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Late for Work 5/6: Ravens are Assembling a Captivating Offensive Experiment


Ravens Offense Has Pundits Intrigued

In a league predicated heavily on the passing game, the Ravens went against the grain and completely transformed their offense mid-season into a run-first attack under quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The unique approach set the base of the offensive philosophy in Baltimore.

Heading into a new season, pundits are intrigued about what's to come.

As Sports Illustrated’s Caleb Friedman put it, "the Ravens are concocting a fascinating offensive experiment."

"[Marquise] Brown, [Miles] Boykin and [Justice] Hill signify Baltimore's desire to get more explosive around Jackson this season," Friedman wrote. "In a run-first offense that includes a lot of quick-hitting throws, having players that can run away from defenders is an important way to manufacture big plays, especially if your quarterback can't win consistently down the field (the jury is still out on Jackson there)."

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta wasted little time adding playmakers in his first draft in his new role.

Two of the team's first three draft picks were wide receivers and speed was the common theme among the offensive additions, regardless of position.

"Everything the Ravens have done this offseason is to make things easier for the offense," Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler wrote. "Even the additions of Mark Ingram and Seth Roberts net the Ravens players with big play ability … If Jackson can get the ball to his play-makers in the open field, this offense is going to blaze by some of their opponents."

One of those additions was sixth-round pick, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.

At first glance, the Ravens may not have had a glaring need at quarterback, but McSorley's speed and athleticism make him a perfect fit alongside Jackson and Robert Griffin III.

"The skeptics scoffed at the notion of the Ravens running an unconventional run-centric offense in 2019 and beyond with Jackson at the helm, but the team's decision to stockpile dual-threat quarterbacks suggests John Harbaugh is fully committed to running an offense that might remind people of what they see from Army each week in college football," NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks wrote.

"Naysayers have suggested NFL teams can't rely on a running quarterback as a starter due to durability concerns, but the Ravens have essentially bought insurance against needing to scrap their offense in the middle of the season by stockpiling dual-threat quarterbacks on the roster."

The option offense can be difficult to decipher for opposing defenses through the run game alone. Adding not one, not two, but three quarterbacks who can run the same offensive playbook under center could make for a lethal combination.

Speaking of fit, The Athletic's Ted Nguyen listed Brown as one of his 10 best draft fits based on scheme.

Nguyen highlighted Brown as a "jitterbug receiver" entering a spread to run, option attack offense in Baltimore.

"If Brown is healthy, he is the most explosive receiver in the draft and is adept at creating separation, not only with his world-class speed but also with his route-running savvy and the uncommon maturity of his game," Nguyen wrote.

"Adding a playmaker like Brown is exactly what this offense needed. It'll be interesting to see all of the creative ways that Roman gets Brown the ball in the Ravens' spread option attack."

One Analyst Believes Jaylon Ferguson Was the Steal of the Draft

The 2019 NFL Draft was loaded with pass rush talent and that's not an overstatement.

Three edge rushers were taken in the top 10; six were taken in the first round alone.

There was a ton of top talent up for grabs, but "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager believes the Ravens landed the steal of the draft in the third round with Jaylon Ferguson.

"He's a defensive pass rush specialist, which is perfect for what the Ravens are going to be adding, considering what they lost in both Za'Darius Smith and, of course, C.J. Mosley," Schrager said.

Schrager wasn't the only pundit to feel this way. SI’s Albert Breer thinks Ferguson could be an immediate impact starter from Week 1.

"Ferguson showed some stiffness in drills before the draft, and a bad three-cone time led to doubts regarding his ceiling," Breer wrote. "But his college production was through the roof: He finished his college career with 45 sacks. And with Terrell Suggs and Smith gone, there should be opportunity for Ferguson to get in the rotation among edge defenders quickly."

DraftWire’s Luke Easterling named his draft steals for every team and Ferguson was his choice for the Ravens.

Rookies had a chance to showcase their skills in limited action during rookie minicamp this weekend. Ferguson seemed to make some good first impressions.

Peter King: Ravens Would Have Traded Back Again in First Round, But Raiders Didn't Budge

DeCosta did what many expected him to do on the first night of the draft and traded back.

But could he have dropped back even further? 

In an extensive feature on Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock, NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote that Mayock pondered moving up two spots with the 27th overall pick to assure they got their guy in Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram.

The trade would have likely netted DeCosta and the Ravens an additional fifth-round pick to move back just two spots, but in came Jon Gruden.

"DeCosta surely would have dropped down two spots for a fifth-round pick, knowing it was highly likely he'd get the same guy at 27 he could get at 25," King wrote. "Mayock wondered if they should make the trade. Gruden pushed. Mayock said he thought Abram would be there at 27; let's sit. Mayock ignored the ringing phone, saw Marquise Brown and Montez Sweat go at 25 and 26, and then Gruden the Golden Retriever was back."

The Ravens got the player they wanted at 25. They also netted fourth and sixth-round picks in the process, which were used to select USC cornerback Iman Marshall and McSorley.

Interesting enough, DeCosta told ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio that he didn't ask Howie Roseman who the Eagles were going to take at 22.

"I did have a little bit of apprehension about the Eagles coming up, just because Brown seemed like an Eagles type of player and that we had heard his name," DeCosta said.

Pundits heavily speculated the trade up was for Brown, but the Eagles took Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard.

"I felt once Marquise got past Philly at 22, we'd have a chance to get him," DeCosta said. "...[Brown] was at the top for us. The attraction of getting a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick made a lot of sense for us where we were as a team and roster-wise. It was an easy trade to make … This year it worked out really really well for us."

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