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Ravens News 2/4: Inside Out and more

Tennessee v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

2022 Super Bowl: Ranking last-place NFL teams that could make Bengals-like leap next season - Tyler Sullivan

1. Baltimore Ravens

For a minute, it looked like the Ravens were going to be a major player in the playoffs this season, beginning the year with an 8-3 record at the end of Week 12. However, a slew of injuries — particularly to Lamar Jackson — finally caught up to Baltimore, which lost its final six games to end the year under .500.

Jackson’s ankle injury proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Ravens, as the former league MVP missed the final four weeks of the year. That said, it wasn’t just Jackson who went down. Baltimore had a wide array of injuries headlined by running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee) and Gus Edwards (knee), along with cornerback Marcus Peters (ankle) — who were all ruled out for the season before Week 1. The Ravens also lost cornerback Marlon Humphrey (pectoral), safety DeShon Elliott (pectoral, bicep), and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) for extended periods of time.

If Baltimore can get healthy for 2022 and keep the bulk of its core off of injured reserve, it should be back in the playoff conversation as one of the better teams in the AFC.

Ravens’ offseason priority should be building from the inside out - Mike Preston

Now the Ravens appear ready to go old school. It’s great to have playmakers, which the Ravens still lack, but grunt guys win games. The Ravens need an influx of young talent on the defensive line, but their main priority should be finding offensive linemen.

Hopefully, the Ravens don’t continue to get lost in their own philosophy. Because the offense is so run-oriented, they keep signing or drafting top-heavy linemen who are one-dimensional. But the Ravens should go back and look into their brief history. The team’s best linemen were left tackle Jonathan Ogden and guard Marshal Yanda, players who excelled at both run and pass blocking.

It’s OK to be run-oriented in the regular season because there is a mix of good, poor and average opponents, but it’s different in the postseason. The Ravens have to face quarterbacks like the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow and Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, all of whom lead high-scoring offenses.

When the Ravens fall behind, that significantly decreases their chances of winning. They need versatile linemen who can run and pass block, but also trap, get out front in screens and make blocks deep into the second level. The Ravens have to get outside of the box they built around themselves.

The 2022 NFL Quarterback Commitment Index - Danny Heifetz

Put a Ring on It!

Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson

Everyone expected the Ravens would marry (a.k.a. extend) Lamar after his dazzling 2019 season. But these two are starting to drag their feet in part because Lamar hasn’t hired a wedding planner (a.k.a. an agent). Instead, Lamar’s mother is handling the $100 million contract negotiation. It’s always hard to talk about money and weddings—especially when the mother-in-law gets involved.

2022 Senior Bowl Day 2 standouts: RB prospect on track similar to Jets’ Michael Carter - Lance Zierlein

Cole Strange, C, UT-Chattanooga

Scouts are giving Strange consistently positive reviews for his performance over the first two days of practice. He lined up at guard in college but moved to center this week. He’s played substantially stronger at the point of attack than his leaner frame might indicate and has held up reasonably well against bull rushers when tested. After getting beat by power on one rep, he came back with a quick set, which allowed him to halt the bull rush before it could even get started. He’s a rising, zone-scheme center with the talent to start in the NFL.

Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

I’m simply too low on Wyatt in my initial grade and will have to make an adjustment after what I’ve seen in practices. He has been a tough out for every lineman he’s faced this week. He’s shown excellent snap quickness and coordinated hands/feet to work into gaps and create disruptions. He’s not unusually big or long, but he’s really helping his cause as a potential one-gapping three-technique with adequate power at the point of attack.

Ravens Potential Draft Target: Cornerback ‘Sauce’ Gardner - Todd Karpovich

The Dilemma: The Ravens were decimated with injuries last season as both starters — Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey — were lost for the year. Peters has a $15.6 million cap hit this season, so he might need to restructure to remain with the team.

Chris Westry and Kevon Seymour were forced into bigger roles and had some growing pains. Cornerback Jimmy Smith safety Anthony Levine Sr. offered a veteran presence in perhaps their last season for the Ravens. Anthony Averett, Khalil Dorsey and Westry are free agents, so the Ravens need to find depth.

The Solution: It would not be surprising to see the Ravens take a cornerback in the first round and one player that would be appealing is Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.

Over 13 games last season, Gardner managed 40 tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, and three sacks. His ability to excel in man-to-man coverage would make him a perfect fit for Baltimore.