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Ravens News 4/18: ERFAs signed, Mosley’s value, top draft hauls and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ravens officially sign RB Alex Collins, finalize deals with six other exclusive-rights free agents - Jeff Zrebiec

They officially signed their seven exclusive-rights free agents: running back Alex Collins, wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, tight end Vince Mayle, offensive linemen Matt Skura and Maurquice Shakir, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor and cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. The moves were on the NFL’s transaction wire Monday.

The cost to bring back each of these ERFAs is approximately $630 thousand per player for 2018. That figure is a tremendous bargain for 2017 starters Alex Collins, Matt Skura and Patrick Onwuasor. The Ravens continue to extract value from the bottom of their payroll, which helps to compensate for some of the overpaid players at the top.

NFL draft: Ranking the top 10 team hauls of the past 25 years - Marc Sessler

1) 1996 Baltimore Ravens

Notable picks: OT Jonathan Ogden, LB Ray Lewis, DB DeRon Jenkins, WR Jermaine Lewis.

Ozzie Newsome’s first two picks as general manager of the newly minted Baltimore Ravens doubled as a pair of epic grand slams, with Ogden and Lewis finishing their storied careers as shoo-in Hall of Famers.

Ravens fans, by the way, can thank Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns for getting their hands on Lewis.

As then-coach of the Browns, Belichick shipped Cleveland’s 1995 first-round pick to the Niners in exchange for a package that included San Francisco’s first-rounder in 1996, which ultimately netted Lewis at No. 26 overall.

As part of Cleveland’s front office, Newsome long had Lewis on his radar. So did Belichick, who personally scouted the linebacker before the 1996 draft as part of New England’s coaching staff under Bill Parcells.

Instead of a Cleveland team run by Belichick and Newsome, the Browns were scattered to the wind by owner Art Modell. From those inglorious ashes rose the Ravens, with Ozzie -- the former Cleveland tight end -- as their unquestioned leader. What Newsome did with that first Baltimore draft set the table for decades of future success.

”Whatever comes of the history of the Ravens in Baltimore, that day will forever be the reason why this franchise is where it’s at,” Lewis once told The Baltimore Sun. “All because of the genius of Ozzie Newsome.”

Landing a pair of first ballot Hall of Famers in a single draft will jumpstart any team. Ogden and Lewis combined to produce 24 Pro Bowl seasons for the Ravens. If Eric DeCosta can draft just half as well next April as Newsome did in his first draft, the team will be back on the path to perennial contention.

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE QUESTIONS ON C.J. MOSLEY CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS - John Eisenberg

But if I’m being honest, I can’t say Mosley always controls scrimmage along the lines of a Kuechly, who is the game’s highest-paid inside linebacker, having signed a five-year $61.8 million deal in 2015, two years after he won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

As good as Mosley is, he’s never been in the running for that award. Yet it’ll probably take more than Kuechly’s deal to sign him since we’re three years down the road and prices tend to go up.

With all that in mind, the Ravens certainly should at least discuss whether it would be smart for them to find another young linebacker, presumably in the draft, and use the money they save on Mosley to retain several other players.

Mosley’s pass defense has been criticized in two of his four seasons, but that is mostly attributable to Ravens surrounding him with below average pass defenders. What really holds Mosley back from being a truly elite linebacker is his run defense. His impressive tackling statistics do not tell the entire story, he too often misses tackles on the goal line and does not make enough splash plays to be considered a dominant run stopper. If Mosley is asking to become the highest paid inside linebacker in the league, the Ravens are probably better off seeing if he can take the next step in his fifth year before making a long term commitment. After all, they could always slap the franchise tag on him in 2019, which would not be that much more expensive than a top of the market multiyear deal.

2018 NFL Draft: 4 Potential High Picks That Could End Up As Busts - J.P. Scott

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Davenport is drawing rave reviews and being compared of another former Group of 5 great — Khalil Mack, who starred at Buffalo before becoming an All-Pro at two different positions for the Raiders. This is a case of a guy who looks great getting off the bus, good on film and great in workouts. Here’s the problem: As good as Davenport looked on film, he wasn’t dominant in the way you’d think a player with his supposed talent would be in Conference USA. He drew a lot of matchups against slow, small offensive tackles than he would have in a Power 5 conference. There was film of Mack dominating in a game against Ohio State. That’s not the case with Davenport.

Davenport continues to be slotted to the Ravens at #16 in many mock drafts. These analysts claim the team needs to become younger at outside linebacker despite the presence of Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams on the depth chart. Baltimore may be able to leverage Davenport’s upside, as well as the relative weakness of this edge rusher class, to attract a favorable trade on draft day.