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Ravens News 5/11: Run-centered Depth and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens Minicamp Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens Sign Veteran Running Back Mike Davis - Ryan Mink

The Ravens’ top two backs, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, are coming off season-ending knee injuries. Davis adds a proven and versatile veteran insurance policy. The Ravens drafted Tyler Badie in the sixth round, but it would be asking a lot of the rookie to carry the load if Dobbins and Edwards weren’t ready as season’s start.

Davis was a valuable backup and eventual injury replacement for Christian McCaffrey with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. Over the past two seasons, Davis has recorded 1,145 yards on the ground and 632 yards through the air. He registered 103 catches over that span, showing that he’s a multipurpose back who could help Baltimore’s passing attack out of the backfield.

The Ravens also have other young running backs contending to make the team, including Justice Hill (returning from Achilles), Nate McCrary and undrafted rookie Ricky Person. Baltimore had to sign mid-season veteran running backs last year after the spate of injuries, but is now making sure it has plenty of depth for its run-centered offensive attack heading into 2022.

2022 NFL Draft: Lamar Jackson leads veterans who benefitted; Ryan Tannehill now looking over his shoulder - Jeff Kerr

Lamar Jackson

Forget the lack of proven wide receivers in Baltimore. The Ravens did an excellent job this draft of landing Jackson offensive skill players who fit the type of offense that won Jackson the league MVP award in 2019. In addition to All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens selected tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely in the fourth round — giving Jackson three pass-catching options at a position he likes to throw to in the middle of the field.

In Jackson’s MVP season he had three tight ends who each finished with over 300 yards receiving and combined for 14 touchdowns. This with having no receivers amassing over 600 yards. The Ravens also had a strong offensive line, which Baltimore addressed with the first-round selection of center Tyler Linderbaum and the fourth-round pick of tackle Daniel Faalele. Ronnie Stanley will also be back healthy in 2022.

The Ravens will also be getting J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards back at running back, giving Baltimore one of the best one-two combinations in the league (not forgetting Jackson has two 1,000-yard seasons himself). Jackson has the offense tailor-made for another monster season collecting pass touchdowns and rushing yards on the ground.

He should regain his MVP form in 2022, even without a capable wide receiver outside of Rashod Bateman.

32 NFL teams, 32 people to root for: From Lamar Jackson to Lovie Smith to Laura Fryar — and beyond - Jim Trotter

I don’t hide the fact that I am a fan of Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson — the player andthe person. The poise and grace he showed during his draft night back in April of 2018, when he plummeted to the bottom of the first round, remains an indelible memory. The camera kept focusing on him and his mom in an increasingly empty green room, the two of them leaning against each other, shoulder to shoulder, while seated, heads down, tension rising. It was debatable who was more uncomfortable in that moment: Jackson or the national television audience. Once the fall was over, once Baltimore traded back into the first round and selected him with the final pick of Day 1, Jackson chose to look ahead, not back.

“I’m here. I’m a Raven. It’s on. All year, every year,” he told Deion Sanders, then of NFL Network. “They gonna get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that. Believe that.”

The next morning, after Jackson arrived at the Ravens facility, I asked him to choose one or the other: A Super Bowl win or a Hall of Fame jacket. He didn’t hesitate.

“If you’re winning Super Bowls, things like gold jackets can follow,” he said.

For someone to have that much wisdom, poise and humility at such a young age struck me. Truth is, it has never left me. It’s why I have no problem admitting my bias when it comes to Lamar.

NFL Power Rankings: Post-draft Super Bowl favorites? Rams, Bills fight for No. 1 - Lindsay Jones

10. Baltimore Ravens

2021 record: 8-9

Previous rank: 17

The Ravens missed the playoffs last year after a string of terrible injuries, but we’re optimistic Lamar Jackson and company will get back on track in 2022. The Ravens climbed eight spots since our last round of voting, thanks to free agency additions like safety Marcus Williams and defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and draft picks like safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum.

Why the Baltimore Ravens should be the team to look out for in 2022 - Jon Hoefling

The Baltimore Ravens were ravaged with injuries in 2021. So much so that PFF’s WAR-Adjusted Injuries Lost (WAIL) statistic indicates that the Ravens lost about 2.86 wins last season. That would’ve put the team in the playoffs with either a 10-7 or 11-6 record.

That 2.86 WAIL mark makes the Ravens the sixth team since 2013 to lose more than two games due to injury.

Sure, you might be thinking that the absence of Marquise Brown will weaken their passing attack, but Rashod Bateman had a very limited role in the offense last year due to injuries. If healthy, there’s a good chance that Bateman could slide directly into Brown’s role in the offense. He may not be as fast as Brown was, but he brings other skills to the table that Brown couldn’t. Plus of course, no matter how Bateman turns out in 2022, the passing attack will still run through Mark Andrews. Basically, the loss of Brown shouldn’t change the team’s offense much at all.

However, while all attention is being held by the reigning AFC Champion Bengals and the new-look Cleveland Browns, the Ravens have quietly built up one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Barring any major injuries in 2022, they won’t just compete, they will contend.