Tuesday morning, the Baltimore Ravens named Georgia Bulldogs offensive coordinator Todd Monken as the team’s next play-caller. After parting with Greg Roman following the 2022 postseason, the Baltimore Ravens get their next offensive coordinator to help jumpstart their offense.
Monken was a vital part of the National Champion Bulldogs, helping guide them to consecutive national titles. Before joining Georgia’s staff in 2020, Monken served as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2019, after spending three years in Tampa Bay. Monken also worked as the Buccaneers’ offensive play-caller in 2018 before leaving for Cleveland.
The Ravens offense was terribly underwhelming in 2022, especially after quarterback Lamar Jackson missed much of the season due to injury. According to Pro Football Reference, Baltimore ranked 19th in points scored, 16th in total yards, and 19th in passing touchdowns. Despite ranking very well as a rushing team, the Ravens’ passing attack struggled and something had to be done.
What Todd Monken Brings to the Ravens
Although there were other outstanding circumstances which led to their struggles, there was plenty of blame at the offensive play calling. Monken offers the same promise as run game coordinator, but with a far more expressive offensive attack. In his article for The Athletic, Seth Emerson quotes Monken in saying “I do like to throw”, while also referring to him as the “Air Raid Guy.”
Emerson also mentions some of Monken’s tendencies as a play caller. He notes Monken will often call passing plays in situations where most offensive coordinators will call for runs, and vice versa. According to Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun in an interview with former NFL OL John Stichcomb, Monken’s best trait is his “adaptability.” To the average fan, this marks a big change up from their previous experience.
At Georgia, Monken had the luxury of having two great tight ends which he leaned on heavily, and he will be stepping into a similar situation in Baltimore. Monken also worked with incredible receivers like George Pickens, who he utilized heavily when available. Fans should have a similar expectation for his relationship with Rashod Bateman.
This is a positive step for the Baltimore Ravens offense. However, their work is not done. In order to get the most out of Monken’s capabilities, the team should continue its efforts in supplying receiving talent for him to work with. In Tampa, Monken had elite talent in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, so expect the Ravens to at least try to add more receivers in the coming months.
The 2023 NFL Draft class is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing classes in recent memory. But by far one of the most intriguing groups in this entire NFL draft class is the wide receivers.
There aren’t as many “elite” talents in this class as there were in past draft classes. However, there are plenty of interesting options for teams looking to replenish their wide receiver room. Below are the 15 best wide receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Johnston was one of the best receivers in the nation in 2022, helping lead the Horned Frogs to the National Title game. His size, speed, and ball skills allow him to dominate his competition. He’s surprisingly nimble as a route runner, using his athleticism to leverage separation that will enable him to break off big runs. Johnston is one of only a few true number-one receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
2. Jordan Addison – USC – 86.9/100 – First Round Grade
Addison is another candidate to become a true number-one wide receiver in the NFL with his blend of speed and playmaking ability. USC creatively utilized Addison in a number of different ways, including out of the backfield. As such, this experience will translate directly to NFL schemes that function heavily with wide receiver versatility.
3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio State – 85.4/100 Second Round Grade
Smith-Njigba is an interesting player here at number three. On one hand, his 2021 tape was phenomenal, despite lacking elite athleticism. On the other hand, his injuries and subsequent lack of playing time in 2022 are disappointing, but nonetheless out of his control. What’s evident are Smith-Njigba’s abilities out of the slot, using his ball skills and route running prowess to win.
Boutte is another player who, on paper, disappointed this season. Heralded as the next man up after the departure of Ja’Marr Chase, Boutte never reached those same heights as his predecessor. In spite of that, Boutte does a great job winning on a vertical plane and using his physical tools to create separation.
2023 NFL Draft Wide Receivers: 6-10
6. Zay Flowers – Boston College – 83.4/100 – Second Round Grade
Flowers is also one of the best pure play-makers in this class. His speed is elite, which allows him to zip past defenders while pulling away with the ball in his hands. He’s not a true number-one receiver. However, if you’re looking for a deep threat to pair with a number-one, look no further than Flowers.
Despite being one of the most well-rounded receivers in this class, Mims is easily one of the most underrated. Like Flowers, he can stack defensive backs easily when working on vertical concepts while surviving contact over the middle.
