Entering the 2020 NFL season, the Ravens boast one of the league’s best rosters from top to bottom. Despite going 14-2 in 2019, there are still areas for Baltimore to improve. These three players need to contribute heavily this season for the Ravens to get even better.
WR Miles Boykin
Baltimore’s offense was incredibly proficient in 2019. The unit broke the single-season rushing record, and QB Lamar Jackson led the league in touchdown passes with 36. Despite this, the Ravens lacked production from the receiver position, with TE Mark Andrews garnering the most targets from Jackson.
First-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was productive for a rookie but was hampered by a nagging foot injury all season. With a healthy Brown now, fellow 2019 draft pick Miles Boykin must step up in his second season to take Baltimore’s offense to an even higher level.
As a rookie, Boykin caught 13 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Boykin needs to double that production at the very least this year. That would put him at around 400 yards, which isn’t anything groundbreaking but would be a big step in the right direction. Even though the Ravens drafted Devin Duvernay and James Proche, they are projected primarily as slot receivers, while Boykin has the size to be a true X receiver.
ILB Patrick Queen
It’s tough to ask any rookies to contribute heavily in 2020, given the way the offseason has been affected by COVID-19, but Baltimore’s first-round pick will have to learn on the job. The Ravens felt the loss of C.J. Mosley at inside linebacker last season after he signed with the Jets in free agency. Veterans Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort were able to keep the ship afloat after being signed off the street, but the group could’ve benefited from a true playmaker.
Enter Patrick Queen, the one-year starter for the national champion LSU Tigers and 28th pick in the draft. With Bynes departing in free agency, the 21-year old rookie will have to man inside linebacker duties alongside Fort or fellow rookie Malik Harrison. Queen is expected to be the MIKE linebacker, which means he will likely be on the field at all times.
His play in 2020 can dictate just how great Baltimore’s defense can be.
OLB Jaylon Ferguson
Another area in which the Ravens sorely lacked production last season was in the pass rush. Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe were signed to help boost the defensive line, but Baltimore’s only proven edge-rusher, Matthew Judon, is slated to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag after failing to reach a new deal. Jaylon Ferguson is entering his second year after being drafted in the third round by the Ravens in 2019. How he performs this year will likely have a big impact on the fate of Judon’s tenure in Baltimore.
Ferguson finished his rookie season with 31 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, nine QB hits, and a forced fumble. While he flashed at moments, Ferguson struggled at times, particularly in holding the edge in run defense. With Judon and fourth-year linebacker Tyus Bowser only under contract for this season, Ferguson’s development is key for the future of the position for the Ravens.
Adding new moves to his pass rush repertoire to go with his bull rush should be a priority for Ferguson in his second season. An offseason of continuing to increase his strength and reshape his body for the NFL will hopefully pay off as well.