The Baltimore Ravens are the epitome of average. Since 2013, the Ravens are 40-40. Watching the Ravens is like watching paint dry and expecting something interesting to happen. Joe Flacco flat out doesn’t care since being paid after his Super Bowl season, the Ravens historic defense is no longer great, and Ozzie Newsome forgot how to draft overnight (he’s not even the gm anymore). If Baltimore doesn’t make the playoffs this year, head coach John Harbaugh is probably a goner. With another average season looming, what can we expect from the Baltimore Ravens heading into training camp this year?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
1. Quarterback: Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III
This is an either or year for the Ravens. The weight of the Ravens season is on the shoulders of Joe Flacco. The level of interest that Flacco has in the game of football might be close to zero. BUT… Flacco is in big danger of being released after this season. Will the new presence of Lamar Jackson light a fire under Flacco’s ass and make him care again. Then again, there’s also a chance that Jackson causes friction within the locker room for players clamoring for his debut. Will fans be rooting for Baltimore to bench Flacco after every tiny mistake? That could be a huge issue. The reality is that Jackson isn’t ready to play now and was by far the rawest quarterback prospect coming out of the draft. Hey, don’t count out RG3 either. Crazier things have happened.
2. Right Tackle: Orlando Brown, Alex Lewis
Orlando Brown was a flat out stud at Oklahoma. Brown is a house hovering at 6-foot-7, 360. Brown likely would have been a first-round pick if he didn’t bomb the combine. Brown struggles with his movement skills but so did his dad who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens playing right tackle. At his best, Brown smothers defensive ends. Maybe it’s his destiny to play for the Ravens and win a Super Bowl just like the late great Orlando Brown. His competition is Alex Lewis, who was a fourth-round pick two years ago. Lewis hasn’t set the world on fire by any means and has missed significant time due to injury. It’s going to be an interesting battle to watch during the preseason.
3. Center: Matt Skura, Bradley Bozeman
The offensive line continues to be the focal point here. Marshall Yanda and Ronnie Stanley are really the only locks to start. Skura has done a nice job after taking over the starting role for the retired John Urschel. Bozeman has a realistic chance to snag his job coming to the team from Alabama. Bozeman was a late-round draft pick but did a hell of a job on the National Champion Crimson Tide offensive line.
Read To Breakout: Tyus Bowser
Bowser was a player I loved coming out of the draft a year ago. He crushed the souls of offensive lineman during his time at the University of Houston racking up sacks left and right. When he showed up at the Senior Bowl, Bowser blew me away with his natural rush ability and fluid coverage skills. In limited snaps as a rookie, Bowser notched 3 sacks as mostly a situational pass rusher on rare occasions. I expect his snap number to increase in year two and could develop into a double-digit sack monster for the next 8 years. Then again, maybe I’m totally wrong and that guy that I just described is actually Tim Williams.
Rookie To Watch: Hayden Hurst
We’re going to find out real quick if Hayden Hurst can play. There’s no excuse for the former baseball pitcher to pick things up and succeed right away. Hust is already 24 and will turn 25 in late August. There is no room to sit and wait for the first-round pick out of South Carolina. He has to play now, especially because of his age there probably isn’t much room for growth. The tight end position in Baltimore is a dumpster fire. Maxx Williams stinks, Nick Boyle can’t stop taking steroids, and Mark Andrews has diabetes. With Joe Flacco being the check down king, Hurst will get plenty of reps to show what he’s made of.
Fantasy Sleeper: Alex Collins
I don’t think people realize how good Alex Collins was a year ago. Collins averaged 4.6 yards per carry which is a really good indication that he is worth the hype. Collins has always been a fan favorite of mine since he came out of the draft from Arkansas and really caught my eye as a big bruising force. Collins rushed for 973 yards and didn’t even become the bell cow back until week 7. Collins can also catch the ball adding to his value. Baltimore did not draft a running back this year which means Collins should see a nice bump in his carry numbers. It’s safe to assume that he will top his 6 touchdowns from a year ago too.