4) Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Is Joe Flacco elite? I don’t care. But last year, Joe Flacco wasn’t healthy. Yes, he started all 16 games -- that’s a testament to his mettle. A summer back injury, which forced Flacco to miss training camp and the entire preseason, seemed to linger into the regular season. He was also knocked out of an October game with a concussion. All of this helps to explain his poor statistical marks: 80.4 quarterback rating, 3,141 yards passing and a career-low average of 5.7 yards per attempt.
With a clean bill of health and some new toys at his disposal (free-agent additions Michael Crabtree and John Brown), Flacco could be poised for a bounce-back campaign. At least that’s what John Harbaugh’s expecting. When asked at the Annual League Meeting about the level of improvement Baltimore’s passing game could see in 2018, Harbaugh mused,”A healthy Joe Flacco plus the weapons is ... I’m sure there’s a math term for that ... exponential. It’s exponential. How about that? That’s what I’m counting on.”
Cheers to that! There’s something special about Flacco airing it out in clutch fashion in a division game, leading the Ravens to a hard-earned win. The NFL is always better when the Ravens and Flacco are the epitome of toughness.
Flacco undoubtedly played better after the bye week, posting a 10:3 touchdown to interception ratio. However, his yards per attempt remained below seven down the stretch and he delivered a sub-70 QB rating during a must win game in Week 17. It remains to be seen if Flacco can rediscover his postseason form. A bounce back season would be a huge boost to the Ravens prospects.
Ozzie Newsome: Robert Griffin III had a good workout, will sign next week - Michael David Smith
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed today that Griffin worked out in Baltimore, impressed the team, and is ready to become a Raven.
“He came in last week, worked out, had a real good workout, and we were able to come to an agreement late yesterday,” Newsome said. “He will probably be here early next week to sign the deal.”
The terms of the pact are reportedly quite reasonable. Griffin should be a capable backup that can keep the offense on schedule with his scrambling ability if forced into action. Now the Ravens do not have to draft a quarterback unless the value is apparent, which gives the front office flexibility to address other positional needs.
17. Baltimore Ravens (15)
Notable additions: WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown
Notable losses: C Ryan Jensen, WR Mike Wallace, WR Jeremy Maclin, CB Lardarius Webb
The Ravens yet again have remixed their receiving corps with veterans, this time hoping they’ve found the right possession-speed combination. They still need more help on more fronts to be a playoff team again.
The Ravens 2018 home schedule includes only two teams ranked above them on Iyer’s power rankings. Yet the road schedule looks daunting next year, with six of the eight teams Baltimore will face considered to be in better shape at this point of the offseason. Worth noting, the Browns (24) are ranked higher than the Bengals (29).
Several questions involved Baltimore’s draft strategy, in terms of a quarterback. When asked about the 16th pick specifically, DeCosta stated, “the 16th pick is a good spot to be in this draft.” DeCosta added, “We’ll have a good player there. We’ve got to make a pick.”
In terms of a quarterback, Newsome chimed in as well. He said, “I don’t know if we’ve paid more attention to it this year”. This is certainly intriguing news as the team has yet to show any signs of their ‘lack’ of commitment to Joe Flacco, long-term. Newsome later added, “you may be surprised on who we pick at 16, if we pick at 16.”
“If we pick at 16” is the part to remember here. The Ravens may be coming to the conclusion that trading back is the ideal option this year, as the sweet spot to extract maximum value at the positions the Ravens covet the most seems to be in the late first through early second round. DeCosta has mentioned several times he desires instant impact from their first round selections and wants to see top picks on the field sooner rather than later. If a top rated player slides to the Ravens at a position that is already well stocked, it would not be surprising to see the team trade down.