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Ravens News 5/19: Cornerstone Contracts and more

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NFL: NOV 08 Ravens at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All-Paid Team of Tomorrow: Projecting next big NFL contracts - Anthony Holzman-Escareno

Lamar Jackson:

Jackson is probably the best playmaker in the NFL with the ball in his hands.

Anyone still laboring under the misconception that a great runner cannot also be a great passer will struggle to put a proper dollar sign on Jackson’s value, but the fact is, the 24-year-old Jackson has proven he can be both. In 2019, he threw a league-high 36 touchdowns with a passer rating of 113.3 en route to becoming the unanimous MVP.

His .811 quarterback winning percentage (30-7) is the second highest since the 1970 merger, sandwiched between Patrick Mahomes (.826) and Tom Brady (.769). Jackson can be retained for two more seasons on his rookie contract, with Baltimore exercising his fifth-year option, but he is an elite quarterback, and the Ravens would be wise to learn from the Cowboys (who waited until the last minute to extend Dak Prescott beyond his rookie deal) and not let negotiations with their franchise quarterback drag out

Mark Andrews

PROJECTED APY: $14M-plus

A Ravens offense devoid of wide-receiver threats has leaned heavily on its tight ends in the passing game. Lamar Jackson’s favorite target through the air, Andrews leads Baltimore in targets (186), receptions (122), receiving yards (1,553) and receiving touchdowns (17) over the last two seasons. That receiving touchdown total also puts him first among tight ends and eighth among all players since 2019. The only tight ends with more receiving yards than Andrews over that span are Travis Kelce (2,645), Darren Waller (2,341), and George Kittle (1,687) — and that group includes the two-highest paid players at the position (Kittle and Kelce). The 25-year-old Andrews enters the final season of his rookie contract in 2021. Though Baltimore added more pass-catching options (veteran Sammy Watkins and first-round pick Rashod Bateman), Andrews’ value to the team is clear.

Is it officially J.K. Dobbins RB1 szn? - Ian Hartitz

*BOTH* DOBBINS AND EDWARDS ARE TALENTED FOOTBALL PLAYERS

It was clear Dobbins possessed the sort of high-end open-field elusiveness to warrant more usage, and he ultimately found himself near the top of most of his position’s leaderboards (including playoffs):

PFF rush grade: 81.5 (No. 9 among 48 qualified RBs)

Missed tackles forced per rush: 0.18 (No. 18)

Yards per carry: 5.8 (No. 1)

Yards after contact per carry: 3.4 (No. 7)

% of carries to result in a first down or TD: 28.8% (No. 7)

Here’s the thing: The artist known as “Gus the Bus” ranked No. 5, No. 29, No. 6, No. 9 and No. 1 in those same categories.

LAMAR IS THE STRAW THAT STIRS THE DRINK THAT IS THE RAVENS OFFENSE

The Ravens have produced six single-season instances of a player averaging 5.0 yards per carry over the past two seasons; the rest of the AFC combined has just seven such campaigns. Turns out life for RBs can be fairly efficient with one of the most electric athletes the QB position has ever seen.

Jackson is also a far better passer than the public generally gives him credit for, but we all realize that his objectively best feature is this rushing upside. His speed has 1) made the entire offense better, and 2) been a nightmare for defenses to deal with. Since 2019, the Ravens have averaged 6.6 yards per carry on read option looks. This is the second-highest mark in the league even though their 411 such plays are in another stratosphere ahead of the second place Cardinals (236) and third place Seahawks (184).

In the year 2021 we often chastise any offense that doesn’t throw the hell out of the ball, but the Ravens are the exception to the rule because of how damn good they’ve been on the ground. Overall, Baltimore (+0.064 EPA/run play) joins Arizona (+0.012) and Tennessee (+0.008) as the only three offenses to actually post a positive EPA/play on the ground over the past two seasons. This former mark is better than 15 passing games can attest to, while only the Chiefs (+0.273) and Packers (+0.202) have been more efficient than the Ravens (+0.199) when choosing to throw.

NFL Power Rankings 2021: 1-32 poll, plus the most improved offseason teams and players who benefited from the draft - Jamison Hensley

6. Baltimore Ravens

Post-free-agency ranking: 5

Player who benefited most from draft: QB Lamar Jackson

The Ravens gave Jackson two polished route-runners and a mountainous offensive lineman in the first four rounds. Jackson received help in the passing game with wide receivers Rashod Bateman (first round) and Tylan Wallace(fourth round), who are known for getting open and catching everything in their grasp. Think Keenan Allen and Cooper Kupp. In the third round, Baltimore drafted a 6-foot-6, 357-pound interior bodyguard for Jackson. Guard Ben Cleveland allowed one sack and three quarterback pressures in 741 pass-blocking snaps across four seasons at Georgia, according to Pro Football Focus. This investment provides a boost to the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing attack.

Ravens Sign Undrafted Kicker Jake Verity - Ryan Mink

Verity was one of the nation’s top kickers throughout his career at East Carolina. He decided to forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Verity left the school as the all-time leader in points scored and one of the best kickers in Pirate history. He posted 352 total points, including 74 made field goals (75.5%) and 130 extra points (97.7%).

He was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top college kicker, after the 2019 season and was on the 2020 watch list.

The Ravens have been a kicking factory for young, undrafted kickers. Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history who came to Baltimore in 2012, tops the list, which also includes Robbie Gould, Graham Gano, Stephen Hauschka and Wil Lutz.

Baltimore also groomed Kaare Vedvik in 2018 and 2019 before trading him to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2020 fifth-round pick.