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Steep grade for Ravens?


Steep grade for Ravens?

This was a workmanlike draft for the Ravens, through no fault of their own, it seems.

When it was over, they explained that so many of the prospects they liked were taken by other teams that they had to grind through their board to find useful players.

We had to manufacture some runs, said Eric DeCosta, the teams director of player of personnel, using the baseball phrase for having to work extra hard for production.

Their best move, without question, was their first. Its always disappointing when they trade out of the first round, as they did Thursday night for two picks, but the move paid nice dividends. They still grabbed a plug-and-play, first-round-caliber talent at No. 35 in Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, and used the extra pick on centerguard Gino Gradkowski, addressing their biggest need.

Because of the first-night move, they came away with four players in the drafts top 100 not bad for a team picking so low.

But beyond Upshaw, none of the other picks were eye-poppers. It could be that none start for the team in 2012.

Of course, the Ravens pretty much called this shot when DeCosta said beforehand that he thought this would be a depth draft for the Ravens, meaning they wanted players at multiple positions who could contribute but not necessarily start.

They appeared to achieve that goal. Bernard Pierce looks like he will be able to produce as Ray Rices backup; he scored 27 touchdowns last season and clearly wowed the Ravens scouts. Gradkowski and fellow offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, taken in the second round, will compete for jobs. Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson could bring plus-rated athleticism to the secondary and special teams nice-looking third-day picks there.

I have my doubts about how much we should expect from Miami receiver Tommy Streeter, the sixth-round pick; David Reed and Tandon Doss, receivers taken on the third day of the prior two drafts, have barely whiffed the offensive huddle. And defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson is automatically on the bubble as a seventh-round pick.

Heres what I didnt like about the Ravens draft:

They really needed another young receiver for Joe Flacco to target, and they left a good one on the table in LSUs Rueben Randle when they selected Osemele late in the second round. Randle went to the New York Giants, another team that drafts well, three picks later, and Osemele comes with a lot of question marks for a player taken so high.

The Ravens obviously had the mountainous Osemele rated ahead of Randle, and well see how that works out, but meanwhile, Flacco still doesn't have that new target.

While Upshaw seemingly is a lock to fit right in and become a solid contributor, the larger success of this draft class will hinge in the long run on whether the two offensive linemen become starters.

The Ravens are in constant need of new blood on the line, especially now. Ben Grubbs is gone. Matt Birk will be 36 next season. Bryant McKinnie is 33 and in the last year of his contract.

Given all that, the Ravens really need Osemele and Gradkowski to blossom and become the latest in their long line of mid-round picks who develop into starters on the offensive line.

Overall draft grade: B-minus.

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp


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.