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Ravens News 2/19: Combine testing benchmarks and more

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Five 2020 offseason moves for AFC teams - Bill Barnwell

Baltimore Ravens

Decline Brandon Carr’s option.

The acquisition of Marcus Peters and the expected return of Tavon Young from a neck injury means the Ravens will move forward with Peters, Young and Marlon Humphrey as their top three corners. Jimmy Smith is a free agent and might be priced out of Baltimore’s range, but Carr’s $6 million compensation in 2020 is more than he would get on the open market.

Carr played some safety for Baltimore last season, but it locked up Chuck Clarkon a three-year, $16 million extension last week to continue playing alongside Earl Thomas. Carr’s still a useful player at 33, but he will probably need to take a pay cut to come back to Baltimore in 2020.

Retain Matthew Judon.

While the Ravens have let young pass-rushers such as Pernell McPhee and Za’Darius Smith leave in recent years, those moves came under the spectre of the Joe Flacco contract. With quarterback Lamar Jackson making a fraction of Flacco’s deal before a coming contract extension in 2021, the Ravens actually have the room to keep a young pass-rusher.

I’d like to see them bring back Judon, whose 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons masks greater production. His 53 knockdowns over those two years ranks fourth in the league behind Aaron Donald, Smith and T.J. Watt. The Ravens have also been a markedly better pass defense with Judon on the field, allowing a passer rating of 74.9 and a QBR of 39.9 with him in the lineup. Without him on the field, those marks jump to a passer rating of 91.7 and a QBR of 62.0.

Find an inside linebacker.

I wouldn’t expect the Ravens to spend big here given how many options typically come available at inside linebacker during the offseason. While they are likely to net significant compensatory picks for losing Judon and/or Michael Pierce in free agency, I’d expect general manager Eric DeCosta to pursue cap casualties who won’t upset the compensatory formula, such as Avery Williamson and Mark Barron. This is also a position the Ravens will likely address in the draft.

Baltimore Ravens free agents: How much will Michael Pierce earn on his next contract? - Aaron Kasinitz

Estimated market value: $4.7 million per year, per Spotrac

This valuation might seem a little low to Pierce and his representatives. He is a high-quality run-stuffing defensive tackle who should have prime years ahead, and the Ravens were elated to pay him a modest $3.2 million last year.

Pierce often takes on duties that leave him without impressive stats or much acclaim, and though his dirty work deserves respect, teams across the NFL usually don’t shell out big money for defensive linemen who aren’t regularly walloping quarterbacks.

Williams signed a five-year contract worth more than $52 million a few years ago. It’s unlikely Pierce gets a deal that approaches that value of more than $10 million a year.

2020 NFL Combine: Most important drills for each position, including target times and distances - Chris Trapasso

Wide Receivers

40-Yard Dash: 4.50 seconds

Over the past three years, 56 of 123 (45.5%) participants in this drill timed faster than the threshold.

Draft analysts like yours truly will occasionally say “the 40-yard dash is overrated.” For some positions that is true. But, for receivers, it really isn’t. Sure, a litany of star wideouts across the history of the NFL ran somewhat slowly in the 40, but if there’s one position that actually runs in a straight line for 40 yards with some regularity, it’s the wideouts.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs along with TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, Boise State’s John Hightower, and Baylor’s Denzel Mims should fly in the 40 and test in the upper echelon in the jumps.

Hamler and Reagor should be among the best overall testers, and I expect Ohio State’s K.J. Hill and SMU’s James Proche to show off their quicks in the three-cone.

Edge Rushers

Three-Cone: 7.125

Over the past three years, 18 of 58 (31%) participants in this drill timed faster than the threshold.

The three-cone drill is the lifeblood of analytics centered around the edge-rusher spot, and with good reason. The three-cone tests a player’s ability to explode and bend, which translates to defensive ends and outside linebackers tightly turning the corner en route to the quarterback.

Unless you’re absolutely enormous, you do not want to be anything more than a half-tick above 7.12 seconds in the three-cone. I expect LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson, Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara, and Ohio State’s Chase Young to rock the three-cone and test through the roof altogether.

Utah’s Bradlee Anae, who doesn’t look especially explosive on film but is a master with his hands, could skyrocket up boards with a big combine. The same is true for Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes. Keep an eye on Boise State’s Curtis Weaver too.

2020 NFL Draft Rankings: Interior Defensive Linemen - Kevin Hanson

3. Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma (rSR, 6’2”, 304 pounds)

Combining freakish athleticism and a non-stop motor, Gallimore explodes off the ball and has outstanding short-term agility for his size. While he spends a lot of time in the backfield, he doesn’t always finish as he has a total of seven sacks over the past two seasons.

4. Marlon Davidson, Auburn (SR, 6’3”, 297 pounds)

While he has some versatility to play both inside and out, Davidson weighed in almost 20 pounds heavier at the Senior Bowl than his listed weight at Auburn and fits best as a three-technique at the next level. He has nice first-step quickness for an interior defender and plays with a lot of power in his hands.

5. Ross Blacklock, TCU (rJR, 6’4”, 305 pounds)

Often utilized in a two-gap role at TCU, Blacklock displayed impressive burst and lateral agility to be a disruptive one-gap penetrator at the next level. His pass-rushing upside puts him in the mix as a potential first-rounder in April.