NFL Scout Says This Could Be Rashod Bateman's Time to Shine
The Ravens' revamped wide receivers room features a splashy free-agent acquisition in Odell Beckham Jr., a first-round rookie in Zay Flowers, and a solid veteran who was a standout at minicamp in Nelson Agholor.
While excitement over the additions is warranted, the returning Rashod Bateman should not be overlooked. The 2021 first-round pick was named one of three young wide receivers who have the best chance of taking their game to new heights in 2023 in Heavy.com’s survey of a handful of NFL executives and high-ranking scouts.
"Rashod Bateman is the guy," an AFC South scout said. "But, he needs to stay healthy. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, I don't expect Baltimore to be as run dominant as they have been. This season could finally be Rashod's time to shine."
Injuries have limited Bateman to 18 games over his first two seasons, but he has shown glimpses of his playmaking ability when healthy. In his first three games last year, Bateman had eight catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
"The Ravens have doubled down on bolstering the talent around franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and Bateman's 6-foot-1 and 193-pound frame gives him the opportunity to be a reliable red zone target, while benefiting from the space created by teams keying in on Beckham Jr. and Flowers," Heavy.com's Matt Lombardo wrote.
Bateman, who is working his way back from last year's Lisfranc surgery, was a spectator at minicamp last month after receiving a cortisone injection to aid in the healing process of having screws removed from his foot. He is expected to be ready to go at training camp, which begins July 26.
Three Core Players Ravens Should Build Roster Around
Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger identified three core players to build around for each team. Considering the plethora of talent on the Ravens' roster, choosing three was no simple task.
Jackson was a no-brainer. The other two named were tight end Mark Andrews and cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
"The Ravens' roster is full of top-end talent earning major money on both sides of the ball, with Baltimore resetting two position markets this offseason with Lamar Jackson at quarterback and Roquan Smith at linebacker," Spielberger wrote. "This current core of players along with recent draft picks needs to finally break through, and 2023 could be the year everything comes together.
"Humphrey has just one season with a coverage grade below 75.0, remarkable consistency for a cornerback who lines up all over the formation. The former Alabama star also just turned 27 years old ahead of his seventh NFL season."
Ravens' Secondary Ranked No. 2 by Hall of Fame Cornerback Ronde Barber
Speaking of Humphrey, he is one of the main reasons the Ravens' secondary is highly regarded. The unit came in at No. 2 on Hall of Fame cornerback and The 33rd Team contributor Ronde Barber’s rankings of the NFL's top secondaries.
"They were below-par to start last season — there was no doubt about it. But they rebounded, and that will carry over into 2023," Barber wrote. "… They signed Rock Ya-Sin, who isn't a game-changer, from the Raiders. However, there's not a lot of downside with his game either. This is where things get interesting. Marlon Humphrey, to me, has all the right traits to play the cornerback position. He's physical, covers well, takes the ball away, blitzes and plays in the box. He can do everything."
Barber also was highly complimentary of safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams.
"Add that to second-year player Kyle Hamilton, who could become the best safety in football. He's got the versatility to do anything they ask of him," Barber wrote. "They've got Marcus Williams at safety as well. If he's healthy, his four interceptions from last season will only multiply. He's the best instinctive-range player in the league. Trust me. I have seen a lot of safeties. He covers more ground than any of them.
"They've got some depth concerns and some young cornerbacks. It'll be interesting to see how they use some of them like Brandon Stephens. Overall, this group is as solid as there is in football."
Mark Andrews Ranked Among Top Three Tight Ends in ESPN Poll
ESPN continued its series on the best players at each position as determined by a survey of NFL executives, coaches and players. Today's subject was tight ends.
Andrews landed at No. 3, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle. He was No. 4 in last year's rankings.
"Andrews is one of the most well-rounded skill players in the league and produces when the Ravens need him most," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "He has 25 red-zone receiving touchdowns over the past four years, tied with Mike Evans for fifth in the NFL. His blocking is elite, too, with Andrews ranking first in run-block win rate (86%) out of 115 qualifying tight ends last year."
An NFL scouting director said: "Major matchup issue with his size, speed, athleticism and route-running ability. Huge catch radius. A really easy guy to throw it to. Always the primary guy for the defense."
John Harbaugh Is No. 2 in Sharp Football Analysis' Head Coach Rankings
You want more rankings? Well here's another one Ravens fans can take pride in: Harbaugh was No. 2 in Sharp Football Analysis’ Head Coach rankings.
Harbaugh placed second for the second year in a row and was ranked behind only his mentor, Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Harbaugh, who is entering his 16th season and has a .607 winning percentage, is the third-longest-tenured active head coach, trailing only the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick and Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin.
- Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton has the Las Vegas Raiders trading for inside linebacker Patrick Queen as one of his bold training camp predictions.