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Ravens News 2/21: Draft guide and more

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NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL team’s most improved player in 2019 - Ben Linsey

Baltimore Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson

Could this be anyone other than the league MVP? Jackson’s impact on the game this year was unlike anything we’ve seen recently in the NFL. He tore through defenses on the ground with borderline unfair athleticism and change-of-direction ability, leading an entirely unique offense to the top EPA per play mark in the NFL. The value that Jackson added didn’t only come on the ground, though. He ended the season as the league’s sixth-highest graded passer and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt from inside the pocket, fourth among all quarterbacks. That’s a massive leap on what we saw from Jackson as a rookie during the 2018 season when his overall grade sat at just 56.5, marred by inaccuracy as a passer and a propensity for fumbles. The sky really is the limit for the 23-year-old heading into his third season.

2020 NFL free agency matchmaking: One fit for each AFC team - Marc Sessler

BALTIMORE RAVENS: Emmanuel Sanders, wide receiver

The Ravens are bound to chase pass-rushing help after struggling all year to badger the quarterback. I’m matching Baltimore with Sanders, though, pairing the underrated, rugged wideout with second-year burner Marquise Brown inside an otherwise-lacking wideout corps that saw Willie Snead finish second among the group with just 31 grabs. After pinpointing Mark Ingram and Marcus Peters as ideal veteran adds for the roster, Baltimore’s front office is on a roll. Adding Sanders would do wonders for a Ravens offense desperate to correct January’s stunning collapse.

Top 10 compensatory picks from past 10 NFL drafts: Prescott at 1 - Jeremy Bergman

3) Kyle Juszczyk, RB, Ravens/49ers

2013 NFL Draft: Round 4, Pick No. 130

A fullback?! Yes, a fullback. A fullback with four Pro Bowls to his name, more than any other player on this list, and a four-year contract that averages $5.3 million per year. Juice, as he is known because his last name is perhaps the most difficult league-wide to spell without Googling it first, was a stud blocker and receiving threat in Baltimore and has continued to stand out in San Francisco, where he has averaged 10.6 yards per reception since joining the team in 2017.

Also considered (listed with their drafting teams):

Ryan Jensen, OL, Ravens; Pernell McPhee, LB, Ravens; Rick Wagner, OT, Ravens

2020 NFL Draft Guide - Danny Kelly

28. Baltimore Ravens

Grant Delpit

Safety LSU, junior

HEIGHT/WEIGHT ... 6’2’’, 206

AGE ... 21

SHADES OF ... Minkah Fitzpatrick

Versatile safety who lines up all over the secondary and always seems to know where the football is going; tackling became a major issue in 2019

MAIN SELLING POINT: Range and ball-hawking talent

SCOUTING REPORT

Delpit is a quick-twitch defensive back with a wiry frame and top-tier length. The Jim Thorpe Award winner (given to the nation’s best defensive back) and second-team AP All-American moves all over the formation, playing deep, over the slot, and in the box. He delivers big hits in run support and is an explosive blitzer who shoots gaps and makes plays in the backfield. It’s Delpit’s play-recognition skills, though, that separate him from the field: He reads route combinations and quarterbacks’ eyes, jumping routes or putting himself in a position to make a play. In coverage, he can flip his hips and run with pass catchers, turn and find the ball like cornerback, and break up or intercept the pass. He has excellent range and ball skills, and has netted seven picks, 16 passes defensed, seven sacks, and 139 tackles in the past two seasons.

Tackling became a big red flag for the junior playmaker this season, though, with Delpit missing at least one tackle in all but one game. He’ll have to clean up that issue and avoid relying too much on shoulder shivers when trying to get off blocks; he’s too easily sealed out of the play at times.

WHY HE COULD RISE

Delpit displayed rare coverage instincts, and has the athleticism to be a factor against the run and as a blizter.

WHY HE COULD FALL

He missed far too many tackles last season.

10 BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR 2020 COMBINE (OFFENSE) - Trevor Sikkema

CAM AKERS, DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES WILL BE THE BIGGEST RISERS

Cam Akers and Donovan Peoples-Jones are two players who were monster athletes coming out of high school who have been held back in terms of production and recognition because of a poor offensive cast around them.

As a 5-star running back, Akers ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash with a 41-inch vertical jump before joining Florida State. As for Peoples-Jones, he too was a 5-star recruit with a 4.42-second 40 and a 42-inch vertical jump.

That athleticism didn’t just disappear, and now that they’re free of their bad offenses, it’s time to remind the world what they can do.