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Ravens News 3/29: Watkins’ Influence and more

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens’ NFL free-agent signings 2021: Finally a receiver — Watkins signs for one year - Jamison Hensley

Sammy Watkins, wide receiver

Sammy Watkins signed a one-year deal worth $6 million ($5 million guaranteed)

What it means:

Watkins projects as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and his size and polished route-running should make him a valuable underneath target for Jackson. When Watkins played for offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Buffalo, one of his most successful routes were hitches.

What’s the risk:

He’s played only one 16-game season and that was his 2014 rookie year. Over the past six seasons, Watkins has missed a total of 26 games due to calf, ankle, foot and hamstring injuries. He was sidelined for eight games last season for the Chiefs (including two playoff games) because of calf and hamstring issues. His production has also declined, even though he had Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball the past three seasons. Watkins hasn’t eclipsed 700 yards since 2015, and his yards-per-catch average has decreased in each of the past five seasons.

Five Ways Sammy Watkins Can Help Ravens - Clifton Brown

Helping Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Mark Andrews

While Brown and Andrews may continue to be Jackson’s favorite go-to weapons, the hope is that Watkins will be a consistent third option in the passing game. When opponents rotate their defensive schemes toward containing Brown or Andrews, Watkins could see plenty of single coverage, giving him room to operate and take advantage of his run-after-catch skills.

Making Contested Catches

The Ravens have run the football more than any NFL team the past two seasons, but when they face third-and-long situations, they need to make first downs more consistently with their passing game. Watkins isn’t the deep threat he once was, but he does his best work running intermediate routes. When Jackson is forced to throw into tight windows, the Ravens hope Watkins can come up with contested catches that sustain drives.

Ravens add Watkins, fight reality in pursuit of free agent receivers - Mike Preston

“Whether it was Eric or John with what they were saying at their press conferences coupled with the way Willie Snead, Holly Brown and Dez Bryant all took to social media, there was going to be a little backlash about what the Ravens want and do not want to do with their passing attack,” said former Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail, now a pro football television analyst.

“Hollywood isn’t going to win the 50/50 balls, too small,” [Shannon] Sharpe said. “[Receiver Devin] Duvernay ain’t winning those 50/50 balls. The Ravens need a Mike Evans, a Julio Jones type. Stefon Diggs isn’t’ big, but he wins those battles and look what he did for Josh Allen in Buffalo. I am on the outside looking in, but the Ravens are going to have to let Lamar throw more. It’s not how much you throw it, but can you make those throws in crunchtime? More times than not, he hasn’t been able to make those throws.

“But the only way he is going to become better is throw more,” Sharpe said. “In the playoffs, teams take away what you are good at and make you beat them with your weakness. At the end of the day, they are going to have to give him more opportunities because I don’t think you can run your way to a championship anymore in this league. I think he is a better thrower than the Ravens give him credit for and just needs to become more consistent.”

Grading the Ravens First-Round Draft Picks Over the Past Decade - Todd Karpovich

2016: Offensive Lineman Ronnie Stanley (6th overall)

Analysis: Stanley has started all 61 of the games in which he’s played since joining the Ravens prior to suffering the ankle injury in Week 8 last season against the Steelers. In 2019, when he earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, Stanley helped Baltimore set an NFL record for single-season rushing yards (3,296) and produce the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense (33.2 ppg).

Status: Stanley signed a five-year, $98.75 million with the Ravens in 2020.

Grade: A

2017: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (16th overall)

Analysis: Humphrey is one of the Ravens top playmakers: He is a two-time Pro Bowler (2019, 2020) Associated Press first-team All-Pro (2019) and Team MVP by Baltimore media (2018). In 2020, Humphrey led the NFL with a Ravens franchise-record eight forced fumbles, tying for the second-most by a defensive back in a single season. He also became the first defensive back to register at least eight forced fumbles and a sack (2.5) in a single season.

Status: Humphrey signed a five-year, $98.75 million extension that will keep him with the Ravens through the 2026 season.

Grade: A

Four-round 2021 NFL mock draft 2.0: Vikings take QB Kyle Trask in Round 3 - Chad Reuter

Pick 27

Baltimore Ravens

Jaelan Phillips

Miami · Edge · Junior (RS)

The Ravens will look at edge rushers of value here despite re-signing Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee to go with 2019 pick Jaylon Ferguson, as they lost Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue to free agency. Phillips possesses the length, strength and short-area quickness to be an excellent stand-up rusher — as well as an asset for Baltimore’s run defense.

Pick 58

Baltimore Ravens

Terrace Marshall Jr.

LSU · WR · Junior

Pick 104

Baltimore Ravens

Jackson Carman

Clemson · OG · Senior (RS

Pick 131

Baltimore Ravens

Payton Turner

Houston · DE · Senior

4-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft - Nick Farabaugh

27. Baltimore Ravens: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

If you put up a banner of what a Baltimore Raven would be, Joseph Ossai’s picture would be on that banner. A versatile, instinctive, and disruptive pass rusher, Ossai just switched to the edge in the 2020 season. Also an off-ball linebacker, Ossai can pull some double duty for the Ravens, who have done that in the past. Ossai helps assuage some edge-rushing concerns for the Ravens heading into the 2021 season.

58) Baltimore Ravens

Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

104) Baltimore Ravens

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

131) Baltimore Ravens

Trey Hill, IOL, Georgia