The Ravens won their NFL record 24th straight preseason game in a 20-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. However, it didn’t come easy as the Eagles brought their A game. As it goes with any preseason game, many Ravens played well and others did not. Let’s break down three Ravens players who are trending up with the win and three players who are trending down.
Three Ravens Trending Up
Keaton Mitchell, RB
There are plenty of questions surrounding the Ravens’ running backs, specifically concerning the availability of J.K. Dobbins. Mitchell may have helped ease some of those concerns. Showing potential as a runner, pass catcher, and returner, Mitchell showed he could be a difference maker in multiple facets of the game. His stats may not have blown anyone away, but he looked like the fastest player on the field. He even had a long touchdown run called back due to a holding penalty.
If Dobbins were to miss time this season, the Ravens can at least call up some exciting depth like Mitchell.
Tylan Wallace, WR
Wallace was a forgotten man in this revamped Ravens receiving corps. He quickly reminded everyone who he was against the Eagles. Wallace finished with only two receptions for 18 yards, but one of those catches was a beautiful adjustment for a 10-yard touchdown grab.
There is a crowded race for one of the few remaining wide-out spots in Baltimore, but Wallace may have pulled ahead. He makes tough catches look easy and brings special teams value as well. Wallace may have locked his spot on the roster early.
Daryl Worley, DB
The Ravens are hoping someone can step up in the defensive backfield, and Worley made his case against the Eagles. Registering six tackles, a tackle for loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble, Worley had the game of his life. He is transitioning from corner to safety and Worley showed his play-making skills and an ability to play multiple spots.
If he keeps having a strong preseason, Worley could be a fixture in the Ravens secondary come Week 1.
Three Ravens Trending Down
Ben Cleveland, IOL
The Ravens have a massive hole at left guard and Cleveland did not see a single snap there against the Eagles. Instead, he was lined up at right guard and right tackle, but hardly inspired much confidence. Cleveland looked overwhelmed and was too easily beaten by Eagles defenders throughout the game.
Many expected Cleveland to run away with a starting job, but he played more like a wet paper bag. Saturday’s game can only be categorized as a disappointment for the mountain of a man from Georgia.
James Proche, WR
1 reception, -1 yards, 1 fumble. That is hardly a stat line that will keep a player who is fighting for a spot on a roster. The Ravens made it a point to upgrade their receivers by bringing in fresh faces. That doesn’t leave a lot of spots open, and Proche hardly did much to convince the coaching staff he deserves to stay. Proche has never been able to make the most of his opportunities, and his time in Baltimore may be running out.
Josh Johnson, QB
There is competition to be Lamar Jackson’s backup and Johnson showed why he should not be the team’s number two. The veteran journeyman led a stagnant offense in the first half and finished with only 45 yards on 8 completions and three 3-and-outs. Tyler Huntley easily showed up his competition, and it appears Johnson may be looking for yet another team by the start of the season.
A new season means fresh questions abound for every team. The Baltimore Ravens are no different. With a bevy of turnover on both sides of the ball, this could prove to be the most intriguing season for the Ravens in a few years. However, each position comes with plenty of questions. We examine the biggest question for each position group for the Baltimore Ravens as the league heads into the preseason.
Quarterback: How Quickly Can Lamar Adjust to the New Offense?
Lamar Jackson is an elite quarterback. There is no denying that fact. As a thrower, he has great accuracy and arm strength. As a runner, his playmaking ability is second to none. However, he is entering this season with a new offense to learn. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken comes over from Georgia and should bring a more up-tempo offense to Baltimore.
How quickly Jackson can not just learn, but master, this offense will be key to how far the Ravens can go this season. Early reports from camp are that there has been some miscommunication and a substantial amount of turnovers the first few days. While that does raise some concerns, it is still early and Lamar has plenty of time to work out the kinks.
Running Backs: How Will the JK Dobbins Saga End?
When healthy, JK Dobbins is one of the most explosive running backs in the league. But health has been a huge factor in his NFL career. Suffering an ACL just prior to the start of the 2021 season, the Ravens have been careful with Dobbins’ usage. Not wanting to put too much strain or risk injury, the former OSU runner has never eclipsed 17 carries in a game in the NFL. This hasn’t sat well with Dobbins. He has been vocal about his displeasure in not seeing more reps, and he certainly has a case for more touches.
