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An Early Guess At Who the Ravens 2018 MVP Will Be

The Ravens have a season starting in less than 100 days, and with a long training camp and season upcoming, there’s plenty of chatter as to what player might shine better than the rest as the teams Most Valuable Player.

An article out on NFL.com talks about just what player they think will be the MVP for not only the Ravens, but for each team around the National Football League for 2018.

The Ravens MVP – author Dan Hanzus is going with kicker Justin Tucker, a very good player that he sees having a big year in Baltimore this upcoming season.

Here’s what Hanzus has to say about Tucker this season:

Ideally, my list doesn’t start with a freaking place-kicker, but sometimes alphabetical order trolls you like that. That said, I’ll pound the table for Tucker’s greatness anywhere on this list. This is a guy coming off two of the greatest seasons a kicker’s ever had. Shame it’s been wasted on a pair of middling Ravens teams, but we can see the brilliance tucked amidst mediocrity. Some Tucker facts: He’s missed just four field-goal tries in the last two seasons. He went 10-for-10 from beyond 50 yards in 2016, a season in which his only miss came on a block. He’s never missed an extra-point try in 205 attempts. He’s a game-changing talent at the game’s most underappreciated position. Justin Tucker will win multiple games for the Ravens in 2018.

What do you think of this pick? Do you agree? Leave a comment if you disagree with what player you think will be the Ravens 2018 MVP.

Ravens to Lose Final Two OTA Practices for an Infraction of League Rules

Training camp has yet to get going in the NFL, but the Ravens are already in a heap of trouble, as the team is losing it’s final two OTA practices this week due to an infraction of the league’s rules.

Also as stated in the tweet below, coach John Harbaugh and owner Steve Bisciotti are facing fines.

Ravens Restructure Most of Safety Tony Jefferson’s Base Salary Into a Signing Bonus

The Ravens converted $5M of safety Tony Jefferson’s $6M base salary into a signing bonus, creating $3.33M in cap space for 2018.

They took $5 million of his $6 million and converted it to a signing bonus in a move that cleared $3.33 million in cap space for the year to come.

Jefferson’s salary for 2018 was already fully guaranteed, so the move simply moves up the time he gets his money. He’s signed for two more years with non-guaranteed base salaries of $8 and $7 million.

The NFLPA’s most recent update on the salary cap has the Ravens with just over $8.7 million in space for 2018.

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh Impressed with the Accuracy of New QB Lamar Jackson

Ravens head coach praised the accuracy of his future franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson Saturday according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.com.

“The thing that I was really impressed with is I thought he was accurate,” Harbaugh told reporters. “You read the reports and stuff like that but he’s a naturally talented thrower. He’s got natural arm talent. And that’s something that I think people were questioning. So to see him out here throwing the ball naturally and very accurately I thought was a big plus.”

That is quite a change from the anonymous NFL offensive coordinator who was quoted before the draft as saying this about Jackson: “He will not be able to play [quarterback] in this league — mark my words. When he throws, he hopes.” Clearly, the Ravens did not share that opinion when they traded back into the first round a week ago Thursday to make the former Heisman Trophy winner the No.32 pick in the draft. And there were pundits who suggested that that unnamed OC’s comments were tinged with more than a hint of racism. While throwing in practice is a far cry from throwing against real defenses, the Ravens thus far seem very pleased with their choice. The real question is how quickly Jackson can progress to claim the job from the Ravens’ current franchise QB Joe Flacco.

Ravens Earn an ‘B+’ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Ravens, who according to Kiper got an ‘B+’ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

There’s no question the Ravens have disappointed lately. They haven’t made the playoffs the last three seasons. The offense and Joe Flacco have taken a step back. So GM Ozzie Newsome, in his last draft in charge, is shaking things up, putting the 33-year-old Flacco on notice. Baltimore traded up into the last pick of the first round — at a big price, surrendering next year’s second-round pick, plus pick Nos. 52 and 125 — to get Lamar Jackson. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is the most raw of the top quarterbacks in this class, but he’s an electric talent. And with Flacco there and under contract for the short-term, Jackson doesn’t need to play right away. He can learn the game and keep developing until he’s ready. It’s a good spot for Jackson.

