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Three defensive playmakers Ravens could nab at No. 6

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Three defensive playmakers Ravens could nab at No. 6

The Ravens’ inability to force turnovers last season could sway them to go defense with the No. 6 pick.

The Ravens had just 14 takeaways, the fewest of any team in the NFL except the Cowboys (11) and the 49ers (12). The Ravens’ six interceptions were the fewest in the NFL.

Teams at the top in takeaways often find themselves in the playoffs. In 2015, six of the top eight teams in creating turnovers made the postseason, including the two Super Bowl teams – the Panthers who led the NFL in takeaways (39), and the Broncos (27), who were tied for seventh.

Many NFL mock drafts have the Ravens taking Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 pick. However, here are three defensive players who could get the nod over Stanley if they are still on the board at No. 6:

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida St.

Ramsey is versatile enough to play corner or safety, with excellent ball skills. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com sees Ramsey as a perfect fit for the Ravens.

“When I look at Jalen Ramsey, you watch him, to me, that’s the piece that Baltimore needs because they have not had a playmaker back there in the back end,” Jeremiah said on the “Move The Sticks” podcast. “Jimmy Smith got that money, (and) was a little up and down, a lot more down than up this past season. (Lardarius) Webb, maybe you move him to safety. But Ramsey to me gives you that elite playmaker. I think they would play him at safety and let him really wreck havoc back there.”  

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Buckner had 11 sacks last season, addressing a Ravens’ need. If they put more pressure on quarterbacks next season, the Ravens will create more turnovers. Buckner could help them do that. He’s 6-foot-7 with the wingspan to bat down passes, and he also plays the run well.

Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

Hargreaves had four picks last season, even though some teams rarely threw in his direction. Even when the Ravens’ corners were in position to make plays last season, they often dropped potential interceptions. Hargreaves could change that.

Conclusion: Drafting Stanley might not be a bad move, especially if the Ravens lose offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele in free agency. However, drafting a defensive playmaker at No. 6 could have more of an immediate impact.

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Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Lamar Jackson's dual-threat dominance earns him another record-setting award

Another week, another Lamar Jackson performance for the ages.

The second-year quarterback has already set numerous records in Baltimore, just 13 starts into his professional career.

Most of his record-book entries have come thanks to his legs. The QB is a prodigious rusher, one of the most talented running signal-callers in NFL history.

That talent helped earn him more honors after his whopping 152 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.

Jackson got started on the ground early, racking up 111 rushing yards in the first half alone. He became just the third quarterback in the modern era to finish with more than 150 rushing yards, and he was rewarded with the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award.

Jackson was the first quarterback in the 17-year history of the award to even be nominated, and now he becomes the first at his position to win it.

Of course, it hasn’t just been on the ground where Jackson has impressed.

He kicked off his 2019 with a bang, throwing for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 20 pass attempts against the woeful Dolphins in Week 1. For his efforts, Jackson was named the Air Player of the Week.

Jackson becomes, you guessed it, the first player in NFL history to win both the Air and Ground versions of the award in the same season, and he managed it just five weeks apart.

He really is one of the most gifted, unique athletes in NFL history. As the Ravens’ tweet says, he is “one of a kind.”

At this rate, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t break a few more barriers the rest of this season and beyond.

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

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‘It’s like facing Steph Curry’: Ravens hope to slow down MVP candidate Russell Wilson

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If there’s one person in the Ravens locker room who knows Russell Wilson, it’s Earl Thomas. 

Thomas, who spent nine years in Seattle before he came to Baltimore this past offseason, had practiced against Wilson every day since he entered the league in 2012. 

Now, he’ll be one of the central figures on defense as Baltimore heads to Seattle to face Wilson and the Seahawks. And this year, Wilson has been better than ever. 

“Everything is predicated off the run game, and we also know that Russell can extend plays,” Thomas said. “That's when he kind of works his magic — when he plays backyard football. And his receivers do a great job of just melding with him and creating space, boxing guys out and creating leverages and coming up with big catches."

Through just six games, Wilson has thrown for 1,704 yards — a 4,544 yard pace — and 14 passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 151 yards and has three rushing scores. He’s also completing 72.5 percent of his passes. 

Despite being in an offense that runs the ball about 50 percent of the time, Wilson has excelled. Specifically, he’s been nearly untouchable outside the pocket. 

And when he’s under pressure and has to escape, he’s one of the league’s best. 

“It’s just like all the other quarterbacks we’ve played before,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “You can say, ‘Keep him in the pocket.’ There’s times you think you have him in the pocket and he shakes you and he gets out of the pocket. He’s extending plays better than he ever has.”

The Ravens, who blitz as much as anyone in the NFL, will have to make the decision to try and contain Wilson in the pocket where he can pick apart the Ravens defense, or sit back and defend against the pass. Either way, there’s no good option.

“It's sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will,” Martindale said. “You can pick him halfcourt and he's going to try to drive by you or you can slack off and he's going to pull up and hit a three." 

The Ravens have their own, different, version of Wilson in Lamar Jackson, who the Ravens are hoping can simulate Wilson’s ability. 

But there are only a select number of players in the league that can do what Jackson and Wilson can do with a football in their hands.

"I think he's the only guy that I've seen do it pretty effortlessly, like Lamar does,” Marlon Humphrey said. “We always say we don't want to play Lamar, so I guess we're kind of playing a polished-up, couple-years-down-the-line Lamar. So, we definitely better get ready, because he definitely can do it all."

Against Wilson, the Ravens will have one of the toughest tasks in the NFL this season. Through six weeks, there hasn’t been a team that’s been able to slow him down. 

“Defensively, I'm sitting there watching Lamar, and I'm like, 'Oh, wow,'” Humphrey said. “So, I'm hoping that's not happening when I'm out there on defense with him (Wilson). But Russell, he really can get it done. I'm not really saying I'm a fan, but he's Russell Wilson. He’s a pretty big deal.”

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