The Ravens started the offseason eerily quiet, the biggest news coming in the form of the unsurprising cuts of players such as Shareece Wright, Elvis Dumervil and Kendrick Lewis. But all of the sudden, the floodgates opened for the Ravens. In the blink of an eye, the Ravens were able to land Tony Jefferson, Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mallett. The signings will benefit the Ravens in their push to return to the playoffs, but the biggest holes on the Ravens roster remain without a solution.
Cornerback, outside linebacker and wide receiver are the biggest needs for the Ravens this offseason, and after a flurry of early free agent deals, it will now be challenging for these needs to be addressed.
For the Ravens, a team that desperately needed a receiver with consistent hands and strong route running ability, Brandon Marshall and Pierre Garcon seemed like natural fits. Marshall would go on to agree to a deal with the New York Giants, and Garcon will head out to the Bay Area to sign with the San Francisco 49ers. Thus, the Ravens still are without their wide receiver solution. Former Raven Torrey Smith has been linked to the Ravens, however, he is not a receiver that possesses the reliable hands the Ravens are searching for. The top receiver on the market, Alshon Jeffery, is unsigned, but will almost surely be above the Ravens price range.
The Ravens had been linked as possible suitors for Calais Campbell, but were unable to land the now Jaguars defensive end. Campbell would have had to leave a lot of money on the table to come to Baltimore instead of Jacksonville. Jabaal Sheard, another top pass rusher has been heavily linked to the Colts, and his chances of coming to Baltimore seem unlikely. The Chargers’ Melvin Ingram received the franchise tag, but he would have exceeded Baltimore’s price range had he hit the market. Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins all will not hit the market either. In addition, Nick Perry will remain in Green Bay.
No big chip has come off the board at the cornerback position (update: Stephon Gilmore has agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots), but the Ravens, as of now, do not seem to have any link to any member of the cornerback market.
The point I’m trying to make is that the Ravens have three really big needs, and none of them have been addressed, and it doesn’t seem that they will be addressed in free agency. This makes the draft of paramount importance to the future of this franchise. The Ravens need to find a solution to each of its needs in the early rounds of the draft. Derek Barnett, Corey Davis and Sidney Jones will be the best options for the Ravens in the first round. Adoree Jackson, T.J. Watt, Ryan Anderson, Desmond King and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be players to watch in the second round. The Ravens should target offensive line in the third round, where Ethan Pocic and Taylor Moton are likely to be on the board.
Ozzie Newsome always has a knack to make everything work out, but right now, the Ravens GM still has a lot of work ahead of him. Whether through free agency or the draft, the Ravens need to address the three biggest needs. The signings of Jefferson and Woodhead are great moves, but they won’t be the ones that bring the Ravens back to postseason glory.