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Ravens News 4/6: AFCN Reset and more

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

AFC North roster reset: Three-horse race at the top of the division - Marc Sessler

The Ravens deserve credit for draping an attack around Lamar Jackson that maximizes his unique gifts. Still, another offseason of opponents poring over film will further challenge an offense that had defenses “calling out our plays,” according to Jackson. The Ravens must grow more versatile, raising the possibility of doing more at wideout than adding a durability-challenged Watkins.

I’m interested to see what becomes of Josh Oliver, the traded-for tight end who missed 28 games over his first two seasons in Jacksonville. He’s a freaky, athletic prospect dropped into one of league’s friendliest tight end environments. For all the Roman-centric questions above, there’s no doubt about his ability to maximize this position.

A worst-case scenario for Baltimore would be moving Orlando Brown Jr. only to discover that stalwart left tackle Ronnie Stanley isn’t ready for the opener after multiple ankle surgeries. Considering how valuable a quality edge blocker is in today’s NFL, general manager Eric DeCosta would need to convince a team to give up legitimate assets for Brown, whose contract expires after this coming season. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec acknowledged the intriguing (and unfounded) rumors that Brown could theoretically be dealt to Chicago for wideout Allen Robinson. If that ever went down, the Ravens would roll into September as a far more versatile offense.

A Breakdown Of Ravens Offense In The Playoffs - Todd Karpovich

Baltimore has managed 228.5 yards passing in the four games against the Chargers, Titans (twice) and Bills. The Ravens record-setting running attack managed 165.3 yards per game over the same span.

Overall, Baltimore has managed to amass significant yardage in the postseason. The problem has been scoring points.

In comparison, here’s a breakdown of the playoff performance for each of the Super-Bowl champions compared to the Ravens over the past three seasons (statistics are per game.) All three teams that won the Super Bowl had the No. 1-ranked offense in the playoffs.

2018-19: New England Patriots (three games): 30.3 points, 476.3 yards (314.7 passing, 161.7 rushing); Ravens (one game): 17 points, 229 yards (139 passing, 90 rushing)

2019-20: Kansas City Chiefs (three games: 39 points, 411.7 yards (292 passing, 119.7 rushing); Ravens (one game): 12 points, 530 yards (345 passing, 185 rushing)

2020-21: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (four games): 30.8 points, 378.5 yards (256 passing, 122.5 rushing); Ravens (two games): 11.5 points, 370.5 yards (177.5 passing, 193 rushing).

The Ravens need to develop a more balanced offense to make the same type of run moving forward.

Sammy Watkins: I can’t wait to play with Lamar Jackson - Myles Simmons

“I think going through this process and knowing I was going to be a free agent, you look at a lot of different teams and there was one team that stuck out — it was the Ravens,” Watkins said during his Monday press conference. “Lamar Jackson, heard too many great stories about just the team and the history of Baltimore.”

Watkins noted he’d talked with Jackson and the two had a great conversation about expectations and playing together.

“Kind of talked to him like, ‘Man, this is your show, I just want to be a part of it. You’re a special talent and I just want to come in and try to help out as far as making plays for you, making it easy on you,’” Watkins said. “And he just said the same thing, ‘I just want a guy that can go out there and ball, have fun, enjoy himself, and bring that swagger.’ And I can’t wait to work with him.”

With the Ravens finishing last in passing yards and attempts in 2020, Watkins acknowledged Baltimore’s reputation as not being the best destination for a free agent receiver. As one might expect from a player now on the team, Watkins didn’t seem concerned about it.

“I just think coaches call plays and players got to play,” Watkins said. “They’re going to put us in the best situations to make those plays. And I think Lamar is going to go out there and kill it and throw for however many yards that he’s been doing and score touchdowns. I just want to be a part of something special and I think we’re going to get the job done.”

Seven sleeper NFL receivers who could be trade targets for needy teams like the Bears, Ravens and Raiders - Jason La Canfora

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

GB • WR • 83

Marquez Valdez-Scantling is still just 26 and is 6-4, 206. Beastly. And he averages 18.3 air yards per target, which is amazing. And he averaged 7.3 YAC/reception, which is fourth among all wide receivers. He will make $2.2M this year and then be a free agent, which means if the Pack don’t plan to pay him they may be inclined to listen on him. He caught 33 balls for 690 yards and 6 TDs last year. After passing entirely on a generational receiver draft a year ago and adding nothing for Aaron Rodgers, one suspects this front office adds one or more in the 2021 deep class, knowing their brooding QB is watching closely. That might make dealing MVS even more palatable. Then again, maybe they’ll just draft more quarterbacks and running backs.

2021 NFL Draft Prospect: Kwity Paye, EDGE, University of Michigan - Damond Talbot

Kwity Paye is one of the most effective players in the run game. He has solid pursuit, and great angles. He has been super productive in his time at Michigan and he is currently trending as the top EDGE rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft.

His potential as a pass rusher should intrigue NFL teams as well. He has an incredibly high ceiling. Paye stands at 6’4 and weighs 270 pounds.

The 22 year old if coached right could end up being a 10 plus sack player every year.

He racked up 29 pressures in just four games this year. That is insane, considering he is getting pressure on a quarterback 23 percent of all his snaps played in 2020.