Elsewhere, the Ravens became the only team since the 2012 Colts to take two tight ends in the first three rounds, grabbing Hayden Hurst (pick 25 after trades down from 16 and 22) and Mark Andrews (86). Ben Watson accounted for 64 percent of the Ravens’ tight end yardage last season, but he’s gone. Hurst is a complete player who can line up next to the tackle or in the slot, while Andrews is essentially a 6-5 slot receiver. He had a great college career, and he’s going to be a tough cover for linebackers and safeties. We know Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, but sometimes he can rely on them too much. I liked the value getting tackle Orlando Brown at 83, and it’s cool to see him drafted by the team that his father “Zeus” played for. Brown’s tape shows a first-round player, but he fell because of a disastrous combine. He could start at right tackle in 2018.

And of course, Ozzie took two more Alabama players in his final draft. Cornerback Anthony Averett (118) has a thin frame, but he ran a 4.36 at the combine. Center Bradley Bozeman (215) anchored the Crimson Tide offensive line for 31 starts. Jordan Lasley (162) has some off-field issues, but he was Josh Rosen’s favorite target and took over games at times. He’s worth the risk there. Safety DeShon Elliott (190) had six interceptions (two pick-sixes) last season.

The big takeaway here is putting a clock on Flacco’s time in Baltimore. Jackson isn’t ready to contribute right now, but he could be in 2019.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/25 Hayden Hurst TE SOUTH CAROLINA
1/32 Lamar Jackson QB LOUISVILLE
3/83 Orlando Brown OT OKLAHOMA
3/86 Mark Andrews TE OKLAHOMA
4/118 Anthony Averett CB ALABAMA
4/122 Kenny Young ILB UCLA
4/132 Jaleel Scott WR NEW MEXICO STATE
5/162 Jordan Lasley WR UCLA
6/190 DeShon Elliott S TEXAS
6/212 Greg Senat OT WAGNER
6/215 Bradley Bozeman C ALABAMA
7/238 Zach Sieler DE FERRIS STATE

Report: Ravens Made a Multiyear Offer to WR Dez Bryant – He Said ‘No Thanks’

NFL Network is reporting that the Ravens wanted to make a big splash, and tried to acquire wide out Dez Bryant, making him a multiyear deal which he said ‘no’ to.

When Bryant turned down the Ravens offer, the team instead went out and got wide out Willie Snead, inking him away from the Saints with a two-year deal.

Baltimore has indeed shown the most interest in signing Bryant, but the two sides couldn’t agree on contract length, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, via a source informed of the situation.

The Ravens needed a multiyear deal to fit Bryant’s number under the salary cap, per Rapoport. The former Cowboys star, conversely, is seeking a one-year contract that will enable him to test the market again in 2019.

In other words, Bryant is banking on a bounce-back year to rehabilitate his league-wide value.

That’s a high-risk approach for a player attempting to reverse the decline phase of his career. The Ravens’ offer was “pretty lucrative,” Rapoport added on NFL Up to the Minute, in the neighborhood of the three-year, $21 million deal signed by Michael Crabtree.

QB Colin Kaepernick Reportedly Present for Depositions for Harbaugh and Newsome

Colin Kaepernick was present for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh’s depositions Thursday as part of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s collusion grievance against the NFL, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports.

The interviews were set to take place at the Under Armour Performance Center, according to a Pro Football Talk report Wednesday.

A Ravens spokesman declined to comment Wednesday, saying, “Legal proceedings of this nature are confidential and cannot be commented on publicly.”

Earlier Wednesday, the team announced it had agreed to a one-year deal with former Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III. With starter Joe Flacco dealing with a back injury last training camp, the Ravens spoke to both Kaepernick and Griffin about potentially signing with the team.

Despite their public flirtation with Kaepernick, the Ravens decided not to sign him. Team officials acknowledged that they heard from fans both for and against the potential signing.

Kaepernick became one of the most polarizing athletes in the country after he knelt during the national anthem before games in 2016 to protest treatment of African-Americans and other minorities.

Kaepernick hasn’t gotten another NFL job after he opted out of his 49ers contract before the 2017 season.

He filed a grievance in October, alleging that the NFL is colluding to keep him out of the game.

Baltimore Gridiron Report 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: USC QB Sam Darnold

The hype for USC quarterback Sam Darnold has b3en growing by leaps and bounds the last few weeks, to the point where many feel he’s going to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft in April.

At 6-4, 220 pounds, he’s got the look of a player who with some time learning could be a very good to excellent quarterback in the NFL, but time will tell when he might get that chance.

