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3 Ravens named to NFLPA All-Pro team voted on by players

A trio of Ravens were recently recognized by their peers around the league.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

Respect from ones contemporaries is often the highest honor anyone can receive in a competitive field. That’s especially true for athletes competing at the highest level.

On Wednesday, the NFL Player’s Association revealed their second-annual All-Pro team selections voted on by players. They were not allowed to vote for themselves or their teammates.

Three Baltimore Ravens’ players made the list and, to no surprise, it was their most indispensable. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith was named for the second year in a row while safety Kyle Hamilton and franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson appeared on it for the first time. This comes one week after they were each among seven players on the team named to the 2023 Pro Bowl.

Jackson took his game to another level in 2023, although his stats fall short of telling the full story his presumably second career MVP-winning season. The three-time Pro Bowler recorded career highs in passing attempts (457), completions (307), and yards (3,678) as well as completions percentage (67.2). He finished with 29 total touchdowns (24 passing and five rushing), a team-leading 821 rushing yards, and a league-leading 5.5 yards per attempt.

“It means a lot, the respect of my peers,” Jackson said. “Guys who we’re trying to beat, they’re trying to beat us. It’s an honor.”

Hamilton was one of the brightest breakout stars for the Ravens this year. He lived up to offseason hype by following up a strong rookie season with an even better one. The 2022 first-round pick firmly established himself as one of the league’s top defensive playmakers, regardless of position.

He became the first NFL defender in nearly a decade to record four interceptions and at least 10 tackles for loss in a single season. The last player to do so was three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu in 2015. Hamilton made plays all over the field at every level of the defense, finishing with career-highs in total tackles (81), sacks (three), and pass breakups (13).

“It was cool to see for sure,” Hamilton said. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed of since I could remember what being an All-Pro is and it’s a dream until it happens. It’s pretty cool to be voted on by my peers which, in my opinion, is the most important opinion. Just to be voted on by guys that I’ve looked up to [and] still look up to this day and be honored in a group of people who are the best around the league is a honor.”

Smith just wrapped up his first full season with the Ravens after being acquired via trade at last year’s midseason deadline. The two-time Pro Bowler finished with a team-leading 158 total tackles which was the sixth-most in the league, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and a forced fumble. While Hamilton is the most indispensable player on this year’s unit from a schematic standpoint, the sixth-year veteran is its heartbeat, tone-setter, and emotional leader.

While there’s no refuting the inclusion of any of the three Ravens players, there was an egregious snub and arguably two others. Fourth-year defensive tackle Justin Madubuike broke out this year and finished with a career-high 13 sacks, which led all interior defensive linemen in the league. Along the way, he tied an all-time record with at least a half-sack in 11 straight games — yet was not on the list.

Fourth-year safety Geno Stone also broke out in the final year of his rookie deal with an AFC-leading and career-high seven interceptions. That was the most among all safeties in the league, yet he was passed over in favor of Jessie Bates. While Dallas Cowboys right guard Zack Martin is a future Hall of Famer, Ravens’ 12th-year veteran Kevin Zeitler had the best season of his career. He was snubbed from the Pro Bowl as well along with Stone.

All-Pro honors weren’t the only accolades that Jackson and Hamilton received on Wednesday. They were announced as the Ravens’ Team MVP and Media Good Guy, respectively, by members of the local media who cover the team.

“It was a surprise to me, I really respect everything that (the media) guys do on a daily basis,” Hamilton said. “It’s a grind, people around the world are relying on your information so you guys have a job to do just like I do and I appreciate you guys.”