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Ravens News 5/18: Best Bets and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Ravens DC Mike Macdonald says OLB David Ojabo (Achilles) is gaining confidence entering Year 2

Kevin Patra,

“The first thing is he has a full year of the program to physically get himself to a spot…” Macdonald said Wednesday. “He looks great. I feel like he’s put on some good weight, looks stronger, looks fast right now. I think, more than anything, mentally, I think he’s in a great spot as well. I think you’re gonna see a lot of confidence from him throughout the process. That’s great to see him in good spirits.”

The Michigan product generated 11 sacks in his final collegiate season. The Ravens are banking on the 23-year-old getting that burst back and adding to Baltimore’s pass rush in 2023 alongside Odafe Oweh.

“It’s a blessing and I just can’t wait,” Ojabo said Wednesday. “I’ve never been injured before and I never had to just sit down and it tested my patience, but it was definitely for the better.”

How Ravens could utilize rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson in one of NFL’s best defenses

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

As for where else the Ravens plan to use Simpson, whom the Ravens got to see on their practice field for the first time in rookie minicamp, it’s too early to know for certain. But the defense under second-year coordinator Mike Macdonald is known for giving myriad hybrid and disguised looks.

Doing so has been highly effective. In the second half of last season, the Ravens had the NFL’s second-best defense behind only the San Francisco 49ers in expected points added, ranked third in efficiency in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and fifth in yards per play. Over the final six games of the regular season, Ravens opponents averaged just 192.5 passing yards per game, with a 4-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 3.8 yards per carry.

And while they’re without defensive end Calais Campbell and his 5 1/2 sacks from last season after he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, it’s still possible they could bring back edge rusher Justin Houston, whose 9 1/2 sacks in 2022 led the team, or another veteran pass rusher.

While Simpson’s tackling technique isn’t flawless — his read-and-react time is a tick slower than where it needs to be and he sometimes gets lost in the wash in the middle — those are things the Ravens feel he can improve. His movement skills, meanwhile, are much more similar to that of a defensive back than a linebacker, which could make him an impactful defender right away.

Ranking 2023 NFL rookie wide receivers by situation: Vikings’ Jordan Addison paces the class

Gordon McGuinness, PFF


Flowers should immediately be the Ravens’ third receiver, and with Todd Monken now as offensive coordinator, there is a reasonable chance we see a more dynamic passing game in Baltimore in 2023. Given 2021 first-round draft pick Rashod Bateman’s struggles to stay on the field in his career so far, and Odell Beckham Jr. coming back after missing all of the 2022 season with an ACL injury, there is also a path for Flowers to be the top player at the position for parts of the 2023 season.

Flowers brings a suddenness to the Ravens’ offense that they have lacked since trading away Marquise Brown, forcing 41 missed tackles on 199 receptions in four seasons at Boston College. He can also fill the deep threat role, with his 500 yards on targets 20-plus yards downfield ranking 11th in all of college football last year.

Regrading 2020 NFL Draft: Bengals class goes from great to franchise-altering, Raiders go from B to the only F

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Baltimore Ravens

2020 Grade: A

The Skinny: The Ravens had 10 picks and only two are not on the roster right now, while none of the misses were with their first five picks. The first miss was third-round offensive lineman Tyre Phillips, who is now with the Giants. The other miss was fourth-round guard Ben Bredeson, who has started for the Giants. First-round pick Patrick Queen is a Ravens starter, but they did not pick up his fifth-year option and seemed to draft his replacement this year. Second-round runner J.K. Dobbins has been good, but injuries have limited him so far in his career. Third-round receiver Devin Duvernay has just been OK. Third-round defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is a starter, and third-round edge Malik Harrison has 19 starts in three seasons. The best value in this draft is defensive lineman Broderick Washington, who started nine games last season as a fifth-round pick. Seventh-round safety Geno Stone has been a nice player, who has also started.

How I did: I liked the pick of Duvernay in the third, saying his speed would help. It hasn’t helped as much as I expected. I didn’t like the pick of Dobbins, in large part because I didn’t see it as a major need. I did like the pick of Queen, who has been solid, but not special. I also said to keep an eye on sixth-round receiver James Proche, but he hasn’t been much more than a backup.

New Grade: B

NFL 2023 over/under win totals: Best bets and picks for all 32 teams

Vic Tafur, The Athletic

Best bets

Baltimore Ravens

Over 9.5 (-120)

Jackson got $52 million per year — with no annoying percentage going to an agent — and he also received gifts. The Ravens added Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and an underrated Nelson Agholor to an offense that already had Mark Andrews and J.K. Dobbins. Jackson said he plans to throw for 6,000 yards, and while that won’t happen, a strong offensive line and the added targets will keep his running lanes open.

The Ravens are 45-16 in the regular season with Jackson, and their defense is always tough. Taking 18-to-1 odds on them to win the whole thing is the best Super Bowl value bet on the board.