Through the backend of 2022, Dobbins looked like his old, explosive self, becoming Baltimore’s top playmaker in the absence of Lamar Jackson. Now entering a pivotal contract year, Dobbins wants the lion’s share of the load to show what he can do. Dobbins was recently placed on the PUP list and the relationship between the running back and the Ravens is complex, to say the least.
With him, the Ravens have the most dynamic backfield in the league. However, it is difficult to say when, or if, the team will have Dobbins back this year.
Receivers: Can Odell Beckham Jr. Recapture His Old Form?
From 2014 to 2019, it can be argued that Odell Beckham Jr. was the most dominant receiver in the league. In that time, he only missed out on 1,000 receiving yards one time. However, injuries and a poor attitude got him ran out of both New York and Cleveland. He would somewhat resurrect his career with the Rams, but an unfortunate ACL injury during the Super Bowl would sideline him for the 2022 season.
Now, he will be counted on to be the top receiver for Lamar Jackson. Which OBJ shows up is the biggest question for the Baltimore Ravens this year at the position. His talent is undeniable, but most question how much the 30-year-old Beckham has left in the tank.
He’s a true superstar receiver and the Ravens are hoping Beckham can recapture some of the magic he had early in his career. If he can, the Ravens offense may be truly unstoppable.
Offensive Line: Who Starts at Left Guard?
The Ravens offensive line: once a strength, now an uncertainty. Ben Powers cashed out with the Denver Broncos, leaving a gapping hole in the interior of the offensive line. The Ravens have several options to take his place, but none of those options inspire too much confidence.
Ben Cleveland, a third round selection in 2021, is a mountain of a man, but has been unable to stay healthy or consistent. John Simpson has starting experience with the Raiders and could be dark horse to take the starting spot. Perhaps the most intriguing piece is sixth round rookie Sala Aumavae-Laulu out of Oregon. He has already received starting reps in mini-camp and has been described as “nimble, but powerful.”
The Ravens don’t lack options, but who starts at left guard should be watched closely. Baltimore relies heavily on the ground game and having an aggressive blocker up front is paramount for their success.
Defensive Line: Who Will Step Up?
Veteran Calais Campbell is now in Atlanta. Michael Pierce is still in Baltimore, but is coming off an injury. Now is the time for the young players along the defensive line to step up.
Justin Madubuike has been brimming with potential since 2020. Now entering his contract year, Madubuike will be counted on to break out. Travis Jones, a third-round rookie last year, showed plenty of flashes and the team likes his trajectory. However, potential can only take you so far in the NFL. Now is the time for these young investments to truly make their mark. The dominance of their defense is counting on it.
Linebackers: Can Odafe Oweh Truly Emerge In Year Three?
Odafe Oweh had Ravens Flock buzzing following an exciting rookie year. The product out of Penn State posted five sacks and three forced fumbles, showing difference making potential. However, his stats dropped to three sacks in 2022. Hardly the jump most were expecting from Oweh. Now is the time for Oweh to step up.
Seen as green coming out of college, Oweh is now three years into his NFL career and should have plenty of seasoning. Physically, Oweh has all of the tools a team could want in a defender. Bringing it all together for on-field production is now the next big step.
The Ravens are desperate for a true quarterback hunter and the hope is that the 2021 first round pick can finally turn the corner.
Secondary: Who is #2?
A unit is only as good as its weakest link and Baltimore’s secondary does not boast many of those. Marlon Humphrey is playing at an All-Pro level, while Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton form the most potent safety combo in the league. However, who play opposite Humphrey is the biggest question and it is a position teams will test often.
The Ravens have sunk considerable capital in their corners the last few years, with meager results. Brandon Stephens, Damarion Williams, and Jalyn Armour-Davis all had their growing pains. That has led to the signing of veteran of Rock Ya-Sin with the hopes that he can solidify the team’s #2 corner spot.
However, if Ya-Sin struggles or gets hurt and the young depth behind him cannot step up, the Ravens may wish they had done more to address the issue.
