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Ravens News 2/28: Prospect Fits and more

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Under-the-Radar Positions of Interest for Ravens - Clifton Brown

Playmaking safety

Only four teams had fewer interceptions than the Ravens (nine) in 2021 and starting safety DeShon Elliott is a free agent. Tony Jefferson was re-signed this week, but that doesn’t rule out adding another young safety. “Our inability this year to create turnovers was probably an issue for us, and I would love to see us make the play this year coming up – intercept more passes, cause more fumbles, be more disruptive,” General Manager Eric DeCosta said at his postseason press conference.

2022 NFL free agency: One free agent each NFL team should prioritize signing in offseason - Jordan Dajani

Baltimore Ravens - FS Marcus Maye

NYJ • FS • 20

It’s no secret that Marcus Maye wants out of New York, and this offseason it could happen. Baltimore needs help in the secondary at cornerback and safety, and signing a true ballhawk like Maye at free safety would immediately improve this defense.

2022 NFL Free Agent Safeties: Jessie Bates III, Tyrann Mathieu, and Marcus Williams provide tempting options - Ben Rolfe

Jessie Bates III

Age: 24

Previous team: Cincinnati Bengals

Market value: $14.4 million

Tyrann Mathieu

Age: 29

Previous team: Kansas City Chiefs

Market value: $14.8 million

Quandre Diggs

Age: 29

Previous team: Seattle Seahawks

Market value: $12.1 million

NFL free agency rankings for 2022: Chris Godwin, Tyrann Mathieu and Von Miller among our top 150 players - Sheil Kapadia

86. Justin Houston, Edge, Baltimore Ravens (33)

He was a free agent last offseason and had to settle for a one-year, $2.075 million deal with the Ravens. Houston started 15 games and had 4.5 sacks with 17 QB hits. Given his age, Houston could be looking at another one-year deal. He’d be a fine short-term solution for a team in need of edge help.

140. Anthony Averett, CB, Baltimore Ravens (28)

After injuries crushed the Ravens at cornerback, Averett was thrown into a prominent role and started 14 games. He took his lumps but finished with three interceptions and 11 passes defended and looked like someone who could be a competent starter as he gains more experience.

148. Patrick Ricard, FB, Baltimore Ravens (28)

No free agency list would be complete without at least one fullback. Ricard played a career high 57% of the snaps last year and made the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season. When Ricard last got a contract extension, it was for $3.65 million per year. Kyle Juszczyk set the top of the fullback market at $5.4 million per year.

Could Packers Za’Darius Smith be a salary cap casualty? Potential landing spots include Ravens and Chiefs - Tony Pauline

I’m told a return to Baltimore, which drafted Smith in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, is a possibility. Yet right now, sources tell me the smart money is on the Kansas City Chiefs, who will go hard after Smith if he’s cut.

What Smith lacks as a run defender, he makes up for exceptional pass-rushing ability. In 2019, he racked up 13.5 sacks, and he followed that up with 12.5 in 2020. If he can return to that form and stay healthy in 2022, he will be worth every penny to whatever team he is on.

Do the Ravens need to upgrade at linebacker? It’s open to debate. - Mike Preston

By now, it’s no secret that the Ravens have glaring weaknesses on the interior of the defensive line, but Macdonald has to determine if the middle linebacker position is salvageable. When the Ravens selected Patrick Queen with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2020 draft, he was expected to be the starter for at least the next five years.

Maybe Macdonald, who turned around Michigan’s defense last season, can work similar magic with Queen and fellow third-year linebacker Malik Harrison. Maybe the infusion of other new coaches like inside linebackers coach Zach Orr, outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard or new defensive quality control assistant Ryan Osborn might be enough for Macdonald to keep Queen inside for another season.

If not, Lloyd and Dean are good options. Dean had 72 tackles, 10 ½ tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2021 to lead Georgia to the national championship. He is the speedy prototype NFL teams are chasing at 6-feet and 225 pounds.

2022 NFL Draft: Daniel Jeremiah identifies team fits for prospects - Adam Maya

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens took a step back in the trenches in 2021, leaving both units as priorities this offseason. With the No. 14 overall pick, their top targets don’t figure to be available. But Jeremiah believes Trevor Penning would be an ideal match.

“When you watch him, I’m like, this guy is just a Raven,” Jeremiah said. “The way he plays, the physicality, he’s huge, he’s 330 pounds, he’s almost 6-foot-7. One of my favorite nuggets on him: The guy literally watches horror movies the night before the game to get into character.”

DJ could also envision Baltimore eyeing Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill.

“I think that if you’re looking at that defense and the Ravens trying to find one of those unique players like a Daxton Hill, whose ability to play in multiple locations, in the nickel, to play high, that’s why like I wouldn’t be shocked at all if that was their pick,” Jeremiah said. “You have the Harbaugh connection, you have the defensive coordinator there, and this guy’s ability to do so many different things and allow you to be versatile and be able to change the picture if you want to after the snap. He gives you the luxury of being able to do all those things.”