Pundit Says Ravens Are 'Perfect Spot' for Yesterday's Combine Standout
Edge rush prospect Nolan Smith turned heads with his stupendous performance at the Combine yesterday, and NFL Network analyst Thomas Davis said the Ravens are the ideal team fit for the Georgia Bulldogs star.
"The Baltimore Ravens would be a perfect spot for Nolan Smith," Davis said. "Adding a young, fresh body like Nolan Smith to this lineup could be very vital to the Ravens. They spent a lot of money on Roquan Smith at the linebacker spot, [so] why not bring in another Georgia guy?"
After wide receiver and cornerback, edge rusher is perhaps the biggest offseason priority for the Ravens. Veterans Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul, both of whom are 34, are free agents. Odafe Oweh did not have the breakout Year 2 season he hoped for, and David Ojabo remains an unknown quantity after missing nearly the entire season as he recovered from a torn Achilles.
Smith, who suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in Georgia's eighth game last season, has been projected as a late first-round pick, but he undoubtedly improved his stock at the Combine by posting some eye-popping numbers.
The 6-foot-2, 238-pound Smith ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, the second-fastest time by a defensive lineman since 2003. He also had a 41.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump.
"There might be questions about Georgia edge Nolan Smith's size entering the NFL, but every athletic question imaginable was answered Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine," NFL.com’s Eric Edholm wrote. "A number of undersized rushers have thrived in the NFL in recent years, including the Eagles' Haason Reddick and the Patriots' Josh Uche, so perhaps the size-related concerns with Smith might be overblown following his banner workout in Indy."
Lamar Jackson Involved in Three Suggested Bold Offseason Moves by Football Outsiders
Football Outsiders writers suggested a bold move for each team this offseason, and Lamar Jackson was involved in three of them.
For the Ravens, the bold suggestion was to trade Jackson.
"The franchise tag appears imminent — but then what? The bold move would be to tag and trade Lamar to a team that would sign him to a rich new deal," Robert Weintraub wrote. "Would Chicago take Jackson for a package of picks and/or Justin Fields? Would Atlanta throw a bevy of assets at the Ravens in exchange? The Texans are lousy with draft capital as well as plain lousy — would they shift some of those extra picks Baltimore's way to revive a moribund franchise? Regardless of the destination, the Ravens' return likely won't ever be higher than now. The Ravens have a strong roster that still needs some pieces, and resetting the contract clock at quarterback might unlock a championship push if they draft the right (cheap) signal-caller.
"This is high-level risk, like going all-in at the World Series of Poker with the other guy showing trip aces. But folding (letting Lamar play in 2023 under the franchise tag and having the contract hang over the team for yet another season) may wind up costing the Ravens a giant pot in the end."
It's worth mentioning again that when General Manager Eric DeCosta was asked at the Combine about potentially trading Jackson, he said "that has not factored in one time with me." I suppose that's why suggesting the Ravens trade Jackson meets the "bold" criterion.
The bold suggestion for both the Falcons and Jets was to trade for Jackson.
"It would take two or three first-round picks, a passel of mid-round selections and perhaps sending [quarterback Desmond] Ridder back the other way, but it's the largest splash the Falcons could possibly make this offseason," Bryan Knowles wrote.
Cale Clinton wrote that the Jets should "do whatever it takes to land Jackson."
John Harbaugh Addresses How Jackson's Contract Situation Impacts Marcus Peters
Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke with CBS Sports' Josina Anderson at the Combine on Tuesday afternoon. Here are some of the highlights:
How a player on the franchise tag deals with the emotions of going year to year without long-term stability: "I think Lamar, specifically, deals with that stuff great because Lamar is a now kind of person. Year to year, month to month, week to week, day to day. Life is day to day. Life is minute by minute. So try to approach it like that — live in the moment. That's how we look at things. That's how Lamar looks at things. … Let's worry about today. Tomorrow will take care of itself."
How Jackson's contract situation impacts pending free agent Marcus Peters: "That's going to be a great question for the mathematicians in the building, because that's a big challenge, and I like to stay out of math equations as much as possible. But Marcus is my guy. I love Marcus Peters. He is a great competitor; he is a fiery dude; he's got a wonderful heart. As well as he played this year, he fought through that injury. He came back off a knee injury, and he's going to be that much better going forward. So putting Marcus next to Marlon [Humphrey] is something I'm really hopeful we get a chance to do."
What he is expecting from wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay next season: "I'm really expecting Rashod to come back in a real durable place. He's been training really hard and I think he's going to have a great year this year. Devin, the same way. Devin's been durable. He takes a lot of snaps, does a lot of work for us. In some ways I'd almost like to lighten his load. I know he doesn't want to hear that."
Kyle Hamilton Ranked As One of the 10 Best Safeties
The impact Kyle Hamilton made as a rookie is reflected by his No. 7 ranking in Pro Football Focus' list of the top 25 safeties of the 2022 season.
"The top safety in the 2022 rookie class and the 14th pick overall did not disappoint in his rookie year, outside of just not being a full-time starter for the entire season, which is what pushes him down this list a bit," PFF’s Jonathon Macri wrote. "Hamilton started the year in a fairly limited dime safety role, but as the year went on and his impact could not be ignored, he became the Ravens' primary nickel back in Week 8 and continued to impress.
"Hamilton's size and athletic ability made him a significant asset in defending the run and rushing the passer, posting top-five grades in both while adding a top-10 coverage grade (76.8)."
Marcus Williams, who had three interceptions in his first four games as a Raven before suffering a dislocated wrist in Week 5, was No. 18 in the rankings.
"Williams falls down this list a bit after missing seven games due to injury, but his high level of play can't be understated, posting his sixth straight overall grade above 70.0 since entering the league," Macri wrote. "While Williams' role in the Ravens' defense mostly asks him to play from a deep alignment, he does that incredibly well, posting a career-high 19.1% interception per coverage target rate (tied for fourth) and tying for seventh among qualifying safeties in yards allowed per coverage target (5.7)."
Veteran Cornerback Jonathan Jones Again Linked to Ravens
The Ravens were named the best fit for pending free-agent cornerback Jonathan Jones by NFL.com’s Nick Shook.
"He fits the profile of a plug-and-play veteran who won't cost the Ravens much and who provides the versatility they may desire while working in some of their other options in the secondary," Shook wrote. "Jones won't fetch a Jamel Dean-level offer, which should also preserve some of the cap space Baltimore will need to keep Jackson — whenever that happens."
Previously, PFF named Baltimore the ideal destination for the 29-year-old Jones, who started 16 games for the New England Patriots last season.