Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
8. Outside linebacker
Maybe no one in Baltimore raised their offseason stock more than David Ojabo. An Achilles tendon injury limited the second-round pick to two games as a rookie, but Ojabo, finally healthy, looked once again like a blue-chip prospect in offseason workouts. With his get-off and bend, he could be the first Raven since Terrell Suggs in 2017 to record a double-digit-sack season.
There’s reason for optimism elsewhere. A minor knee flare-up limited Tyus Bowser’s practice time in minicamp, but he’s the Ravens’ most well-rounded outside linebacker and another year removed from his own Achilles tear. Odafe Oweh has first-round pedigree, a more muscular frame and a new position coach, the well-regarded Chuck Smith. Even fourth-round pick Tavius Robinson showed good burst in organized team activities. Still, the group could use a reunion with free agent Justin Houston, who led the Ravens in sacks last season.
2. Tight end/fullback
It could be a while before the Ravens have a suboptimal tight end group. Mark Andrews is one of the NFL’s best at the position, and the move from one tight-end-friendly coordinator, Greg Roman, to another, Monken, can’t hurt. Isaiah Likely showed flashes of greatness last season and has developed into a surprisingly capable run blocker. Charlie Kolar has the size and hands to be a red-zone weapon. All that’s missing from the group is a sturdy in-line option.
At fullback, Patrick Ricard is coming off his fourth straight Pro Bowl appearance and his busiest season yet. While offseason hip surgery has delayed Ricard’s integration into the new offense, Ben Mason’s earned valuable repetitions in his absence.
Bo Smolka, PressBox
This past season, Ricard was on the field for 64 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That not only was the highest percentage of his career, but also was easily the highest percentage in the league among fullbacks. (Former Raven Kyle Juszczyk ranked second at 50 percent.) Ricard lined up as an inline blocker more than as a back, and even set up in the slot occasionally.
Ricard, who turned 29 in May, signed a three-year, $11.25 million extension in 2022, so he’s under contract through next season (though the team gains $4 million in cap savings if they move on from him after this season).
At his introductory news conference, Monken said the game has evolved throughout time, and the emphasis now is on speed and space and using the entire width of the field, rather than the pound-and-ground, traditional downhill run game. That suggests Ricard’s usage might drop sharply from last season.
Yet Ricard can take solace from something that emerged during the OTA periods open to the media: Ben Mason, the former Michigan fullback who spent all of last season on the Ravens’ practice squad and took all the fullback reps this spring with Ricard sidelined, was very active in full-team workouts. He made catches in several areas of the field during the noncontact workouts and appeared to be a significant part of the offense.
That suggests that, even as this Ravens offense evolves and shifts from what it was, Monken still sees a role for his Pro Bowl fullback.
Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com
Entering a contract year as key member of the Ravens’ defensive line, Madubuike is determined to make Year 4 his best. The 25-year-old tackle is coming off of career highs in tackles (42), sacks (5.5), quarterback hits (9) and tackles for loss (8) in 2022, and Head Coach John Harbaugh expects Madubuike to “take off” in 2023.
Building off his 5.5 sacks last season, Madubuike enjoyed working with new Outside Linebackers coach Chuck Smith during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Madubuike’s run-stopping ability forged his path to the NFL, but he wants to expand his pass-rushing repertoire and enjoyed working with Smith as a private instructor before he joined Baltimore’s staff.
“We had a relationship prior to him coming here, so when he came here to the team, I was like, ‘Oh, this is great. We’re going to learn so much from you,’” Madubuike said. “So, I’m excited.He played in the league. He’s been in our shoes, and he knows what it takes to get to the quarterback. He knows what it takes for the whole D-line to be on the same accord, so we can have a great rush plan. I feel like he’s a great addition to our team.”
Brad Spielberger, PFF
Ingram has been a pillar of consistency in the NFL, recording nine straight seasons with a 70.0-plus pass-rush grade. A year after Ingram was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and immediately became their best edge defender for the stretch run, he signed a steal of a one-year deal with the Dolphins and once again played at a very high level, far outpacing his compensation.
The Ravens have 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo returning to the lineup after rehabbing a torn Achilles during his rookie season, and they are hoping for 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh to take another step, but adding a designated pass-rushing veteran like Ingram would make a lot of sense to help fill the void left behind by Justin Houston.
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
Agholor, a first-rounder in 2015, is on his fourth team in five years, but he has made a strong impression in his first offseason with the Ravens. “Nelly” — as Lamar Jackson calls him — has repeatedly stood out, whether it’s a long touchdown grab or a nifty grab on a back-shoulder throw. Agholor is the clear-cut No. 4 wide receiver in Baltimore, but he’s making a case for having a bigger role in the passing game.
“He has been on point,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a talented guy. [He’s a] former first-round pick; he looks it — rangy, big catch radius.”