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Ravens News 5/16: Most Improved and more

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2023 NFL Draft - Portraits Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

NFL Power Rankings 2023: 32-team poll after the NFL draft

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

8. Baltimore Ravens

Post-FA ranking: 14

Most improved: Wide receiver

This isn’t just the most improved position on the Ravens. This is the most improved position in the league. Last year, the Ravens’ wide receivers totaled 1,1517 yards, the fewest in the NFL. So, Baltimore signed Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor in free agency and drafted Zay Flowers in the first round.

The Ravens also get back Rashod Bateman, who missed the last nine games of 2022 with a foot injury. When last season ended, Baltimore’s top four wide receivers were Demarcus Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II. This year, Lamar Jackson is throwing to four former first-round wide receivers.

Ravens agree to deal with center Sam Mustipher, an Owings Mills native and former Bears offensive lineman

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

Undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2019, Mustipher surprisingly became the Bears’ center late in the 2020 season, starting the last six games of the year. The following season, he started all 17 but struggled, with a Pro Football Focus grade of just 51 for 2021.

Though he improved last season, earning a 63.4 mark from PFF, Mustipher was at best inconsistent, particularly with his pass blocking. Six times he earned a grade of less than 54 and Fields was sacked 55 times in 15 games, though Mustipher only gave up two of them, according to PFF.

Mustipher was better with his run blocking, however, earning a PFF grade of 65.5 for a Bears offensive line that had the seventh-best run blocking grade in the league in 2022.

‘That could be a huge hit’: Scouts break down five Ravens draft picks (and a top undrafted rookie)

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly (fifth round, No. 157)

Nagy: “I did not see him lasting until [Round] 5. Just didn’t see that happening. But he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got good movement skills for a longer guy. He showed up good in the one-on-one stuff. And he didn’t time great [4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash]. I think that’s probably what hurt him. Those perimeter players, receivers and corner, I say it all the time: Those guys probably are most affected by what happens at the combine [in the 40-yard dash]. ...

“I didn’t see a speed deficiency. I didn’t see a speed deficiency down here. Some guys just run better in pads and on the clock. So I think the Ravens are going to benefit from that. You can get quote-unquote steals in the draft when guys play faster than they time, and some teams shy away from that timed speed. He had a really good week down here, and I was surprised he was still there in the fifth.”

No more excuses for Ravens’ pass game following offensive makeover

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

DeCosta has acknowledged that the team has not done a good enough job surrounding Jackson with weapons. The front office’s additions this offseason make that acknowledgment look like more than just lip service. The Ravens have surely depended on Jackson too much.

In some circles, there was also a clear perception that Roman was holding Jackson back, that the quarterback had outgrown the play caller’s run-oriented attack. Roman did some good things in his four-year run as the team’s offensive coordinator, but the offense had clearly gone stale. A new offensive voice — and approach — felt long overdue when the Ravens and Roman parted ways and Monken was hired after a thorough search.

Plenty of the criticism was deserved, but he also wasn’t the guy over- or under-throwing open receivers, failing to get separation on cornerbacks and making contested catches, or putting the roster of offensive skill position players together.

Those are the people who will now be in the spotlight if the latest offensive makeover doesn’t work out. But it should. Jackson is healthy again and no longer playing under the dark cloud of an uncertain future in Baltimore. The receiver group has improved significantly. A more balanced offense that can challenge every area of the field is being put in place.

All the excuses are gone.

One thing we learned about every team in 2023 NFL offseason: Jets, Lions are all in as Cardinals, Rams reset

Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

Baltimore Ravens

They believe in Lamar Jackson (enough). After months of failed contract negotiations and a public disconnect that included the star QB airing a trade request, the Ravens turned around and extended the former MVP on a $260 million deal that reset the market. But they can get out of the deal fairly easily after just two seasons, and there’s a reason they permitted Jackson to speak with other teams in free agency; few are more talented, but questions remain about his durability and late-year passing.