'Hollywood' Brown Is No. 4 on Offensive Rookie of the Year List
The Ravens' Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was the first wide receiver selected in this year's NFL Draft, and he's the top candidate at the position to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, in the opinion of NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
Brown came in at No. 4 overall on Zierlein's top 10 list, behind Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (the No. 1-overall pick), Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery.
Among wide receivers, Brown finished ahead of the Tennessee Titans' A.J. Brown (fifth), New England Patriots' N'Keal Harry (sixth), Seattle Seahawks' D.J. Metcalf (seventh) and Indianapolis Colts' Parris Campbell (10th).
"'Hollywood' may be slightly built, but his ability to find the paint as a deep-ball option on the outside or a catch-and-run specialist from the slot gives him the nod as the top receiver on the OROY board," Zierlein wrote. "Brown is special with the ball in his hands, so look for Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman to load him up with receiver screens and shallow crossers to not only attack defenses but also elevate Lamar Jackson's confidence early in games. Brown has a chance to become the most-targeted pass catcher on the team."
If Brown does end up snagging the Offensive Player of the Year award, it would buck a trend. As Zierlein noted, only three wide receivers have taken home the honor over the past 20 years. Four of the past six winners have been running backs, and NFC rookies have captured the award 12 consecutive years. No Raven has ever won the award (Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III won it with the Washington Redskins in 2012).
Of course, just how successful Brown's rookie season will be is largely dependent on how quickly he recovers from Lisfranc surgery on his foot.
"If the rehab continues into training camp or the injury leads to other health issues, Brown will be at risk of wasting a rookie year — or, at least, pushing back the timetable of when he can truly bolster Baltimore's offense," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "On the flip side, if Brown returns to the field early in training camp and remains healthy, he carries the promise of a game-changing speedster."
Position Groups to Be Excited About
In large part because of "Hollywood's" presence, there is a lot of optimism about the Ravens' wide receiver corps this season. In fact, wide receiver was at the top of Baltimore Beatdown's Zach Rohde's list of position groups Ravens fans should be excited about.
In addition to Brown, Rohde cited third-round pick Miles Boykin and veteran Willie Snead – who led the Ravens with 62 receptions last season – as wide receivers he expects significant contributions from. Rohde also looks for big things from Chris Moore, who is entering his fourth season.
"Chris Moore looks primed for a big season and deserves the praise that has been given to him thus far this offseason," Rohde wrote. "Moore is a serious breakout candidate in 2019 as he factors into a bigger role with the team."
Kasinitz shared Rohde's positive feelings about Snead.
"As a tough, reliable slot receiver with a knack for finding seams in the defense, Snead won't break games open or load up highlight reels in 2019 the way some of his teammates might," Kasinitz wrote. "But he does offer Jackson a security blanket and could catch enough passes to amass more receiving yards than any of his teammates."
Mostly due to the presence of Matthew Judon, another position at which Rohde believes there is cause for optimism is outside linebacker, even with the departure of all-time Ravens great Terrell Suggs and 2018 sacks leader Za'Darius Smith in free agency.
"Matthew Judon showed last season he is ready to assume a full-time role for this team as one of the better pass-rushers the Ravens will deploy," Rohde wrote. "A breakout season is coming for Judon this year and he will become a household name in 2019."
Rohde isn't alone in his belief that Judon will emerge as a force this season.
"He's a proven pass-rusher capable of cranking his production up a couple of notches," Bleacher Report's Maurice Morton wrote. "Going into the 2019 campaign, he's the lead pass-rusher with familiarity in Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale's scheme. … He's heading into a contract year, and a double-digit sack season could encourage the front office to keep him on the long-term books."
Beyond Judon, Rohde feels Tim Williams has the potential to step up this season, and he praised the signing of free agents Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray.
"Those four players alone give the Ravens a deep core with potential to be one of the best position groups on the team," Rohde wrote.
Safety is the other position Rohde thinks fans should be enthusiastic about.
"[Earl] Thomas is one of the best safeties in the NFL, and being placed in the Baltimore system will give him even more of an opportunity to grow and shine," Rohde wrote. "The departure of Eric Weddle will be felt, but Thomas is more than qualified to step in and handle his role next to incumbent starter Tony Jefferson.
"This position group also boasts Anthony Levine, who will surely have a role on this defense similar to what he did last year, along with his stellar contributions on special teams. Second- and fourth-year safeties DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark could also step up in a big way this season."
Marlon Humphrey Is a Huge Bargain for Ravens
When it comes to delivering the most bang for one's buck, no one's actions on the Ravens speak louder than those of cornerback Marlon Humphrey. (Two clichés in one sentence – impressive!)
Humphrey has the most team-friendly contract on the Ravens, in the opinion of Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox. Humphrey, the Ravens' first-round draft pick in 2017, has two years remaining on a four-year deal reportedly worth $11.8 million.
"Elite cornerbacks are hard to find, but the Ravens are only going to pay theirs $3.2 million in 2019," Knox wrote. "Having a No. 1 corner on such a team-friendly contract is likely one of the reasons the Ravens could offer safety Earl Thomas a four-year, $55 million contract this offseason. Baltimore will have Humphrey on the cheap for two more seasons and can keep him for a third by using the fifth-year option."
In other news regarding Humphrey, he returned to his hometown of Hoover, Ala., over the weekend to host a youth football camp.
"I just wanted to be able to give back a little bit," Humphrey told AL.com's Josh Bean.