Baltimore Ravens: Ranking Need Level For Every Position
The Baltimore Ravens have several pressing needs this offseason. Today we are going to rank the amount of need the Ravens have at each position group:
The Baltimore Ravens have to get better in 2017. 8-8 is not good enough, and bringing in more talent is the surest way to fix the problem. The Ravens need to take a good look in the mirror, develop an offseason blueprint and make things happen. Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh must determine the allocation of the team’s resources.
With that in mind, let’s look at the Ravens roster as it stands today. For each position I will give a score between 1-10. The higher the score, the more the Ravens need to improve at the position in question. The lower the score, the more content the Ravens should be at the position. This is grading the amount of improvement necessary.
This is also taking offseason predictions into account. For example, the Ravens are probably going to cut Elvis Dumervil to get more cap room. That will go into the grade even though it has not happened yet. We haven’t even gotten to February yet so there are many questions lingering.
With that in mind let’s start with the quarterback position.
Level Of Need At Quarterback: 4
The Ravens are set at the quarterback position. There are not many options for the Ravens to improve under center. They are financially tied to Flacco and quarterbacks are hard to find. Its time for the Ravens to look for the quarterback of the future, but Flacco is the quarterback of the present.
If the Ravens wanted to draft a guy after the first few rounds of the NFL Draft, that could work. Baltimore should find a guy that has potential and develop him. If the Ravens took on a project at the quarterback position, it could put some pressure on Flacco. That said, it’s hard to imagine Flacco losing his job in this scenario.
The Ravens have a quarterback. They need to give him the tools to be successful. The Ravens desperately need their quarterback to play better. However, the quarterback position is something the Ravens really can’t address too much this offseason.
Level Of Need At Running Back: 5
The Ravens have two solid running backs in Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West. Dixon has off the charts potential. While the Ravens could upgrade at the position, it shouldn’t be a priority. The Ravens need to commit to running the football. If bringing in a more talented back pushes the Ravens to the right balance, I won’t complain. That being said, can we fairly grade the Ravens running backs after they were so neglected?
The Ravens need game changing talent. Dalvin Cook would be a game changer with the 16th pick in the NFL Draft. Cook reminds me of Ladainian Tomlinson. He has incredible speed, great vision and a surprising amount of power. If the Ravens brought in Cook it would change the offense. Cook might even replace West and would pair perfectly with Dixon.
The Ravens can choose to put a superstar in the backfield. It would change the offense. The problem is that the Ravens have much more pressing needs. I have a feeling that West and Dixon are more talented than most people think they are. The Ravens have a medium need for a running back, at best.
Level Of Need At Wide Receiver: 10
The Ravens most pressing need is getting Flacco a top tier wide receiver. I have been preaching this since the Ravens lost to the Steelers, on Christmas. There is no getting around the Ravens lack of talent at this position. Breshad Perriman is a complementary receiver at best. His speed is a great asset but his hands and route running require serious improvement. If the Ravens think that he can become their number one receiver, they’re fooling themselves.
Even if Mike Wallace returns, he should not be a number one receiver. Micheal Campanaro has potential as a slot receiver, but him staving off injury is unlikely. The Ravens have a bunch of role players. Without Steve Smith Sr. they do not have a go to guy. It’s frustrating watching other teams enjoy top flight receiving talent. That’s what the Ravens need, and they need it more than anything.
The Ravens need to add a star receiver to the roster. It would also behoove them to add a veteran receiver. Pierre Garcon is a really solid option. He could be a possession receiver, and a strong fill in for Smith Sr. Whatever the Ravens do, they need new stars for Flacco to throw the football to.
Level Of Need At Tight End: 5
The tight end position is kind of like the running back situation. The Ravens have a perfectly suitable answer at the position but they could justify bringing in a super star. Things worked out fairly well for the Ravens tight end group. Dennis Pitta restructured his deal and showed that he could start where he left off. Ben Watson will likely be cut for cap reasons. Crockett Gillmore, Darren Waller, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle will compete for the remaining spots on the roster.
Pitta is Flacco’s go to target. In fact, he had 86 receptions this season. The Ravens have a solid group of tight ends. I would argue that the tight end group has not even scratched the surface of their potential. Gillmore may be the most talented of all the Ravens tight ends, and he has battled various injuries. Boyle and Waller missed time this season because of suspensions.
The Ravens don’t need to do anything at the tight end position. That being said, they don’t have a Rob Gronkowski like player. If they could find an unstoppable target at this position, they should make it happen.
