Late For Work 7/18: Ranking Top 20 Ravens Players

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Ranking Top 20 Ravens Players

We're accustomed to ranking Ravens players and coaches against NFL opponents, but how do they rank against each other?

Baltimore media got together via a poll conducted by ESPN's Jamison Hensley to rank the Ravens' top 20 players of 2014.

Eighteen Baltimore media members entered their individual lists of the top 20 – based on talent, not value to the team – and Hensley then created a system in which he tallied them all by giving a first-place vote 20 points, a second-place vote 19 points, a third-place vote 18 points, and so on.

Only seven Ravens appeared on all polled media's top 20 lists, and 28 total players received votes.

Before we get to the results, you might like to know which media members made up the panel of voters: Morgan Adsit (WBFF-TV), Clifton Brown (Comcast SportsNet Baltimore), Jerry Coleman (105.7 The Fan), Bruce Cunnningham (WBFF-TV), Steve Davis (105.7 The Fan), John Eisenberg (Baltimore Ravens website), Pete Gilbert (WBAL-TV), David Ginsburg (Associated Press), Brent Harris (Comcast SportsNet Baltimore), Brett Hollander(WBAL Radio), Luke Jones (WNST Radio), Joe Platania (Press Box), Gerry Sandusky* *(WBAL-TV), Mark Viviano (WJZ-TV), Aaron Wilson (Baltimore Sun), Matt Zenitz (Carroll County Times), Jeff Zrebiec (Baltimore Sun) and Hensley. 

Hensley has been revealing the top 20 for the last several weeks, but I've compiled them together below. Here we go …

No. 20: ILB C.J. MosleyTotal points: 34. Highest ranking: No. 12. Lowest ranking: Not ranked. 
Hensley note: It's difficult to place a ranking on any newcomers to the Ravens, especially a rookie. But considering the Ravens had him ranked among the top 10 players in this draft, Mosley deserves a spot in the countdown. 

No. 19: TE Owen Daniels*Total points: 43.Highest ranking:No. 14.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **Some would argue he should be higher because he's been a productive tight end in Kubiak's system. Although Daniels should play a significant role (the Ravens' base offense is expected to be two tight ends), his injury history and age stop him from being a top 15 player on this Ravens team. 

No. 18: WR Marlon Brown *Total points: 52.Highest ranking:No. 10.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **Brown has a strong upside, but I don't see him matching the numbers he put up as a rookie. Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and even Daniels should get more passes thrown their way than Brown.

No. 17: S Matt Elam*Total points: 74.Highest ranking:No. 9.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **This is a fair ranking for Elam. I had him at No. 17 because he should make more plays by switching to his natural position. But he doesn't deserve to be any higher until he makes more of an impact. 

No. 16: OL Kelechi Osemele
Total points: 109. Highest ranking: No. 4. Lowest ranking: Not ranked. 
Hensley note:He's been among the most impressive players at offseason workouts, and he could be the key to upgrading this offensive line. It wouldn't surprise me if Osemele made the Pro Bowl at some point in his career. 

No. 15: WR Jacoby Jones*Total points: 124.Highest ranking:No. 3.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **Even though the Ravens will never get consistent production out of Jones as a receiver, he is the biggest game-changer on the team. When the ball was in his hands – as a returner or receiver –he impacted more games than any other Raven over the past two years. If it was a big win, Jones usually had a hand in it.

No. 14: OT Eugene Monroe*Total points: 177.First-place votes:One.Highest ranking:No. 1.Lowest ranking:No. 19.
*
Hensley note: Although Monroe isn't a Pro Bowl blocker, he's the best left tackle that the Ravens have had since Jonathan Ogden retired. He's consistent, athletic, hard-working and young. At 27, he can be the long-term answer to Joe Flacco's blind side. 

No. 13: RB Ray Rice*Total points: 178.Highest ranking:No. 4.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.  Hensley note: It's tough for running backs to bounce back at age 27. But Rice has trimmed down and looks more explosive in offseason practices. I'm not saying Rice is a Pro Bowl runner, but he could surprise this season.
*
*No. 12: WR Steve Smith  Total points: 188.Highest ranking:No. 5.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **I'll admit it; I was the one who had Smith ranked the highest at No. 5. This is not a proclamation that Smith is going to put up career numbers. He's just the most polished and tenacious receiver that the Ravens have. If you watched the offseason practices, it's not a stretch to say Smith is going to be Flacco's go-to receiver at critical moments in the game. 

No. 11: ILB Daryl Smith*Total points: 191.First-place votes: Two.Highest ranking:No. 1.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.  Hensley note: *While some may consider this too low for Smith, I would argue otherwise. He was No. 14 on my rankings. I have my doubts whether he can put up the same numbers as last season. … He may not be in the Ravens' long-term plans after they drafted C.J. Mosley in the first round. 

No. 9: TE Dennis Pitta*Total points: 212.Highest ranking:No. 4.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.
*
Hensley note: **He elevated his game during the 2012 playoffs when he continually made big catches. But his value took a bigger jump last season when you saw how the Ravens struggled on third downs and in the red zone without Pitta. 

No. 8: CB Lardarius Webb* Total points: 218.First-place votes: One.Highest ranking:No. 1.Lowest ranking:No. 14.
*
Hensley note: **Webb was ranked lower on my list at No. 12. His inconsistency was a problem last season. … But Webb could have a strong season if he plays like he finished last season. 

