NFL Scout says this could be Rashod Bateman’s time to shine
The Ravens’ revamped wide receiver room features a splashy free-agent acquisition in Odell Beckham Jr., a first-round rookie in Zay Flowers, and a solid veteran who was a minicamp standout in Nelson Agholor.
While excitement over the additions is warranted, the returning Rashod Bateman should not be overlooked. The 2021 first-round pick was named one of three young wide receivers who have the best chance to take their game to new heights in 2023 in Heavy.com’s investigation by a handful of NFL executives and high-ranking scouts.
“Rashod Bateman is the guy,” said one AFC South scout. “But he needs to stay healthy. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, I don’t expect Baltimore to be as dominant as they have been. This season could finally be Rashod’s time to shine.”
Injuries have limited Bateman to 18 games over his first two seasons, but he has shown flashes of his playmaking ability when healthy. In his first three games last year, Bateman had eight catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
“The Ravens have doubled down on bolstering the talent around franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and Bateman’s 6-foot-1, 193-pound frame gives him the ability to be a reliable target in the red zone while taking advantage of the cap space created by the teams. signing Beckham Jr. and Flowers,” Heavy.com’s Matt Lombardo wrote.
Bateman, who is working his way back from last year’s Lisfranc surgery, was a spectator at minicamp last month after receiving a cortisone injection to help with the healing process of having screws removed from his foot. He is expected to be ready for training camp, which begins July 26.
Three core players, the Ravens should build the schedule around
Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger identified three core players to build around for each team. Given the abundance of talent on the Ravens’ roster, picking three was no easy task.
Jackson was a no-brainer. The other two named were tight end Mark Andrews and cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
“The Ravens’ roster is full of top talent making big money on both sides of the ball, with Baltimore resetting two position markets this offseason with Lamar Jackson at quarterback and Roquan Smith at linebacker,” Spielberger wrote. “This current core of players along with recent draft picks is finally going to break through and 2023 could be the year it all comes together.
“Humphrey has just one season with a coverage grade below 75.0, remarkable consistency for a cornerback who lines up all over the formation. The former Alabama star also just turned 27 heading into his seventh NFL season.”
Ravens’ Secondary ranked No. 2 by Hall of Fame Cornerback Ronde Barber
Speaking of Humphrey, he’s one of the main reasons the Ravens’ secondary is highly regarded. The unit came in at No. 2 on Hall of Fame cornerback and The 33rd Team contributor Ronde Barber’s rankings of the NFL’s top secondaries.
“They were below par to start last season — there was no doubt about that. But they picked themselves up and that will continue into 2023,” Barber wrote. “… They signed Rock Ya-Sin, who isn’t a game-changer, from the Raiders. There aren’t many downsides to his game, either. This is where things get interesting. Marlon Humphrey, to me, has all the right attributes to play the cornerback position. He’s physical, covers well, takes the ball away, flashes and plays in the box. He can do it all.”
Barber was also highly complimented by safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams.
“Add that to sophomore Kyle Hamilton, who could be the best safety in football. He has the versatility to do anything they ask of him,” Barber wrote. “They also have Marcus Williams at safety. If he’s healthy, his four interceptions from last season will only multiply. He’s the best instinctive player in the league. Trust me. I’ve seen a lot of safeties. He covers more ground than any of them.
“They have some depth concerns and some young cornerbacks. It will be interesting to see how they use some of them like Brandon Stephens. Overall, this group is as solid as there is in football.”
Mark Andrews is among the top three tight ends in the ESPN poll
ESPN continued its series on the best players at each position as determined by a survey of NFL executives, coaches and players. Today’s topic was tight ends.
Andrews landed at No. 3, behind only Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle. He was No. 4 in last year’s ranking.
“Andrews is one of the most well-rounded skill players in the league and produces when the Ravens need him most,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote. “He has 25 red zone receiving touchdowns over the last four years, tied with Mike Evans for fifth in the NFL. His blocking is also elite, with Andrews first in run-block win rate (86%) out of 115 qualifiers tight ends last year.”
An NFL scouting director said, “Big matchup problem with his size, speed, athleticism and route-running ability. Huge catch radius. A really easy guy to throw it to. Always the primary guy for the defense.”
John Harbaugh is No. 2 in Sharp Football Analysis’ head coaching rankings
Want more placements? Well, here’s another one Ravens fans can be proud of: Harbaugh was No. 2 in the Sharp Football Analysis’ Head Coach Rankings.
Harbaugh finished second for the second year in a row, ranking behind only his mentor, Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Harbaugh, who enters his 16th season and has a .607 winning percentage, is the third-longest active head coach behind only the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin.