Ravens Who Are 'Better Than You Think'
Who are some of the most underrated players on the Ravens? Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler tackled the subject, as he named three players on the roster "who are better than you think they are."
At the top of his list is linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, who will become a relied upon playmaker and leader in the middle of the defense with middle linebacker C.J. Mosley gone.
"Onwuasor is a player that has been getting better at a fast rate," Schisler wrote. "Onwuasor is a linebacker with some coverage skills and he is a downhill run stopper. He's shown that he has talent. Now it's time for him to stop being a role player and start being the quarterback of the defense."
In 2017, Onwuasor made 90 tackles, second-most on the defense behind Mosley's 132. Last year, Onwuasor dropped to 59 tackles but made more splash plays. He had 5.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.
Another linebacker, Kenny Young, also made Schisler's list. Young, a fourth-round draft pick last year, had a productive rookie season, finishing with 51 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
"Young is one of the quickest linebackers in the NFL and his athleticism translates into coverage skills and sideline to sideline play-making ability," Schisler wrote. "The most impressive thing about his rookie season is that Young played fast. He played with a confidence and a feel for the game that you expect from an experienced pro."
The other player cited by Schisler is Willie Snead. The fifth-year wide receiver quietly led the Ravens in receptions (62) last season and was second in receiving yards (651). While not flashy, Snead is a tough possession receiver and adept blocker.
"There are few receivers more underrated than Willie Snead," Schisler wrote. "Snead is a reliable pass catcher who has a knack for getting open."
As an example of Snead's toughness and determination, he practiced during Organized Team Activities despite still rehabilitating a finger injury that he said he had a "slight procedure" on early this offseason.
"We put him in a red jersey, but you can't keep him off the field," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "If we didn't put him in the red jersey, we'd have to lock him in the locker room to keep him out of here. He's just that kind of guy."
Report: Panthers' Torrey Smith Takes Pay Cut Ahead of Gerald McCoy's Visit
As the Ravens and Cleveland Browns play the waiting game with Gerald McCoy, a beloved former Raven might have become an unlikely factor in the coveted free agent defensive tackle landing elsewhere.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith reportedly agreed to take a pay cut with the Carolina Panthers, who are said to be hosting McCoy today.
Smith, who played for the Ravens from 2011-2014, will take a $2 million pay cut, according to ESPN's Field Yates, which would increase the Panther's salary cap space to $11.8 million, per Spotrac.com.
Is the timing of Smith's pay cut and McCoy's visit related? As The Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue tweeted, "These things are all separate items until maybe eventually they aren't."
McCoy visited the Browns last week and the Ravens this week. Both Harbaugh and Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens remained hopeful yesterday about their team's chances of signing McCoy.
"Before he left, I said, 'You haven't been here yet but to my mind, you're a Raven," Harbaugh said. "You've always been a Raven. So let's make it official.' So we'll see."
When Kitchens was asked about McCoy visiting other teams, he said (per Dawgs By Nature's Chris Pokorny): "We want Gerald to go out and look at other places because when he makes the commitment here, we want him to be all in. … We are fine with him taking a look at everybody else. We do not care because we have told him who we were. If that is who he wants, he will end up here. He knows the direction we are headed."
It's unclear whether there are any teams in the mix for McCoy beyond the Ravens, Browns and Panthers, but this much is certain: Cleveland is in the best position if it comes down to a bidding war. The Browns have $33.3 million in cap space, while the Ravens are at $13.4 million, according to Spotrac.
"It looks like McCoy is trying to get a three-way negotiation here to where one team is going to outbid for him and maybe give him more money than he might deserve to get on the open market," Pro Football Talk's Chris Simms said.
If McCoy does end up signing with the Panthers, he would get to play twice against his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ravens Players Among Best Free Agent/Draft Pick Pairings
The best new player pairings (a free agent and a rookie) were discussed on the Move the Sticks podcast, and two pairs of Ravens made the top 5 lists of host Daniel Jeremiah and reporter Rhett Lewis.
Lewis chose running back Mark Ingram and rookie wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown as the third-best new player pairing.
"Mark Ingram was asked this week about what he feels like this offense is capable of. He said, among other things, 'I think we're going to change the game.' That is a pretty bold statement," Lewis said. "You could make the argument that they already did change the game last year when Lamar Jackson came in, but … we saw what the Chargers were able to do by stifling that run game a little bit and forcing Lamar Jackson to make plays and he couldn't quite handle it.
"Now you've got another weapon in Marquise Brown, both if he wants to air it out deep [or] just get him the ball and let him go. It gives you another opportunity to not have to rely solely on that run game if a team commits to trying to stop that."
Jeremiah went with safety Earl Thomas and Brown at No. 5 on his list.
"You want to add speed to your club, which is exactly what the Ravens did on both sides," Jeremiah said. "Earl Thomas, the best range of any safety we've seen in the last 10-plus years, you plug him in the middle of the defense. And then Hollywood Brown, all that running you're going to do with Lamar Jackson as well as Mark Ingram and company, you can pay that off over the top with Hollywood Brown."
Speaking of Thomas, the All-Pro was impressive in his first week of practices since suffering a broken leg eight months ago.
Harbaugh said of Thomas: "He's had a great week. He's looked really good. Great anticipation, and then great ability to cover ground. He shows up in the right spots on a regular basis, so to me, that's what great safeties do, and he's doing a great job."
Incidentally, two former Ravens were at the top of Jeremiah and Lewis' lists of best pairings. Jeremiah went with Mosley and rookie defensive tackle Quinnen Williams of the New York Jets at No. 1, while Lewis chose quarterback Joe Flacco and rookie tight end Noah Fant of the Denver Broncos.
The Baltimore Business Journal wrote that the Ravens' annual beach bash is key in connecting with fans.