No. 7: WR Torrey Smith*Total points: 222.Highest ranking:No. 2.Lowest ranking:Not ranked.  Hensley note: *He isn't consistent enough to be a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL just yet, but he is one of the most explosive playmakers in the league. Smith is definitely trending upward, as his catches and receiving yards have increased in each of his three NFL seasons. 

No. 6: OLB Elvis Dumervil*Total points: 236.Highest ranking:No. 3.Lowest ranking:No. 15.
*
Hensley note: **He was No. 11 on my rankings because it was difficult to put a part-time player any higher.

No. 5: CB Jimmy Smith*Total points: 237.Highest ranking:No. 3.Lowest ranking:Not ranked. 
*
Hensley note: **He's definitely on the rise, so he could be one of the top five players on the team by the end of the season. This could be the season when Smith makes his first Pro Bowl. 

No. 4: DT Haloti Ngata*Total points: 253.Highest ranking:No. 2.Lowest ranking:No. 20.  Hensley note: *He could have a good rebound season because he's healthy and he's back playing defensive tackle (after a year of playing nose tackle). There's pressure on Ngata to live up to his salary -- he's the team's highest-paid player at $8.5 million -- and here's banking that he'll do it. 

No. 3: OLB Terrell Suggs*Total points: 279.First-place votes: Four.Highest ranking:No. 1.Lowest ranking:No. 12.  Hensley note: *I was one of the four voters who had Suggs ranked No. 1. Sure, there are doubts whether he can reach his level of play in 2011, when he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But he's only 31. Suggs has the most talent on the team and can be a special player again this year. 

No. 2: G Marshal Yanda*Total points: 300.First-place votes: Six. *Highest ranking:No. 1.Lowest ranking:No. 15.* Hensley note: *The toughest decision for me was whether to rank Yanda or linebacker Terrell Suggs at No. 1. I went with Suggs because he's the more talented player. His combination of speed, power and determination makes him a playmaker. Suggs has the potential to be one of the top defensive players in the league again. While Yanda gets more out of his ability, he won't be in the conversation for best offensive player in the NFL. 

No. 1: QB Joe Flacco*Hensley has yet to officially reveal the top Ravens player (that should happen today), but he confirmed on WBAL radio last night that Flacco got the nod. *"It kind of ends the drama of whose No. 1, but honestly when Joe Flacco's not named in the first 19, you can make an educated guess of who is going to be No. 1," Hensley said. "It is interesting how the vote went down because Marshal Yanda had the most first-place votes. He had six first-place votes. Joe Flacco only had four first-place votes, but nobody ranked Joe Flacco out of the top 10 so he got a lot of points from all the media. There were a few media members who ranked Marshal Yanda outside the top 10 so that pulled his points down a little bit. … The top 2 were very, very close, but Joe Flacco was voted as the best player by 18 local media members."

Stewart In Lead For Starting Safety

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the Ravens as they head into training camp is who will start alongside second-year safety Matt Elam.

The Ravens used a third-round draft pick on Terrence Brooks, but veteran Darian Stewart is in the lead for the starting role, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

"Stewart lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason and enters training camp as the clear leader in an ongoing competition with Jeromy Miles and rookie Terrence Brooks," Wilson wrote.

Which TE Will Get More Catches?

Who will notch more receptions this season: Dennis Pitta or Owen Daniels?

That's the question CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown posed, noting strong arguments for each.

"The safer choice would be Pitta, who enjoys great chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco," Brown wrote. "But Daniels played eight seasons in Houston for Gary Kubiak, now the Ravens' offensive coordinator. Daniels had four seasons in Houston where he caught at least 50 passes, and there is no Ravens player more familiar with Kubiak's offense."

My prediction? I say Pitta. He and Flacco have a proven track record together, and his hip is 100 percent. I think Pitta will only improve upon his best season (2012) when he caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

New York Out For Draft – Going To Either Chicago Or L.A.

It's official.

The NFL Draft will leave New York City in 2015. It will be the first time since 1965 that the event will not be held in the Big Apple.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that the league has narrowed down its list of options to Chicago and Los Angeles.

"We're focusing solely on Los Angeles and Chicago now," Goodell said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "We had 12 cities that were interested.* *We felt the best thing to do was to focus on the three cities [including New York], because they had such a tremendous interest. There are very attractive aspects to each of those cities. Because we don't have the appropriate dates in May [in New York] our focus is completely on Los Angeles and Chicago.

"They both have tremendous bids."

Quick Hits

  • Congratulations to Ravens rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. … @BigSouthSports: Great performances rewarded--congrats again to @ZoBot45 & @sameole_que on earning the Conference Athlete of the Year honors! [Twitter]
  • Justin Forsett is part of the Ravens' contingency plan in case of a Ray Rice suspension. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Durability has been a Steve Smith trademark. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • @Ravens: 52 days... #Ravens #RavensNation [Twitter]
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  • Rookies have reported to training camp … @tjernigan8 [Timmy Jernigan]: Back in the lab...birds fly high...#darkvisor#blackbane#97 [Instagram]
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  • @i_amquan: "And you don't even gotta love it but you will respect this hustle." #SatisfactionForSuckas #MATR [Instagram]
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