Level Of Need For The Offensive Line: 7
The Ravens found two long-term answers with Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis. They need to improve the offensive around the core of Stanley, Lewis and Marshall Yanda. The Ravens need a better answer at the center position. Rick Wagner is a decent right tackle, but an upgrade could be made.
It is also important to remember that Yanda won’t last forever. Yanda is 32 years old. Getting a head start on finding his replacement would not be a bad idea for the purple and black. If Yanda misses time because of injury, the Ravens will be in trouble. The depth on the offensive line is certainly something the team can improve.
The Ravens will most likely use the NFL Draft to address their needs. They make a habit of finding great offensive linemen with the right value. Getting Lewis in the fourth round is a great example of it. Nobody understands football in the trenches better than Ozzie Newsome, so these needs may be taken care of.
Level Of Need For The Defensive Line: 5
The Ravens could lose Brandon Williams to free agency, but they would still be in good shape. Michael Pierce could fill in as the starting nose guard. The Ravens would just need to add a little more depth. Timmy Jernigan is becoming a star. Lawrence Guy is dependable. Players like Brent Urban and Carl Davis have untapped potential.
The Ravens are solid up front. Whether or not they retain Williams, they could use a game changer. Drafting a defensive lineman with the 16th pick will frustrate the fans, but Jonathan Allen would make some sense. Jernigan could get some big money elsewhere next season. Allen would be the next star on the defensive front. Need for defensive linemen is mild, though.
The Ravens defense relied heavily on the defensive line this past season. The Ravens will have a good defensive line next season. They should probably focus on other positions first.
Level Of Need For Linebackers: 9
The Ravens are set at inside linebacker. C.J. Mosley was voted to the Pro Bowl, Zach Orr should have been. When we look at the outside linebacker position though, its another story. Terrell Suggs is nearing the end of his career. The Ravens will most likely cut Elvis Dumervil. While we have seen Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith show flashes, we don’t know if they can be the future of the position.
The Ravens had a top 10 defense this season but sacks were not frequently part of that success. Baltimore needs pass rushers badly. The franchise needs to find the next Terrell Suggs. Baltimore has always had great edge players. From Peter Boulware, Adalius Thomas and Jarrett Johnson, this has been the Ravens bread and butter. Ozzie Newsome needs to find difference makers this offseason. A pass rusher would be a sensible place to start.
The Ravens have to go up against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers twice per season. The best way to beat the Steelers is putting Roethlisberger on the ground. Le’Veon Bell is tough to stop as well. That’s why outside linebacker is such an important position. A dominant edge rusher could be the difference between a brutal divisional loss, and a glorious victory.
Level Of Need At Cornerback: 7.5
The Ravens have need at the cornerback position, but it is not as dire as many fans think. Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young are a good combination. The Ravens have two problems at the cornerback position. First, Smith is injury prone. Secondly, the Ravens don’t have enough quality cornerbacks. The Ravens problems in the secondary can be fixed though.
The Ravens need to sign a veteran cornerback that is good as a slot defender, and can fill in for Smith, if needed. Then the Ravens should spend a mid round draft pick on a cornerback. A veteran and a find comparable to Young. That should be the formula to the Ravens problems. They need two more corners who can help out in nickel and dime defensive sets. More than anything they need an option better than Shareece Wright if a starter goes down.
Finding a top-tier cornerback is going to be hard for the Ravens. They can realistically make the position solid with moves that go under the radar. It would be nice to have a Patrick Peterson, or a Richard Sherman like talent, but that’s not what the Ravens need. The cornerback position may seem like a desperate need, but it’s not as bleak as it may seem.
Level Of Need At Safety: 9
Assuming Webb gets cut, the Ravens will need to replace him. Eric Weddle is a great strong safety. The Ravens concerns will be at the free safety position. Baltimore is yearning for a ball hawk with speed and range. They saw Ed Reed show everyone how the free safety position should be played for years. Now, the Ravens need to find the next great safety.
Malik Hooker would make sense with the 16th pick in the NFL Draft. The safety from Ohio State is getting compared to Ed Reed on a daily basis. While I want a superstar wide out more than anything, Hooker would be the most obvious choice for the Ravens.
It would be hard to replace Webb in free agency. The Ravens aren’t going to win the Eric Berry sweepstakes. That leaves Christopher Conte as the next best option. Conte is a decent player but that wouldn’t be an overly thrilling signing. The Ravens need more speed and big plays in the back end of the defense. Finding the perfect match for Eric Weddle is imperative.
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