Ravens earn B+ offseason grade with bevy of draft picks

Largely a victim of injuries in 2015, the Ravens used their 11 draft picks to boost their offseason grade.

| 7 months ago
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Ravens earn B+ offseason grade with bevy of draft picks


2015 was a rare down year for the Baltimore Ravens, and many fans were expecting big changes in the offseason. It was a strange season though, given just how decimated they were by injuries, losing their starting quarterback, running back, top receiver and one of their best defensive players all to season-ending injuries. With plenty of draft picks, they had the opportunity to set themselves up well for the future, and appear to have made the most of it, as five of their draft picks from the first four rounds are poised to make big rookie impacts.

Offseason grade: B+

Free Agency/Trades

New arrivals: S Eric Weddle, TE Ben Watson, WR Mike Wallace, CB Jerraud Powers, RB Trent Richardson

Re-signings: WR Kamar Aiken, CB Shareece Wright, LB Albert McClellan, OLB Chris Carter, LS Morgan Cox, K Justin Tucker

Departures: S Will Hill, G Kelechi Osemele, DE Chris Canty, WR Chris Givens, TE Allen Reisner, TE Chase Ford, OLB Courtney Upshaw, CB Brynden Trawick, QB Matt Schaub, QB Jimmy Clausen, ILB Daryl Smith, WR Marlon Brown

Free agency saw plenty of players leave Baltimore, but based on their level of play in 2015, the only key losses were Will Hill, Kelechi Osemele and Chris Canty. For Canty, it was a case of the Ravens getting younger at the position, with Timmy Jernigan (75.5 grade on PFF last year) developing well, along with other young players in Carl Davis (62.6), Kapron Lewis-Moore (47.9) and Brent Urban (52.2), who the Ravens have high hopes for in the future. Hill’s departure was likely heavily influenced by a suspension that will keep him out for the first 10 games of 2016, and adding a replacement like Eric Weddle quickly filled the void. Hill’s play also dipped in the second half of the year, with him grading as our fourth-best safety through the first eight weeks of the season, but our 14th-lowest-graded safety from Week 9 on. They also added another deep threat for Joe Flacco in wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace averaged 16.3 yards per reception or better in his first three seasons in the league, but hasn’t averaged more than 13.1 in the past four seasons.

Mike Wallace’s career statistics:

Wallace YPC

2016 NFL draft

  • Round 1 (pick No. 6) Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
  • Round 2 (pick No. 42 from Miami) Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
  • Round 3 (pick No. 70) Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
  • Round 4 (pick No. 104) Tavon Young, CB, Temple
  • Round 4 (pick No. 107 from Miami) Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati
  • Round 4 (pick No. 130 from Denver) Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska
  • Round 4 (pick No. 132) Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
  • Round 4 (pick No. 134) Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
  • Round 5 (pick No. 146 from Jacksonville) Matt Judon, DE, Grand Valley State
  • Round 6 (pick No. 182) Keenan Reynolds, WR, Navy
  • Round 6 (pick No. 209) Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia

Ronnie Stanley might not be the most powerful run-blocker, grading at +9.3 last year and ranking 19th in the draft class, but he is incredibly smooth as a pass-blocker, and should give the Ravens long-term stability at left tackle. Kenneth Dixon was PFF’s highest-graded pass-catcher among running backs in this draft class, and should make a strong claim to at least be the Ravens third-down back as a rookie. BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi is another player to add to the young ground of 3-4 defensive ends who helped push Canty out the door, with the fifth-highest pass-rushing grade among players on the defensive interior in this draft class. If there’s one knock on this class, it’s that they failed to add a difference-maker in the secondary, but fourth-round draft pick Tavon Young does have some intrigue. His coverage grade of +2.1 was tied for the 74th-best in this class in 2015, but in 2014 only six players from this draft class had a higher coverage grade.

Conclusion

The Ravens head into 2016 with a similar quality of team to the one they had in 2015. That might seem like a bad thing coming off a 5-11 season, but given how injury-riddled the Ravens roster was last year, it’s not all doom and gloom. They’ve added key pieces for the future through the draft, as well as two pass catchers for Joe Flacco in free agency in Wallace and tight end Ben Watson. Really, the keys for the Ravens this season will be staying healthy, and hopefully finally getting some production from 2015 first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman. If they can, they should be able to compete in a tough AFC North in 2016.

Ravens’ projected base defense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.22.27 AM

Ravens’ projected base offense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.22.38 AM

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Lord Father

    wiliams to start over Gilmore or Watson?

