AFC North projected starters: Browns’ new feel; Joe Flacco’s test - Gregg Rosenthal
QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Alex Collins
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: John Brown
WR: Willie Snead
TE: Hayden Hurst
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Alex Lewis
C: Matt Skura
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: Orlando Brown
DE: Brandon Williams
DT: Michael Pierce
DE: Willie Henry
OLB: Terrell Suggs
ILB: C.J. Mosley
OLB: Za’Darius Smith
CB: Jimmy Smith
CB: Marlon Humphrey
CB: Tavon Young
S: Eric Weddle
» The weapons in the Ravens’ passing game look improved, but hardly fail-safe. Signing John Brown was a risk worth taking. That said, he couldn’t produce in Arizona the last two years, even when he was healthy. Ex-Saint Snead is coming off a lost season on one of the league’s best offenses. The Raiders couldn’t wait to get rid of Crabtree despite his production (77 catches, 848 yards and eight touchdowns per year over his three years with the Raiders). Consider it a victory if general manager Ozzie Newsome hits on two of those three free-agent pickups.
It would be surprising if James Hurst is not a starter after he landed a 4-year, $17.5 million contract in March. Still, Rosenthal’s most questionable projection is Za’Darius Smith over Matthew Judon at outside linebacker considering the latter lined up on 72-percent of all defensive snaps, racking up eight sacks, 19 quarterback hits and 17 tackles for a loss in 2017.
Ravens’ Flacco takes the right stance in quarterback debate - Mike Preston
To some around town it’s a big deal that Flacco hasn’t reached out to Jackson, but not to me. I couldn’t care less whether he posts on Jackson’s Facebook page or whether they break bread.
I just want Flacco to win Sundays. That’s the bottom line in the NFL. Just win, baby.
He didn’t call Steve Smith Sr. when the Ravens were courting him. I don’t think he called Mike Wallace, either. That’s not Flacco’s style. Here’s a guy who doesn’t seem to communicate much with his teammates on the sideline during a game, yet all of a sudden he is supposed to become a diplomat for a player who was drafted to eventually replace him?
Time for a reality check here: Did anyone actually think Flacco was going to do cartwheels and high-five Newsome for selecting Jackson?
The Ravens have been extremely loyal to Flacco throughout his career, so their decision to abruptly draft his replacement must be tough. Joe will begin the year as the starter under center, but Lamar Jackson could earn a chance after the Week 10 bye if the season is not going well.
Looking at the Ravens’ offensive depth chart ahead of the various offseason minicamps - Jeff Zrebiec
Slot wide receiver: Willie Snead IV, Tim White, Janarion Grant, Jaelon Acklin
Comments: Snead was acquired to be the team’s primary slot guy. There is a lot of curiosity about White, who looked like a keeper before a preseason thumb injury ended his rookie season. If he picks up where he left off before the injury, it would be difficult to deny him a spot. Grant’s chances to make the team likely hinge on special teams contributions; he was a prolific return man at Rutgers.
Center: Matt Skura, Bradley Bozeman, Alex Thompson
Comments: Skura started 12 games at right guard last year, but he’s the most logical replacement for departed free agent Ryan Jensen at center. He started 40 games at center for Duke. Bozeman, a sixth-round pick, has the size to make the transition and he played in a ton of big games at Alabama. However, there are questions about his athleticism. He’s probably a long shot to immediately beat out Skura, but there should be a spot for him as a reserve.
Grant was recently added to the roster to provide competition with Tim White for the return man roster spot. Meanwhile, the battle to be the starting center will be an intriguing storyline throughout training camp. In addition to Skura and Bozeman, Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa (if healthy) could also be competing for the job.