Ravens’ biggest storylines heading into OTAs: Will Lamar Jackson be in attendance?
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
How different will the offense look with Monken calling the shots?
There undoubtedly will be significant differences in a Monken offense than the one engineered by his predecessor, Greg Roman, over the past four years. Those differences just may not be all that evident at this stage of the offseason, or even later in the summer. Monken figures to keep things pretty close to the vest so the Ravens’ regular-season opponents don’t get much of a read on Baltimore’s new-look offense.
Still, there will certainly be some noticeable alterations. The Ravens have talked a lot about picking up the pace offensively, and that figures to be a point of emphasis in some of the practice stages. Sharpening the play-action game and getting the backs more involved in the passing attack will also likely be on the agenda. Ultimately, the expectation is that Monken will spread things out more and make the opposition defend the whole field. For now, though, things will probably remain pretty vanilla until the real games start.
The personality differences between Roman and Monken have already been on display during the team’s “Football School.” Roman was reserved and rarely raised his voice. Monken, meanwhile, has shown he has no problem getting on a player or raising his voice to make a point.
NFL’s top 10 most complete teams for 2023 season
Eric Edholm, NFL.com
The Ravens’ fortunes changed dramatically with Lamar Jackson’s new contract. If you lump in the signing of Odell Beckham Jr., along with a typically sound Ravens draft class, it was a darned good April for the franchise.
Jackson and a reimagined receiver room, along with a new offensive coordinator, could help return the Ravens to prominence on that side of the ball. If the three biggest new additions at wideout (OBJ, Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor) or the healthy return of Rashod Bateman don’t help things, then we’re fresh out of solutions there.
Depth has been a huge talking point in Baltimore for the past few years, as the team — notably Jackson — has suffered from injury woes. The Ravens certainly could use more insurance at running back considering how banged up J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill have been. The depth at the other offensive positions likely rates from solid to good after a few veteran signings and the draft.
Defensively, however, Baltimore still might have a few boxes to check. The biggest might be at corner, where there’s Marlon Humphrey and a lot of question marks. Who is the other outside starter? Who is the slot? Signing Rock Ya-Sin helps, and the Ravens could always bring back Marcus Peters or Kyle Fuller, but more is needed, I believe.
They could be set at defensive tackle with Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Michael Pierce and Travis Jones as the top four, but one more body would be nice. Off the edge, there’s still hope of either Odafe Oweh or David Ojabo (or both) emerging alongside Tyus Bowser, but perhaps they will be open to a Justin Houston type of addition before camp.
What Would Progress In Year Two Mean For Ravens’ 2022 Draft Picks?
Bo Smolka, PressBox
CB JALYN ARMOUR-DAVIS (FOURTH ROUND, NO. 119 OVERALL)
An uneven season for the Alabama product ended when Armour-Davis went on injured reserve in November. Because of injuries, Armour-Davis was thrust into a pivotal role in Week 2 and looked like an overmatched rookie as Miami shredded the Ravens for 28 fourth-quarter points. Armour-Davis didn’t see much of the field the rest of the season before going on IR and finished with five tackles and one pass defensed.
Year Two progress for Armour-Davis would mean: He has a more comfortable grasp of Mike Macdonald’s defense and contributes on special teams and occasionally on defense, with 25 total tackles and a turnover. The Ravens as of press time had not re-signed Marcus Peters or Kyle Fuller, and given how the Ravens cycle through cornerbacks at an alarming rate every year, Armour-Davis will get his chance again.
CB DAMARION WILLIAMS (FOURTH ROUND, NO. 141 OVERALL)
Like the other rookie defensive backs, “Pepe” Williams struggled in early-season losses, but the Ravens praised his versatility as an outside and slot corner and potential safety. Williams finished with 22 tackles on defense and a couple of others on special teams.
Year Two progress for Williams would mean: He competes for time in the slot, his most natural position, with Hamilton likely to play more as a traditional safety. Williams finds himself on the field for more than 25 percent of the defensive snaps (which was his workload in 2022), records his first career interception, tallies 30-plus tackles and remains a factor on special teams.
David Ojabo could be the missing piece the Ravens have lacked for years
Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Ojabo has all the tools. He is long and rangy like Boulware, though not as thick as Suggs. The one thing that separated Suggs is that he could change direction and do it with power in either his arms or his legs.
Ojabo, though, has an assortment of moves. Unlike fellow outside linebacker and friend Odafe Oweh, who is a one-dimensional speed rusher, Ojabo has the quickness to turn the corner as well as the strength to win in hand-to-hand combat against most offensive linemen.
“I think he can rush inside and out,” Macdonald said. “The skill set, and it just gets on you a little quicker inside, so that’s something you have to get used to a little bit. We’ll probably start him outside and see where it goes from there — similar to what we did with Odafe last year.”
Ranking the NFL divisions by strength heading into 2023
Gordon McGuinness, PFF
1. AFC NORTH
The Cincinnati Bengals have been to the AFC championship game in each of the past two seasons, falling at the final hurdle against the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl to end the 2021 season. Quarterback Joe Burrow finished with the NFL’s highest PFF passing grade in the regular season and playoffs last year (91.0). Lamar Jackson missed the final six games of the season for the Baltimore Ravens but ended the year with an 85.2 PFF grade, which ranked fifth at the position. With a revamped group of wide receivers featuring Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round draft pick Zay Flowers, they will expect to contend with the Bengals for the division crown.
Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns earned the highest PFF pass-rushing grade in the NFL last season (93.5), but they will need quarterback Deshaun Watson to produce better than his 51.6 PFF passing grade, which ranked 34th of the 36 quarterbacks to record at least 200 dropbacks in 2022. Over the final eight weeks of the season, only three quarterbacks had a higher PFF passing grade than the 82.9 mark produced by Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers, something that will spark hope for a quick turnaround.