Kamalei Correa Trade Leads to Revisiting of 2016 Draft
The Ravens created headlines Tuesday morning when they traded linebacker Kamalei Correa to the Tennessee Titans, reportedly for a sixth-round pick.
Correa's departure is surprising considering many pundits thought he would be named to the Ravens' 53-man roster. Instead, Correa will be reuniting with former Baltimore Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, who holds the same title with the Titans.
A second-round pick in 2016, Correa enjoyed a strong start to the preseason by coming up with three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception during the Hall of Fame game. That outing led analysts to believe Correa could break out after moving from inside linebacker to his preferred role outside, but he didn't make much of an impact throughout the rest of the preseason as several other Ravens pass rushers emerged.
The trade has been well-received by most pundits, who feel the Ravens did a good job of getting something for a player that was probably going to be low on the depth chart this season.
"This trade makes sense on just about every count," Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler wrote.
Trading Correa has also led to plenty of pundits revisiting the 2016 NFL Draft.
The first day of that draft has aged well. In the first round (No. 6 overall), the Ravens took left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who has been a starter and steady presence on the offensive line for both of his seasons in Baltimore.
The second day of the draft is being viewed differently. That day, the Ravens traded back twice, first from the No. 36 pick to the No. 38 pick, for which they received a fifth-round pick. The Ravens then moved back again from the No. 38 pick to the No. 42 pick, receiving an additional fourth-round pick.
Correa was ultimately drafted at No. 42, while in the third round the Ravens selected defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, who broke his ankle early during his rookie training camp and is now on the roster bubble just like Correa was before the trade.
"There's no disputing the fact that Correa and Kaufusi were bad misses," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.
Kaufusi is still with the Ravens and battling to make the 53-man roster, but there's no doubt that Baltimore's front office envisioned those two picks making more of an impact in their first two seasons.
The team has also been criticized by pundits for moving back because of the number of talented players that were drafted in the second round. The list includes Pro Bowl selections like New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones.
Sure, the Ravens would, looking back, love to have those players in purple and black. That's part of the difficulty of the NFL Draft, though; it's so easy to look back at what each pick turned into, rather than looking at what the circumstances were on draft weekend. And hindsight is always 20/20.
To fully evaluate the Correa selection, it's also essential to look at what the Ravens got from the two picks they received while trading back. The Ravens turned the fourth-round pick into wide receiver Chris Moore, while the team drafted outside linebacker Matthew Judon with its extra pick in the fifth round.
Moore improved throughout his sophomore campaign both on offense as well as special teams, and he's followed that up with an impressive summer. He looks set to be a high-end No. 4 receiver in 2018, and could also return kicks.
Judon, meanwhile, emerged as a starter last season for 2018 which he finished with eight sacks, and was rated among the best sack artists in the NFL. He's in store for another leap forward this year.
The fact that both of these picks have turned into key pieces for the Ravens should be considered while evaluating the Correa selection.
When looking at the entire 2016 Draft, it should also be noted that Moore and Judon weren't the only valuable players the Ravens picked up on Day 3. Left guard Alex Lewis and defensive tackle Willie Henry were both taken in the fourth round, and they join Judon in being projected starters for 2018.
Cornerback Tavon Young (fourth round) started 11 games as a rookie and is expected to be the defense's top slot cornerback in 2018. Other talented contributors include running back Kenneth Dixon (fourth round) and cornerback Maurice Canady (fifth round).
It was an impressive haul of talented players which has helped the Ravens create such a deep roster that could ultimately play a big part in Baltimore having a banner year in 2018.
"Day 3 of the 2016 draft produced three projected 2018 starters as well as four others who've already been — or have a good chance to be — real contributors," WNST's Luke Jones wrote. "Any team would gladly take that."
Will the Correa Trade Lead to More Trades?
In the aftermath of the Correa trade, many pundits started to speculate if the Ravens could possibly make another trade. It would make sense – the Ravens have a very deep roster this season at certain positions, meaning they could get value for players that may not make the 53-man roster, or would be low on the depth chart.
ESPN has speculated the Ravens may look to add depth along the offensive line. Outside of Baltimore's top six linemen, the rest of the group is low on experience.
Last year, the Ravens added two offensive linemen late in the preseason, neither of which are still with the team – centers Luke Bowanko and Tony Bergstrom.
Joe Flacco Sheds Light on Relationship with Lamar Jackson
When the Ravens drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round this past May, many analysts wondered what the dynamic would be between he and incumbent quarterback Joe Flacco.
At the outset of the offseason, the narrative in the media was that there could be a quarterback controversy that would strain the relationship between the two. Much was made of Flacco not immediately reaching out to Jackson after he was drafted, which led CBSSports' John Breech to write "Flacco hasn't exactly broken out the welcome wagon for Baltimore's newest quarterback, Lamar Jackson."
