Adrian’s Ravens Predictions Based on Live Training Camp
This past weekend (the 27th and 28th) I was able to attend two Ravens training camp practices. The experience gave me a very positive perception of the Baltimore Ravens organization as a whole. Fun-filled activities, great fan appeal, and the exchange of dialogue from fans to players truly showed the love between the Ravens, their fans, and Baltimore City. Aside from a positive public image, I, as a spectator, received a first-hand look at the progress of both the Ravens offense and defense, teamwork, and individual players. Based on offensive and defensive miscues, individual player performances, chemistry between players, and the coaching I observed, here are a number of roster, depth chart, and statistical predictions for the Ravens before and during the 2019 regular season.
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WR, Jordan Lasley will not make the 53-man roster
Despite being a 5th round pick in former GM, Ozzie Newsome’s final draft, Lasley has continually failed to translate his playmaking abilities from his UCLA days to the NFL level. Lasley failed to improve his hands after being a healthy scratch for most of his rookie season in 2018. He still remains to be an unreliable pass catcher. During Saturday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium, Lasley dropped a perfectly thrown 15-yard ball from RGIII during the 11-on-11 portion of practice. With other receivers such as UDFAs Anoine Wesley and Sean Modster taking advantage of precious reps by repeatedly making plays, Lasley may soon be on the chopping block.
TE, Hayden Hurst will be the offense’s most consistent chain-mover
Hayden Hurst (and his hair) looked fantastic during both practices. He caught everything thrown in his direction and has become a favorable target of Lamar Jackson. Earlier this offseason, it was revealed that Hurst put on 20 lbs of muscle. Initially, the statement left me skeptical, but after seeing Hurst up close, I was taken aback at his stature. He dwarfed his fellow tight ends as well as defenders in the open field. Despite the weight gain, Hurst ran very crisp routes and demonstrated confidence and power after the catch. With the faster Mark Andrews running the seams, Hurst will find soft spots in defensive zones near the first down marker. At the same time, Hurst’s size will allow for more YAC, which will turn those 7-yard throws into 12+ yard gains. I can assure you that other defenses will not enjoy bringing down Hurst in the open field.
DE, Zach Seiler will be one of the team’s most underrated players in 2019
In both practices, Seiler repeatedly blew up running plays and constantly found himself in the backfield. Seiler’s play will mitigate the departure of run-stuffing DE, Brent Urban who signed with the Titans in this year’s free agency. The Raven defensive line is one of the deepest positions on the roster. Frequent substitutions will keep the big men in the trenches fresh and allow for guys like Seiler to overpower tired offensive linemen and blow up plays. Should Seiler keep up his impressive play, he may even earn himself the starting job next to Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams.
WR, Chris Moore will (once again) be the WR4
Despite positive comments being made about Moore’s play, during the stadium practice, him and Jackson miscommunicated on multiple throws. Their lack of connection seems peculiar since both players trained together during the multi-week break before the start of training camp. Also, it also seemed odd that Jackson seamlessly connected with other receivers such as rookie standout, Miles Boykin and savvy veteran, Seth Roberts. At times, and especially when Moore was being covered by emerging star CB, Marlon Humphrey, Jackson did not even look in Moore’s direction. If Moore wants to fulfill expectations of becoming a WR2 or WR1, he will need to outperform his counterparts who, at the moment, are stealing his targets.
Though the Raven pass rush lacks star power, fans should not be worried
I found the Raven interior pass rush much more disruptive than the pass rush coming from the OLBs. DE, Willie Henry looked very solid in both practices and is (once again) a candidate for a breakout season. In contrast, OLBs Shane Ray, Tim Williams, and Tyus Bowser failed to make any lasting impressions. Ray jumped offsides during an 11-on-11 on Sunday, and both Williams and Bowser made little impacts. Pernell McPhee was the most impressive OLB. He demonstrated great awareness after batting down multiple passes and successfully setting the edge multiple times. Although the only reliable pass rusher is budding star, Matt Judon, fans should trust DC, Wink Martindale in his ability to find ways to get to opposing team’s QBs. Martindale’s ability to send players on disguised blitzes proved to be very successful, and he has the talent, discipline, and depth to do the exact same this year. It also helps to have a stout secondary shutdown TEs and WRs on a consistent basis.
The Ravens red-zone offense will be among the NFL’s best
The Ravens offense was at its best in the red-zone. Rather than using elaborate plays, size was relied upon, and mismatches were created which allowed for Jackson to utilize his underrated touch to get the ball out of the reach of defenders. Jackson found Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews, Miles Boykin, and Seth Roberts for red-zone touchdowns. By putting the right pass catchers on the field and lining them up against smaller defenders, Lamar Jackson should not have a problem lofting the ball and allowing his big targets to soar up, box out defenders, and come down with touchdowns. Concurrently, the offense has many different routes it can go in the red zone. Aside from mismatches in the passing game, the offense has a bonafide scoring machine in Mark Ingram as well as Lamar Jackson himself, who can pull the ball down and score on his own. With the team’s offensive unpredictability along with OC, Greg Roman surely having a few tricks up his sleeve, opposing defenses will have difficulty stopping the Ravens in the red-zone.
Other predictions worth mentioning:
-S, DeShon Elliot will give starting FS Earl Thomas needed rest by being a reliable sub. The Ravens must be prudent about Earl Thomas since he has been prone to the injuries in recent years.
-RB, Justice Hill will lead all rookie RBs in receptions. Hill has shown great hands and quickness, allowing him to break off big gains from check downs.
-At best, the Ravens will receive a 7th round pick in exchange for K, Kaare Vedvick. Though Vedvick has been consistent, other teams may not be willing to give up high draft picks for special teams players.
Adrian was born and raised in Baltimore and is a huge fan of both the Ravens and Orioles. He is currently a Freshman at Franklin and Marshall College looking to double major in History and Economics. He is also a member of the Men’s Varsity tennis team where he will help lead the team to a hopeful conference title.