There are many needs which should be addressed in free agency and the draft. The three positions which should receive the most attention:
Wide receiver is the most painfully obvious need for the Ravens (yet again). With Mike Wallace no longer under contract, and Jeremy Maclin likely to be cut to free up cap space, Baltimore is in desperate need of help. Hopefully, Wallace returns next season, as he has already expressed desire to do so, and has the most chemistry with QB Joe Flacco out of the current receivers. Maybe Breshad Perriman will decide to show up next year as well, but Ozzie Newsome can’t bank on it this time around.
The ideal situation would be to re-sign Mike Wallace to a relatively cheap contract, while signing another veteran free agent receiver, and drafting one or two guys in the high to mid rounds of the draft. This is wishful thinking I know.
Hopefully, Newsome learned his lesson when he passed on JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second-round last year and watched him produce terrific results for the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The best player available strategy is a good one, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and draft for need. Especially when it’s been such a glaring need for so long.
It would be fantastic to sign a veteran like Jarvis Landry while drafting a player such as Calvin Ridley in the first round of the draft. Joe Flacco can only dream of having such weapons. Sadly, Landry will come with a hefty price tag most likely, and the Ravens will be strapped for cap space (as usual).
With Benjamin Watson, 37, contemplating retirement, the Ravens must find a new receiving tight end. Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams are both good blockers, but do not provide much in the passing game. Even if Watson decides to return for another year, he would have to be re-signed, and will turn 38 during the season. His replacement must be found.
Ozzie could bring in another veteran tight end in free agency, while drafting one as well. Joe Flacco works best with a reliable tight end to throw to, look to Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta as examples of this. It’s still possible that Williams could develop into the receiving threat Baltimore drafted him to be, but I wouldn’t count on it at this point. Crockett Gilmore could be re-signed, and while flashing massive potential at times, has struggled to stay healthy year in and year out. A dominant tight end can be just as important as a true number one receiver. Baltimore desperately needs one of the two.
The biggest weakness of the Ravens defense this season was their inability to cover tight ends. Everyone knew the loss of Zachary Orr would be felt, but I don’t think anyone knew just how much. Time and time again, opposing tight ends gashed the Ravens defense. They made average guys look like Rob Gronkowski. This could partly be due to C.J. Mosley playing injured for several games, but the Ravens still need more help.
The run defense suffered as well. Baltimore is in need of a two down “thumper” to pair with Mosley. A cheap veteran could be an option here, but I fully expect for Ozzie to address this in the draft. The Ravens usually have no problem finding quality linebackers, whether it’s through free agency, the draft, or an undrafted rookie. Patrick Onwuasor should continue to develop, but he most likely isn’t the long term answer next to Mosley. Bam Bradley will return from injury, so maybe he can fill the role. This is the position I’m most confident will be resolved before the 2018 season.