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Joe Flacco only played in ten games last season, threw 14 touchdowns against 12 interceptions and had a fairly nondescript season. That said, the talent pool around him in 2014 was exceptional shallow and the fact he did as well as he did is a testament to his ability to lead. At the best of times throughout his career he has been a pedestrian fantasy quarterback so unless exceptional value is there in your draft, I would not have Flacco in mind while assembling a squad.
Ryan Mallett finally got significant playing time last season after years of being on the sideline but all I can say about his play is 'blah'. He completed 136 of 244 passes for 1336 yards with 5 passing touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Certainly not Ryan Leaf awful but also not liking to result in a Mallett Bobblehead night anytime soon as well. He has had maturity issues and I don't think he is going to have a breakout season this year or beyond.
Justin Forsett, Kenneth Dixon
Javarius (Buck) Allen, Trent Richardson, Lorenzo Taliaferro:
Justin Forsett was not as effective in 2015 as he was in his career best 2014 campaign when he rushed for 1266 yards and caught 44 passes. He was averaging 64 yards rushing per game with only 2 touchdowns scored when he went down with a season ending injury. By all accounts the rehab has gone well but at 31 years of age, who knows if his body will hold up even though he doesn't have much wear and tear considering he didn't touch the ball much his first several years in the league. At this time, he appears destined to emerge with the starting job again but keep an eye on this situation closely to see if he is back to full speed.
The Ravens scooped up talented rookie running back Kenneth Dixon from Louisiana Tech in the 4th round and they may have found some serious value with that selection. I really like this player a lot with his hard hose, never go down attitude and his super hands. I believe he will jump up to #2 in the depth chart before the start of the season and he could slide in as a starter with a terrific camp. A player to keep an eye on.
Javarius (Buck) