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Ravens News 1/28: WR Inefficiencies and more

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 07 Minnesota at Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five most overperforming and five most underperforming units of 2020 NFL season - Cynthia Frelund

UNDERPERFORMERS

Rank 2

Baltimore Ravens

WIDE RECEIVERS

Traditional stats show that Ravens wideouts earned the fewest total receiving yards (1,729) of any NFL group this season. Pro Football Focus ranked Baltimore’s receivers 29th overall, while my models show that the unit’s total win share sat at 30th. Of course, there’s additional context here, including the fact that star tight end Mark Andrews was injured for part of the season, which affected how opponents covered Ravens wideouts. But the receivers’ off-ball metric (which measures how WRs spread opposing defenses and create space for other pass catchers or the run game) was the worst in the NFL. In other words, pass-catching inefficiencies at WR even hindered the ground attack.

Offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams - Sam Monson

BALTIMORE RAVENS: WIDE RECEIVER, INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE, SAFETY

At this point, the Ravens owe it to themselves to find out what a true No. 1 X-receiver would look like within this offense. It might not be the cure-all some think it would be, and they might not even make the best use of his talents given the run-heavy dynamic, but it’s clear that the offense isn’t all that it could be in the passing game — the lack of a player fitting that description has been evident for some time.

Marquise Brown caught 62.7% of the passes thrown his way this year and generated a quarterback rating of 100.0 when targeted, but he had just two contested catches all season. That’s a skill set lacking in the Ravens’ arsenal right now, and it’s a great offseason to try and find a player who can bring that over.

No combine, no problem? Baltimore Ravens front office braces for another unusual offseason - Aaron Kasinitz

The NFL will not hold its normal scouting combine in Indianapolis this winter, and many college programs limited exposure to outsiders during the 2020 season. DeCosta’s staff hasn’t been able to operate with business as normal at any point over the past 10 months.

But the Ravens planned for this, DeCosta said. After the team completed the 2020 draft in April, it began to map out ways to approach the potential obstacles it would face before the next one.

“One of the things that we did was we had a bunch of guys working on a committee in-house that was looking at the possibility of no college football, no combine and things like that,” DeCosta said Monday.

He pointed to his group of experienced scouts and a four- to five-member analytics team.

“It’s the blending of the traditional scouting and the science,” DeCosta said. “It’s the GPS, it’s the analytics; it’s all these other things that we can use to help us make decisions that, hopefully, will help us be better than everybody else this year.”

Five 2021 free agent edge defenders who could be misvalued based on 2020 sack totals - Ben Linsey

UNDERVALUED

EDGE CARL LAWSON, CINCINNATI BENGALS

There is an argument to be made that Lawson is the best pure pass rusher to hit free agency this offseason. Since entering the league in 2017, his pass-rush grade on true pass-rush sets ranks in the 96th percentile among all edge defenders — firmly in elite territory. Injuries and inconsistent play have limited his opportunities to begin his career, but he finished the 2020 season with a career-high 723 defensive snaps and 84.9 pass-rushing grade. The arrow is pointing up.

Despite finishing the season with only 5.5 sacks, few pass rushers were able to consistently beat their blocks and pressure opposing quarterbacks more often than Lawson.

He’s not going to provide much as a run defender, but his limited playing time and depressed sack totals could lead to a team getting a steal this offseason.

NFL DRAFT GUIDE - Danny Kelly

27. Baltimore Ravens

RASHOD BATEMAN

WIDE RECEIVER MINNESOTA

YEAR JUNIOR

AGE 21

HEIGHT 6’2”

WEIGHT 210

SHADES OF: MICHAEL THOMAS

The Ravens were once again one of the league’s most dominant running teams in 2020, but still have a ways to go in the passing game. With Baltimore reportedly planning on offering a long-term extension to Lamar Jackson, it behooves the organization to keep adding playmakers around its franchise passer. Bateman would complement both Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews well, helping take Jackson’s game to the next level.

Bateman is a tall, long-levered playmaker with burst, big mitts, and a wide catch radius. The Gophers star is quick and decisive off the line, varying his tempo and chopping his feet to beat defenders and get them moving in the wrong direction. He’s sudden in the short area, is fearless catching the ball in traffic, and makes hay on slants and crossing routes. He strides it out after the catch, breaks arm tackles, and can pick up chunks of yards in the open field. Bateman is strong on outside routes as well, showing an innate awareness of the sideline and incredible ball-tracking skills; against Purdue, he ran a slot fade and basically did a limbo-type back-bend at a full-sprint to reel in a slightly under thrown pass. He knows how to use his length to gain leverage and catch the ball away from his frame.