As the Ravens enter the 2019 offseason, the strengths and weaknesses of the squad are apparent. While some weaknesses are certainly more glaring than others, Steve Bisciotti, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh will aim to resolve each of the problems to the best of their ability now, so that they do not resurface next year. With that in mind, I will take some time this week to take a look at the Ravens’ biggest needs – in order of urgency – at this point in time, as well as determining how they can best be addressed.
1. Interior Offensive Lineman
In my opinion, this is the most important position for the Ravens to attack in the upcoming offseason, not only because it essentially single-handedly doomed their season but also because they probably need more than one player at the position. The team has failed to find a center to anchor the group, Alex Lewis is injury prone and, quite frankly, isn’t very good when he’s on the field as it is, and Marshall Yanda is another year older. I think DeCosta will push for two players and will split the search between the draft and free agency. In free agency, one of the top guards available could be in play as a starter for the Ravens, while I cannot see the team passing on a first-rate center in the draft, come April.
2. Wide Receiver
Yet again, the Ravens will be looking to reshape their wide receiver room in the offseason. Michael Crabtree and – in my eyes – John Brown will almost certainly be gone, with Willie Snead being the only receiver of substance that sticks around. Luckily, unlike last year, the Ravens will have a bit of a safety blanket in the talent that lies at the tight end position, but there’s no getting around the fact that the team needs a true go-to guy. Unfortunately, the free agent class isn’t great, though I agree with Jason that Tyrell Williams would be a brilliant get if at the right price. Still, just like the offensive line, wide receivers such as DK Metcalf, Nykiel Harry, or Kelvin Harmon will not slip past Baltimore in the draft if there isn’t a superior lineman available; the Ravens need to bring in more than just one free agent.
3. Middle Linebacker
If the Ravens resign CJ Mosley it will be hard to make room for another guy at inside linebacker, but I still think there’s a tremendous hole in the defense. They simply can’t cover the middle of the field. Peanut came on at the end of the year and Kenny Young showed flashes of being a good contributor, but I still believe that the hole is so big that it can’t be overlooked. That being said, I think the only way to go about this is with a mid-to-late draft pick. There’s no reason to invest considerable money or value into a player who will sit behind Mosley. Of course, there’s a big if involved in that statement, and if the Ravens decide to let the Pro-Bowler walk, they will surely look to solidify that position immediately.
4. EDGE Rusher
As we all know, Terrell Suggs could return to the Ravens for one or two more years, maximum, if at all. Simultaneously, there’s a good chance that Za’Darius Smith has priced himself out of Baltimore with a strong season. Sure, there’s Matt Judon and the hope that Tyus Bowser and/or Timmy Williams finally develop, but let’s face it, the Ravens will need to get around to this position eventually. In my opinion, the guy to target is someone who got injured at the right time: Ziggy Ansah. He’s been a great rusher before with the Lions, but because of his injury he might be signed for less than he’s worth – that screams Baltimore, to me. In addition to Ansah or another free agent, the Ravens should look at this position in the draft. Considering the fact that this year’s is talented and deep for the position, why not throw a mid-round selection at a couple guys who could be immediate contributors? For me, I like Wyatt Ray out of Boston College and Nate Hall out of Northwestern.
5. Backup Quarterback
What?? How could backup quarterback be a big need going into the season? Well, for all of you who have serious questions about Lamar Jackson’s health, shouldn’t this be a concern? The Ravens had the luxury of holding Robert Griffin on their roster last year, but he won’t be sticking around to be in scrubs on Sundays this year. If he’s going to be in Baltimore, he’s going to have an opportunity to dress. Therefore, the question is, do the Ravens trust RGIII to hold that position if NewEra8 goes down? In my opinion, the team should thank Griffin for all that he taught Jackson last year and turn toward a reunion with a former backup for the team: Tyrod Taylor. We know that Taylor is a similar style quarterback to Jackson, and we also know that he is a hard worker who can win games if needed. He probably won’t get an opportunity as a start, so if he’s forced to backup somewhere in 2019, why not somewhere that he’s done it before?