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Grading the Ravens' 2015 draft class


Grading the Ravens' 2015 draft class

It’s all speculation until they hit the field and start producing, or disappointing. However, I’m impressed with the Ravens’ 2015 draft class on paper. Here’s how I break it down. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments.

Strategy – A

Trading up three spots in the second round to get tight end Maxx Williams at No. 55 was the Ravens’ best move of the draft. Not only did the Ravens get the pass-catching tight end they needed, they jumped ahead of the Steelers, who may have planned to take Williams.

Asked if he had a hunch the Steelers wanted Williams, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, “I have no idea what Pittsburgh was doing.” However, the Ravens certainly knew how important it was to get Williams, whom they considered the best tight end in the draft by a wide margin.

Most of the Ravens’ draft strategy occurred before the draft, when they accumulated 10 picks. That provided ammunition to get Williams, and to make other moves if necessary. There was no need to trade up in the first round, because with the 26th pick, the Ravens still got the speed wide receiver they needed in Breshad Perriman. Few, if any, are better at working the draft than Newsome, and it showed once again.

Talent/fit – B +

With a ton of needs entering this draft, the Ravens addressed almost all of them.

Their top priority was to add offensive playmakers. That box was checked with the additions of Perriman and Williams, and to a lesser degree, running back Buck Allen. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Allen will compete to be the No. 2 back behind Justin Forsett.

They needed a pass rusher. Check that box with fourth-round pick, OLB Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens hope Smith can develop into a clone of Pernell McPhee, a versatile linebacker who went to the Bears during free agency.

Getting a deep threat was a must after losing Torrey Smith to the 49ers during free agency. Perriman will stretch defenses even when he’s not the primary target. His speed must be respected, and Joe Flacco is a big-time deep ball thrower. The additions of Williams and fifth-round tight end Nick Boyle gives the Ravens plenty of insurance if tight end Dennis Pitta can’t return from his second major hip surgery. Also, watch defensive end Carl Davis, who is arriving with a chip on his shoulder after falling into Round 3.

The most glaring need for the Ravens remains depth at cornerback. Fourth-round pick Tray Walker will get his shot to join the cornerback rotation, but that’s not something the Ravens can count on. Yet, when you compare pre-draft to post-draft, the Ravens look far more ready for Week 1.

Overall – A -

If you had told the Ravens before the draft they would get Perriman and Williams, they would have been ecstatic. From that point, the rest of the draft was set for success. This is how the Ravens operate. They lose key players during free agency. But they replace those players with young talent in the draft.

RELATED: [Sorting out roles for Ravens 2015 draft class]

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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.


Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. 


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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 


After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception.