Lamar Jackson Drops 22 Spots in Pete Prisco's Top 100 Rankings
It was hard to believe Lamar Jackson, coming off his unanimous league MVP season, didn't crack the top five in CBS Sports' Pete Prisco Top 100 Players Rankings last year.
This year, the Ravens quarterback barely cracked the top 30. Prisco placed Jackson at No. 29, down from No. 7 in 2020.
Six quarterbacks were ranked ahead of Jackson on this year's list: Patrick Mahomes (No. 1), Aaron Rodgers (No. 3), Tom Brady (No. 4), Russell Wilson (No. 8), Josh Allen (No. 10) and Deshaun Watson (No. 23).
"His play trailed off some in 2020 after winning the MVP in 2019," Prisco wrote. "But he is still a dangerous quarterback who can take over a game. He should be better as a passer in his third full season as a starter in 2021."
No matter how much Jackson accomplishes, it seems that some pundits will always undervalue him.
It's true that Jackson didn't play as well as he did in his historic 2019 season, but he did become the only quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.
Jackson also continued to win games. He went 11-4 as a starter and is 30-7 (.811) in his career. He's 5-0 in the regular season against the four quarterbacks ranked directly ahead of him.
Jackson also won a playoff game last season to join Dan Marino and Mahomes as the only players to capture an MVP award and win a playoff game by their age-23 season. His 87 total touchdowns before turning 24 are the most in NFL history.
Moreover, Jackson was the third-best quarterback in the league under pressure last season, according to Next Gen Stats.
"Jackson didn't quite compile another MVP season, but it was still a stellar one highlighted by the highest completion percentage over expectation under pressure in the NFL at +7.5 percent," NFL.com's Nick Shook wrote. "His 9.4 yards per attempt under pressure was also a league-best mark, and he was third in the league in evading pressure with a rate of 21.0 percent. Blitzing Jackson clearly wasn't the answer judging by the aforementioned numbers, and this one really drives it home: Jackson finished 2020 with a passer rating of 120.8 against the blitz, the second-highest mark in the league.
"And finally, as if we didn't already know, Jackson was fantastic in key moments. He led the league with 10.5 yards per attempt when under pressure in the second half or overtime of games. If the Monday night classic against the Browns in Week 14 last season wasn't enough proof, these numbers only further emphasize that Jackson's a rarity in today's game."
The only other Ravens to make the top 100 were cornerback Marlon Humphrey (No. 48) and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (No. 70). Stanley, who was limited to six games last season due to a season-ending ankle injury, was No. 27 in 2020.
Ravens Reportedly 'Done' Pursuing Julio Jones
The Ravens' pursuit of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones —if there ever truly was one — reportedly is over.
ESPN's Kimberley Martin said on "Get Up" that the Ravens and Los Angeles Rams can be crossed off the list of potential trade partners for the Falcons.
"I know for a fact the Ravens and the Rams are done," Martin said. "They're not in the Julio Jones market right now."
Martin went on to say that the Tennessee Titans are the most likely destination for Jones.
There have been conflicting reports about the Ravens' level of interest in Jones. Last week, ESPN 's Josina Anderson said Jones "is not on the radar for the moment" for the Ravens, but ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler subsequently tweeted: "I'm told [the Ravens] are willing to get involved if the price is right."
Jones coming to Baltimore never seemed likely, mainly because of the significant cap hit, the draft capital the move would cost and the fact that the Ravens selected two wide receivers in the draft, including first-rounder Rashod Bateman.
Ravens Have Pro Football Focus' Top-Rated Outside Cornerback Duo
The Ravens were the only team to place two players in the top 10 of Pro Football Focus' top 32 outside cornerback rankings.
Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters were ranked No. 3 and No. 10, respectively.
"We considered putting Humphrey atop the list of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL, given that he has spent the majority of his snaps lined up in the slot over the past two seasons filling the void left by an injured Tavon Young," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote. "Humphrey's seamless inside-outside versatility is a big reason why he ranks so highly here.
"The fifth-year cornerback out of Alabama has recorded at least 800 coverage snaps in the slot and out wide throughout his NFL career. He also ranks in at least the 87th percentile in coverage grades at both alignments. The most impressive part is that it all comes in a man-heavy Baltimore defense — few cornerbacks in the league possess that kind of ability."
Linsey wrote of Peters: "It's impossible to discuss what Peters brings to the table and not start with his knack for getting his hands on the football, as his 31 interceptions since entering the league in 2015 are nine more than any other cornerback. And Peters ranks tied for fifth at the position in pass breakups (52) over that same time frame.
"His aggression will burn him on occasion, but you can't say that Peters doesn't make up for it with the positives he brings to the table."
John Harbaugh Is No. 4 in NBC Sports Edge's Head Coach Rankings
In keeping with the rankings theme today, NBC Sports Edge's Patrick Daugherty placed Head Coach John Harbaugh at No. 4 in his 2021 NFL Head Coach Rankings.
Harbaugh was ranked behind only the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, Kansas City Chiefs' Andy Reid and New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton. Harbaugh also was fourth in Daugherty's 2020 rankings.
Daugherty pointed to the Ravens overcoming adversity last season to make the playoffs as evidence of Harbaugh's leadership skills.
"On Dec. 3, the Ravens were 6-5 with 18 of their players on the COVID-19 list. Thirty-one days later, they were 11-5 and back in the postseason for the third straight year," Daugherty wrote. "It's not surprising that 2020 was something of a hangover campaign after an historically-good 2019 ended in a devastating playoff defeat. The same is true of Harbaugh immediately steering the ship back to the postseason."
Daugherty said that Harbaugh, who has a 129-79 (.620) career record in 13 seasons in Baltimore, "has mastered the CEO role like few others."
"In a league with 32 teams, Harbaugh may never win another Super Bowl. He will also never stop putting his team in position to reach them," Daugherty wrote.