17. BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Baltimore Ravens continue to make smart personnel decisions that should make a significant impact on their team. They said goodbye to Michael [Pierce] this offseason but replaced him with Calais Campbell — arguably the best run defender in football — for just a low-round draft pick.
Campbell has had four-straight seasons with a PFF grade above 90.0 and done so at multiple different positions along the defensive line for Arizona and Jacksonville. He will move back inside for the Ravens, where he should prove to be an upgrade over [Pierce]. Derek Wolfe brings plenty of experience and solid play to the table. He has notched at least 20 total pressures in all but one of his NFL seasons and has had good PFF grades against the run every season since 2013.
Brandon Williams remains and needs to return to his best play after seeing his run defense grade drop 10 grading points in 2019. His defensive stops dropped by a third, and he didn’t make the same impact as in years past. Baltimore’s edge rushers are still a question mark, but this team schemes up pressure better than any in the league, and they’re the most blitz-heavy team in football.
Matthew Judon led the team in sacks, total pressures and pass-rush grade but was still just 18th in the league in that last category. Last year’s third-round pick, Jaylon Ferguson, will have a chance to improve on the 30 total pressures he had as a rookie, and first-year player Justin Madubuike will have a chance to add some pressure from an interior alignment. But this is a defensive front that will likely rely on the scheme and blitz to maximize its pressure rate again in 2020.
The 2020 NFL All-New-Team Team - Danny Heifetz
Old Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
New Team: Baltimore Ravens
The Move: Traded for a fifth-round pick
It’s not often that a defensive end with a 95 overall Madden rating gets dealt for a fifth-round pick. The Ravens have the NFL’s deepest secondary, and they made what might be the move of the offseason by stealing Campbell from the Jaguars to bolster their pass rush. Campbell, who is tied for the third-most quarterback hits in the past three seasons (77), pairs with Baltimore pass rusher Matt Judon to give the Ravens defense a serious chance at repeating its success from last year.
Training Camp Breakdown: Defensive Line - Clifton Brown
There will be a competitive battle for reps behind Wolfe, Campbell and Williams, who are all at least 30 years old.
Third-round pick Justin Madubuike has the talent to push the vets for reps if he has a strong training camp.
Under the Radar
This is a key season for Mack, a fifth-round pick in 2019 who will need to step up to earn a spot in the defensive line rotation. The Ravens defensive line is deeper and more experienced than when Mack was drafted. Players often take a major leap between their first and second seasons, and Mack will be looking to do the same now that he’s reunited up with former Texas A&M Aggie Madubuike. Mack may need to beat out Ellis for a spot.
Outside linebackers: Continuity
The Ravens decided not to add an outside linebacker through the draft or free agency. They instead placed the franchise tag on Matthew Judon, re-signed Pernell McPhee and hung onto Jaylen Ferguson and Tyus Bowser to run it back with the same group of edge rushers from last season as other areas of the front seven underwent significant changes.
Inside linebackers: Youth
First-round pick Patrick Queen and third-rounder Malik Harrison will arrive in Baltimore with high expectations. The Ravens cut veteran Jake Ryan and watched as Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes left in free agency this offseason. L.J. Fort is the only inside linebacker with significant NFL experience on Baltimore’s roster, while Queen and Harrison have opportunities to earn major roles in Year 1.
Projecting the most improved player for each AFC team in 2020 - Cynthia Frelund
We’ve already seen glimpses of what Hollywood can do when Lamar Jackson wants to find him deep. He caught three touchdowns on six deep receptions and 15 such targets as a rookie in 2019. No other Ravens wide receiver had more than three total deep receptions on the season, per NGS. Baltimore’s deep passing game forecasts to improve in 2020, which should mean greater opportunities for Brown.