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Offseason Team Previews

2021 Ravens Offseason Preview

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: March 8, 2021, 10:12 am ET

My goal with the Offseason Preview series is to get caught up with each team’s 53-man roster, offensive and defensive schemes, team needs, and offseason capital within a 10-minute read. The basics will be at the top -- cap space, draft picks, cut candidates, notable departures -- and the film and analytics takes will be at the bottom. I hope to write these in a way that they’re referenceable throughout not just free agency and the NFL Draft, but also the 2021 season as we look into weekly matchups. The offseason is the time for me to get outside of our fantasy football bubble and learn more about what’s going on at the other positions. You can read the rest of my 2021 Offseason Previews here and can follow me on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).

 


Ravens 2020 Recap

Ravens2020

 

The Ravens’ passing game was a tough watch for a variety of reasons (19th in EPA, 23rd in CPOE), but the team as a whole was one of the best in the NFL, finishing 1st in point differential, 7th in points scored, and 2nd in points allowed. Because of the coaching staff and Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ floor is solid and the ceiling is enormous. Jackson should improve as a passer with a new set of eyes at passing coordinator and with new weapons coming, and the Ravens’ secondary is littered with studs in an aggressive scheme. There are holes at edge, receiver, and on the offensive interior, but the pieces are set for another playoff run in 2021. They’ll just have to overcome a harder strength of schedule then (31st in 2020).

 


Ravens 2021 Offseason

Notes

 

Ravens Cap Space

$18.2 million (13th)

Ravens Draft Picks

1.27, 2.58, 4th, 5th, 6th, plus compensatory picks

Ravens Departures

EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE Matthew Judon, C Matt Skura, DT Derek Wolfe, EDGE Tyus Bowser, EDGE Pernell McPhee, RB Gus Edwards, WR Willie Snead, WR Dez Bryant

Ravens Cut Candidates

RB Mark Ingram ($5.0M)

 


Ravens Depth Chart

Position

Base Offense

Notable Backups

Personnel

11

-

% of Passes

62%

-

QB

Lamar Jackson

Trace McSorley

WR

Marquise Brown

 

WR

Miles Boykin

 

WR (Slot)

Devin Duvernay

James Proche

TE

Mark Andrews

Nick Boyle

RB (Early Down)

J.K. Dobbins

Justice Hill

RB (Third Down)

J.K. Dobbins

 

LT

Ronnie Stanley

Ben Bredeson

LG

Bradley Bozeman

 

C

Patrick Mekari

 

RG

Ben Powers

Tyre Phillips

RT

Orlando Brown

 

 

Offensive Coordinator: The Ravens have been (and likely will be) the best rushing offense in the NFL, but the passing game needs serious work and that goes beyond Lamar Jackson’s accuracy. Last year’s passing concepts were vanilla with poor spacing, the offensive line severely missed LT Ronnie Stanley, and Marquise Brown has proven to be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, not an alpha. Stanley’s return and the inevitable receiver additions of the offseason will help fix the latter issues, but OC Greg Roman needs to make adjustments. Hopefully new passing game specialist Keith Williams, who was Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams’ personal receiver coach, is an upgrade over David Culley.

Passing Offense: Lamar Jackson has some bad misses, but his completion percentage over expected (+1.3, 16th) suggests it’s an overblown narrative. The bigger concerns within the Ravens’ No. 19 passing EPA offense in 2020 were the sloppiness of the route concepts and route running. Too many routes ended with pass-catchers on top of each other, and Marquise Brown isn’t detailed enough to be a true No. 1 receiver. Just watch Jackson try to hit an out route to Brown against Cover 3, something they tried to avoid while attacking the middle repeatedly (chart). Brown will face more target competition once the offseason shakes out, and he needs to improve his ball tracking to maximize the rareness of his 4.3 speed. At tight end, the Ravens have plus-receiver Mark Andrews and run-blocker Nick Boyle, who is reportedly on track for the 2021 season opener following a severe knee injury. Getting Boyle and LT Ronnie Staley back will help buy Jackson more time in the pocket. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta noted that they have to “get better up front with pass protection."

Rushing Offense: The offensive line has some things to figure out, starting with RT Orlando Brown who wants to be traded so he can play left tackle. That would create a big hole if he’s dealt, and the Ravens already need to find upgrades on the interior. C Matt Skura is a free agent, leaving 2019 UDFA Patrick Mekari as a starter. Plus, 2018 sixth-round LG Bradley Bozeman and 2019 fourth-round RG Ben Powers are upgradeable. If Jackson didn’t give defensive ends and linebackers so much trouble, the line would be a concern for big-play second-rounder J.K. Dobbins. He’s a candidate for a slightly larger role, but the Ravens are likely to retain restricted free agent Gus Edwards after he averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in three-straight seasons. At least there will only be two contributors with Mark Ingram out of the picture.

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Position

Base Defense

Notable Backups

Coverage

Cover 1 Man

-

% of Plays

44%

-

CB

Marcus Peters

Anthony Averett

CB

Marlon Humphrey

Jimmy Smith

CB (Slot)

Tavon Young

Iman Marshall

SS

Chuck Clark

 

FS

DeShon Elliott

 

LB

Patrick Queen

Malik Harrison

LB

L.J. Fort

 

DT (1T)

Brandon Williams

 

DT (3T)

Calais Campbell

Justin Madubuike

Edge (5T)

???

