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Safety Tony Jefferson was released and offensive guard Marshal Yanda retired. An inauspicious start to the offseason would eventually turn in their favor. Baltimore franchise-tagged outside linebacker Matt Judon and acquired defensive end Calais Campbell in a trade with the Jaguars. Backup tight end Hayden Hurst was sent to Atlanta for the pick used to select Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins.
The Ravens added functional depth before completing what was widely-regarded as one of the best draft classes in the NFL. The crown jewel was LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who will give the AFC North franchise speed and physicality at the heart of the unit. Wide receiver Devin Duvernay, inside linebacker Malik Harrison, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and the aforementioned Dobbins all have starting traits. Baltimore and quarterback Lamar Jackson have fallen in the opening round of the playoffs each of the past two years. The roster is nearly flawless and the only opponent standing in their path is themselves.
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PFF Rushing Grade: 80.5
As the only non-running back on the list, Jackson’s case is obviously unique. His 89-carry sample did come almost entirely on designed runs (82 of 89 rushing attempts), though, so it’s not as if the grade is buoyed heavily by scramble opportunities. No one was better at moving the chains than Jackson. He ran for a first down or touchdown on a league-high 39% of his carries against stacked boxes, and he was also one of the most effective runners in the league when it came to making defenders miss. Jackson forced 19 missed tackles on his 89 carries with eight or more defenders in the box.
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Campbell, 33, is entering his 13th NFL season. He spent the first nine years in Arizona and anchored the defensive line in Jacksonville from 2017-19. In those three years, he had 31.5 sacks, though only 6.5 came in 2019. Now in Baltimore, Campbell — like just about every other player that joins Wink Martindale’s defense — is primed for a breakout season.
Ravens WR opens up on playoff loss to Titans - Clint Buckley
“I just think a year of experience really helped me being on a team that did what we did last year,” Boykin said. “We came a little bit short, but there were a lot of things that we went through as a team. A lot of growth that you have as a rookie being on a team that goes to the playoffs and having a great season. For me, I didn’t even go through OTAs last year at minicamp. All I really had was camp, so I got a full offseason. I learned a lot. I’m just excited to get back out there.”
“The biggest thing (I learned) is the margin of talent in the NFL is so small,” Boykin added. “That’s why they say ‘any given Sunday.’ It doesn’t matter who you are, you can lose any game. That’s what I would say. Every time you step out there, you’re one play away from losing a game, one play away from winning a game.”
“I don’t think they caught us by surprise,” Boykin said of the playoff loss. “We didn’t have our best game of the season, obviously. When we looked back on it, it’s really hard to win 13, 14, 15 games in the pros, which is what we would have had to do to win the Super Bowl. For us, it was about the experience. We were a young team. We made some mistakes. You can’t do that in playoff games.”