Difficult Roster Decisions With Four Recent High Draft Picks
The Ravens have spent the last several months building their 90-man summer roster, and now they'll use the next few months whittling it down to 53.
Every year, there are cuts that come sooner than expected, especially when many valuable draft assets were used. This year will likely be no exception.
"Not only is there virtually no way the Ravens will be able to keep all 12 of their draft picks on the 53-man roster, the pending roster crunch will also likely force some difficult decisions on some recent high picks," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec:
Below are four high draft picks Zrebiec says will enter camp on the proverbial roster bubble:
Breshad Perriman (2015, first round) The stakes for Perriman were made clear in March by General Manager Ozzie Newsome when he said this summer is "make-or-break" for him. It won't be easy after the team added three veteran wide receivers via free agency and drafted two more in the fourth and fifth rounds. Perriman has to outshine his competition during Organized Team Activities and mini-camp over the next month because he's reportedly due a $650,000 roster bonus on the third day of training camp. He'll need to prove worthy as the Ravens are short on cap space. "I'm confident he can do it. I'm hopeful he can do it; I want him to do it," Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the end of the season. Ryan Mink spoke with Perriman and will have a story on him later today.
Maxx Williams (2015, second round) After being drafted out of Minnesota, Williams set a franchise rookie tight end record with 32 catches for 268 yards, but injuries have derailed him since. A knee injury knocked him out of nearly the entire 2016 season (four games played), and he missed five games last year with a hurt ankle. Nick Boyle, coming off a second suspension, emerged last season as a strong blocking tight end, and adding two high-round draft picks in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews gives Williams little breathing room. "Williams figures to stick because of his blocking ability," wrote Zrebiec.
Kamalei Correa (2016, second round) The Ravens gave Correa a chance to become the starting weak-side linebacker next to C.J. Mosley last season, but after three starts, he was ultimately succeeded by Patrick Onwuasor. Now, Correa faces more competition with the returns of Albert McClellan (knee) and Bam Bradley (knee), plus rookie Kenny Young (fourth round) was added to the mix. "The Ravens haven't given up on Correa," Zrebiec wrote last week. "Correa can play special teams and has some versatility."
Bronson Kaufusi (2016, third round)
It's been a rough NFL start for the BYU product, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle in training camp his rookie year. Kaufusi was healthy last year, but still didn't see the field much. He got a shot at starting defensive end after Brent Urban went down, but was pulled after one start and Willie Henry took over. Kaufusi has played in just three games in two years. "Kaufusi was a healthy scratch for a large majority of last season, so the depth on Baltimore's defensive line could spell the end of his time in Baltimore," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy.
Ravens Dodge HBO's 'Hard Knocks,' Get Inside Look at AFC North Rival
The league announced Thursday that the Cleveland Browns will be featured on this year's season of HBO's "Hard Knocks."
That means the Ravens, who were one of six eligible teams for the show, were not picked and will instead get an inside look at their AFC North rival during training camp.
"The Ravens, like many other franchises, did not want to be the featured team on the show," wrote Levy. "Fortunately for Baltimore, they were not selected as the Browns are a rather compelling storyline. With all the moves Cleveland has made this offseason coupled with the addition of Baker Mayfield, it appears this could be the best team to do it."
The Dilemma of the Quarterback Succession Plan
In the NFL, you have two types of teams: those who have a franchise quarterback and those who are searching for one.
If you're really lucky, you can be one of the rare teams that smoothly bridges two franchise signal callers in back-to-back seasons. That's what the Ravens are trying to do after drafting first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson while still having Joe Flacco on the roster.
They have a solid plan in place, but it won't be easy based on history.
ESPN reviewed what it's calling "The Dilemma of the Quarterback Succession Plan" and here's what the website found:
"Only the [Green Bay] Packers, with Aaron Rodgers replacing [Brett] Favre, and the Indianapolis Colts, with Andrew Luck taking over for Peyton Manning, have seamlessly transitioned in the past 24 years from legend to Super Bowl-caliber franchise quarterback," wrote Jordan Raanan.
"The Ravens were the only team to start their process with a first-round pick this year. … The past 24 years do show that using a first-round pick to supplant the franchise QB is the best path to travel, even if it's not foolproof."
Breakdown of All 12 Ravens Draft Picks' Contracts
The Ravens' pair of first-rounders still have to sign their contracts, but there's little guessing what their deals will look like, thanks to the rookie slotting system.
Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland laid out in full detail the figures for all four years of each Ravens draft pick, and I've highlighted the overall money and first-year cap hits below.
Round 1: Hayden Hurst (unsigned): 4 years with 5th-year option, $11 million, $2 million 2018 cap hit
Round 1: Lamar Jackson (unsigned): 4 years with 5th-year option, $9.5 million, $1.7 million 2018 cap hit
Round 3: Orlando Brown Jr.: 4 years, $3.5 million, $696,000 2018 cap hit
Round 3: Mark Andrews: 4 years, $3.5 million, $689,000 2018 cap hit
Round 4: Anthony Averett: 4 years, $3.1 million, $645,000 2018 cap hit
Round 4: Kenny Young: 4 years, $3.1 million, $639,000 2018 cap hit
Round 4: Jaleel Scott: 4 years, $3.0 million, $625,000 2018 cap hit
Round 5: Jordan Lasley: 4 years, $2.6 million, $547,000 2018 cap hit
Round 6: Deshon Elliott: 4 years, $2.6 million, $519,000 2018 cap hit
Round 6: Greg Senat: 4 years, $2.6 million, $509,000 2018 cap hit
Round 6: Bradley Bozeman: 4 years, $2.6 million, $509,000 2018 cap hit
Round 7: Zach Sieler: 4 years, $2.5 million, $500,000 2018 cap hit
Who Is the Ravens' LeBron James?
If you're paying attention to the NBA playoffs, you know the Cleveland Cavaliers are down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It's easy to see the Celtics are leading the way in large part because their team is firing on all cylinders, whereas LeBron James is mostly alone in trying to will his Cleveland team to victory.
"LeBron's solo mission got me thinking about various NFL players tasked with carrying their team and/or side of the ball," wrote NFL.com's Adam Schein. "You know, those gridiron stars who routinely have to do it all by themselves."
Schein named nine "one-man bands" across the NFL, and said kicker Justin Tucker is the Ravens' LeBron.
"This is not a joke," he wrote. "And I don't need to pen an extensive screed rationalizing Tucker's place on this list. Let me just ask you one simple question ... Who is the best and most-reliable weapon to score points on the Baltimore Ravens?
"It's the kicker. It's always the kicker. Until Lamar Jackson is ready."
- "The biggest sign of the Ravens' commitment to [running back Alex] Collins came in the NFL Draft, when Baltimore didn't use one of its 12 draft picks on a running back. Collins became the biggest offseason winner, entering spring workouts as Baltimore's unquestioned lead runner." [ESPN]