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Ravens News 2/16: FA targets and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens 2021 free agency and draft preview - Ben Linsey

What is the bigger priority: Offensive line or adding more talent at receiver?

Baltimore having an offense unlike any other team in the NFL adds an extra layer to this question. For most other teams with a roster makeup like the Ravens’, I would say adding a true X receiver would be the top priority.

However, the Ravens are not your typical offense. They showed they could build an elite passing offense without elite weapons outside in 2019. Their 0.215 expected points added per pass play ranked second in the league, behind only Kansas City. But Baltimore dropped to 21st in the same metric last season.

At its core, Baltimore wants to impose its will in the running game, and Jackson makes them uniquely suited to have a successful offense with a run-first attack in a pass-first league. The team needs a strong offensive line for that strategy to work. The Ravens shouldn’t avoid adding to their receiving corps, but upgrading their offensive line should be the top priority this offseason.

Do the Ravens need to sign at least one of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue?

In a vacuum, the Ravens should want Ngakoue and Judon back for 2021 and beyond. They rank 12th and 16th, respectively, in total quarterback pressures among edge defenders over the past three seasons. The issue is that Baltimore will be competing with several interested suitors for their services this offseason, and contract negotiations won’t come cheap. PFF projects Ngakoue to sign a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $70 million, while Judon is projected to sign for a similar four-year, $68 million deal.

For good but not elite edge defenders like Ngakoue and Judon, it’s difficult to justify such a high price tag on a Baltimore defense that can generate pressure opportunities with lesser talent through the scheme they run.

It seems more likely that the Ravens let Judon and Ngakoue walk while bringing back one or more of Bowser, McPhee and Ward.

3 Offensive Free Agents Ravens Should Target - Trevor Sikkema

JONNU SMITH, TE, TENNESSEE TITANS

Projected AAV: $8 million

CURTIS SAMUEL, WR, CAROLINA PANTHERS

Projected AAV: $12.5 million

I really do think Samuel’s best ball is ahead of him. He’s finished the past season with nice stats, but with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson also on the Carolina Panthers’ depth chart, Samuel didn’t have as much of a chance to prove his worth as he could in the future on another team. Samuel would be a good complement to Brown and the tight ends already on the roster. Samuel can be a quick-hit, yards-after-catch player while giving you a field-stretching threat with his speed.

CHRIS GODWIN, WR, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Projected AAV: $18 million

32 NFL players who need a change of scenery this offseason: Who needs a fresh start for every team - Jamison Hensley

Baltimore Ravens

Center Matt Skura

A free agent this offseason, Skura lost his starting job midway through last season after struggling with snaps in the pistol formation. His family received some threatening social media messages from fans after some poor snaps led to a Ravens loss in New England. Before getting benched, Skura was considered one of the more reliable starting centers in the league in 2018 and 2019.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles trade up for Justin Fields, Dolphins give Tua Tagovailoa Ja’Marr Chase - Austin Gayle

27. BALTIMORE RAVENS: IOL ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER, USC

Vera-Tucker is one of the highest-graded offensive tackles in the country but best projects as an interior offensive lineman at the next level. The USC standout can fill a need at either guard position for Baltimore right away and provide depth at multiple positions as a swing piece for an offensive line that suffered from injuries in 2020.

Ravens seven-round mock draft (Version 1.0): Finding fits at edge rusher, center and wide receiver - Jonas Shaffer

First round (No. 27): Tulsa EDGE/LB Zaven Collins

Athletically, though, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Collins can replicate so much of what defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale might lose this offseason. He has a great burst and impressive bend, like Ngakoue. He has the versatility to blitz from over the center or off the edge, like Judon. And he has rare coverage skills, like Bowser. Collins might be considered a tweener, but the Ravens don’t seem to care much for convention.

Second round (No. 59): Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey

Along with Alabama’s Landon Dickerson, Humphrey is widely regarded as perhaps the draft’s top center prospect, and for good reason. The 6-5, 320-pound Sooners star is a former wrestling standout whose strength and hands should give him the flexibility to play anywhere inside.

Fourth round: Georgia S Richard LeCounte

Sixth round: Georgia TE Tre’ McKitty