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Ravens News 5/18: Starter Projections and more

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NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Projecting starting lineups for all 32 NFL teams following the 2021 NFL Draft - Ben Linsey

Battle to watch: Edge defender

The Ravens let their expensive edge defenders — Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue — walk in free agency for comp picks while they re-signed the likes of Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser to reasonable deals. They also spent one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft on Odafe Oweh out of Penn State.

Oweh is barely scratching the surface of what he can be in the NFL. He may have recorded zero sacks in 2020, but he did put up two consecutive 80.0-plus pass-rushing grades to close his Penn State career.

Oweh will compete for snaps with Bowser, McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson. I only listed one true edge defender in the starting lineup because I wanted to highlight the three interior defenders, but multiple guys will rotate in at outside linebacker, and Calais Campbell is still capable of playing on the edge on occasion.

Baltimore Ravens Depth Chart: Post-2021 NFL Draft - Tommy Garrett

Cornerback

Since acquiring him from the Los Angeles Rams via trade in 2019, Marcus Peters has netted 91 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 19 passes deflected in 24 games as a member of the Ravens’ depth chart.

Since entering the NFL in 2015, Peters owns the most takeaways (39), interceptions (31), interception return yards (814), interception return touchdowns (6), and defensive touchdowns (7). Additionally, his 86 passes defensed stand as the second-most during that span.

Across from Peters is Marlon Humphrey, who signed a five-year, $97 million contract in 2020. Humphrey led the NFL with a Ravens franchise record of 8 forced fumbles last season. He also became the first DB to register at least 8 forced fumbles and a sack (2.5) in a single season.

Humphrey earned his second-straight Pro Bowl selection after starting all 15 games he played. He recorded 82 tackles, 11 passes defensed, and 1 interception. Together, they make arguably the best cornerback duo in the NFL.

Jimmy Smith, 32, is the eldest of the Ravens’ cornerback depth chart. Having only played for the Ravens across 11 seasons, Smith signed a one-year deal to remain with the team in 2021. Smith has 335 tackles, 3 sacks, 71 passes defended, and 14 interceptions for his career.

There is a chance the Ravens got one of the steals of the NFL Draft in Shaun Wade out of Ohio State. The combination of the pandemic, injury, and struggles on the field resulted in him slipping to the fifth round at pick No. 160. Wade transitioned to the perimeter last season and struggled to contain the opposing team’s best receivers. In three years, he tallied 91 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 18 passes defensed. With a move back into the slot a logical move, perhaps Wade could rekindle the success he saw in 2019.

Ranking the 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates: Top 11 features four QBs, one slight favorite - Chris Trapasso

6. Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens (+5000)

Bateman is your guy if you’ve been scouring a value pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. It was a challenge to find a blatant flaw to his game. And he was productive for back-to-back seasons at a young age at Minnesota. He was 19 at the start of the 2019 campaign when he caught 60 passes for over 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns on a team with another NFL receiver on it. Impressive.

And Baltimore needs to increase its pass game — the usage and efficiency of it. Bateman has the abilities to be integral in both things happening in 2020. And if Lamar Jackson takes a step forward as a passer, it’ll be easy to point to the team’s first-round pick as a main reason why, especially given the lackluster group of veterans at receiver on the Ravens roster.

Top 25 running backs heading into the 2021 NFL season - Matt Williamson

18. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins’ 5.8 yards per carry is the best of anyone on this list. The Ravens’ run scheme certainly helped, but he is a well-rounded runner that can do excellent work outside the tackles or up the middle. Dobbins did an impressive job in protection last year, especially for a rookie. It would be great if Dobbins could get more involved as a receiver, but Lamar Jackson rarely throws to his running backs.

Analyzing the Ravens 2021 Schedule - Ken McKusick

Subjective adjustment (-5 to +5 for other elements not considered here such as torturous travel not implied by opponents/location, long road trips, and team-specific weather considerations). Playing a rested Browns team in week 16 after facing Cleveland and Pittsburgh the previous 2 weeks is a significant playoff detriment not fully captured by the post-bye score. However, as an offset, the Ravens play the Steelers at home coming off their week 17 MNF game versus the Browns, which could have consequences for the divisional or wild card race. I’m trying to be conservative about the net of these factors (-2).

All of that nets to -7 in a league where the average is slightly below 0.

Strictly from the perspective scheduling equity (the when), the other divisional schedule scores are Cin (+17—they have no negative schedule factor among those above), Cleveland (+12), and Pittsburgh (-8).