2020 preseason All-AFC North Team: Lamar Jackson headlines a stacked roster on both sides of the ball - Jared Dubin
Offensive skill positions
QB: Lamar Jackson (BAL)
TE: Mark Andrews (BAL)
It seems highly likely that we’ll never see another season quite like the one Jackson just had — unless it comes from Jackson himself. He had the greatest rushing season in quarterback history, racking up 1,206 yards and seven scores on 176 carries.
As if that weren’t enough, Jackson also led the NFL in passing touchdowns and touchdown rate, tossing 36 scores on just 401 attempts.
OT: Ronnie Stanley (BAL)
Stanley was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded pass-blocking tackle last season, and that grade was not out of character for him. Like the rest of Baltimore’s offensive line, Stanley is also a plus run blocker, and though he gets some help from Jackson in that regard, he should continue excelling nonetheless.
EDGE: Calais Campbell (BAL)
LB: Matt Judon (BAL)
We were able to sneak Judon onto the roster as a linebacker because he does drop into coverage fairly often (about 20 percent of passing snaps last season), but decisions had to be made between Campbell, Watt, and Myles Garrett.
Garrett might be the best pure pass rusher of the three, but neither he nor Watt combines pass defense and run defense like Campbell, who continues to be one of the most underrated players in the league.
SAF: Chuck Clark (BAL)
The first two cornerbacks were pretty much locks. Peters was ridiculously good after arriving in Baltimore last year. In 10 games, he allowed just 34 catches on 61 targets, for only 347 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. That’s a passer rating south of 70.
Humphrey was already really good, but he hit a new level as a shutdown guy last season, moving all over the field and looking particularly excellent in the slot.
The other safety spot was set to go to Earl Thomas, but he punched Chuck Clark in practice and got released, so Clark gets the nod.
Ranking the top 10 young offensive cores in the NFL: Cowboys near the top, Giants land in top five - Chris Trapasso
The reigning MVP is the real needle-mover here, of course, and I like the group Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta has assembled around him. Dobbins is a glorious fit in Greg Roman’s power-based scheme. He’s built low to the ground with springy steps and a well-rounded skill set. Brown isn’t as complete of a player but has electric downfield play-making skill and is apparently up to 180 after playing in the 150s (!) as a rookie, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. We all know how good of a pass-catching tight end Andrews is, and he’s only turning 25 in a few weeks.
As for the other members at the No. 3 spot — Boykins has two rockets for legs. He ran 4.42 at the combine last year, and had a broad and vertical in the 98th and 99th percentile at the receiver position respectively. And he did all that at nearly 6-4 and 220 pounds. The production never matched his explosiveness at Notre Dame, and that very well may be the case in the NFL, but the potential is sky high. Duvernay is a rare, faster than quick — yes, you read that right — slot wideout who will stretch the field from that inside position with his 4.39 speed, and he tracks it naturally downfield. Proche is the least springy of the group yet provides the most complete skill set — route-running savvy, YAC skills, and a tremendous catch radius for being a smaller wideout.
“Just like the ‘Joker,’ you never know what’s going to happen,” Elliott said. “We’re both going to come crazy, we’re both going to come wild, [and] we’re going to handle our business – no matter what.”
“He’s definitely a confident young man – sometimes too confident,” Pass Defense Coordinator Chris Hewitt said with a chuckle. “He’s just one of those guys. I love the way that he plays.”
Asked what he thought of his coach saying he may be too confident, Elliott grinned.
“I wouldn’t say overconfident. I feel like being confident in your abilities comes from knowing that you prepared the right way. If you’re preparing the right way, then you’re going to be confident in yourself,” he said.
“I’ve been preparing as a starter for two years. And so, I know what I can do, and I know what I can bring to this team to help my teammates be great. And they expect me to be great, and I love that they expect me to be great. And honestly, if he [Hewitt] says it’s overconfidence, I’m going to prove to everybody out there that my confidence is very worthy of it.”
“To be honest, I really can’t tell you which play it was,” Young said. “But I had neck pain throughout the camp, kind of. And then just one day, it was like I was putting on my helmet and I couldn’t really take the pain from it. So, after that, I just checked in with the training staff. I couldn’t really recall which exact play it was.”
Now, he’s fully healthy and ready to make an impact.
“I’m excited to be back with my guys,” Young said. “Second time doing this, but every time I come back, it’s just a blessing. It’s just another day to step on the field; another day to just compete, have fun and do what I love the most.”