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5 players Ravens fans should keep an eye on at the NFL Combine

5 players Ravens fans should keep an eye on at the NFL Combine

For a team that finished 14-2 in 2019, the Ravens have quite a few holes to patch up across the roster. 

The team needs an edge rusher — a situation that could be exacerbated by a potential departure of Matthew Judon — and help at inside linebacker, interior offensive line and wide receiver.

Baltimore isn’t flush with cap space, especially if Judon is retained by either a contract extension or franchise tag. Meaning, they’ll have to capitalize on their draft picks, of which they have six — with compensatory picks still to be announced. 

The combine schedule will have tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers workout on Thursday, special teamers, offensive line and running backs on Friday, defensive line and linebackers on Saturday and defensive backs on Sunday. 

Here are a few players who the Ravens could take a look at near the top of the draft:

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

This is the linebacker that the Ravens might have to make a move to acquire. 

Patrick Queen, an off-ball linebacker from LSU, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 227 pounds. He made 85 total tackles in his junior season as a Tiger and had one interception, too. 

“Patrick Queen to me would be a home run pick from LSU if somehow he was there,” NFL Network analyst Jeremiah said in a conference call last week. “I think he should be gone by then. He's so athletic and explosive.”

Should Queen be on the board, the Ravens could have themselves a three-down linebacker capable of dropping into coverage or finding a ball-carrier behind the line of scrimmage. 

If Queen is on the board when the Ravens pick, even if there’s a hole at edge rusher, there will be a difficult decision to make for the Ravens.

Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Perhaps the most popular selection in early mock drafts, Kenneth Murray could deliver the most realistic chance the Ravens have at getting an impact off-ball linebacker in the first round. 

Murray registered 102 tackles in his junior year, down from his 155 tackles he posted as a sophomore. He’s an excellent open-field tackler, one that can fill a hole in the Ravens front seven on day one. 

The former Oklahoma Sooner would fill a spot that linebacker C.J. Mosely left vacant after he went to the Jets in the spring of 2019. 

Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin

Here, the Ravens could be almost forced to take an edge player. Enter Zack Baun.

Baun, an edge rusher at Wisconsin, was a disruptive force on the outside for the Badgers in perhaps college football’s toughest conference. 

In his final year in Madison, he made 76 total tackles and had 12.5 sacks — second in the Big 10 behind only Chase Young.

“Zack Baun from Wisconsin can give you versatility as somebody who can rush...then cover,” Jeremiah said. “When you talk about pure edge guys, you know they've (the Ravens) tended to lean more towards the physical rushers.”

The ceiling for Baun isn’t what Young’s ceiling is, but Baun — while a bit light at just 238 pounds — has the makings of a productive player at the NFL level.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

Now, it’s time for some fun.

The Ravens had the NFL’s best and most explosive offense in 2019, led by MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown and Mark Ingram. While it might not make sense, on paper, to overlook other more prominent needs on the roster, another top wideout for Jackson is certainly on the needs list.

“Shenault would be a heck of a lot of fun,” Jeremiah continued. “I put down this list of guys in this draft, and I just wrote "Finding (49ers wide receiver) Deebo (Samuel)." 

Shenault, listed at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, compares physically to Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. At Colorado, Shenault caught 56 balls and totaled 764 yards for four touchdowns in 2019. A year prior, he eclipsed 1,000 yards through the air and had 86 catches and six touchdowns.

The way the Buffaloes used him, though, could play favorably to what the Ravens would like to do in the backfield. And with his big frame, he’s able to be versatile in any offense.

“I would go back, get more speed and just continue to add more speed like the Chiefs have done,” Jeremiah said. “I would double down. And I think Shenault would be a fun toy for them, somebody that could play in the slot. You can use the fly sweep stuff with him. You could put him in the backfield with Lamar hand him the ball. He's done that a bunch at Colorado, for a creative offense, there's none more creative than Greg Roman.”

Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

This one might seem like it’s out of left field, but Jalen Reagor is a wide receiver to watch at the combine. 

A speed demon at TCU, Reagor totaled just 611 yards in his final year of college, down from the 1,061 yards he posted a year prior. In that way, Shenault and Reagor are similar players. 

“So finding somebody with maybe some physicality to go along with their speed to complement Hollywood Brown in this offense, it would be fun to watch,” Jeremiah said, speaking generally of the Ravens’ offense.

Reagor, who called himself a mix of Tyreek Hill and Deebo Samuel at the combine this week, could run the fastest 40-yard dash in Indianapolis — even faster than former Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs. And Reagor, who weighed in at 206 pounds, was used in a way that could benefit the Ravens as well. 

TCU used him in a variety of ways: as a receiver, in the backfield and as a returner. Reagor could fill multiple roles, so don’t be surprised if the Ravens target the athletic wideout — even if it’s not in the first round of such a deep wide receiver class.

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Lamar Jackson works out with free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown

Lamar Jackson works out with free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown

Lamar Jackson created a buzz throughout the entire 2019 season with his play on the field. 

Recently, he’s created a buzz off the field, too. 

Jackson took pictures with, and was filmed throwing to, free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown earlier Wednesday. The videos and pictures floated across social media and initiated a bit of a stir.

Ravens wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who is cousins with Antonio Brown, was also attending the workouts. 

Antonio, who is 31, was cut by the Patriots after Week 2 last season. He is being investigated by the NFL for allegations of sexual assault against his trainer, Britney Taylor, who alleged that Antonio sexually assaulted her in 2017 and 2018. She also claims that in 2018, she was raped by Antonio. 

Antonio has denied all allegations against him and has countersued Taylor for defamation.

The link to the Ravens and Antonio Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is a clear one, as the Ravens are widely expected to make at least one upgrade in their receiving corps in the NFL Draft later this month. 

While the workouts happened on Wednesday, they might not continue for much longer. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order, effective Thursday at midnight.

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Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews is in a unique situation with his friend Hayden Hurst. 

He’s happy that Hurst will finally get his chance to be a No. 1 tight end in Atlanta and earn the targets he wasn’t able to receive in Baltimore.

There also won’t be the same relationship between Andrews and Hurst, and fellow tight end Nick Boyle, anymore. 

The three-headed monster was inseparable in the locker room, incredibly productive on the field and one of the brightest spots for the NFL’s best regular season team in 2019. Now, one-third of the group is gone. 

“I think, first of all, it was kind of a shock for me,” Andrews said Tuesday during a conference call. “And selfishly, Hayden being one of my best friends and being someone that I talk to every day and I'm super close with, I'm sad. I'm sad that I won't be able to have him next year, I won't be able to talk to him next year as much, but I'm also excited for him. I'm excited for him to get more of an opportunity with Atlanta.”

Hurst was shipped to Atlanta in mid-March to give the Ravens some much-needed draft capital. It also gave Hurst, a first-round pick in 2018, a chance to be a true No. 1 tight end threat.

The trade gave the Ravens the 55th overall pick in the NFL Draft later this month, as well as a fifth-round pick in exchange for Hurst and a fourth-round pick.

Last season, Hurst posted 349 yards receiving on 30 receptions with two touchdowns. Those numbers ranked fifth on the team in receptions and third in yards.

With Hurst out of the fold, Andrews, Marquise Brown and perhaps a few new offensive additions in the draft will have to pick up the load Hurst left behind.

“He's a great player,” Andrews said. “I love him to death, but it's exciting for him as well. But, firstly, I'm sad. I know Nick is sad. The three-headed monster kind of got broken up a little bit, but again, we're going to be just fine. Nick and I, we'll do our jobs, and then, obviously, we're going to find someone else to help us out.” 

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