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Ravens News 2/21: Tough WRs, buying Za’Darius and more

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NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If I were GM: Three offseason moves for each AFC North team - Maurice Jones-Drew

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Get the ground game up to speed.Baltimore had the league’s No. 2 rushing offense in 2018, thanks to a great O-line performance and a large committee of running backs. Buck Allen and Ty Montgomery are set to be unrestricted free agents, but the Ravens could decide to hang on to Gus Edwards (exclusive rights free agent) and Alex Collins(restricted free agent). Kenneth Dixon has a year left on his contract. While this was an effective group last season, an explosive three-down back could bring this Lamar Jackson-tailored offense to new heights.

Find a big receiving threat. The Ravens’ receiving corps is shallow, with Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead as the top guys under contract. Baltimore has to find a big-bodied receiver to bring some attention to the pass game. Dez Bryant could be a late free-agent pickup. Better yet, Baltimore could draft the highly touted D.K. Metcalf if he’s still available when the Ravens pick at No. 22

Three-down workhorses are quite rare because running back is the most injury prone position in the game. Running back committees often prove beneficial, especially for run-heavy teams.

Ravens Seek ‘Tough Guy’ Wide Receivers to Help Lamar Jackson Make Plays - Clifton Brown

When it comes to being physical blockers, wide receivers will not be excluded. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman says the Ravens’ prototypical wide receiver may differ from most teams.

“Guys that can get open, catch the ball, but I think one thing that’s unique – we need that tough guy too here that can go out and block a nickel, block a safety and win that matchup,” Roman said. “I think that’s very important here as we move forward.”

Most scouts rate this as a strong draft for wide receivers. Potential wide receiver prospects being linked to the Ravens in the first round of mock drafts include D.K. Metcalf (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and A.J. Brown (6-foot-1, 230 pounds) of Ole Miss and N’Keal Harry (6-foot-4, 213 pounds) of Arizona State.

Riley Ridley (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) of Georgia also seems to fit the prototype the Ravens may like, but Ridley’s grade might not be high enough for a first-round pick.

Riley Ridley is a complete receiver prospect. He would be an ideal second round selection if the Ravens trade into range.

Buying/Selling the top free agent pass-rushers in 2018 - Michael Renner

ZA’DARIUS SMITH – BUY

The great thing about one-year wonder type pass-rushers is that the reward can sometimes greatly outweigh the risk. Unlike Dee Ford, Smith has seen a consistent upward trend in his production throughout his four-year career before a breakout 2018 in which he racked up 60 pressures during the regular season. Also unlike Ford, he doesn’t have the first round pedigree or gaudy sack totals. That equals high risk to many GM’s, which only serves to drive his price tag down and drive his potential value up.

Renner argues that edge defenders are the second highest paid position in the NFL due to their year-to-year consistency in pressures and productivity.