Kaare Vedvik Trade Shows Eric DeCosta's Plan for the Future
In his first season as general manager, Eric DeCosta is earning rave reviews.
That continued Sunday when the Ravens dealt kicker Kaare Vedvik to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick, pending the passing of his physical.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Ravens received a 2020 fifth-round pick in exchange for Vedvik, making it the highest compensation a team has received for a kicker in 23 years.
"Considering it was for a kicker Baltimore wasn't going to keep on their 53-man roster ... it's another big score early DeCosta's tenure as general manager," Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote.
Schefter reported that "at least" four teams called the Ravens to inquire about trading for Vedvik, and pundits believe the Ravens were smart to sell high.
"Netting a fifth-round draft pick for a kicker is rare, but with many teams struggling to find reliable kickers to execute in pressure situations, teams like the Vikings feel that ponying up a mid- to late-round draft pick is needed to put up game-altering points on the scoreboard," Baltimore Beatdown's Adrian Charchalis wrote.
The Ravens traded guard Alex Lewis to the New York Jets last week, reportedly in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. Pair that with the potential for cap flexibility next offseason and DeCosta has a plan in mind.
"DeCosta's handling of his first full draft cycle has already been really interesting," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer wrote. "Baltimore's always been deft in the area of comp-pick management, and this year, while Earl Thomas (coming) cancels out C.J. Mosley (going), the Ravens still are on the positive side of the ledger, enough so to get a nice pick or two. … They still have to hit on these picks, of course. But DeCosta, at the very least, seems to be building himself some nice margin for error."
Given the Ravens' established track record in the draft, Stevens noted that a mid- to late-round pick carries a lot of weight. It may also provide ammunition for a future draft-day trade.
"Over the last decade, the Ravens have found gold in the fifth round," Stevens wrote. "They've selected tight end Nick Boyle, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, offensive linemen Jermaine Eluemunor, tackle Ricky Wagner, defensive end Arthur Jones, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and guard John Urschel. All of those players have either been outright starters or have been in competition for starting jobs for Baltimore. Several even earned massive contracts after their rookie deals with the Ravens were over, showing how great Baltimore has been at finding talent there and developing it.
"If the Ravens keep the fifth-round pick they got in exchange for Vedvik, they have a good chance at drafting a major contributor. But Baltimore could package that pick to move up or down the draft and get talent elsewhere."
Pundits Still Doubtful About Lamar Jackson's Future
Death, taxes, and questions about Lamar Jackson.
The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks based on who is best set up for success, and Jackson landed at No. 20 on the list.
Of the five first-round quarterbacks selected in 2018, Jackson ranked only behind Baker Mayfield.
"They've gone all in on trying to maximize Jackson's strengths, which is admirable considering how many coaches just try to force their scheme regardless of personnel," Kapadia wrote. "The run game should be diverse and efficient with the addition of Mark Ingram and promotion of Greg Roman to offensive coordinator. And the offensive line should be solid once everyone's healthy. Ravens quarterbacks were hit or sacked on 15.9 percent of their dropbacks last year — fifth fewest. The big question is at receiver. How much of an impact can rookies Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin make in 2019?"
The Ravens have completely transformed their offense around Jackson, and he told reporters that they didn't show any of their game plan against the Jaguars.
While wide receiver remains a question mark, DeCosta and the front office invested in two talented rookie receivers with the team's first three picks in the 2019 draft. They traded up to select Boykin, and the third-round selection has already made an impact.
Boykin bounced back from some early drops to lead the Ravens with four catches in the first preseason game, including a touchdown catch that was wiped away by a holding penalty.
It's exactly the mentality you want to see from a rookie receiver.
"Boykin definitely looks good when the ball is thrown to him, he works back to the ball, uses his large frame to create space and has strong hands but we did witness some drops," Baltimore Beatdown's Taylor Ciotola wrote. "... Obviously, they aren't excited about [Gregory] Senat holding on a play that would have gotten them six points, but the tape will help Boykin and McSorley moving forward. Remember, this was Boykin's first NFL game; we will see improvements in the coming months."
Former Ravens tight end and scouting intern Daniel Wilcox also expressed his excitement for Boykin on Glenn Clark Radio.
"He's a smooth route runner, got great hands … I think he's going to shock some people this year," Wilcox said. "He's going to make some plays you don't expect a rookie to make. I'm excited to see the kid play, I really am. … Every day I want to see what he's going to do in practice. … Once he gets to that 110 percent comfort level, I think you're going to see a dynamic player out of Boykin."
Perhaps the Ravens' most dynamic weapon, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, is still progressing from a Lisfranc injury, but took part in team drills for the first time over the weekend.
So let's pump the breaks before making any assumptions of the future.
Orlando Brown Jr., Bennett Jackson named to PFF's Preseason Team of the Week
There were plenty of standouts from the preseason win over the Jaguars, but two players really caught the eyes of the folks at Pro Football Focus.
Offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and safety Bennett Jackson were named to PFF's Preseason Team of the Week.
Brown is building off an impressive rookie campaign, where he didn't allow a sack in 10 starts. He was strong in pass protection again on Thursday night.
"A third-round draft pick out of Oklahoma a year ago, Brown looks likely to man the right tackle spot for the Ravens once again in 2019," PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote. "He was impressive in their win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, allowing zero sacks, hits or hurries from 22 snaps in pass protection."
Jackson totaled four tackles, one pass defensed, and an interception in the shutout win.
"The Ravens are deep at safety, but Jackson is a name to watch throughout August," McGuinness wrote. "After drawing rave reviews in training camp, he made an impact in their preseason opener with an interception and two tackles resulting in a defensive stop."
One of the intriguing stories of camp, Jackson is battling among one of the deepest position groups on the team.
"[Jackson] looked sharp, disciplined and he showed us his ball skills with that pick," Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler wrote. "Jackson did a lot to help his cause, but he happens to play a position the Ravens are fully stocked on."
- Following Vedvik's departure, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec expects the Ravens to add another leg with their open roster spot.
- NFL.com's Chris Wesseling believes the Ravens have the best secondary in the league.
- Sports Line's advanced computer model predicted the Ravens to exceed their projected win total of 8.5 this season.
- To no surprise, NFL Network's Bucky Brooks picked Jackson as the Ravens' offensive engine. "If you didn't believe the Ravens were all in on No. 8 after he put Baltimore on his back during last season's second-half run to the playoffs, all offseason chatter from John Harbaugh has further underscored the young quarterback's prominence. The 12th-year head coach has openly discussed 'revolutionizing' how teams approach the game's most important position, with an electric offense that's designed around Jackson's explosive talents as a dual-threat playmaker. With OC Greg Roman soliciting ideas from some of the most creative college minds in football, Jackson is poised to step into an offense that could help him recreate the buzz that originated with his dazzling Heisman Trophy run at Louisville."