Where Ravens Position Groups Rank Among All 32 Teams
We've analyzed the Ravens roster a million different ways.
With training camp now just over a week away (hallelujah!), we know what the top battles will be, who the roster bubble players are and the projected starters.
But how does the roster stack up against what the other 31 NFL teams have put together up to this point?
Pro Football Focus published a series of these rankings over the last several days, and I've compiled the results below with their projected starters in parentheses.
We've already reviewed their laughable quarterback rankings with the Joe Flacco-led group at No. 25. While the rankings below are debatable, they're not as crazy as that one:
Wide Receivers: No. 12* *(WR Steve Smith, WR Kamar Aiken, WR Mike Wallace, TE Crockett Gilmore)
No. 11: New York Jets (WR Brandon Marshall, WR Eric Decker, WR Devin Smith, TE Jace Amaro)
No. 10: Cincinnati Bengals (WR A.J. Green, WR Brandon LaFell, WR Tyler Boyd, TE Tyler Eifert)
No. 13: San Diego Chargers (WR Keenan Allen, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Stevie Johnson, TE Antonio Gates)
No. 14: Carolina Panthers (WR Kelvin Benjamin, WR Devin Funchess, WR Ted Ginn, TE Greg Olsen)
Pro Football Focus: "There are a lot of 'ifs' when it comes to the Ravens' wide receivers and tight ends, and on paper, they are arguably the most boom-or-bust position group in the entire league. Steve Smith was incredible before an achilles injury ended his 2015 season, forcing 12 missed tackles on just 46 receptions. In his absence, Kamar Aiken really stepped up, posting the ninth-best receiving grade among wide receivers from Week 8 through the end of the season. We've yet to see Breshad Perriman in the NFL, and another injury may delay his debut into the 2016 season, but what we saw in college shows that he should at least make opposing cornerbacks nervous with his raw speed. At tight end, Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams showed potential last year, while Dennis Pitta was once one of the best receiving TEs from the slot before two hip injuries set him on the long road to recovery. If these players can't bounce back from injury, the Ravens could be in trouble; if they can, however, Baltimore's receiving corps should open some eyes in 2016."
Running Backs: No. 19*(Justin Forsett)
No 18: San Francisco 49ers (Carlos Hyde)
No. 17: New York Jets (Matt Forte) **
*No.20: Cleveland Browns (Duke Johnson)
No. 21: New Orleans Saints (Mark Ingram)
Pro Football Focus: "If we were looking for volume over quality, Baltimore would certainly be No. 1 on this list. The Ravens have now used a fourth-round pick on a running back in three straight drafts, and it's getting difficult to find roles (or even roster spots) for all of them. Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech) is likely a lock to make the roster, though, as he was our second-highest rated running back in this year's draft class. It's a tough group to slot, as it's impossible to tell at the moment who will even be getting touches."
Offensive Line: No. 13 (LT Ronnie Stanley, LG John Urschel, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Rick Wagner)
No. 12: Washington Redskins (LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses)
No. 11: Houston Texans (LT Duane Brown, LG Xavier Su'a-Filo, C Nick Martin, RG Jeff Allen, RT Derek Newton)
No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers (LT Ryan Harris, LG Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, RT Marcus Gilbert)
No. 15: Minnesota Vikings (LT Matt Kalil, LG Brandon Fusco, C John Sullivan, RG Alex Boone, RT Andre Smith)
Pro Football Focus:* "The Ravens used to own one of the best offensive lines in the league, but have since seen that unit decline. Marshal Yanda remains the best guard in the NFL, however, earning a position-high overall grade of 92.5 last season. While we liked Ronnie Stanley coming out of Notre Dame, offensive tackles have not performed well as rookies over the past few seasons. The loss of Kelechi Osemele creates a major void that Baltimore is looking in-house to replace. At the very least, the Ravens can rely on Yanda and Zuttah, who have been consistently good to keep the line average, but the true potential of this group is very much unknown to this point."
Defensive Front Seven: No. 19 (NT Brandon Williams, DT Timmy Jernigan, DE Lawrence Guy; OLB Terrell Suggs, OLB Elvis Dumervil; ILB C.J. Mosley, ILB Zachary Orr)
No. 18: Green Bay Packers (DE Mike Daniels, NT Kenny Clark, DE Letroy Guion; OLB Clay Matthews, OLB Julius Peppers; ILB Sam Barrington, ILB Jake Ryan)
No. 17: Tennessee Titans (DE Jurrell Casey, NT Al Woods, DE DaQuan Jones; OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Derrick Morgan; ILB Wesley Woodyard, ILB Avery Williamson)
No. 20: Jacksonville Jaguars (DT Roy Miller, DT Malik Jackson; DE Dante Fowler, DE Jared Odrick; LB Telvin Smith, MLB Paul Posluszny, LB Dan Skuta)
No. 21: Philadelphia Eagles (DT Fletcher Cox, DT Bennie Logan; DE Brandon Graham, DE Connor Barwin; MLB Jordan Hicks, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB Nigel Bradham)
Pro Football Focus: "It's unusual to find the Ravens so low in any ranking relating to defensive quality, but such is the slide that Baltimore has suffered since its last Super Bowl win. Brandon Williams is a force at the nose, but Timmy Jernigan and C.J. Mosley failed to build on impressive rookie campaigns and emerge as the new leaders of this defense. Off the edge, Elvis Dumervil is a constant threat as a pass-rusher, but still lacking in run defense. Can Terrell Suggs return to his best form after his second Achilles injury, or do the Ravens need to look to the likes of Bronson Kaufusi (BYU) and Kamalei Correa (Boise State) to drive this defense into a new era?"
