Hall of Fame: Each AFC team’s most deserving candidate - Elliot Harrison
BALTIMORE RAVENS: Ed Reed, S, 2002-2012. Ed Reed becomes eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019. He should moonwalk right through the front door. No waiting period, “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.” Reed belongs among the very best to ever play the position. In my mind, the former Ravens safety is among the top-10 greatest defensive players ever, irrespective of position. He is the only safety to ever lead the NFL in interceptions three times. Everson Walls, who also deserves Hall of Famemention, is the only other player to pull off that feat. Defensive Player of the Year ... Super Bowl champ ... what else do you want?
Ed Reed should be an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame and is well deserving of first ballot recognition. The accolades he earned during his illustrious career in Baltimore include All-Pro honors eight times and a Defensive Player of the Year award. The ballhawk hung up his cleats with the most career interception return yards and tied for the most playoff interceptions in NFL history.
Five Thoughts on Ravens vs. Bears - John Eisenberg
I’m sure it wasn’t literally true that NBC reserved one camera for following rookie tackle Orlando Brown Jr.’s every move whenever he was on the field, but it sure seemed as if they did. The Sunday Night Football crew, which was broadcasting the game, correctly identified Brown as potentially pivotal in deciding what the Ravens’ starting offensive line will look like in 2018 and zeroed in on how he fared in his NFL debut. How did he fare? Pretty darn well. Although he was squaring off against backups, he appeared to seal his edge on most passing plays and didn’t look overmatched. His first step was quick, as scouts have long noticed. All in all, it was a positive start for the 2018 third-round pick.
Orlando Brown is quickly developing into perhaps the biggest steal of the 2018 NFL Draft.
OLB Kamalei Correa
Correa was the most dominant Raven on the field, notching three sacks, an interception, forced fumble, six tackles and two passes defensed. After two years of barely seeing any defensive action, the 2016 second-round pick made a loud statement that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. Correa clearly looks more comfortable at outside linebacker than he did last year inside, though his versatility is still a key attribute. He showed great burst off the edge and the athleticism/instincts to drop into space in pass coverage.
Has the light finally come on for Kamalei? He was downright dominant against the Bears. If he continues to make impact plays, he should edge out Albert McClellan for the ninth and final linebacker roster spot.
“I would love for you to show me a better middle linebacker in the game than C.J. Mosley,” Lewis said, via ESPN. “That’s from a pure football instinct level of being a general and always ending up in the right place. Can he get better? Absolutely. Overall, that is what a linebacker looks like, plays like and thinks like. C.J. Mosley, that’s a football player.”
“Every time I watch him, I’m like, ‘Wow,’” Lewis said. “I get super excited when I see him playing football because he’s playing it from a linebacker perspective. He isn’t just trying to tackle you. He’s trying to make you feel him. I think a lot of linebackers now are OK with making tackles. No, the game is about punishment. You want to run the ball against me? That’s a problem.”
High praise indeed from Ray Lewis. These comments from the soon-to-be Hall of Famer can only help C.J. Mosley in his contract negotiations with the Ravens.
Training Camp Takeaways in the AFC North - Mark Chichester
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley reports that receiver Michael Crabtree “has been a popular target” during red-zone drills in camp. With rookie Lamar Jackson breathing down his neck, one area quarterback Joe Flacco simply needs to improve on is his red-zone efficiency, as he ended the 2017 season with an adjusted completion percentage of just 59.4 percent on his red-zone attempts, which ranked 31st of 36 qualifying signal-callers. The veteran Crabtree seems like the obvious target for Flacco as he’s been solid in the red zone over the last several seasons and notably generated a passer rating of 95.8 on his red-zone targets last year, which ranked 19th among receivers with at least 10 targets.
In Crabtree and Willie Snead, as well as rookies Hayden Hurst and Jaleel Scott, Joe Flacco has significantly better red zone options to target compared to Baltimore’s 2017 corps.