Special Teams: Can Jordan Be More Stout?
The Ravens raised more than a few eyebrows when they took Penn State punter Jordan Stout in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL Draft. When a special teamer is taken that high, above more pressing needs, he is expected to perform well.
As a rookie, Stout was far from a consistent kicker. Ranking just 27th in net punting average, the Ravens were certainly hoping for more from Stout. After a year of working with long-time punter Sam Koch, there is reason for optimism.
As a former special teams coordinator, coach Harbaugh is a big believer in the importance of special teams. Therefore, Stout’s improvement is important for the Ravens and that ever pivotal battle of field position.
Give the Ravens their Flowers. April 27, 2023 was a wild day for the Baltimore Ravens. Mere hours before the start of the NFL Draft began, news broke that quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed in principle to a 5-year, $260 million contract with $185 million guaranteed. With Ravens fans rejoicing the return of their MVP quarterback, many were now eager to see how Baltimore would follow this up in the draft.
Despite receiving calls to move down, Baltimore opted to stand pat at 22. With that pick, the Ravens selected Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers. And so, the Ravens continued to upgrade their pass-catchers in a way Ravens fans haven’t seen before. The smaller, yet explosive, Flowers gives the Ravens a playmaking threat fans have been yearning for. It was a selection that was lauded by players and draft pundits alike.
It isn’t difficult to see why so many think Flowers will be special. Though he may be a bit undersized at just 5’9″ and 182 pounds, Flowers may be the most dynamic player in this year’s draft. An electrifying playmaker, Flowers is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. A terrifying underneath option for Lamar, Flowers is a chess piece that can be moved all around the field.
He shouldn’t be immediately labeled as strictly a slot receiver, as Flowers did his best work in Boston College outside the numbers. That is a receiving threat the Ravens haven’t had since Steve Smith Sr. Flowers isn’t just a deep threat; he’s a threat with the ball in his hands. Making plays after the catch is the Boston College product’s forte.
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta stated early in the offseason that he wanted to attack the receiver position. Clearly he is a man of his word. Despite using a first round pick on Rashod Bateman in 2o21 and signing Odell Beckham to a 1-year, $18 million deal in the offseason, the Ravens wanted more talent at receiver.
Bringing Zay Flowers in to pair with Bateman and Beckham Jr may give the Ravens their most stacked receiving corps in team history. Clearly Lamar Jackson was excited for the pick.
It was a bit of a surprise to see the Ravens pass on the slew of cornerbacks who had fallen to 22. The Ravens have always prioritized the defense, particularly the secondary, more than most franchises. There is a massive need for a starter opposite Marlon Humphrey. However, this is a deep defensive back class. Clearly the Ravens felt that the value of Flowers trumped the value of any corner in that spot. There is still plenty of time to address that position.
The Ravens may not be heavily active on Day 2 of the draft. Baltimore is only slated to make the 86th selection in the third round. Regardless, this is quite the start for a Ravens team that was brimming with tremendous news on draft day. For the first time in months, the future is looking clear and bright for Baltimore.
We are mere hours away from one of the most important events in the sports world: the NFL Draft. What better time for a Ravens mock draft?
The Ravens enter this year’s draft with only five draft picks, and a plethora of holes to fill. That is hardly a position any team wants to find themselves in. It has been an insane offseason for the Ravens, so it is more imperative for the Ravens to find contributors throughout the draft than it has been in recent years. Thankfully the Ravens have been one of the best at discovering talent throughout the entire draft over its entire existence.
The following mock draft could be a way for the Ravens to do that. Though the ideal situation would be for the Ravens to move back and acquire more picks, there are no trades in this mock. This mock draft was created via the Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Simulator.
Round 1, Pick 22: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
Adding a talented young corner opposite Marlon Humphrey is a must heading into the 2023 season. Banks is a dream scenario for Baltimore. The Ravens were exposed frequently in every direction that wasn’t against Humphrey. However the Ravens may not have to look far for some secondary help.
Growing up in Baltimore, the local product checks almost every box from a physical standpoint. Possessing ideal length, a muscular frame, and stellar speed, Banks certainly looks the part. While he still has room to grow in terms of his technique, Banks is a physical corner who can develop into a lockdown defensive back.