Secondary: No. 24 (CB Jimmy Smith, CB Shareece Wright, SCB Jerraud Powers, S Eric Weddle, S Lardarius Webb)
No. 23: Detroit Lions (CB Darius Slay, CB Nevin Lawson, SCB Quandre Diggs, S Glover Quin, S Rafael Bush)
No. 22: Jacksonville Jaguars (CB Prince Amukamara, CB Davon House, SCB Jalen Ramsey, S Jonathan Cyprien, S Tashaun Gipson)
*No. 25: Cleveland Browns (CB Joe Haden, CB Tramon Williams, SCB K'Waun Williams, S Jordan Poyer, S Ibraheim Campbell)
No. 26: Atlanta Falcons (CB Desmond Trufant, CB Akeem King, SCB Robert Alford, S Keanu Neal, S Ricardo Allen)
Pro Football Focus: "In 2014, Jimmy Smith looked like he was finally becoming the No. 1-caliber cornerback the Ravens had hoped for when drafting him. Injuries have since hindered him, however, and he took a step back last year. Wright, Powers, and Arrington have all shown brief glimpses of solid play, but have never been able to sustain it for an extended period of time. The Ravens signed Eric Weddle (Chargers) this offseason and moved Webb from cornerback to address the safety position."
Ravens Split The Difference With Justin Tucker
Things got a little dicey heading into the final hours Justin Tucker's contract negotiations, especially if you believe all the "if I play under the tag, I won't sign with you in the future" talk last Thursday night.
With less than 30 minutes before Friday's 4 p.m. deadline, the two sides announced an agreement that made Tucker the NFL's highest-paid kicker … sort of.
Tucker was given a reported $10.8 million in guaranteed money, which is more than the $9.9 million he would have received had the Ravens franchised him for two consecutive years. That's the most guaranteed money given to kicker today, giving Tucker the highest-paid title.
"Clearly [that guaranteed money] goes a long way toward unruffling feathers,"* *wrote Mike Florio, who was the guest columnist for Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback this morning.
However, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is paid the most overall and on a per year average with a reported four-year, $17.2 million deal ($10.1 million guaranteed) awarded last summer. Tucker's four-year deal is reportedly worth $16.8 million.
"In kicking terms, the Ravens hit it right down the middle on this one," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"The Ravens certainly weren't obligated to give Gostkowski-type money to Tucker. Baltimore had the leverage for this year and 2017 because the team could've tagged him again next offseason. … The Ravens took a chance on Tucker as an undrafted rookie four years ago, and he paid them back with consistent and clutch kicking. It was now Baltimore's turn to pay back Tucker, and the Ravens came through for one of the biggest overachievers on the team."
Tucker's teammates were clearly thrilled with the deal, especially fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who hopes his dinner outings will now be cheaper …
Vegas Still Not Giving Favorable Odds For Ravens' Super Bowl Chances
Tom Brady announced last Friday that he will no longer continue his legal battle to appeal his four-game suspension to start the season, even though the NFLPA reserved the right to do so in the future on his behalf.
But for all intents and purposes, he will not be under center for the Patriots' first four games.
Guess who doesn't care? Vegas.
The Patriots' Super Bowl odds before Brady's suspension were 6-to-1, and now the odds are 6-to-1, according to Bovada.lv. No change.
Meanwhile, the Ravens' odds are 33-to-1.
"That shouldn't be surprising as the Ravens are coming off a 5-11 season and are probably facing more injury questions to prominent players heading into training camp than any other NFL team," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"Fourteen teams are getting better odds than the Ravens, including AFC North rivals Pittsburgh (12/1) and Cincinnati (18/1)."
Buffalo Bills Will Miss Backup Running Back For Season Opener vs. Ravens
Buffalo Bills running back Karlos Williams has been suspended by the league for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
That means the Bills will travel to M&T Bank Stadium for the season opener against the Ravens without an impact player. Williams, who rushed for 517 yards and seven touchdowns last season, was expected to be substantial part of Buffalo's running game as a backup to LeSean McCoy.
"As an organization, we are disappointed that Karlos has put himself in this situation," the Bills said in a team statement Friday. "Poor decisions such as this affect not only the individual, but the entire Bills organization. We will continue to work with Karlos through the various player programs we provide to assist him in making better decisions moving forward."