    • Runner1967

      Gilmore might not start the season and Williams has a long way to go. He showed very little last season. I’m betting Watson gets the nod but he isn’t the player many think. Having Drew Brees throwing him the ball is far different than Flacco.

      • Adonis brooks

        This team is not our dads ravens team .There so scare to pick a great player with a little nasty to himself. Harb had this problem with men who carries the swag like ed reed, ray lewis, Donnell elebee,and cary williams,and paul kruger. John H. Likes to control everything. Harbs needs to coach a collage atmosphere where he is a father figure.

      • Kenny Wilson

        Gillmore will start the season… he ended up not having the multiple reported surgeries and is ahead of schedule. And Williams showed very little? He had the best rookie season in franchise history at the position… and that includes Heap and Pitta. Watson surely wont be as prolific, but its not because of who’s throwing him the ball. It will be because of how many weapons the Ravens will be spreading targets around to. Watson, Gillmore, Williams, maybe Pitta, Steve Smith, Aiken, Wallace, Perriman, Camp, and then the RB’s who Trestman likes to involve in the passing game. We don’t need Watson to put up the numbers he did last year – if he can make some crucial 3rd down conversions and some plays in the red zone that’ll be a win for the Ravens.

    • Johnny Rockets

      Williams is the next Gronk. It only makes sense. He’s got the ability. This is his year to prove it.

      • polo

        next gronk he s far from it….he was obviously avoid tons of contact last season…and gronk doesn’t really avoid contact

    • polo

      yeah that doesn’t seem realistic to me especially since Dennis pitta is in the equation now

  • crosseyedlemon

    I think we’re going to learn how much job security a Super Bowl ring can actually buy a coach. The Ravens did have some key injuries but this is a team on a downward arc just the same. They could pick up a couple of more wins than last season but if Flacco were to get re-injured they could end up drafting first next year.

    • JudoPrince

      Where is the downward arc? They went 5-11 with every key player on the team suffering season ending injuries. 2015 was a season long bye and if anything earned them very solid draft position.

      • Runner1967

        This assumes they were playing well with Flacco and other injured players like Steve Smith in the line up. They weren’t. I like they way PFF doesn’t mention Jimmy Smith is coming off surgery AGAIN. Weddle may help (31 coming off injury nothing is certain) but how much is that offset by losing the underrated Hill? The Ravens best TE has serious injury doubts. Suggs is 35 coming off a major injury. Smith is 37 coming off a serious injury. Ben Watson had a career year in a high volume pass offense with a HOF Qb throwing him the ball. Mike Wallace has been awful for a while. This and they added through the draft assumes draftees will make major contributions. Maybe or likely year one maybe not, Tell me the last OT taken in top 10 to make a major contribution year one? Correa & Kafusi are projects. They could be good but doubtful it happens year one. Now lets move to impact players. If you want to count Flacco…ok but it is a stretch. Outside of that? Brandon Williams and if Mosley plays like he did his rookie year. Who scares anyone? The oline is still a massive question mark. Can Wagner rebound? Who plays at LG? The center is ok. Yanda is a flat out stud but one stud and one ok player. I know, folks will project Stanley as an upgrade. Of course this completely ignores the recent history of OTs drafted high: Fisher, Joeckel, Matthews, and Robinson. Stanely has tools and I see him as a good prospect but I seriously doubt is happens year one. He needs refinement. I watched him v Temple and v Clemson and he looked like a flawed project.

        • JudoPrince

          “Who scares anyone? The oline is still a massive question mark. Can Wagner rebound? Who plays at LG? The center is ok”

          Every team is a potential question mark even at positions perceived as strengths. An injury or two on the Cowboys o-line suddenly makes them questions marks… the Pats had a great o-line last year until their tackles went down. That’s the game. You never know who will be healthy, which key player will suddenly drop off in production, which rookie will surprise, which bench player will emerge as a star.

          The Ravens are no different. Some areas of the roster may improve unexpectedly, some areas may decline. But at the end of the day they built on depth through the draft and made a couple of key free agent moves. We’ll have to wait until the season to see how it all plays out, but the Ravens are a top notch organization who compete virtually every year.

