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Ravens News 3/7: FA safety market, full mock draft and more

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New Orleans Saints v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Why teams shouldn’t break the bank on CJ Mosley in free agency - Austin Gayle

Diving into the five-year grades for every off-ball linebacker with 1,500-plus defensive snaps since 2014, Mosley’s 78.6 overall grade ranks 16th and his 87.0 run-defense grade ranks sixth among the 89 qualifiers. The concern is the replaceability (and therefore lack of value) of strong run defense and his lackluster coverage ability, as he ranks just 24th on the aforementioned list in coverage grade (73.8) and has earned a 73.0-plus single-season coverage grade just once in his career.

Mosley tied for 151st among qualifying defenders in PFF’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) metric at 0.34 in 2018, and he tied for 25th among all off-ball linebackers; better coverage linebackers (i.e., Matt Milano, Cory Littleton, Zach Brown) all ranked significantly ahead of him.

Good, not great coverage and strong run defense at off-ball linebacker can be added to the roster for far less than the price tag likely pinned to Mosley in free agency.

Gayle’s conclusion sentence says it best. Mosley is a good, not great player deserving of a good, not great long-term contract.

Setting the Market for the NFL’s Five Most Interesting Free Agent Position Groups - Robert Mays

Safety

The SeahawksEarl Thomas and the GiantsLandon Collins are both among the top players hitting free agency. But the list doesn’t stop there. Chicago’s Adrian Amos is only 25 and coming off a career year for the league’s best defense; Tyrann Mathieu is looking to secure a sizable long-term deal after playing well on a one-year, prove-it contract with the Texans; and after being released by the Ravens on Tuesday, Eric Weddle also could provide teams with a Justin Houston–like cheaper alternative that doesn’t play into the comp-pick equation.

At safety, the 2019 market should follow a fairly traditional series of events: teams looking for high-end help at the position will do their best to woo Thomas or Collins, and the ones who miss out (or couldn’t afford them to begin with) will turn their attention to Amos, Mathieu, and other options like Lamarcus Joyner, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Tre Boston.

Baltimore may explore the free agent safety options after parting ways with Eric Weddle. Ideally, the eventual starter at free safety will complement Tony Jefferson’s run stuffing with top level pass coverage ability.

With Weddle gone, Ravens need to address weakness at safety - Mike Preston

The Ravens have some other needs, such as a wide receiver and possibly an edge rusher, but they need a safety who can cover the middle of the field, especially after cutting six-time Pro Bowl selection Eric Weddle on Tuesday. It was evident in the team’s losses last season when they played quality quarterbacks such as the New Orleans SaintsDrew Brees and the Kansas City ChiefsPatrick Mahomes.

When the Bengals beat the Ravens, 34-23, in Week 2 last season, a Cincinnati coach said the offense wanted to attack the middle of the field, especially with crossing routes. The Bengals didn’t think either of the Ravens safeties, Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle, were fast enough to run with their receivers or able to close fast enough before being burned around the corner.

It is encouraging that the Ravens defense led the league in yards allowed and were second in points allowed last season despite a known vulnerability in coverage across the middle. The loss of savvy that comes with Weddle’s release could be offset by better speed.

BALTIMORE RAVENS 7-ROUND MOCK DRAFT - Trevor Sikkema

ROUND 1, PICK NO. 22: HAKEEM BUTLER, WR, IOWA STATE

The Ravens need receiver help in a big way -- get it, “a big way”? Hakeem Butler can fill a big hole for them in that part of their roster -- get it, “a big hole”?

Ok, you get it, Hakeem Butler is tall.

There just are not many 6-foot-6 receivers who can run a sub 4.5 40-yard dash, but that’s exactly what the Ravens could be getting in Butler. He’d be a big target for Lamar Jackson that does not exists on the roster right now, and he could start right away on the outside, as long as he cleans up how he gets off press and releases at the line of scrimmage.

ROUND 3, PICK NO. 85: BEN BANOGU, EDGE, TCU

Though the Ravens have a bigger need than an edge rusher with their second pick in the draft, they are a team that likes to pick talent much more than be strict on filling a need.

Banogu is a very raw player. He’s only played football for four years, and it shows with some of the inexperience he has when rushing the passer. But, his combine tests were fantastic, especially in the explosiveness tests, where he recorded vert and broad jumps that were in the 97th and 99th percentile. This is a guy who has a lot to learn, but the athleticism to make a big impact.

ROUND 3, PICK NO. 102: TERRY MCLAURIN, WR, OHIO STATE

This offseason has been great for McLaurin. It started off at the Senior Bowl, where he was clearly one of the top receiver there, and a player who could have been labeled the biggest riser of the event. That opened some people’s eyes and had them dig into the film a little more, and what you can see from McLaurin on film is that he is just as good of a weapons as a receiver as guys like Parris Campbell, who was also on his team at Ohio State but got more publicity.

McLaurin is a player who can be used both inside and out (at the sideline or in the slot) with good quickness and straight line speed.

ROUND 4, PICK NO. 113: TRYSTEN HILL, IDL, UCF

ROUND 4, PICK NO. 123: ALEX BARS, IOL, NOTRE DAME

ROUND 5, PICK NO. 160: B.J. BLUNT, S, MCNEESE STATE

ROUND 6, PICK NO. 191: BENNY SNELL, RB, KENTUCKY

ROUND 6, PICK NO. 193: DESHAUN DAVIS, LB, AUBURN

#22 overall would probably be a reach for Butler due to his questionable hands and unpolished route running. Furthermore, Hill is considered a character concern by some and Blunt would be redundant as another box safety/linebacker hybrid. Drafting a center should also be a priority.