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Ravens News 6/20: Non-Premium Fleecing and more

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s How the Ravens Are Fleecing the NFL Again - Conor Orr

While some of you might have missed it, the Ravens seem to be fleecing the NFL again. For almost a decade, their game of choice was mid-round picks and the compensatory draft formula. No team has dominated the middle rounds like the Ravens under former GM Ozzie Newsome and now Eric DeCosta.

But as other teams caught on to their strategy, it looks as though the Ravens began searching for another roster building advantage: constructing a team around the best players at non-premium positions.

As we head into the 2022 season, the Ravens are getting roasted for opting not to draft a wide receiver in this year’s NFL draft and trading away their best one, Hollywood Brown, to the Cardinals.

What did they acquire? Among others, a safety (Kyle Hamilton), a center (Tyler Linderbaum), two tight ends (Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely) and a fourth-round punter, Jordan Stout, who some believe was one of the best special teams prospects to hit the draft in a decade. All traditionally undervalued positions.

The Ravens have not cared how things are supposed to look for years now. Greg Roman, their offensive coordinator, has orchestrated a top-five offense in terms of rushing net yards per attempt every year since 2015.

Since 2018, they are the third-most efficient total offense in football, behind only the Chiefs and the Packers. They are seventh in defensive efficiency over that same time period.

What I Learned at Ravens Minicamp - Ryan Mink

Jackson’s added 12-15 pounds of muscle this offseason is one reason why he’s throwing the ball with more zip. Can’t help but think it could also make him a tougher runner to bring down, not to mention leave him a little less sore after taking hits.

Did the wide receivers do enough between OTAs and minicamp to stave off a veteran signing? In my opinion, yes. That doesn’t mean Eric DeCosta won’t pull the trigger on one anyway, but seeing the receivers come alive once Jackson returned to the field inspired confidence.

Calling it now. Damarion “Pepe” Williams was a good pick. His big personality has already made him a pied piper around the facility and he plays bigger than his 5-foot-10 size. Said Chris Hewitt, “I guarantee you the kid has got the biggest heart and he’s a good football player.”

Coming out of minicamp, the best competitions in training camp will be on the offensive line (guard), running back, and cornerback. Patrick Mekari gives the Ravens a lot of flexibility in terms of depth along the offensive line. Can Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers all make the team?

Rashod Bateman is now the Ravens’ top wide receiver. It’s a role he’s always wanted. - Matt Cohen

The second-year receiver had worked out with Brown over the summer and didn’t know he wanted to leave. He’d only find out later. For Jackson, Brown’s departure meant the loss of a trusted target. For Bateman, it meant opportunity.

Now he’s the Ravens’ undisputed top receiver.

“That’s the role that I’ve always wanted to be in,” Bateman said. “I’m excited to take that role.”

“He’s getting open at the line super, super quick,” tight end Mark Andrews said of Bateman. “And then he’s got a burst of speed people don’t really talk about. Second year, he’s a guy that’s just gonna get better and better and better. The sky’s the limit for them.”

“I told them I wanted to get some chemistry. They’re like, ‘Man, we’re gonna get that regardless,’” Jackson said of talking to his receivers when he missed voluntary organized team activities. “When the offseason first came, my ankle got better, we just had chemistry all back. It was like I never stopped playing. I just felt like when I got to camp, it was going to be the same way, and it has.”

Ravens’ John Harbaugh says Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins could return from injury for training camp - Cody Benjamin

Stanley and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards all suffered season-ending injuries in 2021, but Harbaugh told reporters this week he thinks all three could practice this summer. Stanley went down with an ankle injury after just one game and subsequently underwent surgery, a year after missing 10 games with another season-ending ankle injury. Dobbins and Edwards, meanwhile, both suffered ACL tears ahead of Week 1, spending the entire year on injured reserve.

“Ronnie’s ankle is looking great,” Harbaugh said after the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp, per the team’s website. “Ronnie’s mission right now will be to get in the best shape of his life and get ready to play football, and that’s what he’s working on. ... He’s really motivated to (return for Week 1). Just talked to him again today. He’s chomping at the bit to get back. If he plays like Ronnie Stanley, and even better, then the significance (of his return) is almost immeasurable. And that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Ravens Have Solid Depth at Offensive Tackle - Todd Karpovich

“We’ve got two veteran guys; we have a young guy in Daniel [Faalele], who has looked good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a young kid, he’s a big man. I saw some of the stuff about you guys talking about [him] getting in shape, and yes, he’s working his way into kind of NFL-type-conditioning as a tackle. But that’s … Man, he’s almost … What is he? … I don’t know. I do know, but he’s up there, and it’s good weight.

“So, he’s going to learn how to play at this level, at this speed – I’m certain of it. And then Jaryd Jones-Smith is doing a really nice job. So, we’ve got five good tackles, I feel like, there, and with Ronnie in there.”