Hypothetical Trade Proposals Have Ravens Acquiring Edge Rusher, Guard
General Manager Eric DeCosta never stops looking to improve the roster, and he's shown that he's willing to make a trade to do so.
Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski suggested one trade each team should make before the start of the regular season.
He proposed the Ravens trade for Green Bay Packers edge rusher Preston Smith. Sobleski also had the Ravens involved in his Minnesota Vikings trade proposal, which sent guard Dakota Dozier to Baltimore. Sobleski did not get into what the Ravens would give up in the hypothetical trades.
There's been much chatter this offseason about the Ravens acquiring a proven edge rusher. The name mentioned most frequently is free agent Justin Houston, who reportedly visited the Ravens in April and is still available.
Smith, an outside linebacker who has started 79 games in his six-year career with Washington and Green Bay, had career-highs of 12 sacks and 23 quarterback hits in 2019, but those numbers fell to four and 11 last season.
"Green Bay may consider the possibility of moving Smith for two reasons," Sobleski wrote. "First, his departure would create increased opportunities for Rashan Gary. The 2019 first-round pick looks great as training camp begins. Second, Smith's value decreases based on his contractual status. Gary's continued growth may make Smith's $8.7 million salary-cap charge extraneous, especially after a disappointing four-sack campaign.
"The Baltimore Ravens' pass-rush could use more help, though. Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser will take on featured roles, while this year's first-round pick — Penn State's Odafe Oweh — is a work in progress. Smith would immediately become the best edge defender on Baltimore's roster."
The Ravens revamped their offensive line this offseason, but there is still some question as to who will be the starting left guard. The top candidates are Ben Powers, third-round pick Ben Cleveland and Tyre Phillips.
"Dakota Dozier started all 16 games last season. But he's far better as a run blocker than pass protector," Sobleski wrote. "He can join the Baltimore Ravens in a potential trade and fit right into the franchise's run-first mentality. Plus, he's an experienced option if third-round rookie Ben Cleveland struggles to start his career.
"The Vikings, meanwhile, can still allow Mason Cole and their third-round rookie, Wyatt Davis, to compete for their final starting spot among the front five. Both teams can benefit by addressing their offensive lines."
Lamar Jackson Placed in Tier 2 in The Athletic's Quarterback Rankings
The Athletic released its annual tiered quarterback rankings, and Lamar Jackson was placed in Tier 2 for the second year in a row. The rankings were determined by surveying 50 NFL coaches and evaluators.
The Athletic described a Tier 2 quarterback as one who "can carry his team sometimes but not as consistently. He can handle pure passing situations in doses and/or possesses other dimensions that are special enough to elevate him above Tier 3. He has a hole or two in his game."
Jackson was ranked as the seventh-best quarterback in the league overall, tied with the Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford. Thirty-eight voters placed Jackson in Tier 2; he received four Tier 1 votes and eight Tier 3 votes. (Tier 3 for the 2019 unanimous MVP? Really?)
The Packers' Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahones were tied for No. 1, and were joined by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady, Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson in Tier 1. The Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen topped the Tier 2 list.
"I think he is who he is going to be," an evaluator said about Jackson. "They have to call the game a certain way, and if they call it right, he will produce for them. He is not going to sit back in the pocket and kill you. That is just not who he is."
A defensive coach was more bullish on Jackson, especially with the additions the Ravens made to the receiving corps this offseason.
"I still think he's a fricking elite quarterback," the coach said. "He can carry a team. He's going to produce offensively. Surround him with bigger targets, guys with bigger catch radiuses, where he doesn't have to always be a pinpoint passer. Do that and he is going to succeed."
Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus placed Jackson at No. 8 in its quarterback rankings, which are based on grading every player on every play and tapping into multiple years of data to project future performance.
"Jackson continued to prove he is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, if not the most," PFF's Bruce Gradkowski wrote. "If the Ravens can help him out with a more efficient and effective pass game tied into their run concepts, then I would expect Jackson to get back to MVP form."
- Running back J.K. Dobbins was selected as the Ravens' top candidate to have a breakout season by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.