Ravens Secondary “Could End Up Being the Best Unit” in the NFL
The excitement and expectations are building for the Ravens’ secondary in Year 2 of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s tenure. Last week in LFW, it was mentioned that the safety tandem of Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams was PFF’s best unit. Now the secondary as a whole is ranked in the top five, but PFFs John Kosko believes they can be No. 1.
“The Ravens’ secondary struggled in parts of the early season but finished the campaign as the NFL’s 10th-highest rated unit. The slow start was expected given the new pieces and the new defensive coordinator, but Humphrey and company will be tough to pass up this year now that they’ve had a full year to play together,” Kosko wrote. “Hamilton earned the highest grade of any safety in the NFL in 2022, while Humphrey was as reliable as ever. This could end up being the best unit in the league by the end of the year.”
While the bar is set high, there’s no reason to write off the secondary being the NFL’s best. With the pieces added this offseason and chemistry that began to form last season, the secondary is poised for dominance.
Durability labeled Ravens’ Red Flag
It dampens positivity and optimism CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, who picked up red flags for the NFL’s candidates for the upcoming season. For some, it’s new coaches, subtractions and roster or staff changes. For the Ravens, it’s a frustratingly familiar foe: injury woes.
“All eyes are on Lamar Jackson, who is under huge financial pressure to stay on the field and finally deliver a deep playoff run,” Benjamin wrote. “But what about his supporting cast? Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has struggled to stay upright himself, while big, notable names like Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor and Devin Duvernay have all struggled with their own injury issues.”
Since returning from injury, Stanley has done an admirable job of staying on the field, playing in 11 of 13 games in 2022. The two games he missed were once again due to being rolled up, but afterward played he remaining five games of the regular season. Although Beckham and Bateman will have to prove they can stay healthy, they are expected to begin training camp as full participants.
It’s odd to include Duvernay since he’s been a healthy player for most of his career. Last season, he suffered a broken foot in practice, which forced him to miss the last few weeks of the season. Otherwise, he has played 16 games in back-to-back seasons. Agholor has also been very healthy, playing in 47 of 51 regular season games.
As for the rest of the AFC North, Benjamin only considered the Cincinnati Bengals as contenders and believes their red flag is their secondary.
“Everything revolves around Joe Burrow; as long as he works with their elite cast of wideouts, they should be in the hunt for an AFC title again,” Benjamin wrote. “But they count on new, young faces throughout the defensive backfield, with Eli Apple, Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell all leaving via free agency. Daxton Hill and rookie DJ Turner bring speed, but lack experience.”
Odafe Oweh is considered an “exciting talent still to be molded”
Among the Ravens’ most notable hires this offseason was outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith. A good reason for the addition was to get the most out of former first-round pick Odafe Oweh, who The Bleacher Report Alex Ballentine considers a player “with the most untapped potential going into 2023.”
“When Odafe Oweh was getting ready for the 2021 draft, Justice Mosqueda compared him to a ball of clay to be molded in his scouting report for B/R,” Ballentine wrote. “Oweh is a great example of why understanding a prospect’s background is important when establishing expectations. Macdonald took over as defensive coordinator in 2022, so Oweh has already had two different coordinators and is still growing as a player. The tantalizing talent is still there to be shaped.”
It’s clear the team believes so, too, after hiring Smith and Macdonald, who expressed confidence in Oweh during offseason workouts.
“I thought he really hit his stride at the end of the year. And the sacks, I just really believe they’re coming,” Macdonald said. “I’m not worried about what sack number he ends up with, but I think we’ll be happy with where he is.”
2018 Redraft Sees two ravens picked Top 6; Ravens Take Maryland product
The Ravens’ 2018 draft helped form the foundation of the current roster, with three of their first four picks earning Pro Bowl bids. So it comes as no surprise that i The Bleacher Report 2018 NFL re-draft using hindsight, things shake out a little differently. This time, Jackson isn’t hanging around until pick No. 32, or even the Ravens’ original No. 16 pick. Instead, he goes No. 2 overall, behind quarterback Josh Allen.
“This one is actually tough,” wrote Gary Davenport. “Saquon Barkley has been a terrific player at times for the Giants over five seasons. Quarterback Daniel Jones, whom the Giants drafted sixth overall the following year, teamed with Barkley to lead the G-Men to the postseason in 2022. Still, you just have to don’t pass on drafting an MVP quarterback like Lamar Jackson.”
The next familiar face off the board is former Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who the Indianapolis Colts select No. 6 overall.
“The Indianapolis Colts don’t have an option to select Quenton Nelson in this re-draft. But they still have an opportunity here to bolster the offensive line at what most would argue is a more valuable position,” Davenport wrote. “Brown hasn’t had quite the career Nelson has, but he’s not exactly cat food either. In five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and now the Cincinnati Bengals, Brown has been named to the Pro Bowl four times.”
With draft-night picks no longer part of the equation, the Ravens will stay with their original No. 16 pick in the re-draft and take Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore.
“DJ Moore had a relatively modest 63 catches for 888 yards in 2022, but he topped 1,100 receiving yards in each of the previous three campaigns. The Chicago Bears believed enough in Moore’s talent to make him part of the trade that gave the Panthers the first overall election in 2023,” Davenport wrote. “This was also the draft class where the Ravens drafted tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, and Andrews was definitely a consideration here. But it’s just too tempting to imagine a world where the Ravens have a proven commodity at wideout. “
It wasn’t long before Andrews was ripped off the board in the re-draft, going to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 19.
“Since becoming a full-time player for the Ravens in 2019, Andrews ranks second among tight ends in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns, according to Dallas Robinson of the Pro Football Network,” Davenport wrote. “Two years ago, the three-time Pro Bowler had the best season of his career with 107 catches for 1,361 yards and nine scores. It was third most receiving yards for a single-season tight end in NFL history.”
- CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin ranked Humphrey the No. 7 cornerback in the NFL. “He can pretty much do anything in Mike McDonald’s defense, and the Ravens will surely ask him to do just that,” Dubin wrote.
- Touchdown wire’s Doug Farrar ranked Hamilton as the No. 11 slot defender. “The pass breakups were examples of Hamilton using his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and movement skills you’d expect from a player five inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter to make Dikembe Mutombo-style deflections to receivers around the league,” Farrar wrote.