Just One Raven On NFL's Top 100?
I'm gonna have to agree with Steve Smith Sr. on the NFL's Top 100 Players list.
Every year, it makes me chuckle.
"You look at that – you try not to – but you have those guys that are in the Top 100," Smith said last week at minicamp. "You have guys on there, and they're talking about being the best, and they've been playing for about 15 minutes in the league. I just kind of laugh at it."
As Baltimore Beatdown pointed out a month ago, and is looking increasingly likely, the Ravens may only have one player on the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2016 list.
Last week, Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda made the list at No. 37, up a whopping 42 spots from a year ago. But don't hold your breath for any more Ravens to be named on the show's next episode tonight – or any after.
Last year, the Ravens had seven players on the list: outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (No. 46), Smith (No. 54), running back Justin Forsett (No. 65), Yanda (No. 79), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (No. 84), linebacker C.J. Mosley (No. 94) and quarterback Joe Flacco (No. 97).
There's an understandable reason why each (other than Yanda) have dropped. But out of the top 100 altogether?!
Dumervil went from 17 sacks in 2014 to six last year. Smith (Achilles), Forsett (broken arm), Suggs (Achilles) and Flacco (knee) are all coming off season-ending injuries, casting doubts about how effective they'll be this year. Mosley didn't have as many splash plays as a sophomore as he did when he went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Also, the Ravens' 5-11 season could certainly be casting a shadow over the individual players.
When speaking as an NFL Media analyst, former Raven Chris Canty said he thinks Mosley should be the Ravens' highest-rated player (but I don't think he'll make the leap over Yanda this year).
Pro Football Focus has Yanda rated at No. 13 on this year's 101 best NFL players list. Safety Eric Weddle comes in at No. 74 and Smith at No. 75. That's it.
Not surprisingly, Smith had a strong take on seeing far younger players make the NFL Network's list ahead of him.
"If your highlight is making the Top 100 on NFL Network one time for a year of success, and I was making plays when you were in kindergarten, then I don't want your career," Smith said. "You can keep it. You be on TV."
Q&A: Is Steve Smith A Hall Of Famer?
We've heard from two Hall of Fame wide receivers on whether they think Smith is worthy of joining their company. At the Pro Bowl, the G.O.A.T. Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin both said they envision Smith being in Canton someday.
"No doubt I see him there," Irvin said. "He's an incredible player, he's been an incredible player for a long time. There's no doubt in my mind that, one day, he shall definitely wear a gold jacket."
"That's a guy I feel is going to be a Hall of Famer," Rice added. "I just love watching him whenever he puts that football uniform on."
Well, what do the scribes of the ESPN AFC North blogs think?
Two of three say no.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: "After mulling it over for a long time, I will say, yes, he's a Hall of Famer. But he won't go in right away. As well as Smith has been perceived throughout his career, his numbers don't quite match those of a no-doubt-about-it Hall of Fame player. He has had only one triple-digit-catch season and just one double-digit-touchdown year. He had 103 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2005, a season that earned him a Pro Bowl nod and comeback player of the year honors. Smith's statistical legacy really lies in the postseason. He has long been at his best when seasons are on the line. His six combined touchdown catches in the 2003 and 2005 postseasons were a sign of that. If a player could get in the Hall off his grit, passion and tenacity alone, Smith would definitely be a first-ballot selection. But there's more that goes into it."
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns reporter: "My first inclination was to say: Seriously? The second inclination was to go to the numbers. Smith has 961 receptions in his career for 13,932 yards and 76 touchdowns. He enters the season 15th in career receptions, 19th among active receivers in yards per catch (14.5), 29th in career touchdowns and 11th in receiving yards. However, he's 32nd in receiving yards per game with 68. Smith has as much heart as any player in the league, and he has been very good in his career. But this is the era of the forward pass, and the immediate standouts who come to mind are Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones. Smith's not in that group. It's not the Hall of the very good. It's the Hall of the absolute best. Smith comes close, but does not make the cut."
