ESPN has released their offseason grades. A good time to do it with OTA's starting for some teams this week and a majority of the larger offseason moves being completed. With the Ravens having made no huge splashes in free agency, the team is a lot closer to being the same from the 2014 season that saw them only a few snaps away from the AFC Championship game.
The Ravens were graded out as a B- by ESPN and former general manager Bill Polian.
Veteran subtractions: CB Aaron Ross, CB Antoine Cason, CB Danny Gorrer, S Darian Stewart, WR Jacoby Jones, S Jeromy Miles, TE Owen Daniels, DE Pernell McPhee, DT Terrence Cody, WR Torrey Smith, QB Tyrod Taylor, CB Victor Hampton, OG Will Rackley, DT Haloti Ngata, RB Bernard Pierce, C Gino Gradkowski, TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi, TE Kevin McDermott, LB Ryan Jones
Draft picks: 1-Breshad Perriman (WR), 2-Maxx Williams (TE), 3-Carl Davis(DT), 4a-Za'Darius Smith (DE), 4b-Buck Allen (RB), 4c-Tray Walker (DB), 5a-Nick Boyle (TE), 5b-Robert Myers (G), 6-Darren Waller (WR)
Analysis: Replacing Ngata stands as the Raven's biggest challenge in Polian's eyes. Losing Gary Kubiak to a head coaching job was disruptive. Our analysts still felt as though the Ravens would be fine in the end. Aren't they always? Yates gave them a B-minus, our lowest grade for Baltimore.
"It feels weird to go that low," Yates said. "Forsett was wisely re-signed at a very comfortable number. They filled holes in the draft that they knew they would have to fill. Not that there is any reason to question Baltimore from a scouting standpoint, but I did feel as though Perriman feels like more of a projection than some of the other first-round receivers."
Williamson said his B grade was routine for Baltimore because the team usually has young players waiting to fill holes, and the team generally does well in the draft. On Perriman, Riddick said he suspected the Ravens would figure out why a receiver who made spectacular catches also dropped passes too frequently.
"There is always something behind a guy like Perriman having the drops he had," Riddick said. "If anyone figures that out, it will be John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome. It could be something with his eyes or his contacts or something. They will get that squared away. I liked the Maxx Williams pick and thought re-signing Jimmy Smith was a good move -- it's nice to see him become what they wanted him to become. The consistency and stability of that organization helps that. This was not a big-time offseason that makes you say they killed it, but you don't have to kill it to be efficient."
Noting that the Ravens did lose defensive lineman Haloti Ngata is a major loss is completely correct. However, one thing that seemed to be left out of Polian's assessment is that the Ravens have good depth along the defensive line and several players that look like good candidates to replace part of Ngata's game. Adding in the extensions to Jimmy Smith, and Justin Forsett proves to be the exact position that a lot of NFL teams wish they could be in. Lowering the cap number on Lardarius Webb and Terrell Suggs is another genius move that goes a long way towards the Ravens being able to extend the members they have as well as adding in safety Kendrick Lewis and Kyle Arrington.
Then on the draft front, the Ravens were able to add a ton of offensive weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco. Ignoring the scouting report on Perriman's hands, he should be an immediate replacement for departed receiver Torrey Smith, with the potential to be significantly more. Adding in Maxx Williams should help ease the transition from tight end Dennis Pitta's injury and give the Ravens a massive weapon in the middle of the field, a spot they love to use to their advantage. The addition of Marc Trestman for departed offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak could be called a wash pretty easily.
Overall, the Ravens kept the team as close as they could to last year's roster both in name and in overall talent where names disappeared. With another offseason to gel around each other, both the defense and the offense should be greatly improved over units that were both highly ranked. If injuries can be kept to a minimum, the Ravens should be able to get over the speed bump and on their way to another Championship game.