Matthew Judon a First-Round Pick in 2016 Re-Draft
Going off the adage that one cannot accurately judge an NFL team's draft class until three seasons into the players' careers, NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote about how he thinks the 2016 draft would play out if teams knew ahead of time how the players would perform in the NFL.
In other words, he did a re-draft.
One of the biggest takeaways from Zierlein's piece was that he confirmed just how big of a steal linebacker Matthew Judon was for the Ravens.
Judon, coming out of Division II Grand Valley State, was selected by the Ravens in the fifth round with the 146th overall pick. In Zierlein's draft do-over, he has Judon going to the Carolina Panthers in the first round with the 30th-overall pick.
"The Panthers add another physical presence off the edge to help bolster their pass rush in the QB-rich NFC South," Zierlein wrote.
Judon has had 15 sacks for the Ravens over the past two seasons, finishing second on the team in that category both years. With Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith gone, the Ravens will lean on Judon to continue his rise. He's becoming one of the team's defensive leaders.
Judon told "Good Morning Football" that he's not feeling any more pressure.
"I'm not going to be nervous for games this year," Judon said. "I'm going to go out there and be me. It's going to be a different team, a different team dynamic we have with each other, a different team chemistry, but that's the NFL. With these players leaving, it gives younger players opportunities to step up."
The Ravens drafted Ronnie Stanley sixth-overall in 2016. In Zierlein's re-draft, he has Stanley going at No. 18 to the Indianapolis Colts and the Ravens instead drafting defensive lineman Chris Jones, a high second-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sure, Jones' 15.5 sacks last year were pretty awesome. But where would the Ravens be without Stanley anchoring the critical left tackle spot? After a revolving door following Jonathan Ogden's retirement, Stanley has secured the position.
Without much fanfare, Stanley has emerged as one of the NFL's top tackles, giving up just two quarterback sacks (and hits) all last season.
Lamar Jackson Makes Friends With NHL Player
Social media can be divisive in today's politically-charged climate, but it can also bring people together who otherwise may have never crossed paths. An example of the latter is the unlikely friendship that has formed between Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and National Hockey League player Jakob Chychrun.
Jackson recently posted a photo on Instagram of him wearing a Chychrun jersey alongside the Arizona Coyotes defenseman at a Coyotes-Florida Panthers game. The photo got the attention of PressBox's Glenn Clark, who wondered what the connection was between the two athletes.
"Did they perhaps share representation?" Clark wrote. "Oftentimes athletes with the same agent end up spending a lot of time together. But considering Jackson's agent is his mother, that didn't seem likely. Were Jackson and Chychrun particularly good friends growing up? [I knew both were from Florida.] Was this maybe just another get-together for lifelong buddies who happened to end up playing different sports? Would that explain why Jackson went as far as to refer to the budding star as the 'hockey G.O.A.T.?''
After reaching out to Chychrun, Clark learned that the 21-year-old hockey player and 22-year-old Jackson had never met before the day that photo of them together was taken. It all began with Chychrun following Jackson on social media.
"I've followed Lamar ever since he went to Louisville," Chychrun told Clark. "I've always just kinda been a big fan of his. I loved watching him play. I went to a big football school in Florida, American Heritage in Delray. ... We had a bunch of [highly-rated] recruits. I was able to kinda gain a friendship with a lot of the guys there. Through them, I was able to meet some other guys, some other football players. I think when I followed Lamar on Instagram he might have saw that we have a couple of mutual friends, a couple of mutual football buddies. He followed me back right away. It was pretty cool.
"We just started messaging on there a little bit. And I was kinda just showing him support throughout his rookie season in Baltimore. I'm just a big fan of his and his game. … Before games I just like to say, 'Hey, good luck today.'"
After Jackson said that he wanted Chychrun to send him a jersey, Chychrun invited Jackson to be his guest for the Coyotes-Panthers game in Florida – where Jackson resides – on March 21.
"It was cool because I had all of my family there at the game," Chychrun told Clark. "And I think it was pretty cool for my young cousins and some of my high school buddies to see me interacting with him and they all got pictures with him. I think it's pretty cool because they just know me as their cousin Jake or their childhood buddy Jake, and now they see me hanging out with a guy like Lamar."
Through his friendship with Jackson, Chychrun said he has now become a Ravens fan and would love to get to a Ravens game at some point.
To paraphrase a superhero trope, the Jackson-Chychrun friendship is a shining example of what happens when social media is used for good instead of evil.
John Harbaugh Expects "Big Jump" From Jackson in 2019
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh appeared on ESPN's Adam Schefter's podcast and was asked what expected from Jackson in his second season.
"Expecting a big jump like you do for any player," Harbaugh said. "He's a quarterback; he works hard at it. Plus, it's really our responsibility in so many ways to build an offense around him and with him that he can thrive in, and that's going to be a little different than the standard.
"It's one thing to build the standard and roll the playbook in and throw it on the table and say we've been doing this for 10 years and this is our system – that's not what we're doing. We're building this up from the ground up and rebuilding everything: every word, every term, every concept is re-thought and re-organized."
Shifting gears, Schefter asked Harbaugh who will take the mantle as the team's defensive leader that was handed down from Ray Lewis to Ed Reed to Terrell Suggs.
"We don't have a mantle," Harbaugh said. "The mantle is not something that we have in our building anywhere. … [It's] whoever emerges. Leadership is not something that's bestowed on anybody. You can't pass a mantle onto it, they have to earn it."
Dissecting the Liars Luncheon
In his opening statement at the Ravens pre-draft press conference Tuesday, General Manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged that the annual media session is commonly referred to as the "Liars Luncheon."
As one would expect, the Ravens front office has no intention of revealing the team's draft strategy, so as The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote, it's best to view comments at the press conference made by DeCosta and others on two fronts: What they said and what it might mean.
Here are a few examples of Zrebiec attempting to read between the lines:
On DeCosta saying "it's hard to be a .400 hitter if you're only going to bat twice" in regard to the Ravens' difficulty over the years in drafting wide receivers: "The Ravens will take multiple receivers in this draft, and likely one early in the proceedings."
On DeCosta saying the Ravens always factor in need when drafting a player: "The Ravens' first couple of picks will address their biggest needs, and those are wide receiver, interior offensive line and edge rusher."
On DeCosta saying that having four picks in the third and fourth rounds [the team has no second-round pick] is "pure gold": "Don't expect the Ravens to bundle a bunch of their picks to either move up in the first round or try to get back in the second round."
Earl Thomas Versus Seahawks Makes Grudge Match Games List
The "PFT Live" crew took a look at the biggest grudge match games in the NFL for 2019, and one of Chris Simms' selections was Ravens safety Earl Thomas going against his former team, the Seahawks, in Seattle.
"Earl Thomas was flipping off [Seahawks Head Coach] Pete Carroll when he was on the Seahawks, let alone what's he going to do when he's on the opposing team," Simms said. "Earl Thomas is one of the best safeties we've ever seen. He's a Hall of Fame-type of safety and he was a marquee player for the Legion of Boom and one of the best defenses we've ever seen for a long, long time. He felt disrespected, and I think he is going to show a lot of emotion and have a lot of pizzazz and stare downs to that Seattle Seahawks sideline and Pete Carroll."
- In Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz's latest seven-round, Ravens-only mock draft, he has Baltimore selecting Texas A&M center Erik McCoy in the first round with the 22nd overall pick.