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: "This one is tough because of all that Smith has done for small receivers, but I would have to say no right now. There are too many receivers with better numbers who are still waiting on the Hall call, including Terrell Owens. Tim Brown has 133 more catches and 24 more touchdowns than Smith, and he waited six years before making it. Maybe a monster 2016 performance can change my mind. A few quiet years in Carolina affected his production. He failed to surpass 900 yards in six of 15 seasons, though health contributed to part of that. In this era, the yardage figures must be better. Maybe he'll qualify because of his rep as one of the league's most ferocious playmakers. But perception and numbers often prevail in the voting process."
We can only hope that this is the next thing to fire up Smith.
Five Returning Ravens On Roster Bubble
Yesterday we had the 53-man roster projection. Today, it's the bubble players.
CSNMidAtlantic's Clifton Brown named five returning players who he thinks will be on the bubble when training camp opens, and gave his reason why.
CB Kyle Arrington
"The Ravens drafted two corners, Tavon Young and Maurice Canady, and signed veteran Jerraud Powers. That could squeeze Arrington off the roster if he's not impressive during training camp and preseason."
ILB Arthur Brown
"Three years after being a second-round pick in 2013, Brown has yet to make an impact on defense. With Daryl Smith now with the Buccaneers, a starting role is open, and this is Brown's chance to shine. But if he can't outperform Zachary Orr or Kamalei Correa, Brown isn't guaranteed a roster spot despite his ability on special teams."
S Terrence Brooks
"Lardarius Webb's move from corner to safety, coupled with the acquisition of Eric Weddle, puts both Brooks and safety Matt Elam on the bubble. Both of them are unlikely to make the roster. The nod could go to Brooks, but it's a competition that will likely last throughout the preseason."
WR Michael Campanaro
"He can make plays as a slot receiver, but injuries keep taking Campanaro down. A calf issue forced Campanaro out of OTA's and minicamps, giving the coaches more reps to evaluate rookie Keenan Reynolds. While Campanaro is also a capable returner, so are Reynolds and Kaelin Clay. If Campanaro isn't healthy and impressive during training camp, the Ravens have other options."
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
"Foot injuries have cut short Taliaferro's first two NFL seasons. The Ravens have six backs on the roster, and it's hard to envision Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and rookie Kenneth Dixon not making the team. That leaves Taliaferro fighting Terrance West and Trent Richardson for one spot, and West has been impressive this offseason."
Which Non-Champion Ravens Team Was The Best?
This one still hurts to think about, but it's too interesting not to debate.
Which Ravens team that didn't win a Super Bowl was the best?
Evan Mazza of Baltimore Beatdown debated the question and narrowed it down to two teams – the 2006 Ravens vs. the 2011 Ravens.
Here's Mazza's case for 2006:
"In 2006, the Ravens were coming off a disappointing 6-10 campaign the year before and had major quarterback problems with Kyle Boller being a bust. With that, the Ravens turned to an old rival to provide stability and production to that position, Steve McNair. The team acquired McNair for a 4th-round draft pick in 2007 after the Tennessee Titans drafted Texas quarterback Vince Young. To assist the defense, the team signed defensive end Trevor Pryce and drafted one of the best players to ever put on the purple and black, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
"With the likes of McNair, Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Jonathan Ogden and even Mark Clayton, the offense provided exactly the complement the team needed for the defense. What makes their playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts even more awful was the fact that the 2006 Ravens defense was unbelievable to watch. They were the league's top rated defense and the unit produced six Pro Bowlers."
And the case for 2011:
"The team had high Super Bowl dreams that year and showed why they were one of the best teams in the NFL by having an offense that [could] pound the football and run a defense into submission, or could throw the ball with a strong armed quarterback [Joe Flacco] to weapons such as Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta.
"The 2011 Ravens defense was once again dominant as it ranked third in points allowed and third in total defense. Unlike 2006 though, this Ravens defense had the defensive player of the year by the name of T-Sizzle, A.K.A Terrell Suggs. Suggs recorded 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles to go along with two interceptions. The team defeated The Houston Texans 20-13 in the AFC divisional playoff game in Baltimore, which set up a fight for the Super Bowl against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
"The Ravens, in a game not a lot of people, gave them a chance to win, went out there and gave the Pats everything they could ask for. They showed heart, guts, and the will to win up to the very last seconds of the game with the Lee Evans drop and Billy Cundiff's missed 32-yard field goal. That loss though would help propel and motivate the team to their eventual destiny the next year."