Ravens Given Lowest Offseason Grade of AFC North
We're a few weeks removed from the NFL draft now and media outlets are taking stock of the entire offseason and giving their grades across the NFL. Though the Ravens were busy this offseason landing a new offensive coordinator, re-signing their star quarterback and rebuilding their wide receiver corps, pundits aren't quick to deal out high grades to Baltimore.
Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame: "Grade: B-. If Baltimore is right and Jackson proves worth the money despite recent injuries, the Ravens are positioned well to be a force in the AFC," Verderame wrote. "With Jackson and coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore has an advantage over most teams in the two most important spots on Sunday afternoon. While a stagnant offseason on defense brings questions, the offense appears in good shape. And above all, the coaching acumen in Baltimore should cover enough issues to make the Ravens a contender in the AFC North."
Curiously, Verderame gave the Ravens the lowest grade of his AFC Report card, with two teams receiving a B and the Pittsburgh Steelers getting the highest grade in the division, a B+.
PFF’s Sam Monson: "Grade B. Adding Odell Beckham Jr. is an interesting move, albeit a pricey one, but gives Baltimore needed receiver help," Monson wrote. "The draft continued that trend with Zay Flowers a nice fit even if the first round was higher than I would have personally drafted him. Andrew Vorhees along the offensive line is a steal in Round 7, but otherwise this draft felt some way short of Baltimore's usual standard."
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox: "Grade B. There may be some growing pains in Baltimore this season, as Jackson and his teammates adjust to new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. However, the Ravens did a wonderful job of supporting Jackson with an improved receiving corps while delaying any future QB contract drama for at least another half-decade."
It's hard to not wonder why the Ravens don't get an "A" grade for re-signing their MVP-winning franchise quarterback while pairing him with a more pass-savvy offensive coordinator and weapons pundits have clamored for.
Temper Expectations of Zay Flowers Being a Rookie Fantasy Football Star
Before making Zay Flowers your No. 1 wide receiver for your upcoming fantasy and dynasty leagues, Sports Illustrated’s Michael Fabiano took a deep dive on how smaller wide receivers have fared in the NFL. According to Fabiano, Year 1 might not beasproductive for Flowers as Ravensfans hope.
"During the Super Bowl era, the number of wide receivers 5'9" or shorter (not including weight) who have thrived in fantasy football is very limited. Just four have scored over 300 PPR points in a single season," Fabiano wrote. "If we expand to 200 PPR points, just 15 wideouts have hit that mark who fall into our height range. And remember, this research is over a 56-year span of NFL games."
It gets lower when Fabiano includes weight parameters.
"Now, let's look at the wide receivers who are at 5'9" or shorter and 175 pounds or lighter. That describes Flowers, Downs and Dell coming out of this year's class," Fabiano wrote. "With [Steve] Smith off the board, no wideouts had more than 264 PPR points. The best of the bunch was Gary Clark, who makes up four of the top six performances at this height and weight."
Fabiano also mentions the stiff competition Flowers will face competing for the ball within his own squad.
"Flowers, who is considered the most valuable rookie receiver in fantasy drafts, will also have to deal with Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor in a very crowded Ravens offense," Fabiano wrote.
Will Brinson: Ravens Miss AFC North Crown, Will Earn AFC's Top Wildcard
After the 2023 NFL schedule release, CBS Sports’ Will Brinson gave a full win projection for each team. For the Ravens, Brinson projects a sturdy 12-5 record.
"Baltimore has three divisional road games in its first five games of the year. If the Ravens manage to go 2-1 in those games, they'd be a borderline lock to get double-digit wins," Brinson wrote. "Todd Monken will make this offense fun again."
Brinson expands on the win projection with playoff team predictions, where he believes the Bengals will take the AFC North for a third straight year.
"The Bengals have never been AFC North champs for three straight seasons. Last year was just their 12th divisional title and just the second time they repeated as divisional champs," Brinson wrote. "This year would have been a cakewalk, too, barring something strange, if Baltimore hadn't gotten its act together and inked Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal. Jackson's presence definitely makes this divisional race much more interesting. I've still got the Bengals squeaking it out, although in very narrow fashion with the Ravens projecting as the top wild-card team in the AFC. I love Todd Monken's addition as offensive coordinator plus the weapons Baltimore grabbed for Lamar this offseason."
Both teams look well suited to compete once more for the division crown, but the past two seasons have been easier for Cincinnati to win with Jackson playing in 12 games in back-to-back seasons. If Jackson can remain healthy, the division race just may go in Baltimore's favor.
Morgan Moses Called Ravens' 'Best-Kept Secret'
When it comes to appreciating offensive linemen, Ravens fans know a thing or two. And now, national media sees it for the Ravens too, as Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine lists offensive tackle Morgan Moses as the Ravens' "best-kept secret."
"An offensive tackle who simply shows up every day and does his job well is a valuable commodity in the NFL. It's not one that comes with a whole lot of glamour, though," Ballentine wrote. "Morgan Moses is Exhibit A. In two seasons with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens he only gave up eight sacks while manning the right tackle spot, per Sports Info Solutions. While his pass protection has been solid, it's what he does in the run game that's really valuable."
According to PFF, Moses was valuable in both, with an 80.7 run grade (No. 8 among tackles) and a 76.9 pass block grade (No. 22).