Sammy Watkins headlines free agents who could be overpriced - Gregg Rosenthal
Jimmy Graham, tight end
Graham’s red-zone chops have helped to mask a decline in the rest of his game. Russell Wilson targeted Graham 96 times last season, with only eight resulting in gains of 20-plus yards. The former college basketball player was once one of the most breathtaking athletes in the league, but injuries have eroded Graham’s ability to separate from defenders at age 31. He saw the most targets of his Seahawks career, but only ended up with 520 yards and a 9.1 yards-per-catch average, both easily career lows for him as a starter. Players like Jason Witten, Ben Watson and Jared Cook were all more efficient turning targets into yards last season.
Never an asset as a blocker, Graham helped to evolve the tight end position at the start of this decade. But a wave of “move” tight ends have hit the league since, and teams would be better off trying to draft the next Graham or signing a younger free agent like Trey Burton. This could wind up being Graham’s last NFL contract and it still threatens to be expensive.
Jimmy Graham has been linked to the Ravens, yet Rosenthal makes a compelling case against ponying up for the veteran. Mike Gesicki is a draft eligible tight end who compares favorably to Graham, including the basketball background. The Penn State product impressed at the scouting combine, posting 22 reps on the bench, a 4.54 second 40-yard dash and 41.5” vertical jump.
Deep and diverse QB class gives Ravens an opportunity they might not be able to pass up - Jeff Zrebiec
Southern California’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson garnered a ton of attention at the NFL scouting combine as the draft’s top quarterbacks. All are expected to be taken in the first round, and at least four of them could be off the board within the first 10 picks. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph has an outside chance to go in the late first round.
But the names that might be more pertinent to the Ravens are Washington State’s Luke Falk, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Marshall’s Chase Litton, Western Kentucky’s Mike White and Toledo’s Logan Woodside. All five could be selected in the middle-to-late rounds.
Finding a competent backup quarterback on Day 3 of the draft would allow the Ravens to save some cap space in comparison to the cost of signing a veteran signal caller. Mike White and Chase Litton are strapping prospects known for their arm strength. Conversely, Kyle Lauletta and Logan Woodside are more mobile and exhibit better accuracy.
Four Downs: AFC North - Rob Weintraub
Biggest Hole: Wide receiver
The Ravens were 26th in passing offense DVOA at -4.8%, and while the offense improved late in the year as Joe Flacco recovered from knee and back injuries, the lack of quality targets hindered the team all season. Their leading wideout in DYAR (47th overall) was Mike Wallace, who is a free agent. Breshad Perriman is looking like bustoleum, and Jeremy Maclin may need to redo his contract to stick around.
It remains to be seen whether the Perriman fiasco scares the Ravens off from selecting a wide receiver in the first round. Regardless, the more probable move is one that has worked out in the past with the likes of Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin -- snagging cap cuts and offering them a Baltimore baptism. Dez Bryant and Randall Cobb leap to mind as strong possibilities for this role, with the likes of Mohamed Sanu a dark horse. The draft doesn’t offer many top-flight receivers, but there are plenty of mid-round options that the Ravens could target, like LSU’s D.J. Chark and Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs.
It appears that Dez Bryant will be playing for Dallas next season. Median cap space across the NFL is more than $27 million, meaning most proven wide receivers released from their contracts or available at a bargain prices are likely to carry serious red flags. Like it or not, the Ravens front office may be forced into filling this gaping positional need primarily through the draft.
As expected, James dominated the NFL combine. His numbers are in the top of the class among all safeties at the combine. He ran a 4.48 during the 40-yard dash. James’ athleticism was on full display at the combine. James may be a lock to be a top 10 pick after this performance.
He ran a 4.47 during the 40-yard dash and continued to entrench himself as a top 10 pick, at the very least. Fitzpatrick was clearly one of the, if not the best defensive back on the field. Fitzpatrick is a physical specimen, whose explosiveness is second to none in this draft class. There simply isn’t enough to write about Fitzpatrick. He has star potential.
Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick have cemented their status among the best defensive prospects in the 2018 draft class. Despite already devoting significant assets to the safety position, the Ravens would have to consider drafting one of these elite talents if either slide into range.