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Mailbag: Is Justin Tucker a First Ballot Hall of Famer?

K Justin Tucker

Downing: I don't get a Hall of Fame vote, but if I did, Justin Tucker would absolutely be a first-ballot selection. Tucker has made 90.5 percent of field-goal attempts in his career, and he's had his work cut out for him with those kicks. Tucker has attempted 80 kicks of 50+ yards, and he's remarkably made 57. Compared to some of the other great kickers in history, Tucker also has the disadvantage of playing in an outdoor stadium that historically has difficult conditions for kickers. He's a six-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro, with five of those All-Pro selections being for the first-team. He also has the longest field goal in NFL history, the 66 yarder to beat the Detroit Lions in 2021.

The only thing working against Tucker is that the Pro Football Hall of Fame has only inducted two true kickers – Jan Stenerud and Morten Anderson. Adam Vinatieri is the natural selection, and he becomes eligible for the first time in 2025. If Vinatieri gets in quickly, that bodes well for Tucker. The other important consideration with Tucker is that he still has plenty of good years ahead of him. He's already put up 11 terrific seasons, and he looks like he could continue to kick for another decade if he wants. When his career comes to a close, I expect Tucker to be widely regarded as the best kicker in NFL history and get a gold jacket once he's eligible.

Brown: I think the chances are excellent that the Ravens add both a veteran edge rusher and cornerback.

As I answer this question, Justin Houston is still a free agent and he led the Ravens last year with 9.5 sacks. Re-signing Houston would make a lot of sense to me, even though the Ravens are expecting David Ojabo and Odafe Oweh to contribute heavily in 2023. Ojabo and Oweh loved having Houston as an experienced mentor and they would still benefit from his presence. Meanwhile, with Ojabo, Oweh and Tyus Bowser playing the bulk of snaps at outside linebacker, Houston could be used as a situational pass-rusher without wearing down from playing too many snaps.

As for cornerback, the Ravens are always looking for depth at the position. Pepe Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis have missed time with injuries during their young careers. One veteran available on the free agent market is Bryce Callahan, who can play slot corner and had three interceptions with the Chargers in 2022. Kyle Fuller, the Baltimore native who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of last year, could be another corner the Ravens have interest in bringing back. And until Marcus Peters signs with another team, it would probably be unwise to 100% rule out his return, especially if a cornerback suffers an injury early in training camp.

Downing: The AFC North might be the best overall division in football. All four teams have legitimate playoff hopes, and it won't be an easy road for the Ravens to get to the postseason. Based on the betting odds right now, the power rankings for the division would be Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and then Cleveland. I think that order is right going into this season. The Bengals have won two-straight division titles and gone to back-to-back AFC championships. The Ravens know they must knock them out of that spot if they're going to get to where they want to go this season.

Flying slightly under the radar benefits the Ravens. This franchise has historically thrived in the underdog role, and that's where they'll be to start this season. The Ravens went to playoffs last year and they've made some major upgrades this offseason, but the AFC is stacked, and the division is extremely tough. The Steelers look like they may have a franchise quarterback in Kenny Pickett and the Browns expect to be improved with Deshaun Watson under center from the start of the season. The Ravens open the season with division road games in three of the first five weeks of the season, so we'll find out early just how accurate the preseason power rankings are for the AFC North.

Brown: I'm guessing the Ravens won't make a significant addition to the defensive line to offset the loss of Campbell.

There's no doubt Campbell was an important presence last season, even at this advanced stage of his career. He remained a consistent run stuffer, he had 5.5 sacks, and it's hard to measure his impact as a team leader.

However, the Ravens have high expectations for Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington and those feelings are justified. Both are coming off their best seasons and they're entering their contract years, so they'll be focused and motivated to step up. Brent Urban is a reliable veteran presence, Travis Jones showed his potential to be an impact player as a rookie, and the Ravens also signed 30-year-old veteran Angelo Blackson to compete for defensive line snaps.

The return of Michael Pierce from his season-ending torn biceps injury is another reason the Ravens feel good about their defensive line. Pierce has been an offseason participant since the beginning of OTAs looking strong and healthy. Campbell will be missed, but the Ravens feel they still have a strong defensive line without him.

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