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Ravens News 5/20: Top Priorities and more

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Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francico 49ers

Biggest remaining offseason priority for each AFC team: Should Colts sign Odell Beckham Jr.? - Marc Sessler

Baltimore Ravens

Top priority: Add proven help at wideout

Trading away Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to Arizona left the Ravens wanting at wideout. The team believes second-year target Rashod Bateman can step into the top spot, especially with star tight end Mark Andrews drawing heavy attention as a chaos-causing red-zone machine. The next guys up, Devin Duvernay and James Proche, combined for sub-500 yards a year ago. Tylan Wallace notched two grabs as a rookie. How about adding Will Fuller to the mix to recapture some of Brown’s deep-threat speed? Baltimore remains a tricky landing spot for wideouts — Hollywood begged out of Greg Roman’s run-heavy system — but the Ravens of today are leaning heavily on potential over proof.

Biggest questions facing new NFL defensive play callers in 2022 - Diante Lee

Baltimore Ravens: Mike Macdonald

How will the personnel be deployed in the secondary?

At every level, the Ravens defense has a plus-starter quality player or better, and the additions of safeties Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton open the door for interesting personnel packages.

Williams fits best in prototypical free safety roles: playing in quarters coverage (a four deep, three under zone concept) or rolling back to the middle of the field. Kyle Hamilton can align over tight ends in single-high defenses, play in the slot as a “big nickel” in zone coverage or stay deep and execute quarters. Chuck Clark, another solid option at safety, is a similar Swiss Army Knife, aligning both deep and in the box when there are five or more defensive backs on the field. Assuming Clark stays on the roster, Baltimore might have one of the NFL’s best dime packages (six defensive backs).

If corners Marcus Peters and rookie Jalyn Armour-Davis stay healthy, Marlon Humphrey can play in the slot or out wide as well, and the Ravens can match up against any look.

After 16 Years as a Raven, Sam Koch Is Retiring - Clifton Brown

Averaging 45.3 yards per punt during his career, Koch made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and never averaged fewer than 43.0 yards in any season. Koch was always reluctant to draw attention to himself, but he took pride in being someone that teammates and coaches could depend on.

“When I came into this league, it’s the way my dad approached work every day,” Koch said in 2020. “He never missed a day. He never took a vacation day. I always feel each and every day, there’s something I can improve.”

“Sam has revolutionized the game of football,” Special Teams Coach Randy Brown said. “He introduced the idea that punters could have different types of punts, as well as have punts designed to place the ball inside the 10-yard line and to keep the ball away from returners – who have become much more dynamic in recent years. As a whole, every punter in the NFL owes Sam Koch a debt of gratitude for being the pioneer of change on how punting is executed in this league.”

In addition to his punting, Koch was a sure-handed holder for Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history who often talked about the crucial role that Koch played in his career.

Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of organized team activities - Luke Jones

I reserve the right to change my win-loss forecast by early September, but I envisioned an 11-6 record upon seeing a very reasonable 2022 schedule. Despite no shortage of potential, counting on so many key players returning to pre-injury form is a tricky proposition on top of some position holes.

Despite injuries limiting Vince Biegel to five games over the last two seasons, the 28-year-old linebacker does bring some inside-outside versatility and special-teams experience. You’d like to see Malik Harrison fill that kind of role if he’s not going to develop into a consistent starter in his third season.

Pro Football Focus recently ranked Lamar Jackson fifth among the five best quarterbacks under age 30, a list including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow. It’s tough to deny statistical drop-off these last two years, but I can’t wait to see the Baltimore superstar play in 2022.

Regrading the 2019 NFL Draft: Bill Belichick goes from perfect to failure, 49ers improve from ‘C’ to ‘A’ - Pete Prisco

Baltimore Ravens

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They had eight picks and not one is scheduled to be a starter this season. First-round pick Marquise Brown was traded to the Cardinals this year. Second-round pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson is a backup for now, although he can push for the starting job. Only two of their remaining six picks are on the roster, both as backups.

How I did: I thought third-round receiver Myles Boykin would be a hit, but he was let go and is now in Pittsburgh. I didn’t like the pick of quarterback Trace McSorley in the sixth — and he is gone. I thought Brown was a good pick, but he was traded to the Cardinals during the draft, which weakened a weak spot for the Ravens. They took center Tyler Linderbaum with the pick they got for Brown, so his career bears watching.

New Grade: D