Every NFL team’s best draft class since 2000: Figuring out the best 32 drafts of the last 20 years - Bryan DeArdo
Baltimore Ravens: 2018
While Baltimore’s 2008 draft class produced two players (Joe Flacco and Ray Rice) that played a prominent role in the team’s 2012 championship run, the Ravens’ 2018 class has the potential to be even better. The Ravens’ 2018 draft class includes reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson, 2019 Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and tight end Mark Andrews, who also earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019 after catching 10 touchdown passes.
Baltimore’s ‘18 draft class also includes offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman, who has made 17 starts in his first two years, at a great value in the sixth round, plus another key contributor in linebacker Kenny Young, who was part of the trade that landed the team corner Marcus Peters. Tight end Hayden Hurst was traded to the Falcons this offseason in exchange for a second-round pick.
Four Downs: AFC North - Rivers McCown
Biggest Need: Interior offensive line
If we’re being honest, the Ravens’ massive influx of picks at least touched on all their holes and then some. But if there’s one situation that could be a little shaky, it’s the torch-passing up the middle. The Ravens spent a pair of mid-round picks there in third-rounder Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State) and fourth-rounder Ben Bredeson (Michigan). Those two will pair with Matt Skura, Patrick Mekari, and 2019 fourth-rounder Ben Powers to try to fill the shoes of Marshal Yanda at right guard and put an above-average center out there. As good as Baltimore’s run game was last year, and as old as Yanda was, this is probably best regarded as a talent downgrade until proven otherwise.
Notable Undrafted Free Agents: The Ravens have one of the more impressive UDFA classes in the NFL. Given their uncertainty about the interior offensive line, they signed three different UDFAs that project there. Missouri’s Trystan Colon-Costillo reportedly got an $87,500 bonus — Lance Zierlein called him a center-only prospect and noted in his weaknesses that he was “unable to control the man he’s blocking,” which maybe doesn’t sound quite as promising as you’d like! The Ravens also added Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley, a sleeper in some circles, for a $30,000 bonus. BYU running back Ty’Son Williams, a Matt Waldman favorite who tore his ACL before last season, was signed to continue to stack the backfield. Finally, Last Chance U alum Chauncey Rivers, who transferred to Mississippi State, was regarded as one of the better UDFA edge players. The rich get richer.
NFL ultimate all-conference teams: ACC and SEC - Mike Triplett
NFL ultimate all-conference team: ACC
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
Flex Calais Campbell, Miami
Toughest choice: Quarterback. Jackson, the NFL’s reigning MVP, won comfortably with seven out of nine votes. But the ACC had plenty of notable candidates, including Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston.
50 Words or Less - John Eisenberg
The best move of DeCosta’s year? I’d vote for the Marcus Peters trade. He obtained a difference-making Pro Bowl cornerback from the Rams in exchange for a guy who only plays special teams in Los Angeles (Kenny Young) and a 2020 fifth-round draft pick the Rams traded away.
Any employee in any field would want to have their boss compliment them as effusively as Harbaugh complimented Chuck Clark in explaining why the safety will continue to wear the green-dot helmet and call the defensive signals in 2020. Clark is “bold, brilliant and brief,” Harbaugh said. Yowza.
I’m a tad surprised the Ravens’ favorite offensive personnel grouping by far in 2019 was one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers, according to The Athletic. Seems counterintuitive for an offense that loves tight ends and set the NFL record for team rushing yards in a season.
Four Ravens that could have a breakout season in 2020 - Andrew Gillis
EDGE, Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson might be the player on this list the Ravens would benefit the most from getting a breakout season from.
As the team’s No. 2 pass-rusher last season, he played in 14 games (nine starts) and had 2.5 sacks. He made 31 combined tackles and had nine quarterback hits.
Now with Matthew Judon playing under the franchise tag, a productive season would give the Ravens a legitimate second pass-rusher off the edge to compliment Judon on the other side. His potential increase in production isn’t just based on Ferguson’s development from year-to-year, either.
The Ravens made vast improvements to the front seven over the offseason and added veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, as well as rookies Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington. With an improved interior rush, Ferguson could reap the benefits and have a breakout second season.
If he does, not only will the Ravens have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, they’ll have one of the best defensive fronts, too.