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.