As Lamar Jackson seeks trade, a look at why the Ravens have only one playoff win in star QB’s first 5 seasons - Douglas Clawson
Ravens didn’t invest in wide receiver
Baltimore has built a successful offensive scheme around Lamar to play to his strengths as a rusher, resulting in one of the most dynamic rushing attacks of all-time. However, you could argue they haven’t done enough to help him in the passing game. Remember, this is a quarterback who led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes in 2019. He has the highest touchdown pass rate in the NFL (6.4%) since 2019. He has a higher passer rating inside the pocket than Tom Brady in that span.
Yet, the Ravens have invested the fewest cap dollars on offense and second-fewest on wide receivers since 2019. The results? The fewest receiving yards by wide receivers in three of the last four seasons. It wasn’t for a complete lack of trying. Baltimore has one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Mark Andrews, and drafted two wide receivers in the first round since 2019, Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. It’s hard to blame them for Bateman missing 16 games in the last two seasons, but trading Brown to the Cardinals on draft night last year was not a good look, especially after we saw the impact of veteran wide receiver acquisitions on other teams.
The lack of wide receiver investment is apparent with the Ravens’ lack of continuity. Since 2018, their most common combination of five skill players was J.K. Dobbins, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead and Mark Andrews. They played a whopping 97 snaps together. That ranks 120th among skill player combos in that span.
What do the Baltimore Ravens do at QB without Lamar Jackson? Four options for 2023, including trading for 49ers’ Trey Lance - Gordon McGuinness
SCENARIO 1: A TEAM IN THE TOP EIGHT OF THE 2023 NFL DRAFT SIGNS JACKSON TO AN OFFER SHEET
If the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders or Atlanta Falcons signed Jackson to an offer sheet the Ravens didn’t match, Baltimore would be in a position to land one of the top quarterbacks in the draft at that new pick, or at least be within striking distance for a trade up.
In that case, the Ravens could then potentially land Florida’s Anthony Richardson, who produced 19 big-time throws and forced 39 missed tackles as a runner in 2022.
SCENARIO 4: WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR
The Ravens simply might not get an opportunity to draft a replacement this year, at which point their eyes will turn to the 2024 NFL Draft. Should they receive two first-round picks for Jackson after the draft, they would now have the capital to be aggressive and trade up for a quarterback next year if needed.
Headlined by USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye, both of whom ranked inside the top five in terms of big-time throws in college football last season, the smarter long-term play by the Ravens might be to wait.
John Harbaugh Outlines Left Guard Competition - Clifton Brown
“Pat Mekari is going to be in the mix, for sure,” Harbaugh said. “Pat can start at anytime and anywhere, basically, so he’s going to want to do that.
“Ben Cleveland, obviously, is a young guy that we’re bringing along. We’ve brought some guys in. We got a veteran guy at the end of the year that we brought in from [Las Vegas] – John Simpson – who I think is going to surprise some people. He’s had a nice offseason so far.”
An intriguing possibility Harbaugh mentioned is second-year lineman Daniel Faalele, who played 170 snaps at tackle as a rookie. The 6-foot-8, 380-pound Faalele would certainly add even more size to Baltimore’s offensive line. Faalele made significant strides during his rookie season after improving his stamina and technique, and the fourth-round pick has impressive athleticism.
“We could move Daniel Faalele in there, too, and take a look at him,” Harbaugh said. “I think those are all possibilities and may the best player who plays the best win the job.”
After outburst, WR Rashod Bateman is ‘ready to roll’ - Jonas Shaffer
At the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Harbaugh said Bateman is healthy and expects to start running in three weeks. The 2021 first-round pick missed five games as a rookie with a groin injury and 11 games last season with his foot injury, which required surgery.
“He’s going to be ready to roll, stronger than ever, healthier than ever,” Harbaugh said. “Rashod’s going to have a great season. I’m a big believer in Rashod Bateman. He’s going to come back ready to roll.”
Bateman has a new teammate at the position. Nelson Agholor on Friday agreed to a one-year deal with the Ravens and is “going to be great for a young receiver room,” Harbaugh said. He described Agholor, who had 31 catches for 362 yards and two touchdowns last season with the New England Patriots, as “a big, rangy receiver. Tough player. Pro.”
“And we’re not done yet,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not done at all.”
“There’s a lot of guys that fit the way we want to play,” he said. Harbaugh said he plans to meet with the Ravens’ offensive staff and ask them about potential fits. “With what we’re trying to build offensively, which of these guys do you like the best in terms of targets you want to go after?”
No one has a more intriguing set of athletic traits at the wide receiver position in this draft class. His explosiveness (40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) with nearly a 6-foot-10 wingspan is rare, especially in a draft class full of smaller slot types at the position.
However, he’s also dropped 10.2% of his career catchable passes and is a work in progress as a route-runner, making his translatability all the more in question.
2023 NFL Draft: Strongest position group? Weakest? - Lance Zierlein
4) Wide receiver
This year’s group of wide receivers reminds me of the 2016 class, which saw Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell come off the board first, in that order. There wasn’t a true WR1 in that group, and I get the same feeling from the top of the current class. Second-rounders Michael Thomas and Tyler Boyd became two of the best receivers drafted in 2016 (with fifth-rounder Tyreek Hill leading the group), and I believe we could see a similar pattern develop from the 2023 crop. I expect Jalin Hyatt to become a dangerous complementary weapon, while guys like Zay Flowers and Josh Downs should become productive slot targets. But I’m not seeing the top-end talent that recent drafts have offered at wide receiver.