Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is highly regarded for his excellence in the draft. Yet again, Newsome pulled together a fantastic rookie class, and it has been one of the most productive groups in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). PFF ranked each teams rookie class based on how productive they have been so far this season (note: the article is only fully accessible for ESPN users who have Insider). The Dallas Cowboys unsurprisingly topped the list, followed by, in descending order, the Chiefs, Bears, Titans and Chargers. The Ravens finished seventh in these rankings, with the following explanation.
“The Ravens have gotten significant contributions from several of their 11 draft selections already. Tavon Young has been the star of the group so far, leading all rookie cornerbacks with a PFF grade of 82.5, which ranks 19th overall. Seventh overall pick Ronnie Stanley has struggled at times this season in addition to missing time because of injury. The Notre Dame product has surrendered two sacks and 24 total pressures, but did play very well in Monday night's loss to New England, both as a run-blocker and allowing just one hurry in pass protection. Guard Alex Lewis struggled when he was forced to play left tackle, but he has shown flashes of ability when healthy, allowing only one sack overall.”
The three rookies mentioned by PFF, Tavon Young, Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis have all played huge roles for the Ravens. Stanley and Lewis have both started on the offensive line this season, and both have been very impressive. Since Lewis’ injury, the offensive line has had issues in his place. Vlad Ducasse has not proven to have the same combination of strength and size that has made Lewis a steal in fourth round.
The Ravens took Stanley with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft with hopes of him becoming an anchor at left tackle for years to come. Stanley has been fantastic in his rookie season, helping to protect Joe Flacco and clear lanes for running backs, no matter how rarely Marty Mornhinweg has used them lately. Stanley proved how dominant he could be against the Patriots on Monday night.
The left tackle for the Ravens pic.twitter.com/7TUpHjsNa4— Fasi avā RAIDERS (@UcenationMusic) December 13, 2016
Fourth round corner Tavon Young has surprised everyone around the Ravens with the strength of his play. Young got a chance to move into the starting lineup following a slew of injuries in the secondary, and did not let the chance get away. Young has been spectacular this season, with seven passes defended on the year, and has shown flashes of becoming a future shutdown corner. Young has proven many wrong who believed his size would be a detriment to his NFL potential.
PFF however left out two other rookies who have provided huge impacts, Kenneth Dixon and Matt Judon.
Dixon had a breakout game against the Patriots. Dixon was heavily involved in both the run and pass game, leading the team in both carries and targets. Dixon looked explosive, breaking tackle after tackle. The rookie running back resembled a young Ray Rice. Dixon has a near identical skill set to that of Rice, and looks to have the same, if not more potential. Dixon could very well be the starting running back for the Ravens going forward as he largely out snapped West against New England.
Matt Judon has been another pleasant surprise for the Ravens. Judon has four sacks on the year. Plus, against the Bengals, Judon knocked down two passes, helping the Ravens slow the Bengals on their final drive of the game.
Yet again, the Ravens have done a fantastic job bringing in rookies with potential. Potential that is already being turned into production.