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Ravens News 7/1: Roster Ranking and more

Baltimore Ravens Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ravens tight end battle carries plenty of intrigue, importance for 2021 season - Mike Preston

The Ravens’ tight end search will go deep into training camp and the preseason, with five players competing for backup roles behind starter Mark Andrews, the 2019 Pro Bowl selection, and reserves Nick Boyle and Patrick Ricard, who are both recovering from injuries. Ricard is listed as a fullback, but also plays tight end and on the defensive line.

It’s all part of the new wave of tight ends in the pass-happy NFL. Most of the candidates were impressive in offseason training activities and the mandatory two-day minicamp, particularly third-year player Josh Oliver and 2020 undrafted free-agent Eli Wolf. But the pads weren’t on. That will change starting in late July.

The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Wolf runs good routes, and the second-year player out of Georgia been able to find and sit down in holes in coverage. Oliver, a former San Jose State star the Ravens acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, is a bigger target at 6-5 and 249 pounds and has been just as impressive. Virginia undrafted free-agent rookie Tony Poljan, at 6-7 and 251 pounds, started making some plays and catches in the last day of minicamp, which had to impress some scouts.

Ravens Need Breakout Wide Receiver in 2021 - Todd Karpovich

Marquise Brown has shown glimpses of being a No. 1 wide receiver.

Sammy Watkins is a sure-handed pass-catcher when he can stay healthy.

Rashod Bateman has the potential to have a breakout season as a rookie.

The Ravens are hopeful one or two of these players can dominate opposing secondaries and boost a passing attack that ranked last in the NFL last season.

“I’m happy with the talent,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I feel like it’s a talented group, and I’m very excited about what we’re capable of achieving.”

With the addition of Bateman and Tylan Wallace in this year’s draft, Baltimore now has eight players vying for perhaps six roster spots with Watkins, Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Deon Cain.

“You want to have it to where you’ve got five and six and seven wide receivers, to where it makes it really tough on what wide receivers you pick,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “It seems like in the past, it was like these three guys, these four guys are for sure going to make it, and then we don’t know about this guy.”

Ranking all 32 NFL rosters by talent heading into 2021 training camp: Tom Brady’s Bucs at top, Browns No. 3 - Jordan Dajani

6. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are coming off of another solid season which was ended in the divisional round. The offense is impressive all-around with the offensive line, Lamar Jackson, JK Dobbins and Mark Andrews, but the Ravens may actually have some wide receivers to work with this year! Baltimore signed Sammy Watkins in free agency and added Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace via the draft. There will be plenty of competition among the wide receiving corps, but hopefully the cream rises to the top and Jackson can attack downfield more than he has in the past. This defense did lose some important pieces such as Matt Judon and Yannik Ngakoue, but I think Patrick Queen and Malik Harrisonwill take big leaps forward in 2021. This defense is still going to be one of the better units in the NFL, and CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin even predicts it will be the No. 4 defense in the league.

Most overrated NFL players on all 32 teams in 2021 - James Fragoza

Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB

Patrick Queen has all the physical tools you want from a second-level athlete. However, fans hold him to an undeserving tier. This is likely due to his turnover-creating plays last season. Queen generated 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a touchdown), and 3 sacks as a rookie.

Yet, like all rookie linebackers in 2020, Queen had his fair share of struggles. According to Pro Football Reference, he missed 21 tackles, allowed a 75.9% completion rate, and forfeited 3 passing touchdowns. Queen may not be on here for long as he progresses in his second season.

Ranking all eight NFL divisions by quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes helps AFC West edge NFC West entering 2021 - Cody Benjamin

3. AFC North

QBs: Lamar Jackson (Ravens), Baker Mayfield (Browns), Joe Burrow(Bengals), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)

Jackson is arguably the most electrifying player in the entire league. Critique his deep-ball/big-game passing, but few QBs threaten to change the game every time they touch the ball. He does. Mayfield has successfully adapted to serve as something of a spunky game manager in Kevin Stefanski’s smooth offense. Burrow still has plenty to prove but has the moxie and football IQ to put up numbers and survive any forthcoming staff overhauls. Roethlisberger, once the face of the North, is better suited for a Mayfield-type role now that his arm has lost the juice for signature gunslinging, but he’s still capable of a playoff bid.

A Lamar Jackson extension with the Ravens is being treated like a formality, but timing remains the question - Jeff Zrebiec

“I just don’t know why (you wouldn’t),” Tannenbaum said. “I don’t know what the benefit is of waiting. I don’t see the macroeconomics of the NFL trending in any other way than going up.”

“This is probably as cheap as it’s going to be,” said Joel Corry, a former agent who analyzes and writes about NFL contracts and the salary cap for CBS Sports. “You’ll have at least Josh Allen in the marketplace and who knows, if Aaron Rodgers is traded or the Packers decide that he’s the guy over Jordan Love, maybe he gets a new deal and you have to deal with that as another data point as well.”

“It’s got to be 38 to 40-ish (per year), ” Tannenbaum said. “There’s always ways for both sides to declare victory, like three-year cash, guaranteed money. But it has to be somewhere in there, I would think.”

“Pretty soon or whenever” sums up the situation nicely. It seems that everybody expects the Ravens and Jackson to strike a deal. It’s just a matter of when it happens and for how much.