Will 'Hollywood' Brown Be a Rookie Phenom?
"Hollywood," get ready for your close-up.
Ravens rookie Marquise "Hollywood" Brown will be the NFL's next sensation, in the opinion of Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw.
Brown, the 25th-overall pick and first wide receiver taken in the draft, obviously is expected to be a playmaker for the Ravens, and Bradshaw predicts that playmaking ability will make the speedster a must-see star immediately.
"Get ready for the fireworks show in 2019, everyone," Bradshaw wrote. "Marquise Brown is going to take this league by storm. Don't be surprised to see him make regular appearances on highlight reels and the NFL's social media accounts. It'll be hard not to watch him make those incredible plays on repeat."
Bradshaw believes the Ravens will utilize Brown's skill set in a variety of ways.
"Brown's athleticism makes him so dangerous that Baltimore would be crazy to pigeonhole him as just a wide receiver," Bradshaw wrote. "With the speed and agility he possesses, getting Brown the ball on sweeps, running plays, and even special teams could reap massive benefits. The Ravens also may run an unorthodox-looking offense, giving Brown just one more reason to dominate."
EA Sports, the makers of "Madden NFL 20," which will hit stores on Aug. 2, also believes Brown will make a significant impact as a rookie. The company released its ratings for rookies yesterday, and Brown came in as the fourth-highest-rated first-year player and the top skill position player with a 77 overall rating.
"Brown takes over as the second-fastest WR in 'Madden 20' at launch, with a 97 Speed rating and 95 Acceleration," EA Sports wrote on its website. "The combination of Brown and Ravens' mobile QB Lamar Jackson should make for a highly dangerous duo on gameday, both on the sticks and in reality."
Not everyone is as convinced that Brown is a sure thing to become an overnight sensation, however. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox chose the Ravens drafting Brown in the first round as the team's riskiest move of the offseason.
"Former Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown carries a significant risk for a couple of reasons," Knox wrote. "For one, while Brown does possess elite speed and movement skills, he's also extremely undersized. At just 5'9" and 166 pounds, Brown is one of the smallest and slightest receivers in the league. The other issue with Brown is that he's coming off Lisfranc surgery. For a wideout who thrives almost entirely on speed and elusiveness, that's a risky proposition.
"Could the move pan out? Certainly. Brown might be Baltimore's No. 1 receiver for the next decade. He could just as easily not be the same player he was before surgery or face durability concerns over the course of his pro career."
Marlon Humphrey: 'I Think Lamar's Going to Lead Us to a Super Bowl'
Ravens cornerback and former Alabama star Marlon Humphrey joined Birmingham radio station WJOX's "The RoundTable" to discuss a variety of subjects. Here are some highlights:
On Jackson: "I really like Lamar. The biggest surprise about Lamar was just how humble he was. He's a South Florida guy; sometimes those guys are a little flashy … But ever since he's been on the team, he's just been a humble guy, and the thing that I see about him the most is it seems like he's always trying to learn. … I think Lamar's going to do really well. I think he'll be able to fulfill that promise he said on draft day, that he's going to lead us to a Super Bowl."
On the Cleveland Browns: "They look great, great on paper. That's for sure. ... Right now they seem like the team to beat, so it'll be interesting to play them twice a year."
On giving up his No. 29 to Earl Thomas: "I was sitting at the dinner table with my mom and dad, and my dad asked me, 'How much does the number mean to you?' I told my dad, 'It means nothing to me.' So that's when I realized I shouldn't charge somebody. Other guys usually do the money-swap thing, but to me it's just a number, and I respect Earl's game – Pro Bowl [player], probably be a Hall of Famer. If he can just cut me over the top he can have '29' (laughs)."
On going back to Alabama and earning his diploma: "I think I should finish something that I already started. My mom and dad, they both graduated from colleges. And I think that was one of the biggest things that [Alabama Head Coach Nick] Saban says when he's recruiting you as a 10th-grader, 11th-grader: 'Our guys leave to go pro but we want them to come back and get their education.'"
On Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh: "I think he's a coach that's trying to help us win games, but he's also willing to receive some feedback from us and make it all work together."
Who Will Emerge as Starter at Left Guard?
The Ravens appear to have their share of exciting skill position players, but the offensive line could be the key to how well the offense performs.
"It's no secret the Ravens want to run the ball. … Much of their success could hinge on how well the offensive line can create running lanes," Russell Street Report’s Todd Karpovich wrote. "Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has shown he can create successful schemes but the players have to execute."
Veteran Marshal Yanda is one of the premier right guards in the league, and tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. have Pro Bowl potential. Center Matt Skura started all 16 games last season and proved to be an effective replacement for Ryan Jensen, who became the league's highest-paid center after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason.
The biggest question mark on the line is at left guard, where veterans James Hurst, Alex Lewis and Jermaine Eluemunor and rookie Ben Powers are candidates for the starting spot.
"Alex Lewis is also in the mix for playing time at that spot and at center, but he must prove he can stay healthy," Karpovich wrote. "Second-player Bradley Bozeman showed flashes of solid play last season at left guard when James Hurst went down with an injury. He could also be in the mix this season, as well as challenge Skura for playing time at center."
The competition will continue during training camp, which begins July 25.
"I think that's how football should be," Ravens Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris said during mandatory minicamp last month. "I think, give everyone the chance. Between now and our opener, we don't know what's going to happen per player. So let's let each day take its course, and let's see how each player plays. Usually, the cream surfaces to the top at the very end."
Hurst, who started all 16 games at left guard in 2017, missed six games last year due to a back injury.
"Hurst has the obvious advantage of experience," The Baltimore Sun’s Giana Han wrote. "He has more years in the NFL than his top two competitors do combined, and he's started 19 games as a left guard."
Eluemunor took snaps with the first team at left guard during OTAs and minicamp this year and performed well at minicamp.
"Eluemunor's performance at minicamp was perhaps the best Hurst has seen from him, which will put him in a good position come training camp," Han wrote. "But Harbaugh said Eluemunor still needs to get in good enough shape that he can 'practice like he needs to practice and play.'"
Powers, a fourth-round draft pick, has picked up the offense quickly, Hurst said.
"He's a great guy, hard worker, great communicator," Hurst said. "So that's put him in a position to get a lot of meaningful snaps."
· 247 Sports’ Bryan Deardo ranked the Pittsburgh Steelers' 10 greatest rivals of all time, and (no surprise) the Ravens came in at No. 1. "The Baltimore Ravens have eclipsed the Cleveland Browns as Pittsburgh's greatest rival entering the 2019 season," Deardo wrote. "While Baltimore's consistent success has undoubtedly fueled this rivalry, the Ravens' physical demeanor has also contributed to their rise as Pittsburgh's greatest rival."