Analysts Can See Mosley Winning Defensive Rookie Of Year
It's early. Very early.
Ravens top draft pick C.J. Mosley hasn't even played in his first NFL preseason game. But that's not stopping those who have seen the rookie in action from making a bold prediction.
"C.J. Mosley – don't forget the name," CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan told his national audience after visiting Ravens camp. "He will be up for Rookie of the Year as this season goes on. He is phenomenal."
Kirwan hasn't had the same opportunity to analyze the Ravens as some others, seeing as he is touring various NFL camps. But another analyst who has observed Mosley since rookie minicamp way back in May has come to the same conclusion.
"If Mosley makes the same types of plays in the regular season [as in practice], the Ravens' top pick has a shot at being the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY)," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
The Ravens finished last season as the 12th-best defense. That's a solid finish, but way below the team's usual standard. They want to regain their suffocating, dominant, violent reputation from years past. And Kirwan believes the unit is already looking like a better defense.
"The reason they look better is centered on rookie linebacker C.J.* *Mosley," Kirwan wrote. "Terrell Suggs likened him to Patrick Willis in his rookie season."
You'll recall Willis won the DROY in 2007. Like Willis, Mosley's athleticism immediately jumps out. He can run sideline to sideline, shed blocks, rush the passer and drop in coverage.
Want another comparison?
"He looks like a leaner version of former Ravens and Jets linebacker Bart Scott," said NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah. "Scott was really athletic and played with an edge. Mosley does that, but he has better instincts than Scott did."
The Ravens love Mosley as much for his brains as they do for his brawn, says Hensley. Mosley came from a sophisticated defense at Alabama, making his NFL transition easier and football IQ above the norm.
"Our scouts do a good job of trying to [figure] out his football IQ, and what is that exactly? [It is] guys who really understand the game and pick things up quickly, and C.J. is one of those guys," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "You don't have to tell him [something] more than once, and he makes corrections really quickly."
Some questioned Baltimore for using its No. 17 pick on a linebacker, considering it already had Daryl Smith and last year's second-round pick Arthur Brown. But Mosley has already moved into the starting position with the first-team defense and has not disappointed.
Plus, the Ravens "have to feel like they got two first-round picks" with Mosely and second-rounder defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, wrote Hensley.
Now, it's up to Mosley to simply continue his impressive play on the big stage in front of the bright lights. There's a good chance he will do just that.
"Mosley is a star in the making," concluded Kirwan.
Kirwan: Think Smith Done At 35? Forget It
Another day, another person impressed by Steve Smith Sr.
The Ravens are counting on those 35-year-old legs to make a difference in the passing game, helping move the chains on critical third downs and bringing a fiery leadership style to the offense.
Smith's production "plummeted" last year with an 11.6 yards per catch average and just four touchdowns. But Kirwan sees his marriage with Baltimore boosting his stock.
"For those of you who think Steve Smith's career is over because he played 13 years – forget it," Kirwan said. "He was awesome at practice. …* *Being with Joe Flacco could get him back up to his career average of 14.6 yards per catch and buy him another year or two."
Passing Game Ahead Of Run Game?
Everybody and their dogs know that Gary Kubiak's offensive system is predicated upon the passing game working off of a zone run-first foundation. However, Kirwan thinks the run game is behind the passing game at this point, and says the Ravens may have to win through the air the first couple of games of the season.
"I caution all Ravens fans that [the run game] will take time to develop." Kirwan said. "After watching practice, I feel the passing game is ahead of the run game, and this might be an offense that passes to set up the run.
"Can the new running game be ready for Weeks 1 and 2? No Ray Rice and a new zone scheme against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh is no easy task. I would think Flacco will be trying to win these games through the air because this scheme might take a month of regular-season games to get right."
The jury is still out on that prediction.
The run game is facing the Ravens' stingy defensive front seven in practice. And while Rice may be suspended for the first two games, former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick believes Pierce is a better fit for Kubiak's system because he is a big, physical back who is a one-cut runner.
According to Hensley, Pierce has been the best running back in training camp thus far.
"He played in a similar running scheme in college, and he has had the best transition to Kubiak's stretch, zone-blocking runs," Hensley wrote.
