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Ravens News 7/7: Rivalry recap and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

Chiefs lock up Patrick Mahomes: Here are eight QBs who could be next up for lucrative contracts - Cody Benjamin

Lamar Jackson

BAL • QB • 8

Contract expires: 2022

Jackson falls in the same camp as Watson in that he’s under team control for at least another two years, and then Baltimore can also exercise a fifth-year option to keep the reigning MVP in 2022. The sooner the Ravens lock him up, though, the more money they’ll probably save, considering Jackson’s trajectory looks nearly as promising as that of Mahomes. Does anyone really think John Harbaugh and Co. are afraid to sign off on their young phenom until he wins a playoff game? The bigger concern, from an organizational standpoint, might be durability considering how often the Ravens ask Jackson to run the ball in the open field. Financially speaking, he’s as sure a bet to become one of the highest-paid QBs as Watson and Prescott.

Baltimore Ravens position preview: The next step for Lamar Jackson and the QBs - Aaron Kasinitz

Roster prediction

In my latest 53-man roster projection, I guessed that Jackson and Griffin would make the team, while McSorley and Huntley would not. In that case, Baltimore would surely keep one of the two younger signal-callers on the practice squad. And as mentioned, they’ll both have an opportunity to make their case; it’s just difficult at this point in the offseason to assume anyone beats out Griffin as a backup quarterback, and the Ravens might not want to keep three players at the position with a surplus of talent elsewhere.

NFL offensive line rankings: All 32 units entering the 2020 NFL season - Steve Palazzolo

5. BALTIMORE RAVENS

The Ravens finished with the second-best offensive line last season, ending third in run-blocking grade and first in pass-blocking grade. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley continued his progression, leading all tackles with a 92.8 pass-blocking grade while allowing only 10 pressures on 543 attempts. Stanley also ranked first in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets and had the lowest percentage of negatively graded plays in the run game. He has firmly established himself as one of the league’s best. On the other side, right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. isn’t as nimble as Stanley, but he’s gotten the job done since the Ravens drafted him in the third round in 2018. Brown engulfs linebackers and moves linemen at the point of attack, but he still lets defenders get into his pads at the point of attack in the run game. That led to a 59.6 run-blocking grade that ranked just 47th out of 89 tackles last season. However, Brown has been an effective pass blocker, ranking 11th in that area with an 83.3 grade last season.

On the interior, the Ravens must replace retired, future Hall-of-Famer Marshal Yanda, who was still one of the NFL’s best last season. Veteran D.J. Fluker will get the first shot, and he was once one of the better run-blocking guards, but he’s not a lock after three straight years grading in the 50.0s. Baltimore has drafted guards in the fourth round in each of the past two years — Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson, who were both better pass blockers than run blockers in college. Third-round pick Tyre Phillips brings a more physical presence at 345 pounds, so this line doesn’t lack developmental options. At left guard, Bradley Bozeman is the expected starter after a solid 63.8 grade that ranked 35th out of 83 guards last season.

Matt Skura starts at center, where he earned a 68.7 grade last year before going down with an injury, good for 16th among centers. This should be one of the best offensive lines in the league once again, aided in part by Lamar Jackson’s ability to open up the offense, but they’ll miss Yanda’s all-around game up front.

The NFL’s highest-graded man-coverage cornerbacks in 2019: Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey both crack top five - Ben Linsey

2. MARCUS PETERS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Man-coverage grade: 79.6

The Ravens traded Kenny Young and a fifth-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Let that sink in. Sure, Peters’ aggressiveness ─ a big contributor to his league-high 27 interceptions since being drafted in 2015 ─ has led to him getting burnt on occasion. Peters is right enough when he does gamble and talented enough to where you are more than happy to live with those occasional miscues, though. Looking strictly at his time with the Ravens in 2019, Peters put up an even higher man coverage grade (86.9) than Gilmore from Week 7 through the postseason. It’s safe to say Baltimore is happy with their transaction.

4. MARLON HUMPHREY, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Man-coverage grade: 74.4

The most impressive part of Humphrey’s 2019 season to me was how seamlessly he transitioned between the slot and an outside role. That is not an easy thing to do, and as his top-five appearance on this list would indicate, Humphrey had some success in both alignments.

Humphrey has consistently been one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL at forcing incompletions in man coverage since entering the league in 2017. His 10 forced incompletions in man last season were a career high and trailed only Gilmore and Darius Slay.

Rivalry Recap: Bengals vs. Ravens - Nick Manchester

Series Recap

Against longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco, the series leaned in the Bengals’ favor. The Bengals went 11-9 against Flacco, who threw for 211 yards per game, 21 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, and a rating of 72.6 against the Bengals. Flacco’s yards per game, touchdown to interception ratio, and passer rating (234, 218:141, and 84.1, respectively) were all lower against the Bengals than they were against all opponents in his career.

Since then, Jackson is 3-0 against the Bengals and led the Ravens to their first series sweep since 2011.

Not only have the Ravens taken control of the Bengals’ rivalry, but they have a stranglehold over the entire division. All other AFC North teams have realized that they need to be able to stop Baltimore if they want to reach the playoffs.