The Draft Prospect Who Could Maximize Greg Roman's Creativity
Greg Roman is regarded as one of the best at fitting a scheme to a player, and not a player to a scheme.
He turned conventional offensive wisdom upside down last season, orchestrating the league's highest-scoring offense led by MVP in Lamar Jackson. In doing so, the Ravens became the first team to average more than 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing.
In an age shifting more towards athleticism and versatility, the Ravens are at the forefront.
Heading into the draft, Kentucky's Lynn Bowden Jr. is a prospect whose talent could be maximized in Baltimore.
"Bowden to the Ravens is actually one of my favorite fits in this class," Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle said. "He's a creative player, a guy you're going to have to design plays for, and I think the Ravens will do that in the NFL."
"His versatility, and Jackson's, and maybe even throw Robert Griffin III in the mix there," PFF's Mike Renner added. "What they can all do from a throwing and running perspective, it would be fun. I think it would just be a fun pairing. I'm not sure exactly how it would fit in, but it would be a headache for opposing defenses."
We're talking about the "Heisman Package" on steroids. Bowden is a do-it-all player, and one of the more unique stories in this year's draft class.
Injuries forced Bowden, at the time an up-and-coming wide receiver, to take over as Kentucky's starting quarterback his junior season. He quickly became one of college football's most dynamic athletes.
Bowden was limited as a passer with 403 passing yards, but rushed for 1,486 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's entering the draft as a receiver, but pundits believe his versatility will attract teams.
"He's today's NFL guy," ESPN’s Todd McShay said. "He can play a little quarterback, play in the slot, play in the backfield. I will be surprised if we get to day three and he's still on the board. I think he's going to be late second, early third. … He's one of those guys, the more you study of him, the more you appreciate what he can do in today's league and how everyone is just an offensive weapon not pigeon-holed into being one thing."
Imagine pairing Bowden with Jackson and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.[period]? That's a combination that would keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night.
Don't Rule Out a Pernell McPhee Return
The Ravens have prioritized re-signing their own free agents this offseason. With just over $11 million in cap space, pundits aren't counting out the return of another.
Veteran pass rusher Pernell McPhee remains on the open market and could be a candidate to return to Baltimore this season.
"The Ravens don't have a lot of cap space, but I'd try and add a veteran guard (Kelechi Osemele?) and/or edge rusher (Pernell McPhee? Clay Matthews?) on cheap deals," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens still could use depth at those spots."
McPhee signed a one-year deal with the Ravens last season and was productive in limited snaps. He had three sacks and 19 tackles in seven games before suffering a season-ending triceps injury.
McPhee's ability to rush on the inside and outside plays to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's scheme, and McPhee brings a valued veteran presence to the locker room. He was a great mentor to rookie Jaylon Ferguson last season.
The question becomes if McPhee wants to keep playing at 31 years old.
Press Box’s Bo Smolka said these types of moves show General Manager Eric DeCosta's confidence in the roster.
"DeCosta's moves suggest that, like [Buck] Showalter, he likes his guys, and for the most part likes his roster just the way it is," Smolka wrote. "That makes sense, too; when a team goes 14-2 and runs away with the AFC North title, the formula seems to be working. Of course, having the reigning league Most Valuable Player in Jackson has a lot do with that."
Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters Named NFL's Top Cornerback Duo
When talking about the NFL's top secondaries, the Ravens have to be in the conversation.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks believes so, especially at cornerback. He named Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters his top duo in the league.
"Peters lived up to his reputation as a dynamic playmaker with three picks in 10 games with the Ravens, including a pair of pick-sixes," Brooks wrote. "He played with better discipline in coverage after coming over from the Rams, and his improved attention to detail resulted in more consistent performance. Humphrey has quietly emerged as one of the best cover corners in the game, particularly as a bump-and-run technician on the perimeter. He aggressively challenges receivers at the line and does a great job of maintaining hip-pocket positioning down the field. With Humphrey playing at a high level in coverage and Peters providing timely playmaking on the island, the Ravens have an elite set of corners."
The two beat out New England's Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty, Miami's Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, the Los Angeles Chargers' Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., and Pittsburgh's Joe Haden and Steven Nelson.
There's plenty to back up Brooks' logic. Humphrey and Peters earned first-team All-Pro honors last season. They made game-changing plays throughout the regular season,[comma] from pick-sixes to forced fumbles.
The Ravens signed Peters to a three-year contract extension worth a reported $42 million this offseason, and Humphrey is expected to earn top dollar on his next contract.
Along with Humphrey and Peters, the Ravens still have a deep group with Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark at safety. They also re-signed Jimmy Smith and Anthony Levine Sr., and Tavon Young returns after missing last season with a neck injury.
The elite secondary is what helped attract free agent Derek Wolfe to Baltimore.
- NBC Sports’ Peter King had high praise for Executive Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne, who will retire in May. "In 36 years of dealing with Byrne through some trying times (a few of them Art Modell-related), not only did he never steer me wrong, he never tried to talk me out of writing something that he knew would be disadvantageous to his employer," King wrote. "I never got anything but the truth out of him, no matter what that truth would mean inside his front office."
- Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller expects the Ravens to target defense in the first round. "The defense will be prioritized early, according to sources," Miller wrote. "Middle linebacker and edge-rusher are two spots that could be addressed at No. 28 overall."
- One AFC assistant coach said they'd like to see Jameis Winston as a backup in Baltimore.