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Ravens News 2/22: Safest Draft prospects, buyers beware of Jimmy Graham and more

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NCAA Football: East Carolina at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

2018 NFL Draft: 10 safest prospects - Chad Reuter

9. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Analysis: Miller is not the tallest, biggest, or fastest receiver in the class. But I’ll tell you what he’s going to do -- go get the ball, and then make a play after the reception. We’re seeing the value of big-play but not big-sized receivers throughout the league in guys like Antonio Brown, Adam Thielen, Brandin Cooks, and Golden Tate. Miller has a good chance to be next in that line, even if his lack of size keeps him out of Round 1.

Miller is an excellent prospect who combines savvy route running with bonafide big play potential. He could be a target for the Ravens with their second round pick, number 52 overall. It is not surprising that interior lineman Quenton Nelson, Billy Price and Isaiah Wynn made Reuter’s top ten safest prospects. Conversely, Stanford nose tackle Harrison Phillips is slotted sixth on the list, but could easily disappoint due to his well below average weight for the position.

Should Sheldon Richardson, Jimmy Graham buyers beware? - Michael-Shawn Dugar

The market for Graham, who led all tight ends in receiving touchdowns in 2017, is a bit different for a few reasons. Graham is 32 and his production is expected to drop as he nears the final years of his career. And the tight end market hasn’t been impacted by free agency in recent years, as Graham’s previous $10 million-per-year extension hasn’t been topped since he signed the deal in 2014.

”The book is out on Jimmy Graham, for the most part,” Sessler said, adding that a team like Baltimore, which needs pass catchers, could be a fit for Graham. “Someone might get trapped into overpaying for Jimmy Graham, then you get the back end of the career, which we’ve already started to see.”

Added Hanzus: ”They’ll get sucked into the 10 touchdowns. Watch the games he played last year and he disappeared for long stretches of games. Had some bad drops. Was still a great goal-line guy, but look at how many of his touchdowns were within three yards. He’s not nearly the same guy he was in New Orleans.”

This excerpt from the Around the NFL podcast directly links Graham to the Ravens. While the aging tight end may end up as the most proven commodity on the market, those who believe the Ravens must stop chasing past production and take a long term view this offseason would view this as the nightmare splash acquisition scenario. His average yards per reception fell from 14.2 in 2016 to 9.1 in 2017. Graham should be expected to regress without the help of the magician, Russell Wilson.

After Jarvis Landry received the franchise tag, the Ravens have the cap for C Ryan Jensen - Kyle J. Andrews

The Ravens can make a number of moves to free up cap space, such as releasing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin ($5 million in savings), Danny Woodhead ($1.8 million in savings), cornerback Brandon Carr ($4 million in savings) and safety Lardarius Webb ($1.75 million in savings). By making these moves, Baltimore will have $12.55 million in savings, which would leave Baltimore with $20,355,815.

Baltimore would have way more than enough money to retain Jensen, who would most likely land a deal in the range of $3 million-$9 million a year. With the remaining money, the Ravens could still potentially sign a free agent wide receiver and this is without re-structuring the deals of players that will remain members of the team.

As the market begins to crystallize, it appears the most desirable receivers will be out of range for the Ravens. It remains to be seen what Jensen will command, Spotrac estimates he is worth an $8.9 million average annual salary. After watching three of the four most recent conference championship participants be among the most active shoppers in free agency last year, teams around the league might be ready to spend the cap space they have been sitting on this offseason. This may spell trouble for the Ravens, their practice of borrowing from future salary caps could truly bite them in 2018.