It was another busy week in Baltimore with General Manager Eric DeCosta’s draft review, Football School practices, and the NFL schedule release.
Here are my thoughts, all in 50 words or less:
Oh, how things have changed. Baltimore was a gloomy place for a while. A month ago, Odell Beckham Jr. signed. Then Lamar Jackson agreed to his extension and Zay Flowers landed. Now the Ravens, who have four primetime games plus London, are one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
My bold prediction for the Ravens' schedule: Baltimore starts hot and sweeps the AFC North slate of road games before heading to London. Jackson has played his best football early, Todd Monken's new offense will keep the division rivals guessing, and John Harbaugh will have his team sharpened.
Here's to hoping for strong attendance at OTAs because with the Ravens installing that new offense, practice has more importance. It's an opportunity to get a head start before training camp. It could help (certainly can't hurt) make that bold prediction come to fruition.
Beckham has been getting after it with his training this offseason. He was working out with DeAndre Hopkins, Saquan Barkley and others recently, then posted Saturday, "I'm really on the way!" The lone question with OBJ is health. It seems that question may be answered in the affirmative. Watch out.
Speaking of Beckham, I can't help but think his decision to sign in Baltimore played a significant part in turning around the Ravens' offseason momentum. If so, it was well worth the cost. It helped with Jackson, and it signaled that the Ravens are all in.
Ravens fans are of course admittedly excited about the Ravens' potential in the passing game with the upgrade at wide receiver. Don't forget about the rushing attack though. A fully healthy return for J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards could be massive. I still think Dobbins is a star in waiting.
Each team's social media team has its own way of announcing the schedule. Trolling opponents is the new "cool" thing to do, led by the Chargers. Most of it is harmless. I bet the Cardinals calling Jackson a running back, however, will be brought up before the Week 8 meeting.
DeCosta's desire to sign Patrick Queen to a contract extension shows how highly he thinks of Queen. It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to happen. As always, it comes down to dollars and cents, and the fact remains that paying top dollar to two inside linebackers would be challenging.
That's no knock on Queen. He has a chance to earn himself a whole lot of money this season, whether from Baltimore or elsewhere, with a monster campaign, which he's absolutely capable of. Queen set career highs across the board last year and there's still room for more.
The Ravens' biggest remaining weakness is the pass rush. Right now, they would be betting on big jumps from Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. Both are capable, but a proven veteran would boost the mix. Justin Houston could be the fix again, as the young guns, including Tavius Robinson, grow.
With that said, I do expect a strong year from Ojabo. He's been a constant presence at the Under Armour Performance Center this offseason, and his physique shows the rewards. He's passing the eye test and the talent is obviously there. He could put on a show back home.
Step inside the Ravens' Wednesday football school practices, split between offense and defense.
The careers of the four wide receivers drafted in a row will be compared for years to come. Here's another thing I like about Flowers' potential in that horse race. Look at who their college quarterbacks were. Flowers has the most significant upgrade as he enters the NFL.