Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) Ben Linsey recently updated his NFL roster rankings for the 2022 season, following every team’s roster cuts and initial 53-man rosters. Linsey outlines the biggest strength, weakness and X-factor for each roster.
In Linsey’s rankings, the Ravens check in at No. 9, one spot ahead of the San Francisco 49ers and one spot behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Linsey, like many others, sees Baltimore’s defensive backfield as the biggest strength of the roster.
“The Ravens’ secondary was hit hard by injuries last season, but all signs point toward it entering the 2022 season with a deep and flexible group after adding Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Kyle Fuller, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams this offseason.” Linsey wrote. “A safety trio of Williams, Hamilton and Chuck Clark should be utilized in a variety of unique ways by new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.”
Linsey also notes that Williams has a PFF grade of 91.7 since 2017, which is one of the highest marks for any safety. The Ravens carried 10 defensive backs on their 53-man roster after releasing veteran safety Tony Jefferson. With Marcus Peters’ return imminent, Marlon Humphrey back at full strength and a solid blend of veterans and rookies, the ceiling for the Ravens’ secondary is high.
Not to be unexpected, the team’s much-maligned wide receiver group the biggest perceived weakness.
“The Marquise Brown trade thins what was already one of the league’s worst wide receiver groups,” Linsey said. “The Ravens could . . . use a proven veteran who can win one-on-ones on the outside. Rashod Bateman projects as the team’s top option after averaging 1.3 yards per route run (83rd among 128 qualifying wide receivers) as a rookie last season.”
The Bateman stat is a little misleading given the little amount of time he played with Lamar Jackson in the lineup. He’ll be in much more of a featured role in 2022 and projects as a legitimate breakout candidate. However, Linsey is far from alone in thinking the roster is devoid of another established veteran.
Bateman is one of four Ravens’ wideouts in their second or third season, alongside Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace. Not until Demarcus Robinson was signed last week did the team have any veteran receiver on the depth chart.
Robinson had 135 receiving yards and a touchdown in his preseason debut last weekend, but hasn’t been a true high-end, X-receiver throughout his career — which the Ravens’ roster lacks. Even if some of the young wideouts step up in larger roles, the passing game may be in trouble if Bateman has to miss any time.
As for the Ravens’ X-factor in 2022, Linsey listed rising third-year linebacker Patrick Queen.
“[Queen] hasn’t graded well in his first two seasons out of LSU, but he has shown the ability to change games with his range when things are clicking. Those moments came more consistently in 2021, as he earned an 80-plus PFF grade in four separate games,” Linsey wrote. “Queen taking another step forward and performing at a high level more consistently in 2022 would provide a real boost to Baltimore’s defense.”
There hasn’t been a ton of buzz surrounding the former first-round pick this offseason, at least compared to the previous two summers. Perhaps less of a spotlight could mean good things for Queen, who settled into a nice role alongside veteran Josh Bynes during the second half of the 2021 season.
There’s a perception that the Ravens may run more dime defensive packages this season, substituting an extra defensive back on the field in place of an inside linebacker. Whether or not that proves to be true, Queen is going to be on the field a ton this season.
If he can become more consistent and eliminate some of the flaws that have plagued his game through two career seasons, Queen could elevate the Ravens from a good defense to an elite one.
The Ravens’ roster ranks behind four other AFC teams on Linsey’s list: Buffalo Bills (No. 1), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 3), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 7), and Chiefs (No. 8). Fellow division rivals in the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers land No. 13 and No. 22, respectively.
You can check out the entire list here.