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Ravens News 2/8: Offseason Low Down, QBs on the horizon, Pees introduction in Tennessee and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images

2018 NFL Team Needs Evan Silva, Rotoworld

Wide Receiver: 2017 top receiver Mike Wallace’s contract is up going on age 32, Jeremy Maclin is once again a release candidate after a miserable debut in Baltimore, and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman is a probable draft bust. Wideout is a longstanding Ravens weakness, and this is the neediest Ozzie Newsome’s club has been at the position in years.

Offensive Line: The Ravens get back RG Marshal Yanda (ankle) and LG Alex Lewis (shoulder) from year-ruining injuries, but Yanda is going on age 34, has a $10.1 million cap number, and may be breaking down due to the cumulative effect of injuries. C Ryan Jensen will be a hot commodity in free agency, while RT Austin Howard was a free-agent bust to the extent beat writers think he could get cut. Lewis and LT Ronnie Stanley are Baltimore’s only two certified building blocks up front. The Ravens clearly want to play more power offense and will likely focus on plus run blockers in the draft.

Silva goes on to list tight end as the Ravens third greatest need, due to the lack of speed at the position contributing to Joe Flacco’s declining yards per attempt statistics. Indeed, the Ravens receiving corps is in the worst shape it has been a long while, with Chris Moore the only player who appears to be a lock to return. Silva was harsh on Austin Howard, the Ravens could certainly upgrade their right tackle spot, but could also do much worse than paying the steady blocker $5 million next season considering the scarcity of dependable tackles across the league.

Final Special Teams rankings Eric Eager, Pro Football Focus

2. Baltimore Ravens

Previous ranking: 5

Justin Tucker continues to be one of, if not the, best kickers in the league, drilling 5-of-7 attempts beyond 50 yards and forcing an average starting field position short of the 24-yard line. Michael Campanaro had a plus season as a return specialist, returning one punt for a touchdown against the Bears and averaging 10.8 yards per return overall.

This lofty ranking should not be a surprise. Jerry Rosburg is one of the finest special teams coordinators in the league and head coach John Harbaugh comes from a special teams background. The ‘wolfpack’ trio of Justin Tucker, Sam Koch and Morgan Cox all remain under contract for next season at a combined salary cap charge of $9.75 million. Cap constraints, along with the Ravens track record of developing special teamers, could incentivize the team to move on from unrestricted free agent return man Michael Campanaro and special teams ace Albert McClellan.

What are college football recruiting’s most loaded positions in 2018? Bud Elliott SB Nation

This is a special QB class, probably the best in a decade. It is awesome at the top, and pretty deep.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Georgia’s Justin Fields, and USC’s J.T. Daniels could easily each be not only the top QB in many previous years, but the top players overall.

Lawrence is probably the most highly acclaimed passer ever. Fields is like a jumbo version of Russel Wilson. And Daniels was so good that he is skipping his senior year altogether to enroll at USC, where he might start.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti raised some eyebrows at his presser last Friday with his level of commitment to Joe Flacco after a few subpar seasons. With the three elite talents Elliott mentioned entering the college game, along with true freshman National Championship combatants Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm, Baltimore may be better served building around Flacco until they draft his successor a few years down the road. The Georgia Bulldogs cleaned up yesterday on National Signing Day.

Highlights from the Dean Pees introductory press conference Jimmy Morris Music City Miracles

Pees said that he was not forced out in Baltimore. He said John Harbaugh offered him a contract extension before the season, but Pees had decided it was time to spend time with his family.

He said after a couple of weeks it was clear to him and his family that they were going to miss the game of football. That is why he decided to come back.

Pees said that the two biggest attractions to this job were Mike Vrabel and the city of Nashville.

The theory that Pees was forced out of Baltimore seemed far fetched from the start since rumors of his retirement surfaced well before the season ended. Harbaugh stuck with him through many tough losses over the last six seasons, it would not make sense for the head coach to put his trusted subordinate on notice in the midst of the playoff race. In fact, Harbaugh apparently offered Pees a contract extension. Maybe the coordinator was the one who decided continuity had run its course with the Ravens, and then jumped at the chance to coach with Mike Vrabel and his son Matt in Nashville.