Ravens' Rising Rookie Class Will Be Even Better


If you thought the Ravens' rookie class was good last year, wait till Year 2.

Baltimore gave its rookies a lot of playing time last season and saw tremendous results.

Now with that experience under their belts, and a first full NFL offseason ahead – including a summer in the gym and classroom – Head Coach John Harbaugh is encouraged by the thought of their progress.

"I think the rookie class last year was an excellent group," Harbaugh said last week at the NFL Owners Meetings. "The most progress is made between your first and second year, we like to think. 

"I expect those guys to improve a lot between last year and this year because they've been through it once, they know what to expect, and they're also good guys. They're hard-working guys who love football. I think they'll be a big part of our team next year."

Top pick, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, was a Pro Bowler in his rookie season, notching 133 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Mosley displayed supreme physical traits as a rookie, and a great knowledge of the game. An offseason in the classroom will help him be able to even better diagnose plays. A few months in the gym will help him put on a little more bulk, something he expressed he wanted to do at times last season.

Second-round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will have an offseason to get into top shape. He was explosive in his limited playing time last year, registering four sacks in 12 games (three starts). With* *Haloti Ngata traded to Detroit, Jernigan will be relied on more heavily.

Third-round safety Terrence Brooks is recovering from a torn ACL, and will start the season on the physically unable to perform list. The Ravens expect him to help the secondary rebound once he comes off PUP and is healthy.

Third-round tight end Crockett Gillmore is, as of now, the top tight end on the roster. Gillmore will look to improve in all areas of his game, but can particularly grow as a pass catcher. He already showed himself to be a physical and effective blocker. As the year went on, he looked more comfortable in the passing game, and hauled in 10 passes for 121 yards and one touchdown.

Fourth-round defensive end Brent Urban is also coming back from a torn ACL, which held him out for his entire rookie year, but the team has high hopes for him stepping up to give veteran Chris Canty some rest.

Fourth-round running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is, for now, Justin Forsett's top backup. Taliaferro ran hard before going down with a season-ending foot injury. He had 68 carries for 292 yards (4.3 per rush) and four scores. An offseason will get the bruiser in even better physical shape, and help him better read running lanes in the Ravens' system.

Fifth-round guard John Urschel (five starts including playoffs) and undrafted tackle James Hurst (seven starts) both received valuable playing time in their rookie campaigns due to injuries to starters in front of them. They can both continue to hone their technique and improve their bodies.

Sixth-round quarterback Keith Wenning is currently Flacco's backup (Bryn Renner is the only other quarterback on the roster), although that's expected to change. Wenning will likely compete with a veteran for the No. 2 spot in training camp He can further dive into the playbook this offseason after showing flashes last year, but can take the next step in consistent accuracy and decision making.

Seventh-round wide receiver Michael Campanaro could be a key part of the receiver group and will have a shot at returner with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones' departures. Campanaro showed a lot of potential with seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, but was plagued by injuries last season and played in just four games. He'll focus on staying healthy this year, and has an offseason to better prepare his body.

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