In signing veteran right tackle Morgan Moses and using a first-round pick on center Tyler Linderbaum, the Ravens prioritized rebuilding an offensive line that struggled throughout 2021. Even with the expectation that running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards will return from injury and make strong contributions this year, the Ravens signed veteran Mike Davis and drafted Tyler Badie. And they gave standout tight end Mark Andrews some help with the selections of Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely.
Although team officials may not admit it, the roster fortifications point to the Ravens trying to recapture their offensive recipe from 2019, when Jackson was at his best and most dangerous while armed with a dynamic running game and a versatile tight end group — and was protected by a strong offensive line.
The lack of moves at receiver appeared to be a nod toward 2019, when three of the Ravens’ top five pass catchers were tight ends as Jackson worked the middle of the field and spread the ball around. Brown was the Ravens’ most productive receiver, finishing with 46 catches for 584 yards.
He’s not around any longer, and it would be hard to make a case that the Ravens receiving group is better for it. However, the Ravens appear to have gotten better up front, in the backfield and at tight end. Those elements have brought out the best in Jackson before.
Just like the Titans, Chiefs, Packers, Falcons and Browns before them, they lost plenty of receiving production. The difference is that Baltimore did not make any marquee or even really any marginal moves in the offseason to replace what was lost.
Rather, the plan seems to run it back with the belief that a healthy Lamar Jackson will elevate the offense. That’s not an entirely foolhardy approach.
Still, 45.1% of the Ravens’ targets from a season ago are available, the fifth-highest mark in the league, according to 4for4.com. That figure is unsurprising after Baltimore dealt 2019 first-round pick Marquise Brown on draft night to the Cardinals.
Brown set career highs in targets, catches and receiving yards a season ago. The front office also let veteran receiver Sammy Watkins walk in the offseason, and the hodgepodge running back room the team assembled for 2021 after being decimated by injury is gone. The Ravens’ 70 vacated running back targets are the most in the NFL.
Jackson, Andrews and the realization of the draft capital Baltimore has invested at the receiver position in recent years (though notably not in 2022) will dictate whether this passing offense can return to its 2019-2020 levels.
Andrews has led the team in receiving in two of the past three years and he now has even less competition to be Jackson’s top target.
My colleague Shawn Childs wrote of Andrews: “His catch rate (69.9) commands more chances. The trick is Baltimore throwing the ball enough to support follow-through in 2022.” The Ravens’ 56.4% pass rate ranked 22nd in the league in 2021.
10 Questions: How Will Ravens Utilize Their Secondary Depth? - Clifton Brown
No team can match the Ravens’ depth at safety with Williams and Hamilton joining Clark, Tony Jefferson and Geno Stone. The cornerback rotation behind Humphrey and Peters is also deep, a group that includes veteran Kyle Fuller, corner/safety Brandon Stephens and rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams.
Whether the Ravens play two safeties, three safeties, nickel coverage, dime coverage, or any hybrid look that Macdonald schemes up, the idea is to cover well and force more takeaways.
With Peters missing all of last season, the Ravens tied for 29th in the NFL with just 15 takeaways. That number should increase in 2022 if the secondary stays relatively healthy. Williams and Fuller have combined for 35 career interceptions, and no cornerback has more interceptions than Peters (31) since he entered the league in 2015.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is a rare safety who has the size and speed to match up with wide receivers, tight ends or running backs. He can line up in centerfield, in the slot, or in the box. Williams’ range at safety should make Baltimore less susceptible to giving up big plays, allowing others to play more aggressively underneath.
NFL All Under 25 Defensive Team for 2022: Cowboys, Buccaneers tied with most first-teamers - Tyler Sullivan
Patrick Queen has enjoyed a steady start to his career after Baltimore selected him in the first round of the 2019 draft. He was immediately able to total over 100 tackles in his rookie year, which helped him finish third in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2020. He followed that up with another solid season in 2021 where he played all 17 games and had a team-high 98 tackles and a career-high 10 tackles for a loss. Queen received a 65.9 pass rushing grade by PFF for 2021 and a 17.2 pass rushing win rate, which both ranked 13th among linebackers.
Ranking the top 10 draft classes of the PFF era - Michael Renner
3. 2018 BALTIMORE RAVENS
1 (25): TE Hayden Hurst
1(32): QB Lamar Jackson
3(83): OT Orlando Brown Jr.
3(86): TE Mark Andrews
4(118): CB Anthony Averett
4(122): LB Kenny Young
4(132): WR Jaleel Scott
5(162): WR Jordan Lasley
6(190): S DeShon Elliott
6(212): OT Greg Senat
6(215): OC Bradley Bozeman
7(238): DT Zach Sieler
We can just forget that the Hayden Hurst pick ever happened (although the Ravens somehow still fleeced a second-rounder out of the Falcons for him a couple of years later). After that, you have a former MVP, a tackle vying to be the highest-paid player at his position, the reigning first-team All-Pro tight end and five other players who have been starters at one point or another during their NFL careers (with two currently slated to start in Zach Sieler and Bradley Bozeman). That is a haul no matter how you slice it.