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Ravens News 4/7: Proactive Plans and more

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Mike Preston: As Lamar Jackson hype continues to build, don’t overlook Ravens’ offensive line paving way Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

When will Ravens’ Lamar Jackson cash in? Tackling issues for next big QB contract - Joel Correy

As much as I’d want the cost certainty of a long-term deal Patrick Mahomes signed, I would be reluctant to go that route with Lamar just because we’ve seen over time that running quarterbacks don’t last if they continue to run, particularly at the rate Lamar has. What I expect to have happen with Lamar is he’s going to progress as a passer. As he gets in his late-20s, he’s not going to be running nearly as much as he used to and it’s going to be more of a traditional deal. It will be like the four-year extensions that Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson signed.

I don’t think Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson are surpassing Patrick Mahomes. The two most relevant data points for both those guys are DeShaun Watson and Dak Prescott. I think the deal’s going to be in that range. Maybe they go a little above Dak Prescott. But the one thing I would be interested to see what happens with Lamar is these [other quarterbacks] have been giving up four more years. The Ravens have been wanting more than four new years. They got five new years with Ronnie Stanley, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to get five new years with Lamar. Personally, if I’m Lamar, I want to try to go three [years], since we now know the TV money is solidified and hopefully the cap’s going to start going up.

Sammy Watkins Has Proactive Plan to Stay Healthy - Clifton Brown

“I just think for me, I have to be smart,” Watkins said. “I talked to Coach [John Harbaugh] and his staff, I’m a guy that goes 100% and a guy that really doesn’t know better. I told them that they have to protect me, know when to [not] let me kill my legs and make sure I’m getting good work, but also knowing when to pull back. I think that’s very critical with having a coach that understands that.

“You feel good, you play good. That’s the thing about this league, it’s hard to feel good on a daily basis and go out there on Sundays and play. But most times, the guy that’s having success, their body is feeling good and they’re having fun with it. I just think [it’s about] staying healthy, getting my massages, eating right, staying on the same page as this training staff and doing the right things in the weight room, which I’ve heard that they have a great program. So, I can’t wait to get started with those guys.”

“What Steve does is so unique and so good,” Harbaugh said. “Functional strength is one way to describe it. In terms of all the unilateral-type of lifts we do that are about balance, body control, small muscle groups, awkward positions that you get put in to develop strength, I think, that really go a long way toward staying healthy.

Strongest team positional groups heading into the 2021 NFL Draft - Ben Linsey

BALTIMORE RAVENS CORNERBACKS

Baltimore’s cornerbacks combined for a 76.7 coverage grade during the 2020 season (third in the NFL) and a league-low 10.7 yards per reception allowed. That’s even more impressive when you look at the coverages Baltimore runs. The Ravens ranked second in the NFL in Cover 0 usage, behind only the Miami Dolphins, and they used Cover 1 at the sixth-highest rate in the league. In other words, their cornerbacks are asked to play a lot of man coverage.

Marlon Humphrey’s ability to play both outside and in the slot at a high level brings so much value to the defense. The high-end talent between him and Marcus Peters is impressive, but so is the depth — headlined by Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young.

Young’s NFL career has been riddled by injuries, but his talent from the slot is unquestionable. Outside of one appearance in 2020, Young has played just two seasons since the team took him in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He impressed in that rookie season with a 75.6 coverage grade but simply hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm since, playing just 39 defensive snaps since signing a three-year, $25.8 million contract extension with the team following the 2018 season.

Ravens need to add safety to their draft wish list - Mike Preston

The Ravens already have two young starting safeties in DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark, but their styles are similar, with both best suited for strong safety roles. Clark was second on the team in tackles last season with 92, while Elliott was fourth with 82.

That’s a good thing because of the interchangeable parts philosophy used by defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, but not good enough to beat two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City. The Chiefs won the past two meetings because the Ravens couldn’t get consistent pressure on quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City had too much speed at wide receiver.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says TCU’s Trevon Moehrig is the best in the class, but because of the high volume of quarterbacks and receivers expected to be taken in the opening round, a top prospect such as Oregon’s Jevon Holland might be available in the second or third round.

Some other highly rated safeties include Syracuse’s Andre Cisco, Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen and Central Florida’s Richie Grant.

They have to find ways to slow down the Chiefs, and that means improving the back end of their defense.

2021 NFL Draft: Biggest pro and con for PFF’s top OL prospects - Anthony Treash

4. T WALKER LITTLE, STANFORD

Biggest pro: Mirror ability

Little’s short shuttle (4.58) and three-cone (7.43) at his pro day came as absolutely no surprise to anybody who has studied his tape. Those two marks sit in the 82nd and 89th percentile, respectively, among past tackle prospects.

His agility and mirror are precisely what teams want at offensive tackle. The only question is, will his physical traits be enough for teams to overlook his lack of playing time and trust the small stretch of quality play in his collegiate career?

Biggest con: Not playing for two years

There isn’t a more boom-or-bust prospect in this class than Walker Little. Once a highly coveted five-star recruit back in 2017, he has made only 19 starts since, with only one coming over the last two years. He suffered a season-ending injury in Stanford’s 2019 opener and decided to opt out of the 2020 season and focus on the 2021 NFL Draft.

Little did look like he was on the path to stardom before that. Over his final seven college games — one in 2019 and six in 2018 — he earned a 93.3 pass-block grade and allowed pressure on just 0.4% of his pass-blocking snaps.