Rice is the next prospect in a recent run of highly-touted SMU Mustang receivers to enter the draft. While James Proche, Reggie Roberson, and Danny Gray had their strengths, none of them can compare to what Rice brings to the table. Rice is a big receiver with a surprising amount of YAC ability in his game. Despite some drops, Rice has good ball skills that will only improve in the NFL.
Hyatt was one of the most exciting receivers in college football last year. Part of the Volunteers’ success was due to Hyatt’s big-play ability. Hyatt eats up cushion with speed, while using lateral agility to leverage separation down the field. He’ll be another solid deep threat for any team looking to add some punch to their offense in 2023
“Tank” Dell has been incredibly productive throughout his career with Houston and now has a chance to be an early contributor in the NFL. Dell is a smaller receiver, but can thrive out of the slot or as a gadget player due to his athletic traits.
2023 NFL Draft Wide Receivers: 11-15
11. Xavier Hutchinson – Iowa State – 77.9/100 – Third Round Grade
Hutchinson was a favorite to go on Day 2 last year, but ultimately went back to Iowa State for one final season. Hutchinson has now cemented himself as one of the better Day 2 options. He possesses great route-running skills and has some of the best hands out of the receiver group.
12. A.T. Perry – Wake Forest – 77.7/100 – Third Round Grade
Like Hutchinson, Perry could have declared last year, but opted to play one final year in college. Perry is a big, physical receiver who can give teams plenty of wins in contested situations and be a go-to target in the red zone.
Tillman struggled with injuries in 2022 after a productive 2021 season with the Volunteers. Despite this, he still showed his ability to make tough catches and display how well he tracks the ball. He’s not a threat to win with elite athleticism, but if you need a solid wide receiver two, look no further.
14. Parker Washington – Penn State – 74.4/100 – Fourth Round Grade
Washington feels like a player who should have been more productive in his career. He’s been one of the most solid receivers in the nation recently, despite not gaining the recognition he deserves. He plays with plenty of speed, has strong hands, and at worst will be a consistent wide receiver four in the NFL.
Jarrett was poised to have a big 2022 season, but nagging injuries caused him to take a step back this year. Even so, Jarrett still showed off his capabilities as a run-after-catch receiver, using his speed and lateral agility to eat up yards. Jarrett will be a steal for teams looking to build up their receiver room.
For non-playoff teams, the 2023 NFL draft looms large. Despite not taking place until late April, the NFL’s yearly selection draft offers all teams an opportunity to improve. Front offices are investing their time in all-star games and player interviews while prepping for the NFL combine.
As for those of us in the media, it’s mock draft season. Although teams do their own simulations, the most notable works are produced by sportswriters. Most are for the general draft, while many others, including this one, are more team-centric.
The Baltimore Ravens are currently hunting for their next offensive play-caller while also evaluating this year’s new crop of college prospects. Baltimore’s process this year might be their most important in recent memory. With potential question marks at quarterback, while only possessing five draft picks, the onus is on the Baltimore Ravens scouting staff to nail their picks this year.
Baltimore Gets: 2023 second round pick (33), 2023 third round pick (65)
Houston Gets: 2023 first round pick (22)
With Marcus Peters entering his age-30 season and a current free agent, the Baltimore Ravens face a massive need at outside cornerback. Marlon Humphrey is one of the NFL’s premier corners, however he cannot be asked to face the AFC North’s receivers alone.
Kelee Ringo is a somewhat boom-or-bust prospect given some technical rawness. However, given his ceiling, he’s worth the risk at this spot. Ringo could see plenty of early reps given those athletic traits, which should hopefully speed up his development.
After the hypothetical trade, the Baltimore Ravens also picked up another third round pick which they use on their second biggest need. With Rashod Bateman’s rash of injuries and a lack of talent outside of him, Marvin Mims will be asked to contribute immediately. Mims is a quality separator with great concentration skills and can give the Baltimore Ravens a quality deep threat.
This is by far the best pick for the Ravens in this mock draft in terms of value. Noah Sewell was once billed as a top-ten prospect who’s seen his stock drop over the course of the season. Despite this, he’s a versatile defender who can fill the hybrid backer role for Baltimore. He’s got the weight and length to play the edge while possessing the IQ to cover space.
Yet again, another value pick for the Ravens here in this mock draft. Jaelyn Duncan is a highly-touted offensive tackle prospect who has plenty of great athleticism, but is viewed as a developmental prospect at this point. Luckily, the Baltimore Ravens are in a position to draft, and stash, a player like Duncan with both Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses already on the roster.