Round 3, Pick 86: A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest
The Ravens certainly created some buzz in the offseason. Upgrading their receiving corps at long last with a proven veteran, the Ravens brought in Odell Beckham Jr. to pair with Lamar Jackson (hopefully). Still, the Ravens could use a young pass catcher. Enter A.T. Perry.
The standout from Wake Forest can bring something to Baltimore that no other Ravens receivers have: size. Boasting a nearly 6’4 frame, Perry has a mouth-watering catch radius. Combine his size with surprising speed and snappy route running, Perry could develop into a matchup nightmare. That is the sort of nightmare at receiver Ravens fans have been yearning for.
Round 4, Pick 124: Kendre Miller, RB, TCU
Like it or not, the Ravens have a sneaky need at running back. Only Justice Hill is signed beyond 2024, as both JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards are set to be free agents after this season. Not to mention that both Dobbins and Edwards are still working their way back to full health from injuries suffered in 2021. There is no debating that Dobbins is one of the most explosive players in the league but the Ravens are clearly still hesitant about giving him a full workload.
Miller should help alleviate depth concerns. A bigger back with shockingly explosive speed, the TCU runner is a true playmaker. He’s still developing, but learning behind Dobbins would certainly help.
Round 5, Pick 157: Braeden Daniels, OL, Utah
A team can never invest too much in its offensive line, and the Ravens are no exception. With offensive guards Ben Powers cashing out in Denver and Ben Cleveland not quite developing the way the team had hoped, the Ravens could use a little more investment.
Though listed as a tackle, Daniels has played multiple spots along the line for the Utes. A player with five position versatility, Daniels can fill multiple backup roles. With Ronnie Stanley’s health seemingly always up in the air, some insurance behind him could be a welcome addition. While Daniels has room to bulk up, he’s a smart player who can be a solid starter down the road.
Round 6, Pick 199: Mike Morris, EDGE, Michigan
There’s a real chance that Morris doesn’t come close to this spot, but if he does the Ravens should race to the podium. Baltimore doesn’t quite know what they have in the young duo of Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo. Tyus Bowser has a somewhat pricey contract and could be a cap casualty down the road. Veterans Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul remain un-signed. Needless to say, Baltimore could use a little more depth.
Morris is the kind of big EDGE the Ravens have coveted the last few years. Couple that with a non-stop motor, and the team could have an instant contributor on their hands. And of course, there is that all-powerful Michigan connection that can’t be overlooked or overstated.
Every NFL draft cycle, there is always a polarizing player that people just cannot seem to place. Whether it be a lack of production in college but a terrific combine performance or the measurables weren’t as prototypical as one might prefer despite, there are always prospects that divide the draft community in half. This year, that prospect is Bijan Robinson. While no one can deny his talent, most question the position he plays. So where will Robinson settle in the draft? Some have linked him to a team that could certainly use his services: the Baltimore Ravens.
This link in itself has caused quite a stir in the Ravens Flock community. We weigh the pros and cons of Baltimore drafting the highly touted prospect out of Texas with the 22nd overall pick.
The Case Against the Ravens taking Bijan Robinson
As the old adage goes: never draft a running back in the first round. No matter the talent, no running back is immune to the brutal wear and tear the position calls for. Every great running back has, at one point or another, hit that wall that they cannot run through, whether it be due to age or the physicality of the position.
When a team drafts a running back, they can only expect a short period of time where that player can realistically be considered an effective piece of the offense. Bijan Robinson, with all of his talent, is not immune to this.
As for the Ravens themselves, they already have an effective stable of running backs in place. JK Dobbins came into the league with high expectations, and it’s safe to say he is meeting them.
From Weeks 14 through 17, Dobbins led the league in rushing and yards per carry, becoming Baltimore’s most effective offensive weapon with Lamar Jackson missing time. With a 5.9 YPC average over his entire career, Dobbins should be mentioned as one of the most effective runners in the league.
Behind Dobbins sits the ever reliable Gus Edwards. Despite an injury, Gus “The Bus” is still a physical runner who is reliable in short yardage situations.
