2017’S FIRST-ROUND CBS SET TO CASH IN - Joe Marino
MARLON HUMPHREY, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Since Wink Martindale took over as the defensive coordinator in 2018, the Baltimore Ravens are the most blitz-heavy defense in the NFL. While it’s an aggressive strategy, the results cannot be argued with. In each of his two seasons coordinating Baltimore’s defense, the Ravens have finished in the top four of the NFL in both points and yards allowed. A big reason why the defense has been so successful is the play of cornerback Marlon Humphrey, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Humphrey thrives in press coverage, disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage and taking them off the menu for the quarterback. Between Humphrey’s ability to erase wide receivers and the heavy doses of blitzing, considerable stress is placed on opposing quarterbacks to make quick and good decisions with the football. Humphrey has developed into a top cornerback and he’s part of the engine that makes the Ravens defense work.
MOVE TO SAFETY COULD EXTEND JIMMY SMITH’S CAREER - Trevor Sikkema
As I was catching up some of Smith’s top plays over the years, the ones that really caught my eye were the ones where he was able to read and react to the quarterback’s eyes in off zone coverage. That read and react principle is the main component of playing coverage safety.
As Martindale said, Smith has been asked to cover tight ends, and he’ll likely continue to do so as a hybrid safety. But we already know Smith is comfortable in man coverage roles where he’s getting physical with bigger receivers.
With Earl Thomas still on the team, Smith likely won’t be playing the single-high role for Baltimore. But as that hybrid rotational safety and fourth cornerback on the depth chart, Smith should see plenty of action in 2020. He might even be in a better position to succeed, given his current skill set, as a player who can function in space, read and react.
Ranking NFL divisions by WRs: NFC South loaded with ridiculous talent, Cowboys’ trio boosts NFC East - Jared Dubin
5. AFC North
If we knew that A.J. Green was going to be healthy and the same A.J. Green he’s always been, this division might have been even higher on the list. As-is, though, the group is a bit top-heavy. Green has the ceiling of a top-five guy, but we can’t count on it. The same goes for Beckham, who has dealt with injuries and inconsistent quarterback play the past few years. Smith-Schuster looked like he was ticketed to join that group, but then he underwhelmed in a big way last season. (Other receivers have done far better despite horrid quarterback play.)
But Boyd is a good No. 2 guy. So is Landry, who was finally allowed to stretch the field a bit last season, freed as he was from Adam Gase and Hue Jackson’s offenses. Johnson flashed a ton of talent despite the aforementioned terrible QB play in Pittsburgh, and could emerge as a strong option alongside JuJu. The Ravens have enormous hopes for Hollywood Brown, and rightfully so, but the receiver corps is a bit wanting beyond that, even if you include rookie Devin Duvernay. Higgins should be able to ease into the Cincy offense as the third option this year, before eventually becoming Joe Burrow’s top target somewhere down the line.
Splitting the touches
Even if Dobbins shatters expectations when he arrives in Baltimore, the Ravens won’t want to shoo away their other running backs. Ingram is coming off his third Pro Bowl appearance, Edwards has turned in steady production as a powerful ball-carrier the past two years and Hill’s speed helps provide a change of pace. It’s not a bad problem to have, but the Ravens do need to figure out the best way to divvy up carries in training camp and beyond.
The Ravens last season kept just three running backs throughout the regular season (not including fullback Patrick Ricard), but it’s worth trimming another area of the roster to hang onto four valuable playmakers.
Thoughts on Mahomes $450 Million Contract - Jason Fitzgerald
Though the numbers are eye popping my guess is around the league teams will be very receptive of this contract. While contracts have turned to shorter terms this contract runs 10 additional years. That gives a team like the Cowboys a stronger argument for asking Dak Prescott for five years. The just under $40 million per year five year total is right around what most franchises would have expected for Mahomes while the cash flow breakdown is much more team friendly than anyone could have anticipated. I would expect the $39.5M/5 figure to be a major block on QB salaries moving forward much in the way Aaron Rodgers blocked the market for years with his 2013 extension and the team friendly cash flows could impact offers during the covid timeframe. Most will probably be neutral on the guarantee structure though I think some teams would be more than happy to guarantee five years if it means 10 years of cost certainty.
All eyes now will be on Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson if Jackson duplicates his MVP season.
If I were the Texans or the Ravens next year I would look at these up front numbers and try to jump on a contract that runs along that Wilson deal in return for added years. If those teams can convince those players to do something like this these long contracts might become the norm again in the NFL. If they don’t then this will just be a one off outlier contract that will have some saying Mahomes is a even more of a bargain 5 or 6 years from now.