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Ravens News 1/21: Senior Bowl sleepers and more

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson crowned the 2019 PFF Offensive Player of the Year - Sam Monson

When we analyzed our ball location data from PFF’s QB Annual a season ago, we could see that Jackson was among the least accurate passers in football. Whatever way you sliced the numbers (adjusting for drops, depth of target, situation, etc.), his passing was an issue. However, he was so spectacular as a rushing threat that the offense still functioned even with that level of passing, though it did put a fairly firm cap on how good he could be without improvement in that area.

What few saw coming, though, was Jackson’s spectacular improvement as a passer in 2019. He led the league in passing touchdowns, had a top-10 completion percentage and owned the third-best passer rating, and that’s just on a box score level. Of course, we know those can lie, but in this case, they arebacked up by the tape.

Jackson was a top-five player at the position in terms of PFF passing grade, and while he didn’t become the most accurate passer in the NFL — he’s never likely to be Drew Brees — he didn’t need to be. He just needed to add to the danger he already posed on the ground, which, if anything, also went to new heights.

As a passer, he ended the season with the fourth-best passer rating from a clean pocket (118.5). He also ranked 14th in adjusted completion percentage just one year after finishing 28th of 29 qualifiers in the same metric.

Ravens Have Strong Bill of Health Moving Into Offseason - Clifton Brown

Harbaugh also gave a positive update on the status of nickel cornerback Tavon Young, who missed the 2019 season following neck surgery.

“What I was told yesterday was Tavon will be back for the first day of the offseason program and be rolling,” Harbaugh said.

“We had our best year, injury-wise,” Harbaugh said. “I have to give a lot of credit to (Head Certified Athletic Trainer) Ron Medlin and to (Head Strength & Conditioning Coach) Steve Saunders and to (Director of Sports Nutrition) Sarah Snyder and everybody involved there. We were great. I’d like to find a way to try to replicate that next year.

”With that, this is the best offseason we’ve ever had, by far – the fewest offseason injuries to recuperate from, the fewest surgeries, even though we have a couple things pending that second opinions are going to weigh in on for potential surgeries. We’ll see, but it’s the best, by far, that we’ve had.”

Ravens Will Focus on Improving Front Seven This Offseason - Ryan Mink

“We’re not going to try to weaken ourselves in the secondary, but we can focus on the front seven,” Harbaugh said.

”We know with our scheme and the way that we get attacked, we know the kind of player that we want. So, it’ll narrow the focus even more, both in free agency and the draft, and we’ll try to get two or three guys, maybe four.”

The bigger issue was in getting to the quarterback. The Ravens blitzed more than any other team in the league, yet ranked 21st in sacks (37). Baltimore had just five sacks from its defensive linemen.

”We have to get better just to stay the same, start with that. And then we do want to get better,” Harbaugh said. “We want to improve that part of it. That’s really something that’s going to be a target for us. We’re very specific.”

It sounded like Harbaugh would be very interested in bringing Ward back after the Ravens inked him midseason.

”This guy is a great fit in our defense,” Harbaugh said.

NFL DRAFT SLEEPERS: 2020 SENIOR BOWL AND EARLY DECLARATIONS - Jonah Tuls

Logan Stenberg, IOL, Kentucky

It’s time to sound the alarms because I found the best guard in the 2020 draft. Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg is a big, long mauler in the run game who has also been as consistent as any interior offensive lineman in the country as a pass protector. He’s started every game the last three seasons for the Wildcats, and if there is one word to describe his play on tape, it’s nasty. Stenberg has heavy hands and an unparalleled mean streak that typically results in several pancake blocks each game. Many SEC fans know Stenberg for his overaggressive nature and tendency to draw personal foul penalties, but if I’m being honest, I love that kind of nasty attitude and toughness. Other SEC players have called him the most hated player in the conference, and I can’t blame them. Stenberg catches bodies every game as both a run blocker and pass protector looking for work.