The Baltimore Ravens have several needs to fill before the start of the 2018 season. They can use free agency and the draft in the next few months to fill a few of them, but how many solutions to some of these needs are potentially already on the roster?
I’ll go through a list of the Ravens’ top needs, and list some of the possible players who could be the in-house answer.
The perennial hot topic of the Ravens’ off-season is the need for a true, number one wide receiver. Currently, they are very much in play for Jarvis Landry, via a trade with the Miami Dolphins, and have been linked to other soon-to-be free agents, such as Donte Moncrief. Which players currently on the roster could emerge as playmakers next season, though? Some of the receivers who should be on the roster next year are Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, Tim White and Quincy Adeboyejo.
Perriman is the most likely candidate to become a major contributor next season. He missed his entire rookie season with a knee-injury, but flashed serious playmaking ability in year two. He only produced 499 receiving yards and three touchdowns, but this came as the team’s fourth receiver. Some of the plays he made, such as his catch-and-run against the Dolphins gave reason to be excited for his future. In year three, Perriman finished with only 77 yards and zero touchdowns. To say he disappointed Ravens’ fans is a huge understatement. Some have pointed to him missing most of training camp and the preseason as reason for his awful year, but he still has a lot of work to do, including, improving his route-running, finding ways to create more separation and most importantly, overcoming his tendency to drop easy passes which has plagued his career.
Chris Moore is someone who, in his first two seasons, has become the Ravens’ best special teams player. He is a true gem on special teams, and with Michael Campanaro possibly leaving in free agency, Moore could be in line for the starting kick-and-punt returner role. He came on strong in the final stretch of the 2017 season, seemingly building a connection with Joe Flacco. Moore could continue developing and become a solid third receiver for Baltimore. Tim White went undrafted in 2017, but made the final roster after turning heads in training camp and the preseason. He would miss the entire season after suffering a thumb injury in the preseason, so it’s completely unknown what White is capable of doing in a real NFL game.
The Ravens do not have the answer to the wide receiver dilemma currently on the roster. It’s going to take more than one player stepping up to fix this issue. The reality is that a mix of free agents, draft picks, and current players breaking out will be needed to truly fix Baltimore’s receiving corps.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. The answer to tight end is certainly not on the roster. Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams are used primarily as blocking tight ends. Benjamin Watson was the team’s receiving TE last season, but he is a free agent, and an old one at that. The Ravens must find a young, pass-catching tight end for Joe Flacco. He has had a ton of success throwing to good tight ends, and there are plenty of day-two options this year in the draft for Baltimore to choose from.
This is the position of need that I truly feel could be on the roster already. Patrick Onwuasor is entering his third season after starting every game in 2017, alongside fellow inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Onwuasor was undrafted, but has played well on special teams and earned the starting inside linebacker spot over former second-round pick Kamalei Correa. He produced a solid season in 2017, which included 90 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. He has come a long way since entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie, and he could take an even bigger step in 2018.
Another player who could emerge is Bam Bradley. Like Onwuasor, Bradley went undrafted, but made the final roster as a rookie in 2017. He exhibited strong special teams play and was in the heat of competition for the starting inside linebacker role with Onwuasor and Correa. He is a big-hitter who displayed such in the preseason. Unfortunately, Bradley tore his ACL early in the season and missed the remainder of the year. Between him and Onwuasor, I feel the Ravens could very well have their answer to inside linebacker on the roster already. However, if a player like Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds were to fall to pick 16 in the draft, I can imagine the Ravens being very tempted to go that route.
Other smaller needs such as right tackle, safety, and backup quarterback will most likely be addressed in the draft this year or the next.