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Ravens News 7/21: Most Essential and more

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2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Five things we want to learn about the Ravens as they prepare to open training camp

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Did the Ravens invest enough in their secondary?

Many of us assumed the Ravens, after eschewing a reunion with Peters, would use their first-round pick on a position they have traditionally treated as the most important on their defense. They were in position to pick Maryland’s Deonte Banks or Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., big, aggressive cornerbacks who had been linked to them in many a mock draft. Instead, they took Flowers and waited until the fifth round to draft a cornerback, Kyu Blu Kelly of Stanford.

The week after the draft, they signed former Las Vegas Raiders starter Rock Ya-Sin to play across from Humphrey.

Ya-Sin is a palatable solution for 2023, but he’s not going to unsettle opponents the way Peters did in 2019 and 2020 with his genius for taking the ball away. Teams did not exactly stampede to sign him this spring. He lacks the developmental intrigue Banks or Porter would have brought to the mix.

Meanwhile, the Ravens will essentially hold an open competition for their nickel and backup cornerback spots, seeing what they have with the young defensive backs they’ve drafted or signed over the past three years: Kelly, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion “Pepe” Williams, Brandon Stephens, Trayvon Mullen and Ar’Darius Washington.

We have some inkling where each player might fit best. Armour-Davis has the tools to excel on the outside if he can string together a healthy season. Williams has flashed the most promise at nickel. Harbaugh said Stephens will focus more on playing safety.

But it’s fair to ask whether the Ravens would feel confident throwing any of these candidates out as a starter if injuries strike their top two cornerbacks. Will any of them step forward during training camp to earn that level of faith?

AFC North Whiparound: Offseason assessment, scrutinized players, dethroning Bengals

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

What non-quarterback on your team’s roster can they least afford to lose? This isn’t about the best player, necessarily — view it strictly through the lens of the most impactful drop between the starter and the backup plan.

The Ravens are thin at cornerback with a healthy Marlon Humphrey. Without him, they’d be in big trouble. Humphrey is their best cover guy. He’s also one of their better tacklers, blitzers and turnover creators. He’s a defensive leader, too. The Ravens’ No. 2 cornerback right now is Rock Ya-Sin. Their No. 3 cornerback is someone from a list that includes Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams, Daryl Worley, Trayvon Mullen, Ar’Darius Washington, Kyu Blu Kelly and Brandon Stephens. So yeah, subtract Humphrey from the depth chart and they’ve got problems.

The Biggest X-Factor for Each NFL Team in 2023

Manzano & Verderame, Sports Illustrated

Baltimore Ravens

WR Zay Flowers

The Ravens took another swing at drafting a wide receiver in this year’s first round. They’re counting on Flowers to end the team’s streak of whiffing on wideouts, hoping he can make an immediate impact under OC Todd Monken, who’s looking to push the ball downfield. At this stage in his career, Odell Beckham Jr. may no longer be a downfield threat, and, while Rashod Bateman has shown flashes of making plays in the vertical game, the 2021 first-round pick has struggled with staying on the field. Flowers has plenty of pressure to help this passing game improve this season.

One breakout player for each NFL team entering 2023: Big Jordan Love season would be huge for Packers

Jared Dubin, CBS sports

Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman

Bateman has managed to play in just 18 of 34 possible games during his two NFL seasons due to injury issues, and he’s totaled 61 receptions for 800 yards and three scores during that time. These are famous last words, but if he can just manage to stay healthy, he has a chance to explode as Lamar Jackson’s No. 1 receiver in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s offense.

Ranking the Baltimore Ravens’ best draft classes in the PFF era

Gordon McGuinness, PFF

1. 2018

Notable selections

TE Hayden Hurst, Round 1, Pick 25

QB Lamar Jackson, Round 1, Pick 32

OT Orlando Brown Jr., Round 3, Pick 83

TE Mark Andrews, Round 3, Pick 86

CB Anthony Averett, Round 4, Pick 118

S DeShon Elliott, Round 6, Pick 190

G Bradley Bozeman, Round 6, Pick 215

DI Zach Sieler, Round 7, Pick 238

This was former general manager Ozzie Newsome’s final draft at the top of the Ravens organization, and it was a special one. Trading back into the first round landed the team Jackson, who had that incredible unanimous MVP season in 2019 and has ranked inside the top five in PFF grades among quarterbacks in two of the past four seasons. Mark Andrews has produced a 91.2 PFF grade since entering the league, trailing only Travis Kelce and George Kittle among tight ends.

4. 2017

Notable selections

CB Marlon Humphrey, Round 1, Pick 16

EDGE Tyus Bowser, Round 2, Pick 47

DI Chris Wormley, Round 3, Pick 74

G Jermaine Eluemunor, Round 5, Pick 159

S Chuck Clark, Round 6, Pick 186

Humphrey has become one of the best cornerbacks, if not the best, in team history since arriving in Baltimore as the 16th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Alabama. In seven seasons in the league, he has just one year with a PFF coverage grade below 70.0 — and that was in an injury-hit 2021 season.

Bowser has become a key cog in the Ravens’ defense, generating 134 total pressures from 1,203 pass-rush snaps over the past six seasons, while Chuck Clark played 4,461 snaps and earned PFF grades of 66.0 or higher in each of the four seasons during which he played at least 300 snaps.