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Ravens News 5/4: Power Rankings, kickoff rule changes and more

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating the fantasy landing spots of the top-drafted tight ends - Scott Barrett

Of 220 qualifying tight ends last season, Hurst graded out 152nd. He graded out negatively as both a run-blocker and pass-blocker. You’d think that means he was an especially strong receiver, but I didn’t find that to be the case. In three seasons, Hurst totals 100 receptions (on 157 targets) for 1,281 yards and three scores. However, his lack of efficiency on these targets was problematic. Throughout his career, South Carolina quarterbacks averaged a passer rating of just 69.0 when targeting Hurst, as opposed to 87.9 when targeting all other receivers.

Andrews, however, has been far more efficient as a receiver. Among 96 qualifying tight end seasons (min. 300 routes) since 2014, Andrews’ 2017 season ranks second-best in yards per route run (2.63) and sixth-best in yards per target (10.9). Oklahoma quarterbacks averaged a 122.3 passer rating when targeting Andrews last year.

We actually had Andrews listed as a wide receiver in his first two years with Oklahoma, and I suspect Baltimore views him similarly, as the team’s primary receiving tight end, while Hurst is more of the in-line or blocking tight end.

After adding a pair of receiving tight ends, the Ravens will likely utilize the ‘12’ personnel grouping even more extensively in 2018. Hurst and Andrews should allow coordinator Mornhinweg the flexibility to deploy them in functions that keep the opposing defense guessing.


Averett and Humphrey were teammates for three years in Tuscaloosa.

The two cornerbacks were close in college, as they shared lockers next to each other and both started during Humphrey’s final season. They won a National Championship together as young players in 2015, and Averett doubled up with another ring last fall.

Humphrey has seen Averett can lock down receivers first hand, as Alabama had the NCAA’s third-ranked defense in 2016 (allowing 276.3 yards per game) when the duo started at corner.

“It was always good to know a quarterback wasn’t going to be able to pick on either side. We had somebody on both sides who could cover,” Humphrey said.

“When we played my last year there, we’d come to the sideline and communicate like, ‘How are they?’ And we both were like, ‘We can handle them.’ When our defensive coordinator would come to us and ask if we could cover them, we always could.”

Newly drafted cornerback Anthony Averett is expected to make a smooth transition to the NFL after starting for two years in Nick Saban’s complex coverage scheme. He could push Tavon Young for snaps as a slot corner, and eventually make veterans Jimmy Smith and/or Brandon Carr expendable.

NFL Power Rankings: Giants climb after 2018 draft; Bills drop - Elliot Harrison

14. Ravens

Ozzie Newsome’s swan song running personnel for the franchise produced a solid draft. Lamar Jackson was the moneymaker, so to speak, but taking TE Hayden Hurst seven spots ahead of the dynamic quarterback alleviates a team need now. Baltimore managed to draft talented players and fill needs without reaching throughout most of the draft, which is what all teams are aiming to do. If Alex Collins is the real deal at running back, the Ravens will be back in the playoffs. By the way, if you didn’t see Baltimore’s final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, watch it here.

Baltimore gained two spots in this writer’s latest power ranking, leapfrogging the 49ers and Seahawks. Harrison believes the Ravens will be battling the Texans, Titans and Chiefs for an AFC wildcard berth.

Kickoffs set to undergo makeover in order to make play safer - Jim Tretter

While the proposed changes might not appear dramatic to the naked eye, they are to the people involved with the game. Among the differences: There will be no running start or pre-kick motion by cover teams and no wedge blocks by return squads. Also, there will be a 15-yard, non-contact zone from the spot of the kick, with the return team required to have a minimum of eight players lined up 15 yards from the ball. The expectation is that this will not only take some of the bigger linemen off the field because there will be a premium on agility and speed to operate in space, but also eliminate some of the violent collisions on the back end of the play. As described, the coverage will resemble what’s normally seen on a punt than a “traditional” kickoff.

That proposed changes were achieved with input from every level. Among those attending the session were owners Dr. John York of the 49ers and George McCaskey of the Bears; head coaches Anthony Lynn of the Chargers, John Harbaugh of the Ravens and Mike Tomlin of the Steelers; and nine special teams coaches, including Darren Rizzi of the Dolphins.

Naturally, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, a former special teams coordinator, had a voice on this issue. Kickoff returns can produce some of the most exciting plays in the sport, but as long as the opportunity for onside kicks remain, fans should expect the downfield kickoff to be done away with completely in the next couple years. It will be interesting to see how these special teams tweaks affect roster construction across the league.