        • Kenny Wilson

          The recent tackle picks has absolutely ZERO to do with how Stanley will perform. Those guys weren’t picked or developed by the Ravens who have an incredible history with offensive lineman. JO, Mulitalo, Grubbs, Yanda, Wagner, Urschel, Jensen, Gaither, etc… they routinely get guys to play well above their draft position. And, Castillo is one of the best in the biz at developing guys. I expect Stanley to, at worst, be an above average starter at LT for the next 10 years; and most likely will be a top 10 pass blocker. He does need some work in the run game, but at LT protecting Joe’s blindside will be most important, and in his rookie year I expect Monroe will begin as the LT with Stanley at LG where he can develop his run blocking without having to play in so much space. And, the Ravens were playing well before all the injuries hit — they had the Broncos beat until Suggs went down…. and that team went on to dominate and win a super bowl. Suggs was the engine and heart/soul of the team. Without there was a huge domino effect on defense. Dumervil cannot be an every down guy and also be counted on as your top pass rusher. This year he’ll go back to his specialist role and dominate again, and Suggs may not be his DPOY former self, but he’ll still be a top 10 border line top 5 all around edge player. He tore an Achilles before and came back better than ever. The secondary was the best in the league over the 2nd half of the season, and Weddle/Webb is a big upgrade over Webb/Lewis which was the best safety tandem we had last year. Hill was garbage down the stretch when the team was playing at its best. And don’t underestimate the injuries — it was more than is frequently reported. The Ravens lost their QB (Flacco), RB1 (Forsett), RB2 (Taliaferro), WR1 (Steve Smith), WR2 (Perriman), TE1 (Pitta), TE2 (Gillmore), LT (Monroe), C (Zuttah), DE (Urban), OLB (Suggs), CB2 (Davis), and most of the secondary depth missed time or played injured for much of the season. That’s more than any team could handle…. take those starting positions away from even the best teams and they’re not going to win many games…. and the Ravens still set a record for most games decided by 1 score or less. Get those players back while upgrading other positions and logic would tell you that likely half of those games end up going the Ravens way. That’s a 10-6 season which is playoff bound. I will bet my life savings that the Ravens rebound to make the playoffs again this year as long as they have a relatively healthy year. The pass rush will be greatly improved, the secondary will continue where it left off, the run game will be better, and this is the best lineup of passing weapons the Ravens have ever assembled. Our #1 WR from last year is now 4th on the depth chart, we have 3 TEs that could start on half the teams in the league, and we have 3-4 RBs that would get significant carries on 75% of NFL teams. They’ve added 4-5 rookie pass rushers, so I expect 1-2 will end up contributing which is just a bonus. Dixon could be a 3 down back by mid-season. Kaufusi could win the DE job. Mosley will rebound and improve on his rookie year with Daryl gone. They were a popular SB pick last year, and with health they’re deeper and more balanced than last years team with far more talent at the skill positions. They will be a contender to go deep in the playoffs. I will not be surprised one bit if they win the AFCN, as I think the Steelers and Bengals are getting too much credit. The Bengals will feel their losses more than people think and the Steelers secondary will be exposed. When you’re counting on 2 raw rookies to start in your secondary, you’re asking for trouble. And if you think its an issue to count on Ravens players coming back healthy, Big Ben and Bell haven’t been healthy in years — expecting them to play a full season is way more of a risk.

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        • Nick Leggit

          Suggs is 33. He’ll be 34 in October.

    • Aaron Myers

      I believe that would apply to just about any team that loses its franchise QB. Dallas picks 4th overall when Romo goes out for the year. Colts lose Peyton Manning and bring back the entire roster… struggle to win a game.

      Some talent deficiencies on this team, no doubt. But they appear to have upgraded several positions where they struggled last season, and so that’s about the best they can do at this point.

    • DaRightRadical

      “job security” seriously?

      The Harbaugh that is likable, is a top 3 coach. The team he took over in 08 was dead in the water, and he got them in the playoffs every year, and eventually won a SB. Every time they matched up with NE in the playoffs, they either won or NE won, by the skin of their teeth. They lost tons of players, after their SB win. It takes a few years to reload, even for the best GM in pro football. There are only what six damn teams in the league, that are actually well run and professional. And this is one of them. I am not even a Raven’s fan, but they run their team the right way. Pretty much a guarantee that this team will be in the mix. Despite his issues I would have taken Tunsil, but mainly because I am not a fan of over-hyped, soft ND players, they usually bust.

  • JJ

    The Ravens did go 5-11 last year, it wasn’t a good season by any stretch. Regardless of the record the team was competitive 11 of the first 12 games were decided by 7 points or less, the team just couldn’t finish games throughout the season and eventually all the injuries played role as well.
    It’s often overlooked that both J.Smith & R.Wagner were returning from Lisfranc Surgeries and their play didn’t become consistent again until later in the season.

    I’m not sure why I’ve read so much about the Ravens “decline, downward arc, etc ” one bad season doesn’t make a team basement dwellers.