Back-to-back Maryland picks here for the Baltimore Ravens. Rakim Jarrett had a disappointing 2022 season and has fallen in this simulation to the fifth round. Even so, Jarrett could get plenty of early snaps given the Baltimore Ravens needs at the position. Jarrett has solid ball skills and could grow into a potent slot weapon for whichever offensive coordinator Baltimore adds.
Round Six: Pick 200 – Jaren Hall – Quarterback – BYU
Best player available is the strategy with the Ravens final selection of this mock draft. With Lamar Jackson’s contract currently in dispute, quarterback could become a much bigger need if things do not progress positively. If Jackson is gone, Tyler Huntley could be looked at as the stop-gap quarterback while they search for a permanent option. Jaren Hall is an older prospect, but has plenty of tools at his disposal that could make him some money as a backup.
The Baltimore Ravens 2022 season was another rough outing, despite the team finishing with a 10-7 record and a playoff berth. Baltimore’s star quarterback Lamar Jackson missed the latter half of the season with an injury and the offensive struggles mounted in his absence.
The last few weeks have been tough sledding for fans and the team itself as all of their frustrations boiled over following Baltimore’s Wild Card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. With rumors swirling about Jackson’s departure, there is little room for optimism for fans.
Despite this, the Baltimore Ravens staff is already taking steps into rectifying their recent failures. Chiefly, the team announced Thursday afternoon they will be parting ways with maligned offensive coordinator, Greg Roman.
In addition to a new offensive coach, the Ravens have several positional needs that must be filled. The team possesses only five draft picks, so they may need to rely more heavily on free agency this time. Despite this, here are the following positional needs for the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore Ravens Needs by Position Heading into 2023
It’s a tale as old as time for the Baltimore Ravens. Wide receiver is a position that has the team perpetually snakebit, and is always a topic of conversation. Every off-season the Ravens seek to add receiver talent, with varying degrees of success. The team has found quality players in Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay, however, the former has struggled with injuries early in his career.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, the free agent class of receivers isn’t stellar this year, with many of the potential additions playing past their prime in 2022. Many fans clamor for veterans like DeAndre Hopkins, but with limited draft capitol it may be a bit more difficult to trade for a player of that caliber.
Conversely, the 2023 NFL Draft boasts several exciting receiver talents. USC’s Jordan Addison, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and UNC’s Josh Downs are three players that would be immediate upgrades on offense. With a late first-round pick, the Baltimore Ravens could be in range for either one of those players to address their needs at wide receiver.
Marcus Peters and Kevon Seymour will be free agents and will be entering their age-30 seasons this year. Kyle Fuller is coming off of a knee injury and may not return in 2023, despite a promising start. Brandon Stephens and Pepe Williams have flashed in their limited playing time this past year but are not enough.
Similar to the wid receivers, the free agency pool isn’t inspiring however the draft has far more promise. While they’re likely out of range for star players such as Christian Gonzalez or Joey Porter Jr., Baltimore could settle for someone like Devon Witherspoon or Kelee Ringo — great consolation prizes for Mike MacDonald’s defense.
Five-Technique Defensive End
Calais Campbell is 36 years old and mulling his retirement, while Brent Urban is a free agent yet again. Both have been key parts of Baltimore’s past defensive philosophy, and a lot of what they do up front hinges on a stout five-technique.
Urban is younger and could come back on a team-friendly minimum deal. Additionally, veterans like Dean Lowry, A’Shawn Robinson, and Matt Ioannidis would be typical Baltimore Ravens signings that would help bolster their front seven.
As for the NFL Draft, there are quite a few players who fit the Baltimore Ravens mold at the defensive end. Tyree Wilson is the best of the bunch, while Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness is a high-upside player who could be more in their range. Conversely, later options such as Keion White from Georgia Tech or Colby Wooden could be plug-and-play starters for Baltimore.
A sneaky need for the Baltimore Ravens, as both Ben Powers and Trystan Colon-Castillo are set to hit free agency. Additionally, Baltimore may not feel comfortable playing former-third round pick Ben Cleveland after his struggles during camp and in the preseason. Given the free agency crop this year, Baltimore may be better off signing one of the two rather than taking a chance with a veteran past their prime.
