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Ravens News 5/12: Investment Dividends and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson has a clear weakness as a passer. Will the Ravens’ splurge on wide receivers help? - Jonas Shaffer

In a Week 9 game against the Colts, Jackson threw 23 passes, just five of which were outside the numbers. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards offered little run-game relief, combining for 53 yards on 23 carries. Hemmed in and bottled up, there was only so much the Ravens could do on offense — but what they did was enough. Jackson finished 19-for-23 for 170 yards, the defense forced two turnovers and returned a fumble for a touchdown, and the Ravens left Indianapolis with a gutsy 24-10 win.

Still, it was as if their field had shrunk on offense. At his end-of-season news conference in January, general manager Eric DeCosta said the Ravens “don’t want to be a team that’s forced to do anything.” In their passing game, limitations had become apparent. A throw over the middle was typically a good throw. Move the target to the sideline, however, and the results would suffer. The Ravens couldn’t put the ball where they wanted to, and defenses adjusted.

There is never a simple solution for such a complex problem. As a passer, Jackson can do more; he can also do only so much. He needs help — help that, over the past two months, the Ravens have tried to provide. In March, they signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a productive if injury-prone outside receiver. Then, in late April, they drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, whom the Ravens’ analytics department, DeCosta said, had identified as two of the top-10 outside receivers in the class. Now the team expects dividends from its considerable investments.

Ravens’ 2021 Roster Isn’t Hard to Predict - John Eisenberg

As for the 53-man roster, the biggest issue is the Ravens have more quality players than they usually carry at such positions as wide receiver, interior offensive line, cornerback and safety.

There are decisions to make on the road to 53 but most involve “deep depth.”

For instance, the wide receiver corps includes Watkins and six players drafted in the past three years, but the Ravens seldom keep more than six receivers. Might they go to seven in 2021 with so much talent on hand? My hunch is yes.

They also have to figure what they’re doing at the position I’ll call tight end/fullback/hybrid. Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Pat Ricard are locks, but after that, there are almost a half-dozen interesting candidates, including rookie Ben Mason. Are they competing for one spot or two? Who survives?

For the record, I got to 53 with two quarterbacks, three running backs, eight offensive linemen, seven wide receivers, five tight end/fullback/hybrids, five defensive linemen, five outside linebackers, four inside linebackers, six cornerbacks, five safeties and three specialists.

A Look at How the Ravens 2020 Draft Class Performed, Outlook for This Season - Todd Karpovich

Round 3, pick 71: Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M

Analysis: Madubuike finished with 19 tackles (11 solo), 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss and w quarterback hits in 10 games (three starts).

Impact: Medium

2021 Outlook: Key part of the rotation.

Round 3, pick 98: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

Analysis: Harrison Saw action in 16 games (six starts), totaling 36 tackles (21 solo), 1 tackle for a loss and 1 pass defensed, while adding 7 special teams tackles.

Impact: Medium

2021 Outlook: Compete for a starting job next to Queen.

2021 NFL All-Paid Team: Patrick Mahomes, DeAndre Hopkins, Joey Bosa top the marquee - Anthony Holzman-Escareno

CB Marlon Humphrey

Baltimore Ravens · 24 years old

AVERAGE PER YEAR: $19.5 million

Full contract: Five years, $97.5 million (Signed: 2020)

Guaranteed at signing: $40.3 million (41.3 percent of contract)

2021 cash: $18.2 million

2021 cap hit: $10.2 million (5.6 percent of 2021 salary cap)

In the midst of his second straight Pro Bowl campaign, Humphrey signed an extension that made him the second-highest-paid defensive back in terms of total value, average per year, total guarantees and money guaranteed at signing. As the second-most-targeted defender in 2020 (103 targets in coverage, per PFF), Humphrey worked for his bag last season. Another physical, man-coverage corner always looking to make a play, Humphry led the NFL with eight forced fumbles in 2020. He was the first defensive back to lead the NFL in the category since Charles “Peanut” Tillman (creator of the “Peanut Punch”) had 10 in 2012.

NFL Power Rankings, post-draft edition - Sheil Kapadia

5. Baltimore Ravens

They have a Super Bowl ceiling, but the Ravens’ 2021 fortunes depend on two things:

Whether their offseason maneuverings result in an improved offensive line.

Whether they can find more answers in the passing game.

The Ravens had seven offensive linemen play at least 400 snaps last year. Only one of them — Bradley Bozeman — is expected to be a starter in 2021, and even he is switching from guard to center. The Ravens are hoping new additions like right tackle Alejandro Villanueva and right guard Kevin Zeitler can improve the overall unit. At wide receiver, the Ravens didn’t make a big splash, but they added Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted Rashod Bateman in the first round. Defensively, they have one of the best corner groups in the NFL, but the Ravens should still consider adding a veteran edge rusher before Week 1.