by Mario Granata
John Harbaugh faces a team that he hasn’t had to face since becoming the head coach in 2008…a team in repair. Its nice to have all the pieces in place when you take over a squad, which is the reason why he had 4 ten win seasons in his first 5 years. In more recent times, he has had only 1 ten-win season in the past 4, and despite an 8-8 season in 2016, his job might be in jeopardy. Drastic measures have to be taken for his aging squad.
Head Coach: John Harbaugh
Career Record: 85-59
Offensive Coordinator: Marc Trestman (New: Marty Mornhinweg)
17th YPG, 12th Pass, 28th Run
Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees
7th YPG, 9th Pass, 5th Run
From a statistical standpoint, the Ravens weren’t that bad in 2016. Their defense ranked in the Top 10 of the major statistical categories, and they were competitive in each game. The switch of the offensive coordinators might have been their undoing as Marc Trestman sought greener pastures north of the border. In a division that has the Browns and struggling Bengals, you would think that the Ravens would be a consistent Wild Card or Division winner having doing battle with the Steelers, but it was not meant to be in 2016.
Baltimore is just over 5 million in cap space and with the release of Elvis Dumervil that did not make matters better for the Ravens. For a couple of years now, the secondary has been their undoing, so they elected to pick up some players to sure up the back end of their defense. They have been drafting around the Steelers for the most part, so any high talent linebackers that they have wished to get, have been snatched up by the yellow and gold. If they were looking at anyone to cut or restructure it would be Mike Wallace. They have already restructured Dennis Pitta, and with the release of Wallace they would sure up another 3 million in cap space if they were really desperate.
The Ravens elected to release and then resign Ladarius Webb for 10 million over 3 years, and then went out and signed Brandon Carr for 4 years. On the offensive side of the ball, they gained the multi-talented Danny Woodhead who can serve as more of a receiving threat out of the backfield if his legs hold up. Aside from those signings the Ravens are done with their collection of talent until the draft comes around.
The Ravens have a lot of options here with the 16th overall pick, but most of the focus seems to be around two positions: WR and DE. The retirement of Steve Smith and the release of Elvis Dumervil these are the more likely places that Baltimore will select. With the moves that they made in the off-season in the secondary, and with it being a deep class, they can probably find another player in the later rounds.
Mike Williams/Corey Davis– WR – Clemson/Western Michigan – If the Ravens elect to take the blueprint from 2016, Dennis Pitta and Mike Wallace were the leading receivers followed by Smith. Baltimore does have Breshad Perriman but he is closer to a clone of Wallace than comparable to Smith. Although Williams doesn’t possess the type of detailed route running that Smith did, he is a player that teams will have to account for.
Davis is another player who will have a tough time filling the shoes of Smith, as his breaks into and out of cuts are among some of his shortcomings. But, with the fact that Smith was a #3 target in 2016, and with the addition of Woodhead, this could limit the amount of targets for a #3 wideout, thus making him a 4th option. Perhaps the Ravens won’t spend a 16th overall pick on him.
Takkarist Mckinley/Derek Barnett – DE – UCLA/Tennessee – The Ravens are known for defense, but just as a majority of the top players at the cornerback position are going to be gone off the board, many speculate that McKinley and Barnett are the 4th and 5th best options at the defensive end position. While McKinley has a burst (4.59 40-yard) off the line, Barnett is quicker directionally moving than McKinley, so the Ravens will have to make a choice. Most of the time, when a pick seems like a slam-dunk, there is a lot of unpredictability that could happen with the mid-round picks.
The Ravens could all but trade out of this spot and load up with more picks and younger players for their aging squad.
As mentioned earlier, the Ravens are up against the cap and are looking to build their team through the draft.
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