The Baltimore Ravens have had a productive off-season thus far, acquiring the likes of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe (unofficially), draft capital, and keeping some of their core players. In 2019, Baltimore’s defense was already daunting, finishing the season 3rd in Points Allowed over the course of the season. Combine that with an electrifying offense and you can clearly see how they earned their 1st round bye in the playoffs. At the end of the day, the Titans were able to expose one of the major weaknesses of the 2019 Ravens, and it looks a lot like Baltimore is addressing that now.
In 2019, the front 7 in Wink Martindale’s defense was highlighted by Matthew Judon. Other than some occasional help from the departed Patrick Onwuasor (Jets) and Michael Pierce (Vikings), the Ravens were fairly quiet up front. Insert Calais Campbell. Campbell is an experienced veteran that still has gas in the tank. While not in his prime, he is still fully capable of bringing pressure to add to Judon’s. A three-sack game and a fumble returned for a touchdown highlight Campbell’s 2019. Think of Campbell as another Terrell Suggs, a veteran that brings leadership and 5-10 sacks to Baltimore’s defense.
Assuming Derek Wolfe’s deal goes through, this is another great pick-up for the Ravens. Another experienced veteran that can contribute with leadership and a strong pass rush. Wolfe is coming off a shortened season but with his career high in sacks, he can still play. With the way Baltimore switches their defensive schemes and rotates the line, he will be an excellent third defensive end for the Ravens. In simplest form, the talent gap between Judon, Campbell, and Wolfe isn’t all that far, though each player brings a little something different to the table. Expect the Ravens to use Campbell and Wolfe as both interior and edge defenders, like having Judon play both on and off the line. This creativity is what makes their defense so special.
The Ravens have also re-signed Anthony Levine (LB/DB), Jimmy Smith (CB), and Chuck Clark (S) to secure some of the back end. With one of the league’s best tandems at corner in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, these guys help to solidify the secondary of an already-stout defense. Assuming Tavon Young comes back healthy, they are set at corner. The defensive backs lost veterans Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson, but I would expect Clark and Smith to fill those voids without any setbacks. If there are concerns, the Ravens did acquire a 2nd round pick by trading Hayden Hurst. With the emergence of Mark Andrews, sending Hurst for another valuable pick made too much sense.
The Ravens have one first-round and two second-round picks at their disposal. It is fully expected that they use one of those picks for a linebacker. They missed CJ Mosley in the playoffs last year, it has to be done. The other two picks are up in the air with potential positional needs being safety, wide receiver, and with the loss of Marshall Yanda to retirement, offensive line. It wouldn’t be a surprise for the Ravens to invest in another trench player to protect their young superstar at quarterback. For now, it looks like their investment in free agency has allowed them the opportunity to draft players that fit Greg Roman’s offense. My expectation is that the Ravens find another large and athletic target for Lamar Jackson. As we know, he constantly targeted the tight ends, but rarely looked for the wideouts when it was crunch time. Another big, physical wide receiver could be a confidence boost for Jackson while distracting defenses keying on Hollywood Brown, both great additions to Baltimore’s passing attack.