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Ravens News 2/14: Always In Position and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

How the Ravens Can Reach Next Year’s Super Bowl - Ryan Mink

The Ravens aren’t in the same position as the Bengals were in last year. Baltimore doesn’t have as much salary-cap space to boost the defense with. The Ravens don’t have a fifth-overall pick like the Bengals used to get Chase. But I have a feeling Baltimore will get a couple difference-makers on defense in free agency, and the Ravens will get a very good player at No. 14. A last-place schedule, like the one the Bengals had in 2021, won’t hurt either.

Baltimore will have a quarterback coming back from what turned out to be a season-ending injury and the Ravens are starting from a better place than the Bengals were last offseason. Baltimore already has some of the game’s best players on both sides of the ball and special teams.

As the Bengals showed after a 10-7 regular season that ended on a hot streak and rolled into the playoffs, all you need is a shot. They were underdogs in the AFC Championship, but Kansas City got greedy before halftime and then Mahomes turned human.

You don’t have to be the “best” team to get to the Super Bowl. Just keep putting yourself in position, which the Ravens will surely do once again.

Ranking potential free agents playing in Super Bowl 2022: Jessie Bates, Von Miller lead pack of potent talent - Patrik Walker

1. Jessie Bates III, S

You really have to be epic to beat out Miller on this list, and Bates is most certainly that. The star safety would’ve liked the Bengals to make him an offer in good faith before things got to this point, but it didn’t happen. So Bates got back to work in being the dominant force he is at the safety position and helped lead a defensive unit full of new faces to Super Bowl LVI, in what could be his last game in a Bengals uniform. They’ll undoubtedly consider using the franchise tag to keep him from leaving, but with Bates already frustrated with the process, that would only make him more so — especially considering the Bengals have salary cap space to get his deal done yesterday. This will be a headline to watch following the Super Bowl.

The best players from the 2021 NFL season - Cris Collinsworth

TIGHT END

1. MARK ANDREWS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Andrews took Travis Kelce’s crown this year as the most valuable tight end, earning a 91.0 receiving grade despite injuries and inconsistencies at the quarterback position in Baltimore.

KICKER

1. JUSTIN TUCKER, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Tucker didn’t have the volume for the Ravens, but his accuracy was top-notch. He led the league in field goal percentage (94.6%) for the first time in his career and was the only kicker to earn a 90.0-plus field goal grade.

Ravens special teams still elite under Horton - Noah Trister

“I think anyone understands when the roster starts to get affected through injury, that special teams really is the unit that sometimes takes the brunt of it because the guys that you had playing for you now are playing on defense,” Horton said. “You have to adjust and be able to put a new guy in there. What those guys did this year, and for us to play the way we played — really just a testament to how hard we work and really what we focus on.”

Horton succeeded Rosburg following his retirement in 2019, and the Ravens have remained strong on special teams. And that’s not just because they have one of the game’s all-time great kickers in Justin Tucker.

Baltimore ranked No. 1 in the NFL this season in special teams DVOA — a stat from Football Outsiders that measures team efficiency. The Ravens finished No. 2 in special teams DVOA in 2020. This season, second-year return man Devin Duvernay was an All-Pro. He was the only returner to rank in the top 10 in both punt return average and kickoff return average. So this season should only help Horton’s stock.

Ravens Have Huge Opportunity to Add Playmakers in Draft - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens will look to add depth in the trenches and in the secondary.

”If we’re in the Draft and there’s a guy there at [Pick] 14 and we like him, we’ll take him,” DeCosta said. “If we’re comfortable trading back to [Pick] 20 thinking a guy might be there and he’s an offensive lineman, then we’ll take him. If there happens to be a [salary] cap casualty on March 18th and that guy looks like he can make our team better, then we’ll probably try to swoop in. That’s basically our mindset. If a team calls us and offers a guy and we have the draft capital to make it happen, potentially that’s something that we might look at.

“There are a lot of different ways to build a team. For me, it always is based on the fit of the player, how does he fit what you do, does he fit your culture, do you have a need and can you afford him?”

2022 NFL mock draft 1.0: Who teams should pick to win now - Cynthia Frelund

14. Baltimore Ravens

David Ojabo

Michigan · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Familiarity with Ojabo’s potential does elevate this pairing, as new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who comes over from Michigan, has first-hand knowledge of how to best use Ojabo’s skill set. Ojabo’s pass-rushing burst ranks in the top 80th percentile, but he was used in a limited fashion — which means there is room for improvement there.