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Ravens select Alabama's Upshaw

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Ravens select Alabama's Upshaw

The Ravens made their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft Friday evening, selecting Courtney Upshaw, an outside linebacker from Alabama, with the 35th overall selection the third pick in the second round.

A key contributor on a fierce defense that helped the Crimson Tide win college footballs national title last year, the 6-2 272-pound Upshaw was widely regarded as a likely first-round pick, but he slipped out of the first round because some scouts thought he might lack the speed to drop into pass coverage in a 3-4 scheme.

The Ravens didn't seem to mind that shortcoming and were delighted to add a player who gets to opposing quarterbacks as effectively as any player in this year's draft class.

Upshaw had 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for losses, 11 quarterback pressures and 52 overall tackles for Alabama in 2011.

The Ravens could have taken him in the first round Thursday evening with the 29th overall selection, but they traded out of the first round, receiving the 35th pick and a fourth-round selection from Minnesota in return. Their gamble seemingly paid off when they were able to still land Upshaw.

Upshaw could fill an immediate need for the Ravens, who lost veteran outside linebacker Jarret Johnson to San Diego via free agency last month. The team has penciled in Paul Kruger, who played well in 2011, as a possible replacement, but Upshaw might be a better fit. He is known for setting the edge on a run defense as effectively as he gets to quarterbacks.

The Ravens went with Upshaw ahead of several other highly-regarded prospects, including Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill.

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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