The biggest reason the Ravens won’t be selecting Bijan Robinson is the construction of the current roster. The team simply has too many holes. Wide receiver, a constant thorn in the side of the franchise, is a glaring need that must be upgraded.
Another outside corner to pair with All-Pro Marlon Humphrey is needed, especially if perennial fan favorite Marcus Peters isn’t brought back. And of course, the looming future of Lamar Jackson will certainly decide the direction of the franchise for years to come.
Couple that with the fact that the Ravens current do not hold a second round pick in this year’s draft. With so many needs and fewer draft picks than usual, it is difficult to argue for using a pivotal first round selection on a position that is hardly a need for the team. As talented as he is, drafting Bijan Robinson would be a questionable — at best — move for the Ravens.
The Case For the Baltimore Ravens Drafting Bijan Robinson
With the departure of Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, many believe that his replacement, Todd Monken, will implement a heavier passing attack. While that may be true, a major reason Monken was hired is because he won’t deviate greatly from the offensive scheme the Ravens have in place.
The Ravens won’t stray too far from what has brought them success the last few years: an elite run game. Robinson would be an immediate superstar in Baltimore’s intricate ground attack, and he would take pressure off of Lamar Jackson as someone who can be consistently relied upon to make plays. Bottom line, Robinson can be an elite bell-cow for the Ravens’ rushing attack.
One of the cases against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson could also be a case for drafting him: JK Dobbins. While Dobbins has been one of the most effective runners when on the field, getting him on the field has been his biggest issue.
A torn ACL just prior to the 2021 season kept the former Buckeye on the sidelines for the entirety of that year. It’s clear the Ravens are cautious about his health. In fact, Dobbins has had more than 15 carries in a single game just once in his career. That’s not exactly a strong vote of confidence in the young back.
Beyond the roller coaster of availability of Dobbins, depth at the position could be light. Gus Edwards is a prime candidate to be released, as that move would would free up nearly $4.5 million for the cash-strapped franchise according to Spotrac.
Not to mention both Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill will be headed to free agency, as well. The cupboard for Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack could look very bare by mid-March.
Of course, there is Bijan Robinson himself. The Longhorn runner is an elite playmaker as both a runner and a pass catcher. A patient runner who waits to find an opening, he can accelerate and use his exceptional agility to make a big play in a flash.
Given his size (6’0, 220 lbs), it’s difficult to grasp just how Robinson can be so explosive. Aside from Lamar Jackson, the Ravens don’t have an offensive player close to the caliber of Robinson. He would be an immediate play-making threat for an offense that simply lacks many at all.
With that said, it is impossible to discount the Raven approach to “best player available.” Though it seems overused, the Ravens have built their identity around this mantra — to grand success. There is no denying that, regardless of position, Robinson is a top-5 talent in this draft. Just because the Ravens don’t necessarily need a certain position, that hasn’t stopped them from addressing the position regardless. Look back to their 2001 draft.
Despite having Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, the Ravens weren’t swayed from taking Arizona tight end Todd Heap. That move worked out fairly well for Baltimore. The Ravens have done this countless times over the years. Who is to say they won’t do it again in 2023? Robinson may just be too talented for the Ravens to pass up.
A more recent example occurred just this past year. The Ravens boasted two first round picks in 2022 NFL Draft and selected safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum. Neither position is considered to be a premium position to use a first round draft pick on, but the talent for both was too good to pass up on. Not to mention, with Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark already on the roster, safety was hardly a position of need.
However head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric De Costa repeatedly stated Hamilton was at the top of their big board and were elated when he fell into Baltimore’s lap. Yet more proof that the Ravens overlook position and need when it comes to drafting top-level talent.
From a pure talent stand-point, it’s hard to argue against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson 22nd overall. He would be an exciting addition to an offense that seems to be constantly lagging behind. However, there are too many holes on the roster that could be filled with the Ravens first pick.
Cornerback and receiver are much more pressing needs that the Ravens must address early. Pair that with the on-going drama over Lamar Jackson’s contract, a first round selection of a running back may be too rich for a franchise that can’t seem to afford it.
But with the Ravens and high level-talent, you can never say never.