In his final season at USC, Darnold threw for 4143 yards, with 26 touchdowns to go along with 13 picks. This after throwing 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions the season before.

Here’s a look at Darnold and what various places are saying about him in our latest scouting report.

Walter Football

Strengths:
Naturally accurate passer
Fits passes into tight windows
Excellnt ball placement
Throws a catchable ball
Pocket presence
Has poise
Advanced anticipation; instinctive thrower
Throws with good timing
Can accelerate his throwing motion
Quality arm strength
Pushed team to wins
Good internal clock
Mobility
Throws very well on the run
Throws accurately off platform
Displays some feel in the pocket
Not easy to sack
Can hurt defenses on the ground
Can make all the throws required
Can pick up yards on the ground
Threads passes into tight windows

Weaknesses:
Ball security
Too many interceptions
Too many fumbles
Had some confidence issues in 2017
Doesn’t secure the ball well when getting sacked
Good enough not doesn’t have elite arm strength
Throwing mechanics are a bit unorthodox
Needs to start games faster

Summary: Darnold took college football by storm during the 2016 season, and even though he wasn’t eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, the redshirt freshman had scouts buzzing about his pro potential. After a 1-2 start to the 2016 season for USC, Darnold was made the starting quarterback. For his debut season, he was an extremely efficient passer who led the Trojans to a 10-3 record. Darnold lost his first-ever start against a good Utah team, but after that he led his team to ripping off a nine-game win streak to close out the year, including impressive wins over Colorado, Washington, and a comeback Rose Bowl win over Penn State. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The 2017 season was more of a mixed bag for Darnold. The redshirt sophomore completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He had an up-and-down season with too many turnovers – fumbles were a particular issue beyond the interceptions. Darnold also made some beautiful anticipatory throws with excellent accuracy in just about every game.

There is a lot to like about Darnold as a future starter in the NFL. First and foremost, he is an accurate pocket passer who throws with good ball placement and is very precise in the short to intermediate part of the field. Darnold has excellent anticipation to know when and where receivers are going open. With his feel and timing, Darnold hits receivers on the run, leading them to picking up yards after the catch. He also regularly will throw receivers open and help them to find space to beat tight coverage. Darnold is a natural rhythm thrower who would fit best in a West Coast system to maximize his ability to throw accurately in the short to intermediate part of the field. He is a smooth precision passer who can be deadly when he gets into a good groove.

Darnold is comfortable in the pocket, but also has the ability to move around to buy time. While he is not a running quarterback, he is functional to avoid sacks and will move around to help his offensive line and receivers. Darnold made a number of really nice plays during the past two years when things went off script as he got creative to move the ball for his offense. Routinely, Darnold would buy time with his feet and then make an accurate throw downfield with the rush closing in on him.

The Drafster

In my eyes, Sam Darnold is a very odd prospect. Talked about as a number 1 overall draft pick. Talked about as the best Quarterback coming out of college this year. However, I am not seeing any of this. When I watch Darnold, I see one of the most streaky Quarterback play I think I have seen in awhile. At time looks very hesitant to throw, missing an opportunity. Other times he looks too eager and makes a bad decision. He has his good moments, but then a play later he will have a combination of bad plays. Moving in the pocket too early and too often, inconsistent accuracy, and staring down a play for too long are major turn offs to me.

The first thing I notice about Darnold when watching him is that he seems to ignore his dump off routes. He seems so locked in on making a big play, he forgets about the guys that are 5 yards away from him. I can respect wanting to make a big play for the team, but after staring downfield for eternity it’s time to hit your shallow routes. At least LOOK at them to see if they are open. There is no shame in taking an easy three to five yards. Not every throw has to get the crowd on their feet.

The second thing I notice is how much he likes to move around in the pocket. And that is just not his style. I get running to avoid a sack, but too many times I saw him run with a clean pocket. Multiple times he would take off to the outskirts of the pocket, making it easier for defenders to get off their block. He seems to just panic unless he has the cleanest pocket one could possibly have. If he would stand tall in the pocket and deliver, his accuracy issues would go down as well. His deep balls are inconsistent, and the times he does go to dump it off, those are not always pretty either. His best throws come from his 10-15 yarders. Which always happen to be when he stands his ground.

I will say though, 4th quarter Sam Darnold seems to be a better player than in other quarters. He reads the field better, has better ball placement, and doesn’t try to run around as much. It just seems something clicks a bit better for him during the 4th. Like he has calmed down. He just needs to be able to play similar to that all game if he is gonna be the number 1 overall pick this upcoming draft.

