clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens News 4/5: Small Playmakers and more

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Las Vegas Raiders v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

With or without QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens’ offense can succeed under OC Todd Monken - Mike Preston

“There was nothing going on there from a scheme standpoint, a passing scheme,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Now you got Todd Monken, now you’re going to have some semblance, hopefully, a big-time semblance to a sophisticated passing offense.”

So regardless of whether Jackson returns or the Ravens resort to backup Tyler Huntley or a veteran free agent or a rookie, Monken has experience working with all types. The Bulldogs ran everything from run-pass options to straight dropbacks to a power running game.

The Ravens aren’t going to do anything bold at this point, not with Jackson in hibernation. But they still signed veteran Nelson Agholor, and though he isn’t a true No. 1 receiver, he has enough speed to make plays on the outside or in the slot.

The Ravens have salary cap issues, having signed middle linebacker Roquan Smith to a five-year, $100 million extension in January and committing to pay Jackson $32.4 million if he signs his nonexclusive tag for the 2023 season.

There are always ways to circumvent the cap, but that’s not the Ravens’ style, which is why I think the team has been posturing in dealing with Beckham.

How did each NFL team’s free agency moves stack up? Executives react to moves from all 32 teams - Mike Sando

Baltimore Ravens

“We all agree the player (Jackson) is not able to win in the playoffs (1-3 record), but where is your better answer?” an exec said. “You don’t have one. They should have committed to Lamar two years ago. Instead, they disenfranchised their franchise quarterback? They are the Green Bay of the AFC North, couldn’t have a relationship with the top guy (quarterback).”

The Ravens control Jackson’s rights via franchise tags through 2024.

“The issue with Lamar is, the way he plays, no one has ever really played that way for a long time, and you have to completely change your team to do it,” another exec said. “That is fine on a rookie deal, but you are not doing it at $50 million after two injury-plagued years.”

As for the idea of collusion by league owners against the next fully guaranteed deal?

“If Patrick Mahomes were in Lamar’s shoes, he would have 30 offer sheets, all guaranteed,” this exec said.

Beyond the quarterback stalemate, the Ravens continue to play the comp-pick game. They could get a 2024 fourth-round pick for guard Ben Powers.

“They will sign 2-3 guys after the free agency period ends,” another exec said. “That is how they operate.”

2023 NFL Free Agency: Odell Beckham Jr., Marcus Peters, Yannick Ngakoue among top available veterans - Brad Spielberger


Most impactful landing spot: Baltimore Ravens

The former second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts earned a 74.4 coverage grade when lined up out wide over the past two seasons, which ranks 24th, and he allowed an explosive reception on just 0.9% of coverage snaps, which was the top mark in the NFL. Furthermore, Ya-Sin’s 70.9 coverage grade in press coverage ranks 23rd over the span, with his 18.2% forced incompletion percentage lined up out wide placing 19th and his 0.67 yards per coverage snap fifth.

Now that the dust has settled on free agency, one major storyline shows how aggressively Baltimore was looking to add talent at outside cornerback. Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said on his “Big Play Slay” podcast that he was very, very close to signing with the Ravens. With the Eagles stepping up and extending Slay, Baltimore should look to take a flier on the younger Ya-Sin, even if they may use an early draft pick on a long-term replacement going forward.

Potential 2023 NFL Draft Scenario For Ravens: Wide Receiver - Joe Serpico

Who could be available in the first?

Quentin Johnston, TCU

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Zay Flowers, Boston College

Jordan Addison, USC

Johnston is a stretch to still be available at No. 22, and the Ravens should run to submit their pick if he somehow is. The other three are more likely at that slot. Baltimore needs to finally hit on a first-round receiver.

Who are their third- and fourth-round options?


Tyrique Stevenson, Miami

DJ Turner, Michigan

Darius Rush, South Carolina

Jakorian Bennett, Maryland

Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M

Top 15 wide receivers, including USC’s Jordan Addison at No. 1 - Sam Monson


4. Nathaniel Dell, Houston

5. Josh Downs, North Carolina

6. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

7. Zay Flowers, Boston College

Josh Downs is an elite contested-catch receiver despite his size. He caught over 53% of his contested targets for his entire college career despite standing just 5-foot-9.

Jalin Hyatt is bigger than the rest of this group but comes from an offense so extreme in terms of its divergence from NFL concepts that projecting him to the next level is a big challenge.

Zay Flowers is a receiver many respected draft analysts love, but I question his ability to be significantly more than a slot receiver with some gimmick chops at the next level. Over the last two seasons, he averaged 2.49 yards per route run when lined up outside, but there are plays on tape where he struggles to run through contact, and I have significantly less confidence in his potential at the next level than others.


8. Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss

9. Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

10. Rashee Rice, SMU

11. Michael Wilson, Stanford

12. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest

The biggest outlier relative to others is Jonathan Mingo from Ole Miss. Mingo surpassed 500 receiving yards and 30 catches just once in his four-year college career, but it’s difficult to see why when you watch his tape. He does a lot well and averaged 7.3 yards after the catch per reception last season.

2023 NFL Draft: ‘Trust The Tape’ prospects who shouldn’t be overlooked despite lacking elite athletic traits - Chris Trapasso

Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State

I’ve been going with a Stefon Diggs comparison for Reed since before the combine, and I’m sticking to it. Reed was not the recruit Diggs was by any stretch (two stars vs. five stars). But their collegiate careers are super-comparable, and on-field style of the two are spitting images of each other.

Reed wins with lightning-quick feet against press and during his route, efficient and springy YAC capabilities, and the contested-catch skill of a 6-foot-4 receiver. That’s exactly the quick scouting description on Diggs — a fifth-round pick, remember — when he entered the league out of Maryland.

Then there’s this — Diggs’ RAS was 5.66 in 2015. Reed’s is 6.73. Reed was unguardable at the Senior Bowl, demonstrating veteran-esque savvy selling his routes. Diggs hit the ground running in the NFL because of his route-running intricacies too. It doesn’t bother me that Reed isn’t a 4.40 wideout with a 41-inch vertical.