Mason: Flacco Is Player Under Most Pressure In NFL
We've heard the narrative before:
Flacco was paid $120 million dollars after winning Super Bowl XLVII and earned the MVP honor along with it. Then* *the Ravens handed him the keys to the offense and the team finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in Flacco's career.
That's why Flacco's former receiver Derrick Mason says in the video below that Flacco is under more pressure to perform this season than any other NFL player.
What are the early indications for a bounce-back season?
"As camp reaches its midway point, Flacco gets a 'C' grade," wrote Hensley. "He's made his share of good passes, and there have been some throws that have made coaches cringe. His biggest improvements has been his play-action fakes and his cadence, which he has used to draw more defenders offside than any previous training camp."
Comparing Andy Dalton, Flacco's Contracts
The numbers behind Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton's contract are in, and The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson breaks down how it compares to Flacco's.
"Cincinnati Bengals Owner Mike Brown followed a … team-friendly, pay-as-you-go approach to a six-year contract extension this week for quarterback Andy Dalton, which differs greatly from how the Ravens structured their blockbuster contract for Joe Flacco," Wilson wrote.
The Bengals took a more cautious approach with their quarterback, implementing many escalator clauses that can be triggered through on-field performance. Dalton can make up to $115 million (base of $97 million) by qualifying for the playoffs, then the divisional round, conference championship and the Super Bowl in each year of his deal. He also can earn more by playing 80 percent of the snaps.
"It's a much different approach to paying a quarterback," Wilson wrote. "The Bengals clearly took a more cautious strategy toward their financial commitment to Dalton, who has gone winless in three career playoff starts."
Below are the overall numbers:
|Andy Dalton Contract||Joe Flacco Contract|
|Term||6 years||6 years|
|Total||$115 million||$120.6 million|
|Signing Bonus||$12 million||$29 million|
|Average Per Year||$16 million||$20.1 million|
|Guaranteed||$17 million||$52 million|
- @wenning10: Opportunities like these are what I have dreamed of as long as I can remember. Everyday is a new opportunity to achieve. [Instagram]
- @gdowning: It's amazing to look at this team/staff photo from the Super Bowl 18 months ago and see how much has changed. [Twitter]
- A Cleveland Browns fan who uploaded a video of himself vandalizing former Ravens owner Art Modell's grave last month has been identified by police and charged with disorderly conduct in a cemetery. "Paul S. Serbu, 61, of the first block of Meadowcrest Dr. in Franklin, Ohio, was issued a criminal summons last month ordering him to appear in court to face the misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail and a $500 fine," wrote Colin Campbell. [The Baltimore Sun]
- "Fulback Kyle Juszczyk has a chance to have a breakout season," Hensley wrote. "While he isn't the typical physical blocker that the Ravens have at fullback, Juszczyk will make a much bigger impact in the passing game." [ESPN]
- "Will Hill looks to be the most talented safety on the roster," Hensley added. "He's suspended for the first six games of the season, so the former New York Giants defender won't provide immediate help. Don't be surprised if Hill is a starter at some point this year for the Ravens." [ESPN]
- "Owen Daniels has struggled to get separation in his first training camp with the Ravens," wrote Luke Jones. "The signing of Daniels to a one-year deal was an obvious move given his familiarity with Kubiak's offensive system, but the 31-year-old hasn't stood out in practices, struggling to gain separation against linebackers in coverage. Both Daniels and fellow tight end Dennis Pitta thrive in finding open windows in zone coverage, but the former will need to show a little more against man coverage to have the kind of impact the Ravens are looking for." [WNST]
- "Matt Elam has yet to stand out in his transition to the strong safety position," Jones added. "Much attention has been paid to the free safety spot as well as the lack of cornerback depth in the Baltimore secondary, but the 2013 first-round pick hasn't stood out after moving to the more natural position he played at the University of Florida. In fairness to Elam, there aren't many full-contact periods in practices for him to genuinely show off his physicality, but he's made few plays in coverage and hasn't looked the part of a rising impact defensive player." [WNST]
- Former Ravens safety and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed has been added to PFT's All-Unemployed Team. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- The Ravens are one of 13 NFL teams holding joint training camp practices. [The Baltimore Sun]