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Late for Work 2/17: Young Players Who Need to Step Up in 2023

CB Damarion Williams
CB Damarion Williams

Young Players Who Need to Step Up for Ravens in 2023

For every Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum who make an immediate impact, there are any number of draft picks who take some time to develop into solid contributors.

Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones identified several young players the Ravens need more from in 2023. Here's a look at three of them:

CBs Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams

"The state of Baltimore's cornerback group is in flux beyond three-time Pro Bowl selection Marlon Humphrey. With veteran starter Marcus Peters scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens need at least one of these 2022 fourth-round picks to join Brandon Stephens as options Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald can use with some confidence.

"The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Armour-Davis was benched after some early-season opportunities on the outside and also had injury concerns, the latter being a big reason why the Alabama product fell to the fourth round in the first place. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Williams struggled in an October audition to be Baltimore's nickel, which prompted the Ravens to move rookie first-round safety Kyle Hamilton into that role for the second half of the season. You don't expect fourth-round picks to excel immediately, of course, but depth concerns at cornerback will be unavoidable if neither Armour-Davis nor Williams take a step forward in 2023."

G Ben Cleveland

"Considering John Harbaugh's excitement level when Baltimore drafted the Georgia offensive lineman in the 2021 third round, you wouldn't have expected Cleveland to have started just five games over his first two seasons, especially with the Ravens having an open competition for the starting left guard spot in each of the last two training camps. The 6-foot-6, 370-pound Cleveland playing even less in 2022 than he did as a rookie wasn't an encouraging sign, but that was also a testament to the improved play of veteran Ben Powers, who's likely to depart via free agency next month.

"The arrival of former Bulldogs Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken could be a good sign for Cleveland with the way he performed in Georgia's offense in 2020, but the pressure is on for him to finally live up to his draft billing. This spring and summer will be massive for Cleveland's career since there's likely a job to be won on an otherwise stable offensive line."

Patrick Queen Named Ravens' Most Improved Player

Speaking of young players stepping up, inside linebacker Patrick Queen took a big step forward this past season. Not surprisingly, the 2020 first-round pick was named the Ravens' most improved player by Pro Football Focus.

Queen's PFF grade jumped from 43.5 in 2021 to 69.7 last season.

"Queen has flashed at times throughout this three-year career in Baltimore, but the consistency just wasn't there. While he was still a little up and down for the Ravens this past season, we also saw the longest stretches of improved play," PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote. "After improving his PFF grade from 29.7 to 43.5 from 2020 to 2021, Queen once again saw a huge jump in 2022, including career highs in PFF run-defense grade (64.6) and PFF coverage grade (65.5)."

Queen, who has started every game in his three NFL seasons, also posted career-highs in tackles (117), passes defensed (six), interceptions (two), sacks (five), and quarterback hits (14).

Though he didn't commit to picking up Queen's fifth-year contract option, General Manager Eric DeCosta noted Queen's improved play during the Ravens' season-review press conference last month.

"We were really excited by the way Patrick played this year. We think he made a jump," DeCosta said. "He showed play-making ability, leadership. He just really, really over the course of the season became the player that we kind of envisioned him being."

Ravens Among Elite Teams in Football Outsiders' 2023 DVOA Projections

Football Outsiders released its way-too-early DVOA projections for the 2023 season, and the Ravens came in at No. 3.

DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.

Explaining the formula for the 2023 projections, Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz wrote: "Essentially, I am trying to say 'this is what the team's offensive DVOA would have been in 2022 with the same starting quarterback all year.' Then I use very simple equations that project next year's DVOA based solely on last year's DVOA and the usual regression to the mean."

Got all that? Well, let's not get bogged down with details. Let's instead focus on the fact that the only teams the Ravens trail in 2023 projected DVOA are the Buffalo Bills and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

That said, Schatz cautioned readers not to get too excited about the projections: "The goal here is to be incredibly simple. This year, I caution you to be even less excited because I made more subjective guesses than usual."

In regard to the Ravens, Schatz wrote: "Sure, I can project Baltimore based solely on the weeks that Lamar Jackson was the starting quarterback in 2022, but that assumes Lamar Jackson will be the starting quarterback in 2023. … I gave Baltimore a small special teams bonus because they are the Ravens and should have the top projected special teams."

Colts Reportedly Request Permission to Interview Tee Martin for OC Job

The Indianapolis Colts have requested to interview Ravens Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin for their offensive coordinator job, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Martin has spent the past two seasons with the Ravens. In 2021, he helped wide receiver Marquise Brown produce career bests in receptions (91) and receiving yards (1,008). Martin reportedly drew interest from the Buffalo Bills for their offensive coordinator job last year.

Earlier this week, the Colts hired former Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen as head coach. Steichen said that he will call the offensive plays.

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