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Ravens News 3/18: Replacement OLBs and more

NFL: JUN 03 Jacksonville Jaguars OTA Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dave Culley: Lamar Jackson Passing Potential Limited by Ravens System - Todd Karpovich

“There’s nothing Lamar can’t do,” Culley told the NFL Network. “Right now, though, they just run a system that kind of limits what he does in the passing game. But if they opened it up, he would be able to do that.”

One of the issues is the number of opportunities for Jackson to throw the ball.

The Ravens ranked last in the NFL averaging 171.2 yards passing per game last season. Baltimore also attempted the least passes in the league with 406.

The goal this offseason is to find more balance. Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta is regularly in contact with Jackson about the direction of the team.

“We don’t necessarily dwell on specifics, or specific players, or specific things, but we look at it as really how can we improve? Where are the opportunities for us to get better as a team? Some of that might be salary-cap-wise, the type of deals we do,” DeCosta said.

Ravens Acquire TE Josh Oliver From Jaguars - Rory Parks

Jacksonville selected Oliver in the third round of the 2019 draft, so the club had reasonably high hopes for him. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug. He got his first start as a pro in Week 11 of the 2019 campaign, but he sustained small fractures in his back during that game and missed the rest of the season. Then, last August, he underwent surgery on a broken bone in his foot and missed all of 2020.

So the San Jose State product has played a grand total of four games in his NFL career and has three catches to his credit. Still, he turns 24 in just a few days and is controllable through 2022, and his size, athleticism, and upside make him an intriguing buy-low candidate for the Ravens.

Start Of Free Agency Brings Clarity — If Not Answers — To Ravens’ Biggest Roster Questions - Bo Smolka

Judon’s departure, though expected, creates the largest void, as he led the team in sacks (6) and quarterback hits (21) this past year and was the team’s most consistent outside linebacker.

Judon thus joins a long list of defensive players who were drafted and developed by the Ravens, then found fortune elsewhere, with a high compensatory draft pick headed back to Baltimore in return.

Losing Judon and Ngakoue created a massive hole at outside linebacker, but the Ravens partially filled that by re-signing Bowser to a four-year deal worth a reported $22 million.

Bowser was always going to be the most economical of the pending edge rusher free agents on the roster. To be sure, Bowser has yet to post numbers like Judon or Ngakoue, with 10.5 sacks in four seasons, but as he showed with his one-handed interception at Cleveland, he’s an athletic player with a lot of versatility. When the Ravens talk about “right player, right price,” Bowser in this edge market was precisely that.

NFL free agency 2021: Here are the top 10 available players, and where they might be heading - Bryan DeArdo

4. Melvin Ingram

Ingram is out to prove that he is still an elite player after injuries significantly impacted his 2020 season. After a slow start, Ingram tallied 43 sacks between 2015-19. The Ravens are “keeping tabs” on Ingram’s market, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

10. Jadeveon Clowney

One of last year’s top free agents, Clowney did not join a new team until he inked a one-year, $12 million deal with the Titans on September 8. A knee injury limited Clowney to just eight games last year, as he failed to record a sack for the first time since his rookie season. The Ravens, who recently lost defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Raiders, have been linked as a possible landing spot for Clowney.

Ravens: 5 Matthew Judon replacements in 2021 NFL Draft - Darral Nail

Round 5: Patrick Johnson, Tulane

Entering the NFL’s 2021 draft proceedings as a somewhat overlooked yet productive prospect from a smaller school, Tulane’s senior EDGE defender Patrick Johnson is heavy on potential sleeper criteria and could represent a value pick at one of Baltimore’s slated selections of 172 and 183 in the draft’s fifth round.

Johnson was deployed in a hybrid “Joker”-type role in Tulane’s 4-2-5 defense, and although he was used in a variety of ways at the college level he aligned primarily as either a stand-up outside linebacker or a pass rusher on the edge with his hand in the ground. Irrespective of where he lined up on a given play, the one consistent was his ability to cause disruption in an opponent’ backfield

Johnson accounted for a school-record of 24.5 quarterback sacks and 132 tackles (35 for a loss) over the course of his 4 seasons with the Green Wave, with his best statistical effort coming as part of a junior season in which he was credited with 10 sacks and 4 fumbles forced.

At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, Johnson’s build is very similar to that of Ngakoue, and when you consider his style of play and the way that he was utilized at the college level, it is not difficult to visualize him on the field for the Ravens.