Lamar Jackson tops draft class that transformed Ravens’ offense - Jamison Hensley
The only knock on this class was the Ravens passing on safety Derwin James, who was arguably the best player in the draft. Here’s a look at the Ravens’ 2018 draft class:
Grade: Near perfection
Best rookie: Jackson. The last of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round, Jackson sparked an impressive midseason turnaround for the Ravens, who went from 4-5 to AFC North champions. He became only the third quarterback since the 1970 merger to win at least six times in his first seven starts (Ben Roethlisberger and Dak Prescott were the others). The most explosive playmaker on Baltimore’s offense, Jackson led all NFL quarterbacks this season with 695 yards rushing, a credit to his speed, elusiveness and cutback ability. The next steps for Jackson are drastically improving his accuracy (58.2 percent) and cutting down on his fumbles (tied for an NFL-worst 12).
The jury is still out on Baltimore’s 2018 draft haul. While they definitely landed more immediate starters and contributors than recent classes, it remains to be seen if they added any bonafide blue-chippers to the roster.
6 Baltimore Ravens offseason questions on offense: Joe Flacco’s value, O-line’s talent and more - Aaron Kasinitz
Do they need to upgrade the talent on the offensive line?
The Ravens have two young starting offensive tackles in place for next season in Orlando Brown and Ronnie Stanley, but the interior of the line isn’t set in stone. Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, 34, could contemplate retirement and neither center Matt Skura nor left guard James Hurst looked good enough late in the year to enter next season as entrenched starters. Sixth-round rookie Bradley Bozeman offers an option at either of those spots. Still, the Ravens will evaluate the line closely and decide whether they need to be more aggressive about upgrading the group of players charged with protecting the franchise quarterback.
Judging by the results of the wildcard and divisional playoff games, strong offensive line play is an essential component to advancing in the postseason. Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, Penn State’s Connor McGovern, Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins, NC State’s Garrett Bradbury and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy are among the top interior lineman draft prospects.
New Wide Receivers Coach a Hiring the Ravens Must Get Right - Joe Schiller
In the first day under new general manager Eric DeCosta, the Baltimore Ravens spent little time shuffling around their offensive coaching staff.
John Harbaugh announced the promotion of Greg Roman from assistant head coach/tight ends coach to offensive coordinator, subsequently ending Marty Mornhinweg’s tenure at the position.
Lost in the news was a smaller, yet significant change. The team announced wide receivers coach Bobby Engram would replace Roman as the tight ends coach.
But Baltimore has struggled to develop those kinds of players at the wide receiver position and it’s been a glaring crutch.
Of the 26 wide receivers the Ravens have drafted over the course of franchise history, only one has posted a 1,000 yard season in Baltimore.
Developing receivers is certainly part of the solution. Nonetheless, devoting more draft resources to the position would also be helpful. Since 2012, the Ravens have selected only one wide receiver taken in the top 100 of the draft.