 

Edge (7T)

Jaylon Ferguson

 

 

Defensive Coordinator: The Ravens are super aggressive on the backend, playing Cover 1 man coverage at the fourth-highest rate (44%), Cover 0 man coverage at the third-highest rate (7%), and blitzing in general at the second highest rate (40%). DC Don Martindale asks his corners to play a lot of press coverage, and he has the talent to leave them on islands. The end result last year was the No. 2 scoring defense. If the front office can properly address edge rusher, the Ravens are candidates to repeat as a top-eight unit.

Passing Defense: The Ravens love to bring pressure, but they need to find quality edge rushers this offseason. Their top-five edges from last season are free agents, including Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon. 2019 third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson has some upside but 4.0 sacks through two seasons as a part-timer. It’s easily the biggest need on the roster heading into the offseason. The rest of the Ravens’ pass defense is legit. CBs Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Jimmy Smith are all due back, as are FS DeShon Elliott and SS Chuck Clark. The safeties are fringe-level players, but it’s a position of little importance in this blitz-heavy scheme. Overall, the Ravens have the upside to be an elite push rush but it’s far too early to tell given the edge rushing turnover. They were seventh in passing EPA defense last season.

Rushing Defense: It’s an old group, but Baltimore is set on the interior with 32-year-old NT Brandon Williams, 35-year-old DT Calais Campbell, and 2020 third-round DT Justin Madubuike who will be inheriting a lot of the reps left behind by free agent Derek Wolfe. Linebacker is also well-equipped on paper with 21-year-old 2020 first-rounder Patrick Queen leading the way, although a veteran presence next to him would ease him through his early-career struggles. Ultimately, how the Ravens address the edge rushing need will determine how well the run defense will shake out. Having a core of Williams, Campbell, and Queen is a good start. They were seventh against the run in 2020.

 


Ravens Team Needs

1. Edge Rusher(s) - The Ravens’ top-five edge rushers in terms of snaps last year are all free agents -- Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, and Jihad Ward. Only 2019 third-rounder Jaylon Ferguson remains. It’s a complete overhaul.

2. Receiver(s) - Baltimore’s receivers were the worst in the league last year. Marquise Brown isn’t crisp enough to be relied on as a No. 1 receiver, and the rest of the depth chart can’t separate. Finding a true X receiver or a high-end physical slot receiver is at the top wish list. Multiple additions are needed as 62% of the Ravens’ 2020 pass attempts came with three receivers on the field. Perhaps speedy 2020 third-round slot WR Devin Duvernay can occupy one of those spots.

3. Offensive Guard(s) - The entire interior is full of backup-level players. LG Bradley Bozeman was a sixth-rounder in 2018, RG Ben Powers was a fourth-rounder in 2019, and C Patrick Mekari was a 2019 undrafted free agent. 

4. Linebacker - 2020 first-rounder Patrick Queen really struggled identifying reads as a rookie, but he just turned 21 years old and has a high ceiling. Even if he takes a second-year leap, the Ravens need to find him a running mate. L.J. Fort is a 31-year-old role player, and 2020 third-rounder Malik Harrison barely played as a rookie.

5. Right Tackle - Orlando Brown is a great one if he sticks around, but he seems set on playing left tackle and the Ravens have Ronnie Stanley. Even if he isn’t traded this offseason, Brown is unlikely to sign a long-term contract with the Ravens once his deal runs out following 2021.

 


2021 Fantasy Football Rankings

Consider these my way-too-early 2021 fantasy football ranking ranges ahead of free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, and here’s where each player ranked in PPR points, expected PPR points, and PPR points over expected last year.

J.K. Dobbins (RB2) - A win for the Post-Bye Rookie Bump, Dobbins’ PPR-point average jumped from 7.6 to 11.3 following the Week 7 bye. The rookie was as efficient as expected (6.0 YPC) but needs more volume to get into the RB1/2 mix. Edwards is likely to return as a restricted free agent, so Dobbins’ role in 2021 will likely be similar to his role late in 2020 after Mark Ingram was benched. Dobbins’ ceiling in full-PPR is capped by his quarterback’s reluctance to target running backs.

Lamar Jackson (QB1) - Despite being trapped in a broken passing game, Jackson finished as the QB9 per game (22.2 fantasy points) because of his rare rushing ability. If Baltimore can fix their passing concepts and receiver depth chart, Jackson has a QB1 overall ceiling. They have the cap space (13th) and draft capital to find upgrades. 

Mark Andrews (TE1) - Compared to Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, Andrews busted in 2021, finishing as the TE4 overall per game (12.6 PPR points). The 26-year-old enters a contract year with a lot to prove after a 2020 season featuring some key drops. Andrews’ floor/ceiling combination is hard to find at the position, but he won’t get the weekly target volume as the elite tier. He averaged 12.0 expected PPR points last year.

Marquise Brown (WR5) - The 2019 first-rounder had a forgettable second season. Brown was the WR51 on WR52 fantasy usage per game and didn’t pass the eye test on tape. His route running and ball tracking aren’t good enough to be a true No. 1 receiver, and the Ravens will be in the X receiver market this offseason. His volume could drop with more competition, and his tape doesn’t justify paying for a pure efficiency play.

FA Gus Edwards (RB3/4) - A restricted free agent with three-straight years of elite efficiency, Edwards is likely to remain on the Ravens in 2021. He'll be the thumper in what likely will be a two-back rotation. In a similar role last year after the Week 7 bye, Edwards averaged 10.5 PPR points on 9.6 expected PPR points. That's not startable in fantasy, but he could be a premiere insurance option.