Ravens Early Projections
Training camp is a less than two months away. For now, we are in wait and see mode, which is why I’ll be making some early projections for the 2015 season. Subject to change of course as the weeks go by, unfortunate injuries occur, and some new players are brought into the fold.
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Looming question entering training camp
This early, the elephant in the room has to be the health of Dennis Pitta. We won’t get many answers to some of the other positional battles on the depth chart until camp gets rolling. But in the coming weeks a decision by Dennis should be made as to whether or not he will be able to, or want to continue playing NFL football. It’s a major decision and he may not even have a choice in the matter in if doctors deem it unsafe for him to risk yet another shattered hip.
The backup plan to Pitta being unable to continue his career was the Ravens drafting two tight ends. Maxx Williams, who could compete with Crockett Gillmore for the starting job. Nick Boyle, will be competing with Phillip Supernaw for the third and final spot on the game day roster. Pretty safe to say if Pitta plays, it will be Boyle and Supernaw sent down the practice squad where they can be plucked from another team at any time. The Ravens don’t carry four tight ends.
Best acquisition: Kyle Arrington
Patient Ozzie Newsome, buying his time, not making big splashes in the free agent market. He waited and picked up Arrington who was a cap casualty of the New England Patriots. Though only 5’10”, Arrington plays very physical at the point of attack, and has turned himself into one of the top nickel corners in the league. If Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith can stay healthy on the outside, Arrington in the slot makes for a nice trio of corners. However, he doesn’t bode well on the outside, and wouldn’t be a fit to replace Webb or Smith should they go down.
For more on Arrington, check out this fine piece by BSL’s own, Shawn Brubaker.
Biggest loss: Haloti Ngata
Literally. Ngata is 6’4”, 330 pounds. He is literally the biggest loss. But also a man who had anchored the Ravens defensive line for nine seasons. He had missed a few games here and there with nagging injuries, but was very durable for a big man in the trenches. When he missed time, it was noticeable that the opposition would start to get the run game going, and the pass rush would lack a bit on defense. That was the case until 2014, when Ngata was suspended for the final four games of the regular season for Adderall use. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan stepped in a full time basis and the play up front didn’t miss a beat. That being the case makes it tough to sell you on Ngata being a huge loss. But it is possible that Ravens will miss him. There are question marks abound throughout the rest of the D-Line behind Williams and Jernigan
Underrated draft pick: Darren Waller
At 6’6”, with 4.4 speed, the potential is there to be a star if he brings his hands. I think a lot of team discounted his ability because he played in the triple option system at Georgia Tech. That also means that Waller is skilled in blocking. A feature more and more coordinators want in their wide outs these days.
Breakout player: Brent Urban
Urban missed his rookie year in 2014 after tearing his ACL in training camp. The Ravens had the 6’7”, 295 pound defensive lineman ranked as second round talent on their board, and were thrilled when he fell to their compensatory pick in the fourth round. He has great size, strength, and speed. What he lacked coming out of Virginia was technique. We saw that Brandon Williams greatly improved his technique from year one to year two. Quality coaching must be a factor. Granted, Urban missed a year. But I have a hunch he’ll pick it up rather quickly. I expect to see him rotating in with Chris Canty, and eventually bully his way, or earn himself more and more playing time.