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Ravens News 3/1: Rethinking Contract Structures and more

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NFL: NOV 21 Ravens at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One critical move each NFL team should make: Trading Russell Wilson, moving on from Zeke Elliott on to-do list - Jason La Canfora

Baltimore Ravens

It’d be easy to say extend Lamar Jackson, but that might be unfeasible this offseason with the QB inclined to gamble on himself on a fifth-year option. So I’ll go with rethinking their contract structures, aversion to voidable years and predilection for doubling-down with extensions for injury-prone players they have already heavily compensated. When new team president Sashi Brown – former Browns GM steeped in cap/negotiation – takes over April 1, much of that might take care of itself, anyway.

The Ravens will get a look at NFL Draft’s top prospects this week. Here are 10 they’ll be watching closely - Jeff Zrebiec

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The projections for Charles Cross are a bit scattered, perhaps because he doesn’t possess elite strength or athleticism. But there is plenty of college tape that shows Cross getting the job done with good balance, technique and smarts. He’s probably the front-runner to be the third offensive tackle taken and that could put him right in the Ravens’ range. It’s not exactly a secret that the Ravens will be in the left tackle market this offseason with questions about the long-term health of Ronnie Stanley. With Cross, they may have the opportunity to secure a potential Day 1 starter if Stanley isn’t ready and one of the highest-rated pass blockers in the draft.

Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Two years ago, Stingley looked like a future No. 1 pick in the draft. But a dynamic, six-interception freshman season was followed by two injury-plagued years as Stingley was limited to just 10 total games and had no interceptions. He’ll be a scrutinized player in Indianapolis. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has the size, length, speed and athleticism to be an elite cornerback at the next level. However, his durability and production the past two seasons have certainly spurred some questions, as has his effort level at times. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler referred to Stingley as the “ultimate enigma” in the 2022 draft class. Cornerbacks with his skills and traits, though, typically don’t have to wait around long on draft night.

Top 50: 2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings 2.0 - Daniel Jeremiah

Rank. 10

Travon Walker

Georgia · Edge · Junior

Walker is a versatile edge defender with exceptional length and athleticism. He primarily aligned on the edge, but played inside, too. As a pass rusher, he isn’t ultra-explosive, but he’s smooth and powerful. He loves to widen the offensive tackle with his upfield rush before using his inside arm to jolt and walk him back to the QB. He also flashes a quick swipe move to create pressures. He’s very disruptive, but he’s left some sacks on the field because of missed tackles. The Bulldogs dropped him into coverage quite a bit, and he’s made some incredibly athletic plays, including one particular pass breakup versus Florida. Against the run, he dominates with his length and power at the point of attack. He destroys tight ends. I believe Walker’s best football is ahead of him.

2022 NFL Scouting Combine: 7 offensive linemen to watch - Chris Pflum

Cole Strange (C, Tennessee - Chattanooga)

Strange has been one of the big risers on the OL this year. Writing his scouting report before the Senior Bowl, I wondered what his ultimate position would be at the NFL, and speculated that it could be center — eventually. I was very pleasantly surprised by just how well Strange handled the center position (for the first time ever) at the Senior Bowl, and I’m looking forward to seeing him alongside the top centers in the draft at the Combine.

I’m expecting Strange to test well, but the field drills are almost always more important for offensive linemen. Can he keep good hip and “pad” level while going through the drills? Can he consistently show the hand quickness to snap the ball and block a 0-technique?

Strange has the chance to continue to rocket up draft boards with a strong combine.

Darian Kinnard (OT/G, Kentucky)

How well Kinnard tests and moves in field drills could be vitally important to his draft stock. He played well at offensive tackle for Kentucky, but the big question is whether or not he will need to move inside to guard at the NFL level.

Not only will Kinnard’s athletic testing be important — his short shuttle and 3-cone drills in particular — but just how well he moves in the field drills could be key. Those drills don’t often look a lot like football, but they can expose stiffness in the ankles, knees, and hips. Likewise, they can expose issues with foot speed that can get tackles in trouble against athletic EDGE defenders.

Ravens Numbers to Note - Todd Karpovich

7 – Sacks for OLB Tyus Bowser, marking a career-high and 2021 team-best. Bowser also produced 15 QB hits, tying OLB Odafe Oweh for second-most on the team (OLB Justin Houston, 17).

47 – QB pressures by OLB Odafe Oweh, ranking as the NFL’s second-most (Micah Parsons, 59) among all 2021 rookie defenders. Oweh also joined OLB Terrell Suggs (2003) as the only Ravens to produce at least 5 sacks, multiple forced FFs and multiple FRs during their rookie campaign.

98 – A team-high tackles for LB Patrick Queen, who was one of four NFL defenders (Roquan Smith, Demario Davis & Kamu Grugier-Hill) with at least 95 tackles, 10 TFL and 2 sacks in 2021.