Winners And Losers Of Offseason Program
It's only June, and we're still a long ways from any games being played, but there are still winners and losers in the NFL.
The Ravens' offseason program has concluded, and The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec is here to tell us who stood out, for better and worse.
ILB Zachary Orr
"That the Ravens haven't added another inside linebacker after Daryl Smith's departure is a vote of confidence in both Orr and Arthur Brown, the two front-runners to start alongside C.J. Mosley. Orr, whose increased role late last season coincided with significant defensive improvement, worked with the first team in the offseason program. He wouldn't be the first Ravens undrafted free agent to start at inside linebacker."
TE Dennis Pitta
"Given what he's been through in recent years, Pitta deserves to be listed for just getting back onto the field and getting through the program healthy. He did much more than that, and was one of the more active and productive offensive players for the past couple of weeks. Pitta is moving well and caught just about everything thrown in his direction. He's always going to be at risk of reinjuring his hip, but for now, Pitta feels good and looks like he can be a significant contributor."
WR Mike Wallace
"The veteran has gotten some criticism for his attitude and effort level at different stages of his career, but there have been no such complaints from the Ravens so far. He was a fixture at the voluntary OTAs and was extremely active in the various onfield workouts. Perriman's knee injury, while an unwelcome development for the team, thrusts Wallace into an even bigger role."
Other winners: CB Jerraud Powers, CB Sheldon Price, OT Ronnie Stanley, RB Terrance West, DT Brandon Williams
CB Kyle Arrington
"There were times last week when Arrington looked like he was bothered by a lower-leg injury, but as usual, he competed throughout. What landed him on this side of the list is that with both Jimmy Smith and Will Davis sidelined, Arrington still was working mostly as a backup. The addition of Jerraud Powers, who likely will play at nickel back, didn't help Arrington's roster chances. His experience and special teams aptitude should help."
TE Maxx Williams
"To be clear, Williams looks good. He made some plays in last week's minicamp, and an offseason of strength and conditioning work has done the young tight end some good. But it's fair to look at what the Ravens have at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Benjamin Watson and Dennis Pitta and wonder exactly how Williams can get involved on offense. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said it's far too early to worry about using four tight ends, and he's right. But if the others stay healthy, it's a question the Ravens will have to ponder at some point."
QB Ryan Mallett
"Perhaps this is a bit unfair, given that Mallett still is becoming familiar with the Ravens offense — he didn't sign last year until Dec. 15 — and working with a bunch of new receivers. But his play was erratic throughout the past couple of weeks, with interceptions, batted balls and errant throws mounting. Mallett is still the Ravens' best option to be the primary backup to Joe Flacco, who is expected back for the start of training camp. But the Ravens are going to need more consistent quarterback play this summer and beyond."
Other losers: OLB Terrell Suggs, RB Trent Richardson, WR Breshad Perriman, S Matt Elam, WR Michael Campanaro
Read the entire write-up here.
Ravens Positional Superlatives
As certain players stood out this offseason, so did different position groups.
Baltimore Beatdown's Matthew Cohen went all yearbook on us and doled out his positional superlatives after minicamp and OTAs. Here are a few highlights:
Most Improved group: Wide receivers and secondary (tie)
"Even when Steve Smith Sr. was healthy, the Ravens receivers were nothing to brag about last year. The Ravens were so desperate for speed that they brought in Chris Givens via trade from the then St. Louis Rams in the middle of the 2015 season, a largely unproven receiver. Now, the Ravens have proven playmaking receivers like Mike Wallace. Smith Sr. will be back and Breshad Perriman will finally be ready to play. Kamar Aiken, who stepped up big time last year, may even be relegated to a backup role.
"The secondary started off 2015 in an incredibly porous way. But in the second half of the year, they turned it around and became one of the top groups in the NFL. That didn't stop the front office from adding more studs to the secondary. Eric Weddle might be the best signing of any team this offseason. Weddle solidifies the back end of the defense, providing playmaking ability the Ravens were lacking. Plus, the Ravens also added Jerraud Powers from Arizona. Powers was a starting corner on the Cardinals, who had one of the best defenses in the league last year. The team also added Tavon Young in the draft, all indications point to the coaching staff really liking Young."
Most Intriguing Position Group: Linebackers
"The Ravens will get Terrell Suggs back, hopefully by training camp, following his Achilles' tear. Elvis Dumervil said this week he will be back for training camp following a foot procedure. While the Ravens get their star edge rushers back, both of them are aging. As a result. Ozzie Newsome selected two outside linebackers in the draft, second round pick Kamalei Correa and fifth-round pick Matthew Judon. Both Correa and Judon are extremely talented and it will be intriguing to watch how the Raven work them into the rotation. Also, the Ravens still have not settled on an inside linebacker. Zach Orr, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan, and even Correa will have an opportunity to replace Daryl Smith. This is one of the biggest stories to watch."
Position Group That Took a Step Back: Offensive Line
"Well more specifically, offensive guard. Marshal Yanda is established as the best guard the NFL, but the Ravens took a major step back at the left guard spot. Kelechi Osemele is one of the best guards in the NFL, and losing him to Oakland hurts. The Ravens have a plethora of options to replace Osemele, but none is anywhere close to his caliber."
My quick take on the offensive line is that, yes, nobody is as proven as Osemele was at guard, but John Urschel stepped up well when called upon at guard and center in the past. Ryan Jensen also played well at the end of last year and look out for rookie fourth-round pick Alex Lewis. Left guard isn't as proven, but has lots of potential.
Justin Tucker Contract Predictions
The clock is ticking if the Ravens and kicker Justin Tucker want to reach a long-term deal before July 15 and avoid playing under the one-year franchise tag.
Tucker said last week that it's a "matter of when, not if."
Well, do media pundits agree?
ESPN's Dan Graziano predicted what will happen with some big contracts still to be reached (or not reached) this offseason. And he's liking the prospects of Tucker breaking out the ink.
"Tucker has said it's a matter of "when, not if" he gets his long-term deal in Baltimore, and I agree," he wrote. "This shouldn't be a tough one to get done. The Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski set the top of the kicker market with a four-year, $17.2 million deal last year after New England franchised him."
NFL Media's Conor Orr also put Tucker on his list of players who will still sign "mega deals" this summer. There are seven unsigned franchise players remaining and Orr sees five of them getting long-term extensions.
- New Buffalo Bills Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Ed Reed describes why his son is a Patriots fan. [ESPN]