretty good option at this point," Rank wrote about a player who went 6-1 as a starter for the Ravens and led all quarterbacks in rushing with 695 yards.
Rank has the Ravens selecting Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore at No. 16. The Ravens actually traded down twice and picked tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25, right after Moore went to the Carolina Panthers. After a rookie season derailed by a foot injury, Hurst wasn't in the first round in Rank's re-draft.
"It's tough to really quantify how good Moore can be, based on the situation he was in last year in Carolina," Rank wrote. "But I'm going off my original scouting that he will be the best receiver to come out of this draft."
Orlando Brown Jr. Impresses With Offseason Conditioning
At last year's NFL Combine, Orlando Brown Jr. had a disastrous showing that resulted in the potential first-round pick falling to the third round, where the Ravens took the offensive tackle with the 83rd-overall selection.
What a difference a year makes.
"Only a year removed from an NFL Combine performance that raised serious questions about his athletic ability, Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is raising eyebrows for his impressive offseason conditioning," Ravens Wire's Nathan Beaucage wrote.
After posting the slowest 40-yard dash time (5.85 seconds) of any player in the Combine, as well as the worst vertical jump (19.5 inches) and broad jump (82 inches), Brown went on to be a dominant player in his rookie season and was considered one of the steals in last year's draft.
"Orlando came in here really raw," Ravens Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Saunders said at a press conference earlier this week. "Orlando's strength gains that he made last offseason and really the whole way through the season. … I couldn't be more excited to have Orlando here for the whole offseason."