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Ravens News 6/21: Spring Standouts and more

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Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

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Stock up

Tony Jefferson, S: Jefferson’s career seemed close to over last year when he returned to Baltimore and injected some energy into a defense decimated by injuries. Jefferson re-signed early in the offseason and the Ravens added a number of other quality defensive backs. Jefferson is perceived as a “bubble guy” entering camp, but he was in good form at last week’s minicamp with two interceptions. On a defense with a bunch of newcomers and young players, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a spot for Jefferson, who brings leadership and personality.

Stock down

Ben Cleveland, G: It was expected that Cleveland would get a legitimate shot to win the starting left guard job this summer, and that’s still how it may play out. If last week’s minicamp was any indication, Cleveland has ground to make up. The Ravens moved around their offensive linemen throughout the offseason workouts, but Cleveland wasn’t getting the same opportunities at left guard as Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers were. This is a big training camp for the 2021 third-round pick, who needs to practice better and avoid issues that take him off the field.

Eight Ravens spring standouts to watch when pads come on during training camp - Luke Jones

TE Isaiah Likely

Taking nothing away from fellow fourth-round rookie tight end Charlie Kolar, who had his own moments this spring, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Likely made more standout plays, including a couple one-handed grabs during minicamp. That upside becomes even more interesting with his reputation of being more of a “tweener” and the lack of depth at wide receiver.

“Isaiah has a little knack. He can do a lot of things unscripted as a receiver, and I think that he’ll continue to develop in the other phases of the offense,” Roman said. “They’re definitely chess pieces and we’ll see how it all fits together. It could be pretty interesting.”

RB Tyler Badie

The sixth-round rookie looked exactly like someone who caught 126 passes and 11 touchdowns over four seasons at Missouri, even catching a slick touchdown from Jackson with starting inside linebacker Patrick Queen in coverage on the final day of minicamp.

“He’s quick and fast out of the backfield. He’s got really natural hands, catches the ball clean, so I think that potential exists, but you also like him as a runner,” director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said last month. “You don’t want to just pigeonhole him as a third-down back because you watch him run inside and you watch him bounce and cut things up into the teeth of the defense. He runs with good pad level and balance and determination.”

We’ll see if the latter part of that assessment holds up when the pads come on, but Badie drew unsolicited praise from Harbaugh last week for his receiving ability, which should help his chances if Baltimore wants to use its backs as receivers more frequently.

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Ravens: Wide receiver

The future is now for Baltimore’s young receivers. Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace need to elevate their play this season in the absence of Hollywood Brown. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are two wide receivers from the 2020 class who will be asked to fill larger roles out of necessity. The Ravens are a franchise that makes a lot of sense as a landing spot for a veteran wide receiver as the team looks to iron out a long-term deal with quarterback Lamar Jackson.

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14. Baltimore Ravens

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

How he has fared so far: Hamilton has impressed the Ravens with his instincts, picking off a handful of passes this spring. He has been rotating with Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark with the first-team defense, but it’s only a matter of time before the playmaking Hamilton is working with the starters all the time.

“Kyle is as advertised,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said. “He’s doing the things that we’re expecting him to do. So, he’s right on schedule, but we don’t tell him that — try to provide some sense of urgency for him. [I’m] really pleased with Kyle.”

25. Baltimore Ravens (via BUF)

Tyler Linderbaum, C

How he has fared so far: The Ravens have thrown Linderbaum in with the first-team offense from the start, and he hasn’t flinched. The real test, of course, will come in training camp when the pads come on and it becomes more physical.

“I told Tyler that it’s my goal to have him lying in bed shaking every night, worried about the next thing, so hopefully, by training camp, he’s not, and then by the season, he’s feeling good,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “He’s doing a really good job; you can see it every day. Some guys — you can just see it every day — they just take another step forward, and he’s one of those guys thus far.”

Re-drafting the 2019 NFL Draft: Four WRs go in top 10, including A.J. Brown to Jets and Terry McLaurin to Giants - Trevor Sikkema


Actual pick: OT Andre Dillard (to Philadelphia Eagles)

Gardner-Johnson is a hybrid safety/slot defender who, at his best, can be one of the better slot defenders in the league. The Ravens didn’t need an outside cornerback in this draft, but they did need a slot cornerback. They took wide receiver Marquise Brown at No. 25 back in 2019 and could have done so again here at No. 22. But for fun, I’m giving them CGJ, who would talk a hilarious amount of smack as a member of that Ravens defense.