Going into the the draft, the Baltimore Ravens already had solidified themselves among the elite, championship-caliber rosters in the NFL. Their quarterback stands as the second to ever earn unanimous MVP honors while their defense sports multiple All-Pro talents. Though they lost some of 2019’s playmakers, including Hall of Fame worthy guard Marshal Yanda, their roster still sports far too much talent to be written off. Now, post-draft, the Ravens are still in the Top 3 for “too-early” power rankings.
The Baltimore Beatdown crew discussed the pecking order in the AFC post-draft and it’s not wrong to argue the Ravens as the second-best team in their conference; only the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs rank higher. And while we can’t know until the pads come on the significance of Yanda’s retirement, I’m confident the Ravens will lessen the absence with scheme and developing new, younger talent. After all, they set the NFL record last year and it’s okay if they take a small step back.
Meanwhile, it appears Eric DeCosta never wants to see a 100-yard rusher lined up on the opposing side ever again, seeing as they signed/traded for Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell, re-signed Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward and then drafted Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington. That’s 1,800 lbs. of defensive linemen alone. I joked on Twitter, saying the Ravens will be using a 9-1-1 defense featuring nine defensive lineman with Patrick Queen and Earl Thomas in the backfield, and while it remains satire, the genesis of the joke remains true. The Ravens front office does not want to lose to a running back ever again.
Rank 3 - Ravens
Patrick Queen, meet outsized expectations. After the Ravens used the No. 28 overall pick on the inside linebacker out of LSU, Ravens quarterback and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson shouted “Ray Lewis Jr.!” on Instagram Live. Queen might not become a 13-time Pro Boowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion, but he’ll be another hit for GM Eric DeCosta if he fortifies the heart of Baltimore’s defense with his sideline-to-sideline speed and plus coverage ability. Queen and trade acquisition Calais Campbell have upgraded the Ravens’ front seven in a big way. Baltimore and Kansas City are the clear class of the AFC.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens lost Marshal Yanda to retirement but they have a couple rookie replacements options. They also upgraded skill positions around Lamar Jackson with J.K. Dobbins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. They also were aggressive in filling defensive holes with Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Patrick Queen, Justin Madubuike and Malik Harrison. The Ravens’ offensive prowess should be complemented with more playmaking on the other side.
Interestingly enough, this has become something of a polarizing draft class. Those who grade this class highly point to the pairing of Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison as an almost-ideal WLB/MLB tandem. Queen is athletic, a linebacker in a safety’s body, and can flow to the football while Harrison is reminiscent of Donta’ Hightower, a downhill player against the run who can be a functional “Rat” defender or even a potential situational pass rusher on passing downs. J.K. Dobbins is an ideal fit for their offense as a running back, and between Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson they have a chance to fill a big hole vacated by the Marshall Yanda retirement. Even Geno Stonoe, their seventh-round selection, has a shot to be an early contributor given his prowess in zone coverage settings.