The Baltimore Ravens were good last year, but not good enough. Despite a big playoff win on the road in Pittsburgh, the Ravens season ended at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. This year, though, the Ravens look a little better than the Pats do. In fact, the Ravens may have the best squad in the AFC.
That’s thanks in a large part to a core group of players that aren’t going anywhere, including quarterback Joe Flacco (who is still enjoying his Super Bowl XLVII payday). The recently re-signed Justin Forsett leads a solid corps of running backs, and the defense remains a top-ten squad – which could be enough to get the job done.
Losses in the offseason
Despite all the losses, the team remains in pretty good shape. The Ravens saw Justin Forsett emerge as a legitimate starter last year, so they won’t regret cutting ties with Pierce. Plus, the Ravens already proved that they could live without Ngata when Timmy Jernigan stepped up during Ngata’s PED suspension last year.
One spot to watch is tight end. With Daniels gone, the Ravens have a bit of a gap there. The wide receiver situation isn’t ideal, either, but the Ravens’ strong draft will help them overcome the issues. All in all, the Ravens are a remarkably complete team considering the number of players they’ve lost this offseason.
The Ravens did extremely well in this year’s draft, snagging three great players (Florida WR Breshad Perriman, Minnesota TE Maxx Williams, and Iowa DT Carl Davis) with their first three picks. All three of these players could make an impact right out of the gate. Williams and Perriman, in particular, will be players to watch. If they perform as expected, they’ll fill two of the biggest holes in the Ravens offense.
The Ravens also drafted Kentucky DE Za’Darius Smith, USC RB Javorius Allen, Texas Southern CB Tray Walker, Delaware TE Nick Boyle, Tennessee State OG Robert Myers, and Georgia Tech WR Darren Waller.
The Ravens un-drafted free agent signings were:
OLB Darius Allen (Colorado State – Pueblo)
OL Darryl Baldwin (Ohio State)
DE/OLB Brennen Beyer (Michigan)
WR DeAndre Carter (Sacramento State)
T Blaine Clausell (Mississippi State)
LB Trey DePriest (Alabama)
C Nick Easton (Harvard)
OL Kaleb Johnson (Rutgers)
QB Jerry Lovelock (Prairie View A&M)
RB Terrence Magee (LSU)
P/K Justin Manton (Louisiana-Monroe)
S Nick Perry (Alabama)
OL De’Ondre Wesley (BYU)
CB Julian Wilson (Oklahoma)
WR Cam Worthy (East Carolina)
The Ravens didn’t poach any superstars from other teams this year, but they did make some free agent signings. They inked QB Matt Schaub, CB Kyle Arrington and S Kendrick Lewis. Arrington should be a solid addition to the Ravens’ secondary.
The players the Ravens managed to keep were more important than those they gained. They’ve managed to re-sign RB Justin Forsett, which was key. They also re-signed K Justin Tucker, OG Jah Reid, DE Lawrence Guy, DT Chris Canty, DE Christo Bilukidi, S Will Hill, S Anthony Levine, and LS Morgan Cox.
The Ravens look to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Unfortunately, a couple of other contenders are sitting right in the same division. The Ravens remain the favorite to win the AFC North, but don’t be surprised if the Steelers or even the Bengals manage to steal it away (you’re allowed to be surprised if the Browns do).
Once out of the division, though, the Ravens have to feel good about their Super Bowl hopes. The Patriots and Broncos just aren’t the same teams that made their respective Super appearances, and the Steelers and Colts, while good, don’t quite have the roster that Baltimore does. Nothing guarantees a Super Bowl appearance (or even a playoff spot), but the Ravens have to like their chances at least as much as any team in the AFC right now.