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Ravens' Offseason Roster Wish List


The holidays have ended, but Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is* *putting together his wish list.

Harbaugh was asked about and specifically pointed to four different* *roster needs during Tuesday's end-of-season press conference after the Ravens' 8-8 season.

"All of us and the fans who really watch us closely, the fans that care a lot, we all kind of know what we need," Harbaugh said. "I do not think it is any mystery about where we need to improve personnel wise."

The Ravens will be tight against the salary cap once again, though that could change if pricy veterans are released. They will have the No. 16 pick in the first round of the NFL* *Draft.

Here are some the areas Harbaugh* *would like to improve:

Cornerback Help

The Ravens have one of the league's top cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith if he's healthy. That's a big "if," however.  Smith missed five games this season due to back and ankle injuries, including the final three critical games. He played in all 16 games just twice in six seasons, and that came in down seasons in 2013 and 2015.

Baltimore's secondary is much different without Smith, and his absence had a ripple effect on the run defense as well.

The Ravens found a gem in fourth-round rookie cornerback Tavon Young, who took over for Shareece Wright as a starter midway through the season. But when Smith went down, forcing Wright back into action, the Ravens had trouble.

Baltimore could use another starting-caliber cornerback and more young talent. Ideally, Young would be a lockdown nickel cornerback with another starter opposite Smith.

"That is a key spot," Harbaugh said. "We need to add more corners, there is no question about it. [We need to add] corners that can play at the highest level. If we can do that, it is going to dramatically impact our defense."

More Pass Rushers

The Ravens went into last offseason with improving the pass rush as one of Owner Steve Bisciotti's top priorities. This year, Baltimore finished tied for 24th in the NFL in sacks (31). It's still an issue.

Veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs led the team with eight sacks, and says he will return next season, but he's 34 years old. Fellow veteran Elvis Dumervil had nine sacks over the past two injury-riddled seasons, and his high salary could make him a cap casualty.

The Ravens have drafted some young pass rushers the past couple years in Za'Darius Smith, Kamalei Correa and Matthew Judon, but they combined for five sacks this season. Smith dropped off from 5.5 in his rookie year to one sack this season.

Harbaugh said the Ravens have to get Smith "back on track" and that Judon is capable of being a "premier type of guy," but has to grow.

Baltimore had excellent pass rush up the middle at the start of the season, but that trailed off as the year went on. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan had a sack in each of his first three games but just two after that.

"The pass rush, to me, is something that always needs to improve. We have some 'older' guys that have been around for a while in our two top guys. Those guys are still playing at a very high level, but you have to bring in young guys."

Beef Up Offensive Line

On Monday, Harbaugh said making quarterback Joe Flacco feel comfortable is a major priority. That starts with improving the blockers in front of him.

The offensive line, which was banged up early on, improved by the end of the season with veteran Marshal Yanda moving to left guard and Vladimir Ducasse stepping in at right guard.

The Ravens have a strong foundation for years to come with rookies Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis at left tackle and left guard, respectively, but there could be more changes made.

Right tackle Rick Wagner is slated to head into unrestricted free agency. Center Jeremy Zuttah will enter 2017 with one of the team's higher salaries.

The Ravens could invest via the draft to help craft a stronger offensive line.

"If you look at the really good teams in this league, they have done it," Harbaugh said. "Look at the Cowboys. I feel like that is priority one. We need to build a great offensive line, and yes, the pieces are in place."

Possession Wide Receiver Needed

The pending retirement of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. leaves a hole in the receiver corps.

Smith was perhaps the Ravens' most reliable receiver. Baltimore could often count on him to move the chains in critical situations, and he led the team in gains of 20 yards or more.

The Ravens already have speed with Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. They need a good route-running receiver with sure hands, especially if Kamar Aiken leaves in free agency. Rising rookie fourth-round pick Chris Moore will be an option.

Harbaugh said another wide receiver could come via the draft or free agency.

"We need a certain type of receiver, and I think we are targeting that kind of guy," Harbaugh said.

Third Running Back

The Ravens found a good combination with Terrance West and rookie fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon this season.

Baltimore ranked 28th in rushing this year (91.4 yards per game)*and tied for 21st in yards per attempt (4.0). That's not where *the Ravens want to be, as Harbaugh said Monday that they need to run better and more often, but Baltimore did see late-season flashes from West and Dixon.

"To me, Terrance West and Kenny Dixon made a name for themselves at running back," Harbaugh said.

Still, Harbaugh wants to add one more piece to the running back corps. The Ravens want more explosive plays on offense. They have speedy wide receivers already, and now a game-breaking running back could be in order.

"We need another back. What type of back that is? I think we're talking about it," Harbaugh said. "We have a pretty good idea of the type of back we want to add."

Some of the top running backs in the upcoming draft are Florida State speedster Dalvin Cook and LSU's big bruiser Leonard Fournette. Harbaugh also said rising third-year running back Javorius Allen could turn into that kind of player even though he had just nine carries this season.

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