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Late for Work 6/24: Mark Andrews Is 'Even Better Than You Already Think He Is'

062422-LFW
TE Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews Named Ravens' Most Underrated Player By Sports Illustrated

Even though Mark Andrews was a first-team All-Pro last season and made his second Pro Bowl, the Ravens tight end is underrated, according to Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr, who selected each AFC team's most underrated player.

"Andrews' inclusion on this list may raise some eyebrows from people who think he's too good to be here. But the point we are making is that he is even better than you already think he is," Orr wrote.

To Orr's point, Andrews is often slotted behind Kansas City's Travis Kelce and San Francisco's George Kittle (and sometimes Las Vegas' Darren Waller) when national pundits rank the best tight ends in the league.

However, last season Andrews led all tight ends in receptions (107) and yards (1,361) and was tied for the lead in touchdowns (nine). He is the only player in history to be ranked in the top three in both single-season receptions and yards by a tight end.

Moreover, Andrews is more than just a prolific receiver. In comparing Andrews, Kelce and Kittle, Orr said Andrews is arguably the best overall blocker as well as the most dependable wide receiver. Andrews (26) also is younger than Kelce (32), Waller (29) and Kittle (28).

"While Kelce and Kittle had a slightly better completion percentage above expectation last year, Andrews was playing with both Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Jackson's slew of nontraditional releases often 'get' the ball there, but not always identically and formulaically," Orr wrote. "I don't think it's controversial to argue that it's both more rewarding and more difficult to be a tight end in the Ravens' system for several reasons, including the increased focus on physical run blocking and the increased number of improvisational plays."

Three Ravens Among Top 32 Best Value Contracts

Speaking of Andrews, he is one of three Ravens on Pro Football Focus' list of the top 32 most team-friendly contracts ahead of the 2022 season, coming in at No. 30.

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (No. 14) and offensive tackle Morgan Moses (No. 19) also made the list, and guard Kevin Zeitler just missed.

With an average annual salary of $14 million, Andrews — who signed a four-year contract extension last September — is the fifth-highest-paid tight end in the NFL, trailing Kittle ($15 million), Kelce ($14.313 million), Philadelphia's Dallas Goedert ($14.25 million) and Cleveland's David Njoku ($14.187 million).

No team has more players on the list than the Ravens, which is a testament to their "right player, right price" philosophy and their strategy in regard to contract extensions.

"Teams that are consistently proactive with early extensions — the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, to name a few — tend to find themselves on lists like these, and this year is no different," PFF's Brad Spielberger wrote.

Three 'Hope Predictions' and What Could Go Wrong for Each

Russell Street Report's Chris Schisler made some "hopeful predictions" for the Ravens this season and identified what could get in the way of each coming to fruition. Here's a look at three of them:

The defense will have more takeaways this season. (Note: The Ravens tied for 30th in the NFL in takeaways last season with just 15.)

What could go wrong: "The Ravens have a lot of new pieces to the puzzle and a new defensive coordinator. There may be a jelling period for the Ravens early in the season. On top of that, the Ravens play some great quarterbacks in the 2022 season, including going up against Joe Burrow and his weapons twice, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Josh Allen. There's no defense to a perfect throw and great quarterback play could make takeaways hard to come by. There could be some tough days at the office for this defense, one that may have some kinks to work out before they face elite competition."

J.K. Dobbins will rush for more than 1,000 yards.

What could go wrong: "The Ravens never let any of their running backs do too much of the heavy lifting. Dobbins will surely be working in a running back by committee situation. If Tyler Badie ends up being a steal at the running back spot, he could factor into the rotation. Gus Edwards could easily establish himself as the workhorse of the offense. There's a lot of competition in the backfield. More than anything though, the Ravens may be pulled away from their ground and pound philosophy. If the Ravens want to get more out of the passing game, it could be less of a running back utopia in Baltimore."

Bowser will have double-digit sacks, three interceptions.

What could go wrong: "There's no questioning that this prediction requires some projection. Bowser hasn't proven himself to be a dominant force off the edge. His performance has been solid but he has yet to wow us. … The Ravens have yet to sign another pass rusher this offseason. While Justin Houston didn't have huge numbers, he attracted a lot of attention from the opposing offensive line. We could be asking too much out of Bowser. The Ravens could be a little thin in their outside linebacker rotation and that could hamper Bowser's progress. Additionally, after suffering a torn Achilles in the season finale in January, Bowser seems to be making good progress. Still, we don't know when exactly he will be back at full strength and getting his full slate of reps."

AFC North Is No. 2 in Divisional Quarterback Rankings

Even though the Browns' quarterback situation is up in the air and the Steelers could be starting a rookie signal-caller, the AFC North came in at No. 2 in NFL.com's Adam Schein's annual ranking of the divisions by quarterback.

How is that possible?

"Because [the Bengals'] Burrow and Jackson are that special," Schein wrote.

Regarding Jackson, Schein wrote: "Jackson is a fantastic player. Don't put too much stock in last season, which was waylaid by an unreal rash of Ravens injuries — including to Jackson, who was seriously diminished by an ankle injury. The 2019 MVP, who has one year left on his rookie deal, will either be playing to boost the value of his next contract or show he's worthy of whatever deal he and Baltimore might agree to in the coming months. He's going to have a monster 2022 season."

The AFC West —which has Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, the Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert, Denver's Wilson and Las Vegas' Derek Carr — took the top spot in the rankings.

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