McShay Predicts Ravens Beef Up D-Line Even More With First-Round Pick
The Ravens already made two big additions to their defensive line this offseason by acquiring Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, and ESPN's Todd McShay believes they're not done.
McShay has the Ravens selecting TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock with the 28th-overall pick in his latest mock draft. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Blacklock joining the 6-8, 300-pound Campbell and 6-5, 285-pound Wolfe would certainly make for a daunting trio, along with 6-1, 336-pound nose tackle Brandon Williams.
"We've all been handing either [Patrick] Queen or [Kenneth] Murray to Baltimore in this spot, and if either were available, one would still be the pick," McShay wrote. "But with no inside linebackers on the board within range, I'm instead turning my attention to the defensive front.
"Trading for Calais Campbell and bringing Matthew Judon back on the franchise tag do wonders for the edge rush, and new signee Derek Wolfe helps the interior a bit, but Blacklock's quick hands and burst fit what the Ravens want up the middle."
Blacklock is coming off a strong season for the Horned Frogs after missing his entire sophomore year with an Achilles injury. Blacklock is ranked No. 19 on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 50 Prospects list.
"Blacklock is a dynamic interior defensive lineman," Jeremiah wrote. "As a pass rusher, he launches out of his four-point stance and his bull rush is ferocious. He creates immediate knock-back. He is ultra-twitchy. He flashes a long-arm move where he can jolt, separate and finish. As a run defender, he successfully stacks and sheds single blocks, but he needs to improve his awareness and effectiveness versus double teams, where he gets washed down the line.
"He does have some durability concerns, but his skill set is special. Overall, Blacklock comes with some risk, but he's worth it. He has the potential to develop into a top-flight interior pass rusher."
Blacklock had a strong showing at the NFL Combine.
"Blacklock posted solid marks in athletic testing, including a 4.9-second 40-yard dash," Sports Illustrated’s Will Ragatz wrote. "But where he really shined was in the on-field drills, showing off impressive footwork and agility."
In the second round of McShay's mock draft, he has the Ravens selecting Fresno State guard Netane Muti at No. 55 and Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay at No. 60.
"The Ravens need to make sure 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson is well-protected. The Ravens still have to fill Marshal Yanda's spot at guard, and Muti is my top-ranked one in the class," McShay wrote. "Marquise Brown broke big plays for Baltimore last season, and Mark Andrews is a reliable target, but the Ravens could use another possession receiver for Lamar Jackson. Duvernay caught 106 passes last season for Texas."
Top WR Prospect Jerry Jeudy Works Out With Lamar Jackson
Top wide receiver prospect Jerry Jeudy catching passes from Jackson is a dream scenario for Ravens fans. On a football field in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, it was reality.
The Alabama star called into the “The Rich Eisen Show” and revealed that he was taking a break from his group workout, which included Jackson and "Hollywood" Brown.
"[Lamar told me] to keep working hard and stay focused," Jeudy said. "He already knows I'm level-headed and he knows I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do to get where I need to go."
Jackson and Jeudy are no strangers to one another on the field. The Broward County (Fla.) natives used to play against each other in pickup games when they were younger. In fact, Jeudy has said he learned some of his juke moves from facing Jackson.
As enticing as it may be to envision Jackson and Jeudy as teammates in Baltimore, it's probably not very realistic. The Ravens would have to trade (probably far) up to get Jeudy, who is expected to go early in the first round.
On a side note, LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson, one of the top edge rusher prospects, was shown working out in a Ravens shirt in a video that surfaced on social media. Like Jeudy, Chaisson is unlikely to still be available when the Ravens are on the clock, though McShay had him projected just one spot ahead to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 27. The shirt did look good on him, though.
Is Jimmy Smith Re-Signing Flying Under the Radar?
The Ravens have had a busy and productive offseason, but one move that shouldn't be overlooked is the re-signing of cornerback Jimmy Smith. In fact, bringing back the veteran "could prove to have the most profound impact on Baltimore's success next season," Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank J. Platko wrote.
Smith, who was a free agent for the first time in his nine-year career, signed a one-year contract reportedly worth up to $6 million. It was a classic example of the Ravens' mantra of "right player, right price."
"With where Smith is at in his career and where the Ravens are in terms of their championship window, the two sides align perfectly," Platko wrote.
While the Ravens have two All-Pro cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and nickel cornerback Tavon Young is expected to start the season healthy, Smith provides quality depth, experience and leadership – all of which were on display last season when Smith returned from injury in Week 9.
"Many point to the acquisitions of Marcus Peters, Josh Bynes and Jihad Ward, among others, as the reason for the team's defensive turnaround around the midseason point of 2019. While this is certainly accurate, it'd be unfair to overlook the fact that Smith returned to the lineup just around the same time and had a significant impact," Platko wrote.
"I didn't take any reps, but I definitely started looking at safety a lot more last year, just messing around with it," Smith said. "I feel like they could deploy me on some tight ends or something like that. I definitely think I'll be in some type of new role."
Report: Competition Committee Supports 'Sky Judge'
The idea of adding a "sky judge" to officiating crews to help correct egregious on-field officiating mistakes, which was proposed jointly by the Ravens and Chargers, is now supported by the NFL competition committee, according to a report by The Toronto Sun’s John Kryk.
The proposal submitted by the two teams called for a booth umpire, as well as a senior technology adviser, to assist the referee. Ravens Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome is a member of the competition committee.
Dean Blandino, the NFL's former Head of Officiating who now holds that position for the XFL, told Kryk: "The competition committee had an abbreviated conference call — obviously, with what's going on they can't meet in person as they normally would — but they had a call last week some time, and they went through all the rules proposals. And there is support for this."
The proposal needs 24 of 32 votes from NFL owners to be passed through the first phase. Owners are scheduled to vote on rules proposals at their spring league meeting, May 19-20 in Marina Del Rey, Calif.
The idea of a "sky judge" has been discussed for years and intensified last year after a controversial no-call of pass interference in the NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. The Ravens submitted their proposal last offseason, but the league instead adopted a one-year trial of making pass interference up for coaches challenge, which led to much consternation around the league.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh publicly expressed his wish for the league to do more to help officials while speaking at last year's Combine.
"Look how tough it is for these officials," Harbaugh said. "Really, I know as a coach, what's the worst spot to watch the game from? The sideline. You see the least amount from the sideline. That's why we put coaches in the box. So, we've got all this technology and the fans actually have a better view of the game from an officiating standpoint than the officials do."
The defunct Alliance of American Football used a "sky judge" during its 2019 season.
The Ravens are the best landing spot for Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon wrote.