Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has to add more impact players this offseason, no matter the cost - Mike Preston
Even when they are completely healthy, the Ravens lack star power. Running back J. K. Dobbins, who missed the season because of a knee injury, is a good player but he isn’t in the class of Indianapolis’s Jonathan Taylor or Tennessee’s Derrick Henry. The Ravens don’t have a receiver yet in the class of Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins much less Hill, and they don’t have a pass rusher who can win one-on-one matchups like Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt or Kansas City’s Chris Jones.
And that’s why DeCosta should be under the microscope this offseason. If the Ravens are to be serious contenders, they need more impact players. And of the three DeCosta draft classes, there doesn’t appear to be many among them.
The Ravens are cheap and aren’t willing to give up draft picks in possible trades. That’s why in the DeCosta era they have signed some good free agents like defensive end Calais Campbell, Peters, running back Mark Ingram and guard Kevin Zeitler, but have more disappointments like Yannick Ngakoue, Robert Griffin III, D.J. Fluker, Alejandro Villanueva, Jordan Richards, Earl Thomas III and Sammy Watkins.
So, if they don’t have those big-time players on their roster and won’t gamble in free agency, where will they get them from?
Injury Recoveries Make Ravens Offseason More Challenging - Clifton Brown
Knowing how Dobbins and Edwards are wired makes DeCosta confident they will return as good, or even better after their ACL injuries. But it’s rare to see any team lose its top three running backs before the season. Aside from Dobbins and Edwards, it remains to been if Hill will reclaim his role as the No. 3 running back. Will the Ravens try to re-sign either Devonta Freeman or Latavius Murray, two veteran running backs who are pending free agents?
“There’s always uncertainty with those guys, due to the nature of their injuries,” DeCosta said of Dobbins and Edwards. “That being said, I know both guys, I know their work ethic, determination. We’re optimistic, of course, but there’s always …as we learned this year, there’s always going to be an unknown with injuries and how guys respond and how fast they get back.
“We’ll be conservative, with those guys, for sure. We’ll assess the market, we’ll assess free agency, we’ll assess the draft, and we’ll make the best decision we can regarding that position. [I] certainly expect that those guys will be back at some point. Both guys are young, so that bodes well in their favor.”
Ravens Potential Draft Target: Tackle Ikem Ekwonu - Todd Karpovich
There is no doubt the Ravens are going to select an offensive tackle in this year’s NFL draft.
That player could be North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, who stands at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds.
The Athletic called Ekwonu “the most feared lineman in the ACC.” He’s a physical player that would provide the Ravens with an edge on the ol-line.
Here is Ekwonu’s analysis from NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated:
“Very strong and aggressive guard who has started at tackle. Ekwonu is a competitive finisher, consistently creating movement in the run game and possessing the footspeed to pass protect on the interior. Playing with his chest over his toes hurts his balance and he struggles in pass protection on an island. Ekwonu projects as a starting guard early on in his career who will make a difference as a run blocker. Technical fixes should allow him to be a very good NFL starter by his second or third season.”
2022 NFL Draft: Pros and Cons for PFF’s top five offensive tackles
3. IKEM EKWONU, NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK
Ekwonu is the biggest bully in college football. Defenders don’t want to see him coming their way.
His long arms pack a punch. If he’s latched onto your pads, good luck.
The 320-pound monster has incredible power in his lower half and legs like tree trunks.
His pass sets are wholly inconsistent and unpolished. He almost clicks his heels.
Ekwonu didn’t even take vertical sets, just angle sets.
He has OK agility and mirror ability, but they are not high-end for the position.
5. TREVOR PENNING, NORTHERN IOWA PANTHERS
Simply put, Penning’s tape at Northern Iowa looks like someone’s dad subbed into a pop warner game.
He is so wide — he has some insanely broad shoulders even by large man standards.
He boasts the kind of physicality that transcends competition level: He is out for blood.
He is still far from perfect in pass protection.
Penning obviously is accompanied by level of competition concerns. He wasn’t Not tested at all at UNI.
His location ability in space leaves a lot to be desired. It will not be his game.
Ranking every Super Bowl QB matchup: Where Joe Burrow vs. Matthew Stafford in 2022 Super Bowl stands all-time - Bryan DeArdo
39. Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick, Super Bowl XLVII
Feb. 3, 2013: Ravens 34, 49ers 31
Neither quarterback made a Pro Bowl, but both made their mark during that time in pro football. Flacco posted a 10-5 playoff record that included his MVP performance in the Super Bowl. Kaepernick helped lead the 49ers to consecutive NFC title games. He threw for 302 yards while passing and running for scores against the Ravens. Down 34-29, Kaepernick drove the 49ers to the Ravens’ 5-yard-line before misfiring on three consecutive passes.
49. Trent Dilfer vs. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
Jan. 28, 2001: Ravens 34, Giants 7
Widely considered to be the worst starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl, Dilfer had a successful career that included a ring, a Pro Bowl selection, a 5-1 playoff record and guiding two different teams to a conference title game. Dilfer is the only quarterback to be released the year after winning a Super Bowl.