Despite already reaching elite status, Michael Pierce appears to be just getting started - Ben Cooper
And Pierce has stuck out quite a bit, grading out as the fifth-best interior defender in 2018 (91.0), and the fourth-best against the run (92.0 run-defense grade). Pierce’s progression from Southern Conference standout to upper-echelon interior defender in the NFL is atypical — but representative of a player who has put in the time to master his craft.
Since his NFL debut, Pierce has led the Ravens in run-stop percentage each year, and his 12.0 percent mark in 2018 ranked second among interior defenders, only behind perennial leader Damon Harrison. Pierce’s overall grade and his run-defense grade have both improved each year, and they reached elite status in just his third season.
Pierce’s unrealized potential lies in his pass-rushing game, where he was unable to notch a sack in 2018 and has generally been quiet in his three years. His 68.9 pass-rushing grade in 2018 was a new career-high, but it ranked merely 26th among interior defenders.
Michael Pierce has continued the Ravens tradition of undrafted defensive tackle success stories. He has definitely earned a long term contract in Baltimore.
2019 Draft Needs: Baltimore Ravens - Andy Benoit & Gary Gramling
Biggest Need: Wide Receiver The plan is to build a diverse run-first offense around Lamar Jackson, but you still need pass-catchers. The Ravens, who seem to have a glaring need here every other year, can cite Willie Snead or Seth Roberts as their best options right now. Each would be a No. 3 at best on most teams; plus, each are playing on an expiring contracts.
Hidden Need: Stack Linebacker With C.J. Mosely getting away this need barely counts as hidden, but it’s less obvious than the gaping holes at wideout and defensive edge.
Also Looking For: Edge Defenders The Ravens likely knew they’d lose Za’Darius Smith in free agency but probably didn’t anticipate Terrell Suggs leaving. Plus, they’ll have a tough decision to make next year when Matt Judon’s contract expires.
Who They Can Get The Ravens will have a shot at a big receiver, whether it’s super-sized slot receiver A.J. Brown of Ole Miss, contested-catch artist N’Keal Harry of Arizona State, or the hulking Hakeem Butler of Iowa State. All of them will be assets blocking in the run game. They could hop on the second-tier edge rushers as well, where Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. If they don’t trade down, the 22nd overall pick might be Baltimore’s only chance to get immediate help since they’re not slated to pick again until Pick 85.
Trading back from #22 seems to be the preference. The question is if any prospects will entice another team to offer fair value in order to move up.
2019 NFL Draft rankings: Speed, high-pointing, yards after the catch and everything to know about WRs - Chris Trapasso
Yards After The Catch
1- M. Brown
2- A. Brown
At Oklahoma, Brown showcased the ability to create yards after the catch with lightning quick jukes in space or flat out speed. The other Brown is a running back in space. Butler is smooth for his size and can flip on the afterburners down the field. The latter portion of that is true for Metcalf. You don’t want to get in a foot race with him after he’s snagged the football. Harry flashed some deceptive wiggle at Arizona State, and Arcega-Whiteside’s long strides can occasionally pick up additional yardage, although he and Harmon won’t make many defenders miss in the open field.
Drafting a receiver with explosive run-after-the-catch ability should be a priority.
Seven-round NFL Mock Draft 2019: 254 picks, 34 trades and full breakdowns for all 32 teams - R.J. White
1 22 WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
2 63 ILB Mack Wilson, Alabama from SEA/KC*
3 85 to Seattle
3 102 G Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin
4 113 to Seattle from DEN
4 123 to New York Giants
5 142 WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo from NYG*
5 157 DE/LB Shareef Miller, Penn State from TEN*
5 160 to Tennessee
5 171 to Tennessee from NYG*
6 188 WR Penny Hart, Georgia State from TEN*
6 191 to New England from TEN
6 193 C Nick Allegretti, Illinois
6 205 LB Ulysees Gilbert III, Akron from NE*
7 246 CB Jamal Peters, Mississippi State from NE*
The cupboard is bare for the Ravens at receiver, so unless an elite talent like Devin Bush or Clelin Ferrell slips out of the top 20, I think you can mark them down for some help in the passing game at No. 22. In this mock the board is wide open for them with no receivers taken, so they go ahead and take the plunge on combine star D.K. Metcalf, who is a monster in the vertical passing game but has work to do if he’s going to be a go-to No. 1 receiver.
The Ravens don’t have a second-round pick, but when Wilson makes it to the Round 2/3 turn, they can’t help but package No. 85 and 113 to go get the C.J. Mosley replacement for the middle of the defense. With their compensatory pick, the Ravens add some help to the interior of the offensive line in Benzschawel, who can push to start at left guard.
On Day 3, the Ravens trade down 19 spots before taking more receiving help in Johnson, who excels in the vertical game like Metcalf but is more developed underneath, and he can win at his size with defenses having to respect the running ability of Lamar Jackson and not keying in on the Buffalo product in the passing game. After then moving up a couple picks in the fifth to land some edge rush help with Za’Darius Smith gone, the Ravens go back to the well at receiver with Hart, who can help in the return game while also fighting for looks underneath in the passing attack.
Trading #85 and #113 for a flawed inside linebacker would be a dubious decision. General manager Eric DeCosta called these mid round picks ‘gold’ during the pre-draft press conference.