AFC North projected starters: Browns loaded, Steelers ain’t dead - Gregg Rosenthal
QB: Lamar Jackson
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Marquise Brown
WR: Willie Snead
TE: Mark Andrews
TE: Nick Boyle
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Ben Powers
C: Matt Skura
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: Orlando Brown
DE: Chris Wormley
DT: Brandon Williams
DT: Michael Pierce
OLB: Matt Judon
MLB: Patrick Onwuasor
OLB: Tyus Bowser
CB: Marlon Humphrey
CB: Jimmy Smith
CB: Tavon Young
S: Earl Thomas
There’s no team built quite like Baltimore. No team used more two-tight end sets than the Ravens a year ago, a strategy that goes well with a Lamar Jackson run-heavy attack. After adding Mark Ingram and fourth-round speedster Justice Hill to a backfield that already featured Gus Edwards, they are fixing to creatively pound the ball again.
This is an older secondary, but the group has a chance to be among the league’s best with good health. Brandon Carr may not even crack the starting lineup.
Starters at left guard, defensive end, wide receiver and outside linebacker will be determined in training camp.
Ravens Never Forget to Feed Their Defensive Beast - John Eisenberg
Five of the 11 guys who played the most snaps on defense for the Ravens in 2018 are going to line up for other teams this year.
Replacing almost 4,000 snaps is a challenge, especially given how central the players were to the defense’s success in 2018. Their departures prompt key questions. Who is going to rush the passer? Is there going to be a Weddle-like coach on the field?
Nonetheless, I sense no panic among Ravens officials about their ability to maintain the caliber of the defense.
Although they lost a ton of veteran defensive talent, the Ravens believe players such as Matthew Judon, Michael Pierce, Patrick Onwuasor, Tavon Young and Marlon Humphrey are ready to form a new nucleus.
Returning defenders such as Tim Williams, Willie Henry and Kenny Young have flashed when given playing time. The departures will give them an opportunity to blossom.
Baltimore said goodbye to veteran leaders like Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Za’Darius Smith and Eric Weddle and did not really replace them with known quantities. Earl Thomas is an upgrade over Weddle, but the pass rush was decimated by free agency. At the same time, the Ravens’ future looks brighter as a result. Baltimore could’ve used having a QB on a rookie contract as an excuse to deviate from its typical plan of building through the draft and to spend big on veteran free agents, but first-year GM Eric DeCosta didn’t take the bait. Instead, he focused his roster-building efforts on the draft and brought in a robust and talented class.
Letting Suggs and Smith must have been a much tougher pill to swallow. Pass rush is obviously important, but research on the relationship between the rush and coverage suggests that it’s smarter to spend big on the secondary rather than paying for sacks, and that seems to be what the Ravens are doing after they splurged on Earl Thomas and re-signed Tavon Young with the money they could’ve used on Suggs and Smith.
The linked study by PFF concludes that coverage is more predictive of defensive success than pass rush.