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Late for Work: Baltimore Banner Ranks the Ravens' Position Groups From Strongest to Weakest

TE Mark Andrews
TE Mark Andrews

Ranking the Ravens' Position Groups From Strongest to Weakest

The Baltimore Banner's Giana Han took stock of the Ravens' roster heading into the draft and ranked the 11 position groups from strongest to weakest.

Not surprisingly, tight ends and specialists took the top two spots. As noted in Late for Work earlier this week, Sports Illustrated ranked both of those units as the very best in the NFL.

Defensive linemen were next on Han's list.

"The biggest news of the offseason arguably wasn't running back Derrick Henry's signing but rather Justin Madubuike's extension," Han wrote. "While the running back position has slowly lost some of its luster in the modern NFL, disruptive interior defensive linemen are rapidly gaining value. Plus, Madubuike is much younger and is on a longer contract. He'll have the advantage of being surrounded by familiar faces next year. Michael Pierce and Broderick Washington have signed extensions, and Brent Urban elected to return. Travis Jones, a third-rounder in 2022, could take a step forward in his third season."

Han ranked offensive linemen as the weakest position group, which also wasn't a surprise considering the Ravens lost three starters from the unit this offseason.

Wide receivers were the Ravens' second-weakest unit in Han's estimation.

"Of their two veteran free agents, the Ravens signed the more inconsistent performer but cheaper option in Nelson Agholor," Han wrote. "They have two young players with potential in Zay Flowers and Rashod Bateman, but the depth chart pretty much stops there. [Head Coach John] Harbaugh said he has high hopes for Bateman, who played well and stayed healthy but struggled to find a connection with [Lamar] Jackson. His progress will be critical to the success of the group.

"Harbaugh also mentioned Tylan Wallace as a potential part of the rotation. Wallace's big moment last year was a punt return — he made just one catch on offense last year. For a position that usually puts three guys on the field at once and utilizes a rotation, three, maybe four, options is not enough."

Edge rusher has often been identified as a weakness for the Ravens this offseason, but Han moved the unit up to seventh in her rankings thanks to the re-signing of Kyle Van Noy last week.

"[Jadeveon] Clowney and Van Noy were crucial to the Ravens' success. Clowney's departure is a major hit, but the news that Van Noy is returning shot this position up two spots on the list," Han wrote. "Now, they'll have Van Noy to play alongside Odafe Oweh, who has yet to reach his potential but received high praise from General Manager Eric DeCosta when he spoke at the NFL combine. David Ojabo will be back, although it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy. He was limited to two games last season.

"[Malik] Harrison's return is important for depth at both linebacker and special teams, but he hasn't shown he can be a nine-sack rusher like Clowney and Van Noy were. Tavius Robinson, who played in all 17 games primarily on special teams, offers some potential upside entering his second year."

Ravens Address Fifth-Year Option Decisions and Possibility of Making Moves Before the Draft

Among the takeaways from the Ravens' pre-draft press conference (aka the Liars Luncheon) was that no decision (or at least announcement) has been made regarding whether the team will pick up the fifth-year options on the rookie contracts of Bateman and Oweh. The deadline for those decisions is May 2.

"Bateman and Oweh, the Nos. 27 and 31 overall selections in the 2021 draft, respectively, have shown flashes of their first-round talent in their three seasons in Baltimore. But their price tags could be prohibitive, even at premium positions," The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "Bateman, who has 1,167 receiving yards in his injury-marred career, would be owed $14.3 million in 2025. Oweh, who has 13 career sacks, would be due $13.3 million."

Another takeaway was that the Ravens are unlikely to make any more noteworthy acquisitions prior to the draft.

"While acknowledging that opportunities could always arise, DeCosta downplayed the chances of the Ravens making a significant addition before the draft, describing last week's signing of Van Noy as 'one of the last things on my checklist,'" The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.

Our Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink named 10 things we (maybe) learned from the press conference, and Mink and Garrett Downing broke down the biggest talking points from the afternoon on “The Lounge” podcast.

Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks Name Favorite Prospects for Ravens at No. 30

NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks revealed their favorite prospects for the Ravens to target with the 30th-overall pick. They both went with players who fit the Ravens' prototype.

For Jeremiah, it's Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims.

"A big, hulking tackle," Jeremiah said. "If this was next year and he had a chance to go through a full season as a starter and didn't just have those eight games that we have now to watch, I think he's a top 10, top 15 pick. So there could be a real value at this point in time in his entering this draft class. … The Ravens love big guys and they love beating people up, and he does both."

Brooks named Missouri defensive tackle Darius Robinson as his choice.

"He kinda plays the way that the Ravens like their guys to play," Brooks said. "Feisty, competitive, has some versatility, hard-working player, kinda like a hard hat and a lunch pail type coming off the edge. And when you see him play, you see the physicality and toughness that you traditionally see in Baltimore Ravens picks."

Pundit Says Henry Could Be 'Biggest Boom or Bust Free Agent Signing This Offseason'

A number of pundits have described Henry and the Ravens as a perfect fit, but’s Kevin Patra is not as bullish on the pairing of the star running back and the league's No. 1 rushing attack.

"He has the potential to be the biggest boom-or-bust free agent signing of the offseason," Patra wrote.

Patra predicted Henry's statistics will dip this season after he rushed for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns with the Tennessee Titans last season.

"I'm not expecting some precipitous fall-off here, but I do struggle to see Henry getting an overwhelming share of carries in the Ravens' offense," Patra wrote. "Henry has led the league in carries in four of the past five seasons, including 2023. Assuming Lamar Jackson will still get a slice of the rushing attempts in Baltimore, Henry could struggle to get back to the 1,100-yard mark. Since breaking the 2,000-yard barrier in 2020, Henry has seen his YPC dwindle; last season, he tied a career low with 4.2. Yes, he'll be playing with a better O-line than the patchwork quilt he ran behind last year in Tennessee, but Baltimore is also dealing with attrition up front."

Patra said that how Henry fits into Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken's scheme will be one of the more interesting things to track when training camp opens.

"So far, both the back and coaching staff believe it's a match made in heaven. However, it's all just projection until we see Henry lined up next to Jackson," Patra wrote.

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