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Ravens News 3/23: Remaining Needs and more

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NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Twelve Ravens thoughts following opening week of free agency - Luke Jones

I’m fine with re-signing Patrick Ricard considering how heavily Baltimore leaned on him because of offensive line concerns and Nick Boyle’s health. However, paying both him and Boyle is a value concern, especially with the latter carrying a $5 million salary and $7 million salary cap number in 2022.

The Ravens haven’t devoted much money or meaningful draft capital to the center position since Matt Birk. Perhaps that changes with a JC Tretter signing or a Tyler Linderbaum selection in the first round, but a competition among Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon, and a mid-to-late-round pick wouldn’t be remotely surprising.

Pierce’s return reminds of the era in which the Ravens seemingly found late-round and undrafted defensive line contributors in their sleep. They’ve had to pump considerable money into that group in recent years, so you hope one or two young rotation candidates emerge this summer.

Ravens Right to Prioritize Patrick Ricard - John Eisenberg

Ricard’s nickname is “Project Pat,” but I like what Lamar Jackson calls him — “Pancake Pat,” a moniker that gets to his essence. The Ravens have utilized him as a 311-pound battering ram at the point of attack, crushing defenders and opening holes for backs to run through.

His new deal reportedly makes him the NFL’s second-highest-paid fullback, and given the Ravens’ tight salary cap situation, it pretty much guarantees the departure of several other players. Unfortunately, that’s how things work in the NFL.

But I’m all for Ricard having been marked “priority,” regardless of the consequences. No player better embodies who the Ravens are and what they want to look like in 2022 and beyond.

A lack of production from schemed runs was a consistent issue in 2021. Baltimore’s non-quarterbacks rushed for 1,408 yards, down significantly from 1,957 in 2020 and 2,019 in 2019.

Schemed runs were “something that really fell off this year,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the season.

The impact on the offense was impossible to miss. The Ravens’ run-pass option plays are most effective when defenses are worried about stopping the run. If they aren’t as worried about who Jackson is handing off to, Jackson isn’t as effective.

The biggest remaining needs for all 32 NFL teams after the first wave of free agency and trades - Jeff Zrebiec

Baltimore Ravens

Biggest remaining need: Edge rusher

The Ravens thought they checked this box last week when they agreed to terms with veteran outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. However, Smith backed out of the agreement, leaving the Ravens to pick through what else is available on the free-agent edge rusher market and consider other options. This is a strong edge rusher draft class and the Ravens not only will be a strong candidate to take one early, perhaps with the 14th pick, but they’ll probably look to add a veteran outside linebacker, too. Of their six edge rushers last season, Justin Houston and Pernell McPhee are both free agents. Odafe Oweh (shoulder) and Tyus Bowser (Achilles) had offseason surgeries. Jaylon Ferguson and Daelin Hayes were nonfactors, the latter because of injuries. Getting pressure without blitzing has been a major issue for the Ravens in recent seasons. They need to upgrade their edge-rusher group and Smith’s change of heart reinforces that.

2022 NFL Draft: Ravens Offensive Line-Only Seven-Round Mock Draft - Ken Zalis

Round 3: Pick 76

Might Be: Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky

Could Be: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State

Should Be: Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia

Round 3: Pick 100

Might Be: Spencer Burford, IOL, Texas-San Antonio

Could Be: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

Should Be: Cole Strange, IOL, Chattanooga

Round 4: Picks 110, 119, 128, 139 and 141

Might Be: Alec Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College

Could Be: Cade Mays, IOL, Tennessee

Should Be: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana

Bonus: Zach Tom, OT/C, Wake Forest and Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota

2022 NFL Mock Draft: QB-needy Panthers take a shot despite weak class, plus Jaguars keep No. 1 pick - Pete Prisco

Round 1 - Pick 14

Jermaine Johnson II EDGE

FLORIDA STATE • SR • 6’5” / 254 LBS

They upgraded the secondary in free agency, so it’s time to add an edge to go with Odafe Oweh, last year’s top pick. Johnson would give them a nice combination off the edge.

2022 NFL mock draft 3.0: Packers nab 2 receivers in Round 1 after Davante Adams trade - Daniel Jeremiah

Pick. 14

Baltimore Ravens

George Karlaftis

Purdue · Edge · Junior

Baltimore’s signing of Morgan Moses eliminates the dire need at offensive tackle. Karlaftis plays with the passion and effort the Ravens covet.

NFL Mock Draft 3.0: The Lions and Panthers Get Their Franchise QBs - Danny Kelly

14. BALTIMORE RAVENS

ANDREW BOOTH

DEFENSIVE BACK CLEMSON

SHADES OF AQIB TALIB

AGE 21.5

HEIGHT 6’0”

WEIGHT 194

With Marcus Peters heading into the final year of his contract and coming off an ACL injury, the Ravens look to the future at the cornerback spot. Booth brings size and playmaking instincts to Baltimore and could start opposite Marlon Humphrey early in his career.