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Ravens News 7/20: AFCN superlatives and more

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NFL: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

AFC NORTH SUPERLATIVES: BEST, UNDERRATED & BREAKOUT PLAYERS - Carter Donnick

Most likely to disappoint: Miles Boykin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Putting forth a minor 13-198-3 line as a rookie, it seems on the surface that anything Boykin does as a sophomore is not a negative and rather an unexpected gift. However, with the team shipping off pass-catching tight end Hayden Hurst and failing to add any significant weapons on the outside, Boykin is now aligned to be one of the team’s de facto top three wideouts (along with Marquise Brown and Willie Snead) in 2020. Fantasy analysts are using both this, along with Boykin’s terrific NFL Combine testing numbers, as reasons to forecast a huge breakout in Year 2.

Although he may do exactly that, I just don’t think Boykin has shown enough as a pure wideout, both at the collegiate level and the professional stage, to be banked on as a legitimate contributor at this point. This also doesn’t even factor in the argument that Jackson loves his tight ends and running backs as secondary passing options and that Boykin’s vertical skill set isn’t an ideal fit with Jackson at the helm.

Best Offensive Player: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Not much to say here. Jackson is in a perfect spot with offensive coordinator Greg Roman catering to his unique skill set and there’s no reason to expect any sort of significant regression in Year 3. He’s a special talent who will be at the forefront of the league for years to come. I would be lying, however, if I said I didn’t at least give Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley consideration for this spot.

2020 Baltimore Ravens Fantasy Team Preview: Lamar Jackson Regression Predictions Overblown - Shawn Childs

Coaching Staff

Last year Baltimore moved to second yards gained and first in points scored (531). They scored 142 more points than in 2018 (389). Before Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback, the Ravens went 20 seasons without a top ten offense.

Greg Roman returns for his second year as the offensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons as the offensive assistant and assistant head coach for the Ravens. He led the offense of San Francisco and Buffalo over six seasons from 2011 to 2016. His strength is running the ball based on two top finishes in rushing yards for the Bills in 2015 and 2016 while ranking highly in his last three seasons with the 49ers (4, 3, and 4). Baltimore led the NFL in rushing in 2019. [Roman] has never finished higher than 23rd in passing yards while delivering about league average passing TDs in most years before 2019 (36 passing TDs).

Team Defense

The Ravens want to stop the run to make offenses one-dimensional. By playing from the lead in most games in 2019, Baltimore controlled the clock with a terrific run game and forced opponents to pass to beat them. Their pass rush is trailing, but the addition of DE Calais Campbell does add an impact player to the defensive line. The Ravens should play well in coverage, and their linebacking core is improving.

Baltimore Ravens position preview: A surplus of talent of cornerback - Aaron Kasinitz

Roster projection

In my latest projection, I guessed that six cornerbacks would make the 53-man roster: Humphrey, Peters, Smith, Young, Averett and Marshall. It’s difficult to imagine Baltimore giving up on Averett or Marshall, which leaves the undrafted rookie cornerbacks deeper down the chart with little room to make a push for a place on the team.

Training Camp Breakdown: Offensive Line - Clifton Brown

Under the Radar

The Ravens don’t have a ton of depth at tackle, but it has not been an issue the past two seasons because Stanley and Brown have been durable. James Hurst, who was released during the offseason, was the team’s most versatile offensive lineman and could fill in when necessary at tackle or guard. If Stanley or Brown miss time for any reason in 2020, a backup tackle who is often overlooked like Andre Smith could become very important.

Every NFL team’s most likely Hall of Famer: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger among 13 ‘locks’ - Bryan DeArdo

Baltimore Ravens: Earl Thomas, FS

Current Hall of Fame “lock”? No, but close

Another Pro Bowl season may be all Thomas needs to lock up his spot in Canton

Earl Thomas, who enjoyed a Pro Bowl season during his first year with the Ravens, is closing in on a Hall of Fame career. His success last season, following a major lower body injury that prematurely ended his 2018 season (his last with the Seahawks), is a very positive sign that Thomas will be able to continue to play at an elite level into his 30s. Another Ravens player to keep an eye on is running back Mark Ingram. While it is getting increasingly harder to earn induction at his position, Ingram’s success during his first year as a Raven could lead to more good things for the three-time Pro Bowler moving forward. Ingram, based on how little he has been used in comparison to other veteran running backs, could follow John Riggins’ path as a elite running back who had more success in his 30s than in his 20s.