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Improving pass rush a Ravens top offseason priority


Improving pass rush a Ravens top offseason priority

After watching the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl, here’s a thought on Sunday’s AFC championship from a Ravens perspective.

Improving their pass rush should be the Ravens’ top priority. Peyton Manning isn’t the main reason the Broncos are going to the Super Bowl. The main reason is their defense, and that defense is led by their pass rush.

The Broncos treated Patriots quarterback Tom Brady like a piñata Sunday, hitting him 20 times, the most any quarterback has been hit in any game all season.

This wasn’t an anomaly. It’s how the Broncos do business. The Broncos led the NFL in sacks this season with 52.  And the next five teams in sacks all made the playoffs – Patriots (49), Steelers (48), Chiefs (47), Texans (45), and Panthers (44).

The Ravens were way down that list, tied for 17th in sacks with 37. They need to get back to being a team that harasses quarterbacks on a regular basis. A relentless pass rush bothers every quarterback, whether it’s Brady, Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or anyone else. A relentless pass rush also makes every secondary better. A more consistent pass rush would have eliminated some of the big plays that burned the Ravens’ defense in 2015.

So how do the Ravens improve their pass rush? Sure, they must hope linebacker Terrell Suggs returns to being an elite pass rusher when he returns from Achilles surgery. But they can’t count on that, especially with Suggs turning 34 years old in October.

The draft is the most obvious way for the Ravens to address their pass rushing needs. Holding the No. 6, pick, the Ravens could have a shot at a pass-rusher Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, even if Ohio St. defensive end Joey Bosa and Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner are already off the board. My colleague Ben Standig has the Ravens taking Lawson with the No. 6 pick in his latest mock draft.

The Ravens saw late-season improvement in outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who had 3 ½ of his 5 ½ sacks during the season’s final three weeks. Smith, Elvis Dumervil, and a hopefully-healthy Suggs give the Ravens a pass-rushing nucleus to start with.

Yes, the Ravens need playmakers and could use a cover corner. But after losing lineback Pernell McPhee in free agency last season, and with Suggs and Dumervil on the plus side of 30, the Ravens need to acquire at least one pass rusher who will help them next season. For the Ravens to get to the playoffs in 2016, they need to get to opposing quarterbacks more often.

[RELATED: Will Ravens draft another WR again in first round?



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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

And with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select.... a quarterback?

Assistant general manager, and soon to be general manager, Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility that the Ravens use their first-round pick on drafting a quarterback to eventually replace Joe Flacco. 

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of draft a quarterback in the first-round. 

Quarterback is just one of many offensive needs for the team. Joe Flacco's stats have been trending downward as the 33-year old is entering his 11th season.


Owner Steve Bisciotti though may disagree with DeCosta.

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference, Bisciotti said, "That’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry," in regards to looking at life after Joe. Bisciotti also noted the team would be looking at all options in free agency and the draft for weapons for their QB.

From the sound of that, it appears the team's first choice would be a wideout, but the Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback since Joe Flacco back in 2008. 

The 2018 NFL Draft class has a handful of strong quarterbacks to choose from and not a ton of first-round wide receivers. 

Former Ravens scout, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has predicted the team with take Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the first-round. 

"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said

Backup Ryan Mallet is a free agent so the organization will have to find someone to fill the role, whether it's someone on a one year-deal, or the future QB of the franchise. 


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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Schefter.

After being released by the Raiders on Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.