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Ravens News 4/11: Burning draft questions, Swinging for WRs, Rex vs Pees and more

NFL: Super Bowl LI-ESPN The Party Red Carpet Entrances Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens need a third-down passing threat out of the backfield - Mike Preston

But the Ravens should know by now that Flacco is pretty much a one-read quarterback and then he becomes “Check Down Joe.” Unfortunately, there has been no running back for him to throw to out of the backfield recently.

It could be someone like San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels or Miami’s Mark Walton. Published reports indicate that Penny doesn’t pick up offensive schemes quickly and N.C. State also had another option as a third-down back in Nyheim Hines, who runs a 4.38 forty.

Counterpoint: The better option is to coach the tendency to check down out of Joe Flacco. In Kenneth Dixon, who caught 30 balls at an average reception of 5.4 in 2016, and Buck Allen, who caught 46 balls at 5.4 yards per last season, the Ravens already have a pair of check down receiving backs. Unless a legitimate home run threat is at the top of their board, the front office can find a more impactful player at another position.

2018 NFL Draft Guide: One burning question for each AFC team - Nick Shook

Baltimore Ravens: How does Ozzie Newsome go out?

Since the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens, they’ve had just one GM: Ozzie Newsome. The Hall of Fame tight end has built contenders, dealt with rebuilds and returned to the pinnacle, winning two Super Bowls during his tenure constructing what was Art Modell’s NFL franchise. This will be Newsome’s last year at the helm. After attempting to remedy the first-round whiff that was Breshad Perriman with the signings of John Brown and Michael Crabtree, Newsome still has work to do. Where does the personnel maven turn with the No. 16 overall pick? Baltimore could use help at right tackle, but might add a player to its defensive front seven, depending on who’s available.

Newsome has repeatedly stated his desire to find more offensive weapons to equip the Ravens to win the close games that have kept them out of the playoffs the last two seasons. One potential curveball is selecting a tight end in the first round. There are a few pass catching tight ends that would be borderline first rounders in most drafts, but could be the most valuable player available in the middle of the first round this year.


“To get a good player at any position, you’ve got to swing,” Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said last week.

“You can get one at-bat in a baseball game and strike out and everyone’s going to say you’re a bad hitter. But if you get up four times and you hit two singles or two doubles, you’re a .500 hitter. So, you hope perception changes. You’ve got to swing. We probably haven’t swung quite as much, quite honestly, for a lot of different reasons.”

“Players are getting drafted probably higher than where we actually see their skill levels necessarily being,” DeCosta said.

“We have to make a decision. Are we going to react to that, as well?” DeCosta asked.

“The values of the various positions in terms of winning and losing football games, it seems like the media, fan base, draft pundits, everyone has a different opinion. But that makes the value of those skills players greater than probably if you just graded all those players clinically across board. They would be taken higher than what you have them rated. And we have to make a decision of do we want to participate in that inflationary process.”

The Ravens scouting department has seemingly lost the edge that allowed them to dominate the draft during the first half of Ozzie Newsome’s tenure. DeCosta’s statement that they will consider adjusting the positional value portion of the ‘best player available’ formula is a positive sign. Picking highly graded run stuffing defensive tackles does not help improve the team much in the new passing centric NFL, especially when they will be buried on the depth chart.

Comparing the Ryan & Pees Pass Rushes - Ken McKusick


This is the central difference between the Ryan and Pees eras.

In addition to the differences in blitzers per play, these numbers may explain why there is a relatively small difference in the frequency of stunts. As I define them, it is unusual for a stunt and blitz to occur on the same play. Since Ryan’s defenses blitzed so frequently, that left a smaller set of opportunities for stunts.

In terms of who would blitz, Ryan would rush any of his 11 defenders...

According to Ken’s film study, Rex Ryan’s 2006 Ravens defense blitzed almost three times as often as Dean Pees 2017 unit. While many are hoping new coordinator Don Martindale will crank up the aggression, and the defense has plus personnel at OLB and CB, the roster is still missing a key component - a free safety with the range to limit the damage from the chunk plays that will arise as a result of increased blitzing. Ed Reed, the best safety in the history of the game, was at the peak of his abilities in 2006, allowing Ryan to dial up extraordinary pressure. More than another inside linebacker, cover corner or interior penetrator, adding a ballhawking centerfielder on the backend would enable Martindale to unlock the defense’s pass rushing potential.