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Ravens News 3/16: Compensatory Picks and more

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Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens’ NFL free-agent signings 2022: Marcus Williams will make QBs think twice - Jamison Hensley

Marcus Williams, S

What it means: The Ravens landed a ball-hawking safety that they desperately needed. Williams has intercepted 15 passes over the last five seasons, which are just four fewer than what all Ravens safeties combined for over that same span (19). Last season, quarterbacks showed no fear in going deep against Baltimore, completing 32 passes of 20-plus yards (second-most in the NFL). Teams will have to think twice doing so with Williams patrolling centerfield for the Ravens. He allowed just 11 receptions on 25 targets and no touchdowns as the nearest defender in coverage, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

What’s the risk: Will the Ravens have enough cap room to properly address the pass rush? By giving Williams a huge deal, Baltimore continued its trend of investing more in the defensive backfield than at outside linebacker.

The Ravens get on the board in free agency in a big way, landing standout free safety Marcus Williams - Jeff Zrebiec

2022 impact: With Williams’ deal expected to become official Wednesday afternoon, the Ravens secondary is starting to take shape. Free-agent safety DeShon Elliott will likely not be back unless he’s willing to embrace a No. 3 safety and special teams role. A 2021 third-round pick, Brandon Stephens, who played well at times as a rookie, can morph back into a matchup safety role, which was what the Ravens envisioned when they drafted him. With Humphrey and Peters back healthy and Williams set to line up alongside the steady Clark, the Ravens can focus on adding cornerback depth on the back end.

Outlook: This is a big swing for general manager Eric DeCosta, who lamented last month his team’s inability to create turnovers in 2021. He still has plenty of work to do. The Ravens still need an edge rusher or two, an interior defensive lineman or two and inside linebacker and cornerback depth. DeCosta has a lot of work to do, but landing a dynamic defensive playmaker is a strong first move in free agency.

2022 NFL Free Agency LIVE Deal Grader: Grading and tracking every free agent signing - PFF

S Marcus Williams: Five years, $70 million ($37 million guaranteed)

Williams has become one of the more underappreciated safeties in the NFL in recent seasons, with his costly miscue in the 2017 playoffs still impacting his public perception. However, he has one of the highest wins above replacement (WAR) values among all safeties since 2017, and he’s a consistent performer against both the run and the pass.

The Ravens opted to spend up at safety, upgrading from DeShon Elliott to Williams at free safety. They could still stand to add another starting-caliber cornerback to pair with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, but the return of Peters from injury and an overall healthier secondary in 2022 should get back to producing the kind of results Baltimore has grown accustomed to in recent years.

Grade: Above average

2022 NFL free agency grades: Ravens get ‘A’ for Marcus Williams signing, Broncos take risk with Randy Gregory - Bryan DeArdo

Marcus Williams inks big deal with Baltimore

The longtime Saints’ safety is going to Baltimore (who, if healthy, now have one of the NFL’s top defensive backfields) with a reported five-year, $70 million deal. That’s a great bargain for a player who has been one of the league’s top defensive backs since coming into the NFL in 2017.

Grade: A

Ravens receive 3 compensatory NFL draft picks, now have 9 selections in first 4 rounds - Jonas Shaffer

The Ravens were awarded another third-round pick (No. 100 overall) for the Houston Texans’ 2021 hiring of coach David Culley, who was fired in January, and two fourth-round picks (Nos. 138 and 141) for the free-agent departures of pass rushers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta already had seven picks in the draft: the team’s first-rounder (No. 14 overall), second-rounder, third-rounder, fourth-rounder, the New York Giants’ fourth-rounder, the Arizona Cardinals’ fourth-rounder and the Miami Dolphins’ sixth-rounder.

The Ravens have received 55 compensatory draft picks in franchise history, the most in the NFL since the system’s 1994 inception, a total that doesn’t include their two third-round picks for Culley’s hiring.

2022 NFL Draft: Ravens Seven-Round Mock Draft - Ken Zalis

Round 1, Pick 14

Might Be: Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati, CB

Could Be: Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa, OT

The Pick: Travon Walker, Georgia, EDGE

Round 2, Pick 45

Might Be: Tariq Woolen, UTSA, CB

Could Be: Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State, EDGE

The Pick: Daniel Faalele, Minnesota, OT

Round 4, Pick 126

Might Be: Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA, IDL

Could Be: Lecitus Smith, Virginia Tech, IOL

The Pick: Jelani Woods, Virginia, TE