However, prospects such as O’Cyrus Torrence and Emil Ekiyor feel like players Baltimore could feasibly target — despite their limited picks in 2023. Torrence is often mocked in the latter half of first-round mock drafts, which is right in range for the Ravens.
Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul are both aging free agents that are not guaranteed to return to Baltimore in 2023. Former first-round pick Odafe Oweh had a sophomore slump in 2022, despite expectations. Rookie David Ojabo flashed in his limited play time, so the jury is still out if he can become the elite pass rusher the Baltimore Ravens envisioned for him.
This isn’t as much of a pressing need for the Ravens as other positions, so signing low-risk free agents such as Clellin Ferrell, Arden Key, or Jadeveon Clowney would be smart.
The 2023 edge class is also incredibly deep, so locating a rotational pass rusher on day three is on the table as well. Names to watch for Baltimore include CMU’s Thomas Incoom, Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV or Auburn’s Eku Leota.
In spite of all of the freak injuries, Alabama vs. Texas was a great matchup of NFL draft prospects on Saturday. Both teams played stout defense throughout, not allowing either offense to show much explosiveness.
Although the situation looked dire for the Crimson Tide late, the team managed to stave off a potential upset due, in part, to the heroics of their Heisman-winning quarterback. Alabama would take a narrow 20-19 victory over the Longhorns, despite the efforts of the latter’s defense.
The first drives for both teams ended with a field goal, giving the teams a dead tie. Alabama managed to chip away at the Longhorns’ defense with their rotation of running backs, but came up short. For Texas, transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers looked as good as advertised, making some incredible deep passes.
Alabama would score again on their second drive with an 81-yard Jace McClellan touchdown run. Ewers would continue his efficient passing on the Longhorns’ second drive before suffering a shoulder injury on a throw-away pass. Alabama EDGE Dallas Turner would get called for a roughing the passer penalty after falling on Ewers in a freak incident.
Backup Hudson Card would replace Ewers, but also would struggle with an apparent injury through the game. In any case, the Longhorns would finish the drive with a touchdown from Bijan Robinson.
Neither team would score again in the first half, with the next score coming from Texas on a Brett Auburn field goal. After stopping Alabama’s offense, the Longhorns would score from another field, goal bringing the score to 16-10.
Down six at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide would march down the field and score on a Jahmyr Gibbs touchdown reception. With the score now 17-16, the Longhorns would respond with a 49-yard field goal giving Texas the lead late into the fourth quarter.
With 1:29 left of the clock, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young would orchestrate a masterful drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
Alabama vs. Texas NFL Draft Prospects Review
It goes without saying that the star of the show Saturday was Bryce Young. Despite not having an incredible statistical outing, the final drive was nothing short of remarkable. Young was surgical with his passes, but also showed off his athleticism, escaping a cornerback sack with a simple duck-and-run. Young is the clear-cut QB1 right now, and it may not be close if he continues on his current track.
It was a relatively quiet day for Will Anderson, as well. He had a few off-sides penalties, but made up for it with a key 3rd down sack late in the four quarter.
His teammates Jaylen Moody and Henry To’oTo’o also looked solid in the box. However, the real stars this weekend in the trenches were the Crimson Tide defensive line. DJ Dale and Byron Young did a great job establishing leverage and made some nice plays in the backfield.
For Texas, Bijan Robinson looked solid but could never find the right crease to run through. Even with a touchdown, it was not the star performance on-lookers would’ve expected. The same could be said for his running mate in Roschon Johnson, who also struggled versus the Alabama front.
The stars of the Texas offense were wide receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington. Worthy shined early with a couple big catches, but trailed off in the second half. Whittington, however, was a consistent safety blanket for Card, doing plenty of damage in the middle of the field.
On defense, linebacker Jaylan Ford made a few nice plays in-between the tackles. He looked sharp as he flowed to the football, and was the most impressive player on the Longhorns defense. DeMarvion Overshown was quiet, but still made a few stops here and there.
Similarly to Alabama, the Longhorn’s defensive line had a few nice plays. EDGE Ovie Oghoufo had a great sack for Texas in the first quarter using his first step quickness. T’Vondre Sweat would have had a safety, but was ruled an incompletion on a weird third down play. Sweat, along with Moro Ojomo and Keondre Coburn, were excellent at stopping the run on Saturday — save for the McClellan touchdown.