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Ravens News 3/31: Work in Progress and more

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Offensive Upgrade in Progress - John Eisenberg

Several other questions about the line remain unanswered. Will Bradley Bozeman move from left guard to center? Will the Ravens trade Orlando Brown Jr. or keep him at right tackle for another year? Will Ronnie Stanley be fully recovered from his ankle injury? Are any of the team’s young linemen developed enough to start?

The unit would truly be on the verge of something special if the Ravens take a lineman with a high pick, perhaps even the No. 27 overall selection, in next month’s draft. I’d be for that, even knowing the team has other needs to address.

Bringing in Watkins on a one-year deal is a classic “right player, right price” move. The Ravens only had so much cap flexibility after signing Zeitler (I was fine with that being the priority, by the way) and were looking for part of a solution, not THE solution.

They’re getting close if they can add another dependable producer along the lines of Brown, Andrews and Watkins. They’ll look for possibilities among their stable of young wideouts already on hand. The draft might bring another.

Ravens still in catch-up mode after modest improvements - Mike Preston

Despite the lack of success in trying to secure a legitimate top receiver in the opening weeks of free agency, the Ravens did make modest improvements and became a better football team.

But was it enough to close the gap between the conference front-runners, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills? Did the Ravens do enough to maintain some distance between a hard-charging Cleveland Browns franchise?

Basically, the AFC remained status quo with months remaining before training camp opens in late July or early August.

So the Ravens are right there in the chunk of contenders, but stuck in the mud. They still have holes to fill, like finding an edge rusher, but the Ravens have done that in the first round with outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Peter Boulware. There are enough quality edge rushers in the draft if the Ravens choose to go that direction again in late April.

But the 2021 season will be decided like the last three, and that means the Ravens have to find an efficient passing offense to complement a dominant running game. Zeitler will improve the pass protection and Watkins should be productive, but the Ravens need better concepts and quarterback Lamar Jackson needs to improve his fundamentals.

Only then will the Ravens make up ground on the front-runners. It’s not just a personnel issue, but a strategic one as well.

That’s when the distance will really decrease.

2021 NFL Draft edge defender rankings - Michael Renner

2. JAYSON OWEH, PENN STATE

If Paye is the freakiest edge rusher in the class, Oweh is a close second. In fact, he’s made the top-10 on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freak’s List twice because of his out-of-this-world explosiveness. At over 250 pounds, the redshirt sophomore reportedly runs a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash.

Once again, that all means nothing without on-field production. And even though Oweh didn’t register a single sack this past season, he was a much more complete player than the sub-package guy we saw in 2019.

His run-defense grade jumped from 59.5 in 2019 to 89.7 this past season after he played with much better leverage consistently. Showing those type of seminal improvements is key because this is a guy who started playing football only in 2016. You can forgive him for being a little raw.

The Biggest Needs for All 32 Teams Entering the NFL Draft - Danny Heifetz

TEAM NEEDS

Edge rusher, Right tackle, Wide receiver

BALTIMORE HAS ONE OF THE WORST PASS RUSHING GROUPS in the franchise’s 26-year history. Edge rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue left in free agency, and the Ravens desperately need outside pressure to create havoc. Baltimore also needs help on offense. The team may have to address right tackle after starter Orlando Brown Jr. implied on Twitter that he wants a trade. Baltimore also needs receiving help, but signing Sammy Watkins reduced the pressure to draft a pass catcher.

FRIENDLY SUGGESTIONS

CARLOS BASHAM JR. EDGE RUSHER, WAKE FOREST

KWITY PAYE EDGE RUSHER, MICHIGAN

TEVEN JENKINS TACKLE, OKLAHOMA STATE

Latest Mock Drafts Have Couple of Surprises for Ravens with 27th Overall Pick - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens are widely expected to select a wide receiver or edge rusher with the 27th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

However, if General Manager Eric DeCosta sticks to his “best player available” philosophy, the team could move in a completely different direction.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has the Ravens making a surprise move and taking Christian Barmore, a defensive tackle from Alabama, with the 27th overall pick.

“Barmore has the ability of a top 10 pick. But maturity and off-field issues had a lot of people thinking it might’ve been best that he stay another year in college,” Breer wrote. “He didn’t. And the Ravens get good info on Bama players (see: Newsome, Ozzie). So that could go either way here.”

Ric Serritella, of the Draft Bible, also has the Ravens making an unexpected move, He predicts the Ravens will take Richie Grant, a free safety from UCF, with the 27th overall pick.

“An upgrade plug-and-play starter on the back end of the defense,” Serritella wrote.