The Baltimore Ravens need to make changes if they want to succeed with Lamar Jackson. The defense should be fine. However, that alone can’t win games. The Baltimore Ravens have a very specific system. But, they have to step outside that to move forward in the NFL. There were missed opportunities with the draft as well. Let’s break it all down.
Will The Defense Remain Stout?
Let’s switch things up and start with discussing the defense. Matthew Judon leaving for the Patriots was a surprise, and they will lose some production because of that. The Baltimore Ravens have a history of good drafting. If that continues, Judon being gone won’t matter all that much. First, the defensive line. In the 3-4 front, Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams, and Calais Campbell will create an intimidating presence up front. Wolfe and Campbell are almost done. Campbell is still looking for his first championship, and this may be his last chance to get it. The Ravens drafted Daelin Hayes in the fifth round from Notre Dame as an edge rusher. As of right now, he is not expected to make an impact in his rookie year.
Second, the linebackers. Odafe Oweh was drafted in the first round from Penn State. He will fight for a role as a starter. If nothing else, he will rotate in as a subpackage pass rusher. Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee as of right now are the starting pass rushers with L.J Fort and Patrick Queen on the inside. This is a solid group of players. However, Oweh would make more sense as a starter. Fort is an okay player and McPhee is on the older side. Oweh could add a spark.
Finally, the secondary. No changes here. Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey as corners, and Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott as the safeties. Shaun Wade from Ohio State slipped to the Ravens in round five. He has starting CB potential but right now is probably a candidate for the nickel spot. Brandon Stephens, a third round pick from SMU is also a question mark in terms of a role.
Will The Offense Adjust?
Lamar is a good player, we aren’t questioning that. But, he needs some help out there. As I mentioned in a other article about the Ravens (find it here), Trace McSorley could get bumped to receiver. McSorley is athletic and fast enough to play the position. Right now, the starting receivers are Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, and first round pick Rashod Bateman. Bateman was selected from Minnesota. Brown is not a top receiver. Watkins is good, but not the long term answer at this point of his career. Bateman has a lot of potential. However, he may not be a #1 receiver. The Ravens took Tylan Wallace in round four from Oklahoma State. Great player with great hands, an underrated talent. He could help if the Ravens actually decide to throw the ball.
Luckily, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards are now the main ball carriers with Mark Ingram gone. Expect a lot of downhill running with these two and not much in terms of catching out of the backfield. In this latest addition of give the fullback some love, Patrick Ricard will be a lead blocker, pass catcher, and a part time defensive lineman. This makes the selection of Ben Mason in the fifth round from Michigan even more confusing. Next, the tight ends. No surprise Mark Andrews is still the feature with Nick Boyle as a complementary piece. And finally, the offensive line of Ronnie Stanley, Ben Cleveland, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler, and Alejandro Villanueva.
Cleveland was drafted in the third round from Georgia. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, came over from the division rival Steelers. This is a strength of the team. Overall, the ability to throw the ball effectively will be key for the Ravens. If they do not, it will just be more of the same featuring an early playoff exit regardless of how good the defense is.