ESPN’s Mike Sando re-graded each NFL team’s 2016 offseason, “with the benefit of hindsight.”
The Ravens original grade, before the the 2016 season kicked off, was a C+. Now, it has jumped all the way to an A.
Sando now writes about the Ravens 2016 offseason, “Baltimore's offseason moves look better in hindsight. Eric Weddle provided the production and leadership the Ravens sought. Fellow free-agent addition Mike Wallace produced his first 1,000-yard season since 2011. Cornerback Jerraud Powers was another solid veteran signing.
The Ravens' 2016 draft class ranked sixth in total offensive or defensive snaps played, led by first-round left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Fourth-rounders Tavon Young and Alex Lewis also played extensively, and fifth-rounder Matt Judon made positive contributions to the defensive line rotation. That production made it easier to overlook underwhelming first seasons from Kamalei Correa (second round) and Bronson Kaufusi (third round).”
The A grade ties the Ravens for the highest in the NFL in this re-grade. The Cowboys and Chiefs both received an A as well.
Sando, for the most part, nailed it. The Ravens received elite production from Eric Weddle. Weddle was already regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL, but was said to be on the back end of his career. Instead of seeing a decline in production, Weddle had one of the best seasons of his career and finished the year as the second highest graded safety by Pro Football Focus, behind just Kam Chancellor.
Also mentioned by Sando, Mike Wallace produced a 1000 yard season, and the third most receiving yards in a season in his career. Wallace provided many big plays for the Ravens, highlighted by a 95 yard catch and run for a touchdown against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9.
GM Ozzie Newsome also did a great job in the draft, but what’s new about that? Newsome hit it out of the park with Ronnie Stanley, who was one of the best tackles, right and left, in the NFL over the second half of the season. After an abysmal Week 9, Stanley did not allow a sack for the remainder of the season. Alex Lewis, when on the field, was a great guard opposite Marshal Yanda, the consensus top guard in the NFL. Lewis is clearly the future of the position, a steal in the fourth round out of Nebraska.
But the biggest steal in the draft was easily Tavon Young. Young was selected in the fourth round, but very quickly moved into the starting lineup due to injuries. Once in the starting lineup, Young did not relinquish his role. Young was the best corner on the field for the Ravens outside of Jimmy Smith. Young plays much bigger than his size, and has excellent ball skills. With some refinement, especially in terms of being called for pass interference, Young will continue his quick rise to the highest tier of cornerbacks in the NFL.
Matt Judon was inconsistent, but provided a big impact at times for the Ravens. None more important than his two blocked passes against the Bengals that slowed Cincinnati drove as it down the field in the final minutes with the potential to score the game winning touchdown.
Sando did not mention Kenneth Dixon, but the fourth round pick was excellent for the Ravens over the second half of the season, and showed flashes of being a superstar running back. Dixon has a very similar skill set to Ray Rice, and looks just as, if not more talented than the former Raven.
With more development, the stars of the Ravens 2016 rookie class will continue to improve, and continue to help the team positively. The addition of Weddle was huge, as he provided the playmaking safety the Ravens desperately needed. Yet somehow, Weddle missed the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team. The amazing part about this great offseason, is it can still improve. Keep and eye on Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kaufusi to make an impact next season.
Elsewhere in the AFC North, the Steelers received an A-, the Bengals were given a C and the Browns earned an unsurprising D.