Taking stock of Ravens’ roster: Who is up? Who is down? And where was there little movement? - Jeff Zrebiec
Brandon Stephens, DB: The rookie third-round pick hasn’t looked like a guy with just two years of experience as a defensive back. He hasn’t made a ton of plays, although he did have an interception in last Tuesday’s minicamp practice. He has just looked comfortable with how he’s been utilized, and it’s been rare to see him out of position. He also passes the eye test from a physical standpoint. The Ravens taking him with the second-to-last pick of the third round was viewed as a reach in some circles, but team officials believe in his ability. It also appears he has a better chance to contribute defensively in Year 1 than fifth-round cornerback Shaun Wade. Injuries could dictate that.
Ben Bredeson, G: A fourth-round pick last year, Bredeson played sparingly as a rookie for a team that had issues at right guard. The Ravens have an opening, this time at the starting left guard spot, and yet there’s been no real evidence that the former Michigan standout is in the mix for that job. Meanwhile, the number of candidates for the few reserve offensive line spots grew with the recent signing of Michael Schofield, who has a bunch of starting experience. Ravens officials abhor cutting early and mid-round draft picks this early in the game, but Bredeson will probably need to have a really good preseason to secure a role.
The second-year defensive tackle pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor and had six other charges, including a felony relating to damaging vehicles with a metal object this spring, dropped this month at Arlington General District Court in Virginia. The 2020 fifth-round pick will likely avoid a jail sentence, provided he completes 100 hours of community service and offers a restitution plan.
Washington could still face NFL discipline, but his future in Baltimore is more secure than it was when he was arrested in mid-March. The Ravens don’t need Washington to become a dynamic force inside this season; in Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, they already have three proven veterans. But Washington showed growth from his rookie year in OTAs, and his long-term development will be key for an aging unit.
The Ravens’ 16-year run of having at least one undrafted rookie make the team’s initial 53-man roster ended last year. Barring a stretch of bad injury luck, it might be another year before the next streak begins. The Ravens are deep across the roster, and none of the team’s touted undrafted signings stood out much in offseason workouts.
Undersized safety Ar’Darius Washington will have to prove his value on special teams, offensive tackle Adrian Ealy is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL, and tight end Tony Poljan has a limited ceiling as a receiver. They could all help out eventually, but probably not in Week 1.
Which NFL rookie receivers will be most productive in 2021? My analytics-based top-seven rankings - Cynthia Frelund
Ravens wideouts only logged 41 receptions of 10-plus air yards last season, as well as just 78 catches for 952 receiving yards when aligned out wide — all NFL lows, per Next Gen Stats. (Baltimore was the only team to earn fewer than 1,200 yards from wide alignments.) Route-running precision is a metric my model values more than most, and Bateman thrives in this area, especially when aligned on the outside. I’ve found that route-running precision leading to separation in college typically plays well in the NFL. Over the past two seasons in the FBS, Bateman ranked No. 3 among wide receivers in terms of route-running efficiency (as measured by reliable timing and the ability to create separation) on routes run from outside alignment. Pro Football Focus adds additional context here: Over the past two seasons when it came to intermediate targets (10-19 air yards), Bateman ranked second in the FBS with 44 catches and third with 697 yards. The only reason he ranks sixth on this list is the volume of rushing plays the Ravens are still likely to run.
Surprise players you should know from NFL minicamps for all 32 teams - Jamison Hensley
Coming off the worst season of his seven-year career, Watkins was the Ravens’ best receiver at minicamp. He made several contested grabs and delivered the best catch of the offseason, getting separation from Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey along the sideline for a long touchdown reception. This represented a big first step between Watkins and Lamar Jackson in terms of chemistry. “I’m not going to lie to you; it is fun,” Jackson said of Watkins. “A big receiver, nice target, fast guy. Sammy is going to make our job a lot easier.”
PFF50: The 50 best players in the NFL right now - Sam Monson
Stanley may be the best pass-protector in the entire NFL at any position. He has back-to-back PFF pass-blocking grades of at least 90.0 (albeit in an injury-shortened year in 2020). He has surrendered just 16 total pressures across his last 719 pass-blocking snaps, allowing his quarterback to be hit or sacked just three times in that period.
Stanley’s run blocking has improved throughout his career, but it’s his pass-blocking prowess that powers him to this ranking. What separates him from a player like David Bakhtiari is a combination of longevity at that level and the undoubted effect Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense has on the ease of his job as a pass protector by comparison.
NFL Power Rankings 2021: Which teams are legit contenders? - Dalton Miller
2021 NFL Power Rankings, Tier 2 | Conference Championship contenders
6) Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have a former MVP at quarterback and might be the most well-run organization in football. They also have one of the best cornerback duos in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. They also at least attempted to address the lack of receiving help with the Rashod Bateman selection.