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Ravens News 4/19: Must-watch games, draft day tendencies and more

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Ten Must-Watch Games on the 2019 NFL Schedule - Jonathan Jones

WEEK 11 TEXANS AT RAVENS

Two of last season’s playoff teams are led by two of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the league and two of the best defenses in the NFL. Houston will play at home just once between Week 6 and this game in Week 11, having road games in Kansas City and Indianapolis before playing overseas against Jacksonville, then returning for their bye before getting back on a plane to go to Baltimore (they host Oakland in Week 8). Whew. Lamar Jackson beat out Deshaun Watson in the Heisman voting in 2016. Can he edge him here?

With the Chiefs, Browns, Patriots and Rams on the upcoming schedule, this is an interesting choice. Nonetheless, the Texans contest should be competitive matchup.

Teammates See More ‘Swag’ From Lamar Jackson in Year 2 - Clifton Brown

“Lamar is such a freak athlete,” [Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve] Saunders said. “We did some good things with him last year, but I really think Lamar is ready to take the next step as a pro and train a little harder and start working out those little things – that five percent with an elite athlete that makes a big difference, even in a guy like that who is already a genetic freak.

“I just got done beating Lamar up 15 minutes ago, and what a great workout. What a great attitude, and just, ‘Give me more. Give me more.’ It was awesome. It was awesome, so much better than even last year. I just got done talking to (Head) Coach [John] Harbaugh about it. It was just really exciting to see a guy like that from, let’s say, a position group that’s historically not really into training, necessarily, and see a guy like that embrace it this early.”

“Lamar is our quarterback,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “It’s his team. We’re following his lead. We know how big of a leader he can be, and how special he can be on the football field. We’re dependent on him, and we know he’s putting in the work that’s needed.”

If Lamar is able to improve his passing accuracy and touch, he will have all the ingredients to blossom into an NFL superstar.

The NFL’s best red-zone tight ends in 2018 - Mike Johnson

NICK BOYLE, BALTIMORE RAVENS – 70.0 RED-ZONE GRADE

Boyle is somewhat of an outlier on this list. He ranked fifth among tight ends with a 70.0 red-zone grade, but he only generated a 46.0 receiving grade on 26 snaps as a pass catcher. Boyle was at his best as a blocker in the red zone, a perfect piece to the Ravens’ run-heavy scheme. He spent 82 of his 108 red-zone snaps as an in-line blocker, with 71 being in the running game. He ranked first at the position with a 77.1 red-zone run-block grade last season.

Baltimore’s 19 rushing touchdowns last season trailed only the Saints and Rams.

The Eight Most-Telling NFL Team Draft Tendencies - Robert Mays

Baltimore Ravens

Trait they covet: Change-of-direction pass rushers

Over the past decade, it’s hard to find a draft in which the Ravens didn’t take at least one edge player in the first four rounds. Baltimore built its defense through the front four during the Ozzie Newsome era, and that’s probably not going to change now that Eric DeCosta, Newsome’s longtime no. 2, is running the team’s front office.

The unifying trait among many of the Ravens’ edge rushers has been their ability to change direction. In 2016, Baltimore took Boise State’s Kamalei Correa with the 42nd pick after he finished in the 99th percentile in the three-cone drill and 93rd in the 20-yard shuttle at the combine. The Ravens drafted BYU defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi one round later. Despite weighing 40 more pounds than Correa, Kaufusi still finished in the 89th percentile among defensive linemen in both drills. Tyus Bowser and Chris Wormley—who were both picked in 2017—fit a similar bill. Naturally, because of the sheer number of front-four players that the Ravens have drafted in the past several years, there have been some exceptions (like Za’Darius Smith and Matthew Judon, who scored poorly in both tests). But it’s clear that the team has a preference for rushers who can stop on a dime.

Possible targets: With Smith leaving for Green Bay in free agency and franchise stalwart Terrell Suggs signing a one-year deal in Arizona, it’s time for Baltimore to replenish its rotation of edge players. The guy that keeps jumping out to me is Michigan’s Chase Winovich. His college production matches up with just about any other edge player in the country, and his change-of-direction numbers are collectively the best in this class (95th percentile in the 20-yard shuttle and 90th in the three-cone drill). It’s easy to picture him in a Ravens uniform.

Between his production, quickness, physicality and the Harbaugh connection, Chase Winovich makes a lot of sense for the Ravens. TCU’s Ben Banogu, Oregon’s Justin Hollins and Akron’s Jamal Davis were some of the other edge prospects who tested well in the agility drills at the Scouting Combine.