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Mailbag: Will the Focus Be on Building the Offense?

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) is defended by West Virginia cornerback Charles Woods (9) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.
TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) is defended by West Virginia cornerback Charles Woods (9) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.

Mink: As it stands now, the Ravens have an obvious need at wide receiver. They made it clear that they want to upgrade that room. The other need could be at cornerback, but that's if the Ravens don't bring back Marcus Peters. If Peters returns, the need for a high pick at corner is significantly smaller.

There's still a lot of time between now and the draft. While I don't expect the Ravens to be big players on the free-agent market, seeing which of their unrestricted free agents they retain and who they bring in will determine their draft needs. The goal will be to enter the draft with as few glaring holes as possible.

If the Ravens don't take a wide receiver or cornerback in the first round, I do think they could pick an outside linebacker or defensive lineman, for example. Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul are both pending free agents, so the Ravens need to either bring one back or keep adding more talent to the outside linebacker room consisting of Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. If Calais Campbell retires or doesn't return, that's a hole on the defensive line to fill.

I don't think Baltimore thinks too much about balancing the level of talent on both sides of the ball. The offense has one of the most talented players in all of football in Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, J.K. Dobbins, Ronnie Stanley and more. The Ravens believe they have a lot of talent, and continuity, on offense going into next year, with an obvious need to improve at wide receiver.

If the Ravens are in a position where it makes most sense to make an already strong defense even stronger, they'll do so without apology. Having a dominant defense leading the way isn't a bad thing. Just ask the 2000 Ravens. That year, the addition of defensive tackle Sam Adams to an already stout defense put it over the top. Though it's also fair to point out that using the No. 5-overall pick on Jamal Lewis and signing tight end Shannon Sharpe were huge moves too.

Downing: Should he hit the open market, the idea of bringing Keenan Allen to Baltimore sure is alluring. Allen has been compared to Anquan Boldin since he was coming out in the draft, and bringing him to Baltimore has shades of the Ravens acquiring Boldin back in 2010. Allen would be an immediate upgrade to the receiver group and would give the Ravens an established weapon who can move the chains, make contested catches and bring put up points in the red zone. Allen has played 10 NFL seasons and topped 1,000 yard in five of them. He has 52 career touchdowns. He's coming off a down year by his standards, where he missed seven games and finished with 66 catches for 752 receiving yards and four touchdowns. If the Chargers opted to part ways with him, then it wouldn't surprise me to see the Ravens pick up the phone.

The Ravens acknowledged during the season-review press conference that they want to remake the receiver room this offseason. They'll use free agency and the draft to make that happen, but they'll be somewhat limited based on salary cap space. It's tough to see the Ravens pulling off a move like the Dolphins, Raiders and Eagles did last year (for Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and A.J. Brown), but they could likely be in the market for an affordable veteran. Would Allen come at a price the Ravens could afford? That remains to be seen, but his addition would surely check a number of boxes for this team.

Mink: We're still a long way away from prime prospect talk, so I haven't really looked at each guy too in-depth yet. On the surface, Quentin Johnston is very different from Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jordan Addison. Johnston stands in at 6-foot-3 with explosive speed to take the top off defenses. He's in the mold of a big-bodied deep-ball threat Ravens fans have long yearned for. However, he doesn't seem to have as much polish as the other two top prospects. Smith-Njigba is a menace in the slot and very technically savvy. He would give Jackson a dangerous intermediate option to help take some stress off Mark Andrews. Addison is also a strong route-runner, very shifty after the catch, and can play outside or inside with 4.4 speed. He's the smallest of the three, however. Another name getting some buzz recently is Zay Flowers (Boston College), who is a 5-foot-10, shifty slot option.

I think the Ravens could take any of them, to be honest. There isn't so much of a "type," but rather the simple need of a playmaker. Rashod Bateman showed before his injury he can make big plays both over the top (vs. Jets) and in the intermediate (vs. Dolphins). The best match for the Ravens will be someone who, like Bateman, can do it all.

Downing: There's been no indication publicly from Lamar Jackson on who he would like to see the Ravens hire at offensive coordinator. The closest thing to that was a tweet from him on Jan. 19, where he retweeted a post saying that Louisville ran a pro-style offense when he was in college. The implication from that post is that he'd like to see the Ravens move more in that direction compared to the run-heavy scheme they used under Greg Roman. Head Coach John Harbaugh has conducted an extensive search for a new offensive coordination, and he indicated last month that Jackson would have a voice in the process. Whatever role Jackson has, he and the Ravens have kept that behind-the-scenes at this point.

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