The quarterback controversy didn't materialize though, as Flacco maintained command of the starting job with an outstanding training camp and preseason.
A contentious relationship between the two also never materialized, which Flacco recently weighed in on during an interview with Adam Schein on Mad Dog Sports Radio.
"The relationship is great. Lamar's a great kid. I think we have a really good room," Flacco said.
Flacco goes on to say that he doesn't "know if that's necessarily correct," on if his dynamic with Jackson is that of a mentor/apprentice.
"I'm pretty much just treating it like a normal QB room, and having a lot of fun, and learning from each other while we're in there," Flacco said.
Flacco going about his business as usual could be a great benefit for a rookie quarterback as he acclimates himself to life in the NFL. Seeing how an established veteran prepares on a weekly basis, as well as how a franchise quarterback interacts with his teammates, should do wonders for Jackson's development. It's a luxury that not every rookie quarterback has.
"My job is to win football games," Flacco said. "My job is to be a leader for sure and, you know, I think part of that is handling that room. There's no doubt about that. I think that's just your job as a whole.
"I'm focusing on winning football games, and doing whatever is right in a leadership role as far as getting our team ready to play and win football games."
Schein also used the interview to try to get inside info on if the Ravens have plans for a separate package for Jackson so that he can contribute on the field as a rookie. Flacco began to laugh, and refused to reveal any of the offense's secrets.
"You're going to have to wait and see, man. I don't know if I can give away too much or anything like that," Flacco said. "I got nothing for you."
Milestones the Ravens Could Reach in 2018
There are a few big individual milestones that Ravens players could surpass in 2018. PennLive's Aaron Kasinitz highlighted a few, and also looked at how likely it would be for the Ravens to achieve them.
OLB Terrell Suggs moving into NFL's Top 10 for career sacks: T-Sizzle currently sits at 17th with 125.5 sacks and needs 12 more to crack the league's all-time Top 10. If he were to get 12 sacks, he would then enter a three-way tie for ninth with Richard Dent and John Randle.
On paper, 12 sacks seems like a lot to expect from a 35-year-old but, as Kasinitz pointed out, "it's only one off Suggs' total from last season."
RB Alex Collins becoming Top 5 for Ravens career rushing yardage: Collins already sits 13th in franchise history for rushing yards after just one season with the team. He would need 1,033 rushing yards to surpass Justin Forsett, who currently sits in fifth with 2,005.
"It's not difficult to imagine the powerful ball-carrier eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in 2018," Kasinitz wrote. "After all, Collins joined the team a week before the start of the regular season last year and figures to benefit from an offseason's worth of work in Baltimore."
RB Buck Allen moves into Top 20 for Ravens career catches: Allen needs 12 receptions to reach the franchise's Top 20 for career catches as a Raven. This looks achievable, as Allen has 94 receptions over his first three seasons with the Ravens, and he's expected to continue as the team's primary pass-catching running back in 2018.
"Don't be too surprised if Mr. Buck Allen earns a career high in receptions and finds a way to lead the team in 2018," Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw wrote.
Judon climbing into Top 10 for career sacks as a Raven: Judon could join an impressive list of Ravens if he puts together an 8.5 sack season. If he does that, it would give him 20.5 career sacks, which would put him just ahead of Jarret Johnson, who sits at No. 10.
Judon is being touted by many pundits to have a breakout year in 2018, which makes 8.5 sacks seem doable.
"Judon's looking like the heir to the Terrell Suggs throne," Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle Barber wrote. "His development went from a few sacks to big-time pressures and stops in both the running and passing game."
Ravens Could Profit from Kaare Vedvik Interest
Though kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik almost assuredly won't be playing for Baltimore this season, it does appear that he will have a job in the NFL, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Vedvik has been excellent during the preseason, converting five of his six field goal attempts in games. He has also impressed as a punter, averaging 48 yards on 14 punts.
The previously assumed route for Vedvik was not making the 53-man roster, followed by getting picked up by another team once he hits waivers. Now with multiple teams eying him, RavensWire's Matthew Stevens believes, "Baltimore is actually sitting on a bit of a gold mine in Vedvik."
"If a team isn't high on the waiver wire but still would like Vedvik, they might have to pony up some draft equity to ensure they land him," Stevens wrote.
That Vedvik is drawing so much interest should come as no surprise to punter Sam Koch, who said the Norwegian is "one of the most impressive guys that I have seen come through here."
"He's got a great leg – which you have to have a great leg in order to get into this league to begin with," Koch said. "But his ability to pay attention to the details as a rookie has been one of those things that you don't see from a lot of people."
- Pro Football Focus has rated defensive tackle Michael Pierce as the top interior defensive lineman of the preseason. Pierce has four tackles and a forced fumble in three games.