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Ravens News 2/14: Flacco fallout, rookie grades and more

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Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Grading the Joe Flacco trade from Ravens to Broncos: How did Denver get here? - Bill Barnwell

Baltimore Ravens: B+

The Ravens have to be thrilled to get a midround pick for Flacco, who was out of their plans and likely to be released unless Baltimore found a trade partner. The compensation suggests there were multiple teams in for him or that new general manager Eric DeCosta managed to persuade the Broncos to negotiate against themselves. The Ravens will eat $16 million in dead money on their 2019 cap and then be rid of one of the worst contracts in modern NFL history.

Baltimore needs to find a new backup for second-year quarterback Jackson, and it will presumably look for a player who more closely matches his skill set. The obvious fit is Tyrod Taylor, who came up in the Ravens system and had his best run as a pro under current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Buffalo.

The vast majority of national pundits believe the Ravens received the better end of the trade. Considering his recent injury history, large base salary and declining play, DeCosta did well to net a reported fourth round draft pick for Joe Flacco.

AFC North rookie grades: Browns, Ravens land core performers - Nick Shook

BALTIMORE RAVENS B+

Obviously, the big get in this class is Jackson, who teamed with coach John Harbaugh to save Harbaugh’s job and lead the Ravens to an AFC North title, which made the Broncos-bound Joe Flacco expendable. Surprisingly, second-rounder Andrews (34 catches, 552 yards, three TDs) ended up contributing much more in Year 1 than first-rounder Hurst (13 catches, 163 yards, one score), who missed the first four games of the season due to injury. Both could still team to make up a formidable tight end duo in the future; they’ll get more chances when Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams, who are both bound for free agency, depart. Senat is an unknown but should get more work in the lead-up to 2019 after dealing with a foot injury. Bozeman is promising as an interior lineman. Young was an immediate contributor as a rotational defender, and we can’t forget the out-of-nowhere play of Edwards, who helped carry the rushing load for Baltimore’s transformed offense.

Combine/free agency focus: As a fan of Alex Collins, I don’t want to write this, but it should be expected that the Ravens at least explore another option at running back, even after Edwards’ excellent rookie season. Might that runner be Le’Veon Bell? Receiver isn’t a wasteland, but Baltimore needs a true No. 1. Those don’t just grow on trees. On defense, Za’Darius Smith was a key contributor who might leave via free agency, and with Terrell Suggs, Brent Urban and C.J. Mosley also up for a new deal, the Ravens have some tough questions to answer this offseason.

Along with Lamar Jackson, the third round duo of Orlando Brown and Mark Andrews were major contributors in 2018. Shook gave the Brown rookies an A-, then ranked the Bengals and Steelers crops at C+.

NFL Draft Big Board: The Pre-Combine Top 50 - MMQB

16. JAWAAN TAYLOR, OT/G, FLORIDA

Height: 6’ 5” | Weight: 335 pounds

A massive right tackle who dropped weight over the course of his collegiate career, Taylor is a very good mover for his size, capable of holding up on the outside. He also packs the kind of power to dominate in the run game. He could have a future at guard, where he could be a star if he can adjust to the cerebral requirements of the position.

19. CODY FORD, OT/G, OKLAHOMA

Height: 6’ 4” | Weight: 335 pounds

Ford dropped weight and delivered a breakout season stepping in for Orlando Brown at left tackle last year. His future might be inside, where he made his seven starts as a freshman and sophomore. He’s exceptionally nimble for his size, but offers more value as a mauling run-blocker than pass protector, where he could be exposed by NFL speed on the edge.

28. D.K. METCALF, WR, OLE MISS

Height: 6’ 4” | Weight: 225 pounds

Medicals (a foot injury as a freshman and a season-ending neck injury last year) are the only thing keeping Metcalf from being the consensus No. 1 receiver in this draft. He’s built like a linebacker and runs like a track star, but he also has the kind of short-area quickness rare in an athlete this long. He was limited to 21 games in his collegiate career and will need some developmental time, but at the very least he’ll take the top off a defense and make some plays on manufactured touches. (And in case it comes up on trivia night: He’s the son of long-time Bears offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf and nephew of former all-purpose back and all-time kickoff return yardage leader Eric Metcalf.)

43. KELVIN HARMON, WR, N.C. STATE

Height: 6’ 2” | Weight: 215 pounds

A contested-catch specialist, Harmon bullied defensive backs at the collegiate level. He has the size and physical nature (he’s aggressive with his hands at the catch point, sometimes to the point of daring officials to flag him), to become a force in the pros as he adds some nuance to his route running.

A sampling of the offensive prospects the Ravens may consider in the first round.