2020 Baltimore Ravens Outlook
John Harbaugh returns for his 12th season as head coach for the Baltimore Ravens. He has a 118-74 record with eight playoff berths and one Super Bowl title. The Ravens improved in each of the previous four years while setting a career-high in wins (14) in 2019. Harbaugh has one losing season in his career (5-11 in 2015).
Last year Baltimore moved to second yards gained and first in points scored (531). They scored 142 more points than in 2018 (389). Before Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback, the Ravens went 20 seasons without a top ten offense.
Greg Roman returns for his second year as the offensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons as the offensive assistant and assistant head coach for the Ravens. He led the offense of San Francisco and Buffalo over six seasons from 2011 to 2016. His strength is running the ball based on two top finishes in rushing yards for the Bills in 2015 and 2016 while ranking highly in his last three seasons with the 49ers (4, 3, and 4). Baltimore led the NFL in rushing in 2019. Ramon has never finished higher than 23rd in passing yards while delivering about league average passing TDs in most years before 2019 (36 passing TDs).
Over the last two years, Baltimore ranked first and fourth in yards allowed by their defense. They allowed 282 points (3rd) in 2019 and 287 points (2nd) in 2018.
The Ravens brought back Don Martindale for a third year after spending the previous five seasons in Baltimore as the linebackers coach. Martindale has 15 years of NFL coaching experience highlighted by his 2010 season when he had his first shot at being a defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. The Ravens ranked in the top 12 in defensive yards allowed over the last seven seasons.
The Ravens added LB Josh Bynes and DT Derek Wolfe to their defense. Burnes played well off the bench for the Bengals over the past three years. His projects to be an asset in run support with minimal upside in the pass rush. Wolfe set a career-high in sacks (7) in 2019 for the Broncos while continuing to play well vs. the run. Baltimore should use him as a rotational player in 2019.
They lost DT Michael Pierce to the Vikings after not playing well last year. His game offers an edge stopping the run, but he only has 3.5 sacks over his 60 career contests.
Baltimore didn't re-sign S Tony Jefferson, CB Brandon Carr, DE Pernell McPhee, S Brynden Trawick, and DT Domata Peko. All of these players remain unsigned.
With the 28th selection in the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Ravens added LB Patrick Queen. He brings a dynamic presence to the linebacking position thanks to his speed, strength, and technique. Queen plays with vision and balance. His game projects well on three downs, which will also improve with more experience. Queen does offer higher value with a talented defensive line in front of him.
Baltimore stole RB J.K. Dobbins in the second round, and strength is a big part of his success. Dobbins brings a fighter's mentality to the run game. His mission is to drive the ball forward with quickness, vision, and against the grain cuts. He'll take a hit and lose his balance, but Dobbins finds a way to stay upright on many plays while offering a stiff arm.
With their four picks in the third round, the Ravens drafted DT Justin Madubuike, WR Devin Duvernay, LB Malik Harrison, and G Tyre Phillips.
Madubuike has a disrupter feel, with his best tools being his acceleration and power. His fire off the snap isn't ideal, and it will be tested at the next level. Madubuike can't match his blockers in size, which put him at risk if he fails to create within his first couple of steps. His motor may not have the fuel to excel for a high number of plays in the NFL.
Duvernay comes to the NFL with an enticing blend of hands, speed, and open field ability, but his pieces don't necessarily add up to an impact player. He falls short in route running while lacking the quickness to consistently win out of the slot. In the Ravens' offense, his game should work well, especially with the freelancing style of QB Lamar Jackson.
Harrison should develop into an early-down run stopper. His game shows the most success when attacking the line of scrimmage with his strength. He creates space with his hands and offers the power to finish. Harrison will have risk in coverage, and his change of direction value takes a hit when asked to retreat.
Phillips brings a mashing style to the run game. His range is limited, which hurts his pass protection skill set when asked to make plays outside his frame. Phillips lacks the initial quickness off the snap to defeat speed players, and his technique isn't where it needs to be.
In the fourth round, Baltimore picked up a second guard (Ben Bredeson). His style of play falls in line with how the Ravens want to play the game on the ground. Bredeson has the feel of a player that will make the straight forward plays in both the run and pass game, but his window looks limited along with skillset.
With their final three selection over the last three rounds, the Ravens invested in DT Broderick Washington, WR James Proche, and S Geno Stone.
Washington projects as an early run player who plays with fight, vision, and toughness. His game is about power, but he anticipates well in play development. Washington has limitations in the pass rush, which he tries to overcome with his an above-average motor.
Proche shows great playmaking ability when the ball is in the air, but he lacks the foundation skillset to create enough wins in press coverage or the route running to become an elite player. Proche offers a possession type foundation while lacking the wheels to beat defenders in the deep passing game.
Stone looks the part of a fiery safety, but his physical tools are well below his thought process. He attacks when moving forward with excellent vision. His shortfall comes when asked to cover speed deep or retreat from his initial press ahead.
Baltimore placed 1st in rushing yards (3,296) with 21 TDs. Their rushers gained 5.5 yards per carry while averaging 37.3 rushes per game. The Ravens ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per passing yards (3.350) with 37 TDs and eight Ints. Their offensive line allowed 28 sacks and 59 QB hits.
LT Ronnie Stanley
Stanley moved to elite status at his position in 2019. He dominated in pass blocking while playing at his highest level in the run game. Stanley has exceptional quickness with his feet leading to an edge in pass blocking. He needs to add more upper body strength to help maintain his ground against power rushers. The Ravens added him in the first round in 2016.
