The Baltimore Ravens aren’t typically known for having flashy, marketable players that appeal to the national landscape, and that again appears to be true in 2018. Their team looks to be built to win with good defense, special teams, and (hopefully) solid offensive output.
This type of philosophy doesn’t always lend itself to a ton of national media attention when the beginning of the football year rolls around, and while some pundits like Baltimore’s chances of returning to the playoffs this year, there isn’t a ton of buzz surrounding the singular pieces that comprise the squad. This is noticeable in a recent ESPN post that predicts who the top 100 NFL players will be in 2018.
The Ravens placed two on the list, and you can probably guess who they are - C.J. Mosley checks in at number 81 and Marshal Yanda ranks number 99. The list makers consulted with ESPN’s Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley to give a quick blurb on each player, starting with Mosley:
“Ray Lewis calls Mosley the best middle linebacker in the game. Mosley is one of two defensive players who have recorded at least 450 tackles, five sacks and five interceptions since 2014. Carolina’s Luke Kuechly is the other.”
This is high praise from Lewis who was once the best middle linebacker in the NFL himself. Mosley’s coverage issues are well documented, but other than that he certainly is in the conversation for the game’s elite at the position.
Hensley goes on to give thoughts on Yanda, who returns to action after suffering a season ending ankle injury last year:
“Yanda is one of the toughest, most physical and consistent blockers in the game. He reached the pro bowl for six straight years before suffering a fractured ankle last season. Yanda was named the best offensive lineman in the league in 2016 by Pro Football Focus.”
Even at his relatively advanced age, Yanda ought to be feared by defensive fronts this season. When healthy, he is absolutely one of the top guards in the league, and is now entering the conversation as one of the all time greats.
While it would’ve been nice to see more Baltimore players on this list, the argument will always be made that you have to earn it. Among some potentially notable omissions are Eric Weddle, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Williams and Terrell Suggs, who have a whole season in front of them to go out and command national respect.