Mink: I sort of asked Eric DeCosta the question of whether he was going to sign a veteran pass when he appeared in “The Lounge” yesterday and he said, “We will have to see. It’s hard to say. I would be surprised if the Ravens didn’t do it, but it won’t be a big deal because they can’t afford it.
In my opinion, the most likely candidates are to sign Pernell McPhee again or bring in Clay Matthews. McPhee had a good start last season before his late season triceps injury and is a respected guy in the locker room. The Ravens reportedly expressed interest in Matthews last year before signing with the Rams. I should imagine, especially after seeing what Baltimore did in the project, that he would be interested in jumping on board.
Now that the 2021 deadline for unrestricted free agent signings to rely on the compensatory selection formula has passed, we can see some market movement. Few assists have been as productive as Griffin in the past six seasons (57 sacks), but I think it will cost too much. Another player to watch after a 10-bag season last year, Markus Golden, on whom the New York Giants put the rare unrestricted free agent, may also be too expensive. It’s a strange (and depressed) market when Jadeveon Clowney is still sitting there, so who knows.
The Ravens have Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson, and there is good reason to believe that all three could be better in 2020. Additionally, Patrick Queen can be used to the limit, and the Ravens have already significantly improved their passing race on the defensive line in free agency. Baltimore does not need an immediate starter. It’s just that another player to step out of the cool bench and gobble up bags would be the icing on the cake for a busy defense.
Downing: Reaching 1000 meters is a lofty goal, especially since Mark Ingram is still the team’s No. 1. Ingram completed just over 1,000 rushing yards last year (1,018), so I don’t see Dobbins also reaching that mark. Keep in mind that quarterback Lamar Jackson could probably lead the team again as he did last year with 1,208 yards. Yes, the Ravens run the ball more than any team, but I don’t expect them to have three abrupt 1,000 yards.
Also, it’s hard to predict what the ball carrier’s rotation will look like in 2020. The Ravens still love Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, and they’re not going to just give up role 2 to Dobbins. It’s going to be a competition for this place. Edwards had just over 700 yards in the No. 2 role last year, and I think that’s probably the upper end of what to expect from Dobbins. Ray Rice had 454 yards rushing in his rookie season replacing Willis McGahee, and that could be a similar wait for Dobbins.
Mink: DeCosta has indicated that the Ravens have every intention of racing with four runners in 2020. Edwards may still be your short film murderer (he is rarely arrested without gain) who can also exhaust the defenses late in the game when the Ravens protect them leads. This would keep Ingram cooler. But there is no doubt that Edwards will see fewer litters next season. Hill is always your rhythm change back and a receiving weapon out of the backfield.
Downing: The competition for this job will be one of the most interesting of the summer, and it’s a wide open race right now. I made this point on Final Drive earlier in the week, but I think competition is more important than the right guard. The Ravens are still looking for the top five liners, which means there may be some shuffle among these indoor liners. Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari both played well in the center last season, but Skura returned from a knee injury. I also wonder if Bradley Bozeman, who played center in college, could move from the left guard to the center.
The Ravens have recruited Tire Phillips and Ben Bredesen, Ben Powers’ fourth-round pick last year and, it seems, veteran lineman DJ Fluker, who will all be competing for these starting guard spots . My best guess right now is that Fluker would get this job to open the season, assuming the reports are true and that he is going through his physique. The eight-year-old has started 88 games in his career, so it will be difficult for a rookie to beat him for the job.
Mink: So what will Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison look like? Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network explained how Bart Scott would do much of the “take care” while Ray Lewis played “over the top”. This is how I see him with Queen and Harrison with Queen being more of the float and Harrison with the larger body crushing the line of scrimmage.
But don’t doubt, the two guys are very athletic. People sleep too much on Harrison’s ability to cover and go side to side, and I think the versatility and speed of the two linebackers will make this a really special duo that won’t fit exactly into the aforementioned comps.
Downing: This is one of the many challenges that teams are facing right now. It seems unlikely that teams will show up on the field for any off-season practice, so recruits will have a steep learning curve once they show up at training camp. They’d better understand the game book before they get to camp, or they might wake up suddenly on the field. The Ravens have high hopes for this rookie class, and head coach John Harbaugh said they don’t expect it to be some kind of red year. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the rookies put a few weeks into the regular season before they really start to find their place and make an impact.
Mink: Our fans are the best. I love the way there is even a ton of excitement about the Ravens’ unwritten recruits. The flagship reel of Bronson Rechsteiner is ridiculous. In addition, he is the son of former WWF star Rick Steiner. I mean, how cool is that? Imagining Pro Bowler Pat Ricard and Rechsteiner together is like thinking about the Heisman package – it’s almost too good to really believe. But how much rear can you really wear? And we have already talked about transporting four runners. The only way I could see this happen is for Edwards to land elsewhere.