LG Bradley Bozeman
In his first season with starting stats, Bozeman failed to make in impact in any area. He finished with more risk in pass protection. Baltimore added him in the sixth round in the 2018 NFL Draft.
His biggest competition should come from Ben Powers, who only saw 30 plays last year. Powers plays hard with plenty of fight in his game, but the pass blocking area is limited while needing to add lower body strength. His foundation skill set should play well at the next level if he improves his value as a run blocker. He may move to the center position according to Raven Country.
C Patrick Mekari
In a split role in 2019, Mekari showed the most value at the center for the Ravens. He played well as a run blocker with neutral value in pass protection. Baltimore added him as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
RG D.J. Fluker
Over his first three years in the NFL after getting drafted in the first round in 2013, Fluker played well in the run game while showing risk in pass protection. His game had regression over the past four seasons while battling some injuries. Fluker now grades as a liability for his position.
RT Orlando Brown
Over two seasons in the league, Brown minimized the damage in sacks while struggling to find his way as a blocker. He is a beast in size (6'8" and 345 lbs.), but his upper body strength is well below NFL standards. Orlando lacks technique with minimal upside in athletic ability. He wins his battles with his base and overall mass. Brown should improve as a power run blocker while expected to handle his responsibilities in pass blocking.
Offensive Line Outlook
The Ravens offensive tackles have the most upside, but the line's interior has risk at all positions. The legs of QB Lamar Jackson covers up plenty of weakness in both runs and pass blocking. Baltimore tends to attempt a low number of passes, which helps lower their overall total in sacks.
QB Lamar Jackson, BAL - Stud (low risk)
Jackson gave fantasy owners an electric ride in 2019. Heading into last year, a 1,000+ yards rushing and over 3,000 yards passing were reasonable expectations for Jackson. His edge/breakthrough came in his 36 passing TDs, especially when considering his low pass attempts (26.7 per game) and overall weakness in production at wide receiver (115/1,419/17). There is no QB in history with more value as a runner (176/1,206/7 in 2019), and his success as a passer should continue to grow. Baltimore wants to run the ball, and defenses should have a better plan to slow him down with a full offseason to watch his tape. Winning player with a unique skill set for the QB position, but his reliance on the run puts him at more risk than most QBs. I expect regression in passing TDs based on overall passing chances and his questionable options at the wide receiver position. It would also be difficult for Jackson to repeat his value in the run game.
In his initial projections, I have Jackson projected to gain 4,187 combined yards with 34 touchdowns.
RB J.K. Dobbins, BAL - Sleeper (undervalued)
While playing in a great system at Ohio State, Dobbins looked elite in his freshman year (1,538 combined yards with eight TDs and 22 catches on 216 touches while seeing about 55 percent of the running back opportunity.
His game regressed in 2018 (1,316 combined yards with 12 TDs and 26 catches). Mike Weber (172/954/5) outplayed Dobbins on many days.
Last year Dobbins regained his bounce in his step, which led to a high volume opportunity (301/2,003/21 plus 23 catches for 247 yards and two TDs).
Dobbins slid to the Ravens in the season round, which gives them Mark Ingram insurance. Unfortunately, his opportunity will be a work in progress over the first half of the year. Dobbins should eat away at the touches by Gus Edwards. An excellent handcuff with upside, especially if his draft value slides a round or two over the summer. His game projects well if he gains a starting job.
RB Gus Edwards, BAL - Low Potential
Despite a high-volume rushing QB and lead RB1, the Ravens found a way to get Edwards 140 touches last year. He responded with strength in his yards per carry (5.3) and two successful games (8/112/1 and 21/130). Game score was a significant factor in his chances, along with 595 rushing attempts by the Ravens. Tough to roster based on his 12 games with fewer than nine rushing attempts. Mop-up specialist who will have to compete with RB J.K. Dobbins and RB Justice Hill for early-down carries if RB Mark Ingram has an injury.
RB Mark Ingram, NO - Bust (overvalued)
In a way, Ingram overachieved his opportunity (15.2 touches per game) in fantasy points (244.50 FPPG in PPR leagues – 9th) thanks to a high volume of touchdowns (15). His catch rate (89.7) commands more chances, but age (30) isn't on his side. Last year the Ravens' RBs rushed for 2,029 yards on 399 carries with 14 TDs and reasonable value in the passing game (84/723/1). Ingram scored ten of his TDs on the road. This year he'll be in a four-way split for touches with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.
Look for some regression while losing respect in the early draft season. Possible value early in the year while losing touches in the most significant moments of the year. Fade for me. His early projections come to 1,062 combined yards with eight TDs and 24 catches.
RB Justice Hill, BAL - Deep-league Only
Hill was the fourth wheel in the Ravens' running game in 2019, which led to minimal touches in all games. He ran a 4.4 40 at the NFL combine in 2018 while showing plenty of strength (21 bench press reps). Justice runs with a quick tempo and a sense of the big play on many carries. His vision, power, and shake help him make defenders miss in the open field. Hill wants to run outside, which may hurt his value in some game vs. a top run defense. He should emerge as the change of pace back for the Ravens. His next step is improving in pass protection to help earn more snaps on passing downs. With Ravens adding RB J.K. Dobbins, Hill has a more challenging path to early down action.