I think Darnold has a lot to work on. Personally there are 4 other Quarterbacks I would take before drafting him. He does good things, unfortunately, his good things just are not consistent enough and are overshadowed by his flaws. I believe if he can work on sitting in the pocket longer instead of trying to escape right away (while not holding the ball for too long), a lot of his issues will start fading. I think Darnold will have a real rough start to his career, but if keeps his confidence and keeps fixing his game, it will work out for him in the long run.

Cover 1 Scouting Report

Strengths:

Darnold’s entire game is predicated upon his ability to create. Darnold is an athletic player; he is able to pull the ball down and gain chunks of yardage with his legs. His agility and change of direction catch many defenders off guard.

That is why offensive coordinator Tee Martin built an offense that maximized his legs. USC ran a heavy dose of run pass options (RPOs), a concept that gave Darnold many options pre- and post-snap, and he absolutely flourished. On a majority of their plays, Darnold had the ability to give the ball to star running back Ronald Jones, keep it as a runner, or throw it to one of his many weapons outside. This multi-dimensional structure of a play was obviously super productive. His decision making was very good all season, especially on these RPOs. He can process the coverage, find the conflict defender, and distribute the ball quickly.

But what is often overlooked is the accuracy and velocity needed on these kinds of concepts. At times, after the mesh with the running back or play fake, the passing lane is cluttered with defenders coming downhill to defend what they perceive to be a run. Once they realize that it is a pass, they immediately try to get their hands up in the passing lanes. Darnold makes these throws look easy. Standing at 6’4? and 220 pounds, he is able to place the ball in optimal locations, allowing his weapons to make plays.

At the next level, Darnold is going to make his money in the short area. While his elongated release and sloppy footwork will cause issues at times, something I will cover later, it isn’t an issue from 0-9 yards. That bodes well for Sam, because that is where football is won and lost on Sundays. His mechanics aren’t an issue because he is throwing in rhythm and not having to worry about mechanics.

According to SportsInfo Solutions (SIS), Darnold’s short game is phenomenal. From 0-9 yards, he had the highest completion percentage (75.4%), the 4th-most passing yards (1,534), 12th-most touchdowns (10), the 3rd-highest yards per attempt (7.6), and the 5th-highest rating (107.2).

Weaknesses:

As productive as Darnold was over his 27 games at USC, he has some serious flaws that need to be addressed, the first of which is turnovers. Darnold threw 22 interceptions over two years and added another 20 fumbles. This lack of ball security will get you benched quickly.

While the offense surrendered an average of 2.14 sacks a game and a grand total of 30 sacks in 2017, he admitted that he was pushing it too much.

Many of his turnovers are linked to his mechanics. Darnold has some of the worst mechanics I have ever seen from a quarterback. Let’s start with his delivery. Typically, a quarterback with an elongated delivery like Darnold’s will struggle at the next level. From the time he begins his delivery to the time of release is often the difference between a tight window completion and an interception. Defensive backs are just too good on Sundays. If he is slightly late anticipating a throw and needs to drive a pass, the split second longer that it takes to release the ball due to his delivery could lead to an interception, much like it did versus Washington State. The safety bails post-snap, baiting Darnold to throw the speed out as he gets the 1-on-1 coverage. The defensive back reads the route, breaks, and picks him off.

What Matt Miller says about Darnold – Ranking him as the #1 QB on the board

1. Sam Darnold, USC

A two-year starter at USC, Sam Darnold is widely praised for his toughness, football IQ and leadership. A coach with the Trojans told me Darnold only cares about football and not the benefits of being a star quarterback. He did turn the ball over 22 times in 2017, which should at a minimum send scouts back to the tape to find the context of each turnover. But Darnold’s tangible and intangible traits are tops in the class.

Scout’s Quote: “Crystal clean off the field. Smart, poised, tough, accurate. He might be the only one that could work in Cleveland because he won’t let the pressure go to his head.”

Coach’s Quote: “The release and turnovers bother me, but he has the makeup to be good. He’s better than [Mitch] Trubisky was last year but he’s not on the level of [Carson] Wentz or Jared [Goff].”

Scout’s Comparison: Tony Romo, retired

Darnold impressed at his Pro Day, throwing in the rain back on March 21st