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Ravens News 6/25: Cold Winners and more

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Ranking the Ravens’ position groups, from weakest (outside linebacker) to strongest (cornerback) - Jonas Shaffer

7. Safety

After all the talk about the safety upgrades the Ravens could seek in the draft, DeCosta ended up not taking one. The team’s lone additions were Brandon Stephens, a college cornerback who saw some time at safety for the Ravens this spring, and Ar’Darius Washington, an undrafted safety who’ll enter training camp on the roster bubble.

Barring injury, the Ravens will run it back with Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott in the back end. Their partnership’s first year was solid, if unspectacular: Both graded out reasonably well on PFF, but they combined for just one interception and eight passes defended. There’s no Earl Thomas III in this group, for better and for worse. Behind Clark and Elliott are special teams contributors like Anthony Levine Sr. and Jordan Richards. Stephens’ emergence would give the position crucial depth.

5. Defensive line

As run stoppers, this is a high-floor group. Calais Campbell, even at age 34, is tough to uproot. Brandon Williams, a reliable nose tackle over his eight seasons with the Ravens, will be playing for a new contract. Justin Madubuike is a menace on outside-zone runs. Derek Wolfe was a stalwart in his first year in Martindale’s system. Justin Ellis, Broderick Washington and Aaron Crawford round out a solid depth chart.

As pass rushers, there’s more variance. And with the Ravens’ losses at outside linebacker, there’s a greater need for production. Campbell had four sacks in 12 games last season, his third straight season of diminishing sack totals, but he remains a weapon on stunts and twists. Madubuike was impressive for stretches late last year and is primed for a breakout 2021. Wolfe, who had seven sacks in 2019, could be due for a bounce-back season after notching just one last year.

Study: Lamar Jackson Is NFL’s Best QB in Cold Weather - Todd Karpovich

Jackson has the highest passer rating (109.3) in cold-climate games among all quarterbacks.

Jackson and Aaron Rodgers are the top-performing quarterbacks in cold-climate games for average passing touchdowns per game (2.4 touchdowns)

Since 2018, Baltimore is 11-2 in the month of December, the best mark in the NFL. The Ravens have outscored their opponents 358 to 247 over that stretch, averaging 210.2 yards rushing per game.

“I think that’s when our team gets stronger,” Baltimore running back Gus Edwards said. “We have a physical team, physical offense, physical defense. We have to use that to our advantage in the cold weather when guys are less likely to want to tackle, when their mentality is not there. We’re at a vital point in the season for us and we’ve got to keep on going.”

What each AFC team will be worrying about this summer - Michael Lombardi

Baltimore Ravens: Eric DeCosta has to wonder when Lamar Jackson will attack the outside deep third of the field, both from his right and toward his left. Jackson averaged 5.81 yards per attempt when throwing outside to his right and 6.80 YPA when throwing to his left. That area of the field must get attacked by the Ravens’ offense.

The NFL’s top 11 offensive guards - Mark Schofield

Kevin Zeitler, Baltimore Ravens

We now come to one of the first players to switch teams this off-season, yet still appear on this list. Last season Kevin Zeitler suited up for the New York Giants, but in the year ahead he’ll be protecting another young quarterback, Lamar Jackson, as Zeitler signed with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. What helps get Zeitler onto this list is the scheme fit in Baltimore. Greg Roman incorporates a number of different run schemes into the Baltimore playbook, among them Counter Bash, which generally tasks a pair of linemen pulling in front of a potential run from the QB. One of the things that Zeitler does so well is pull, using his athleticism and awareness all along the offensive front.

Marlon Humphrey thinks Ravens “got a pretty good one” in Rashod Bateman - Josh Alper

Baltimore took wide receiver Rashod Bateman with one of their first-round picks and the former Minnesota wideout has made a strong early impression on one of his more experienced teammates. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said he “couldn’t really tell” what Bateman could do when he first lined up opposite him in practice, but continued exposure led him to tell General Manager Eric DeCosta that he thinks the team made a wise move at the top of the draft.

“After guarding him throughout OTAs and minicamp the other day, I’ve seen some serious flashes,” Humphrey said, via USAToday.com. “I told DeCosta, I was like, ‘Hey, man. I think we got a pretty good one in Bateman.’ So, he’s shown some really good things to me. I can’t wait to get some more battles with him in training camp and take it into the season.”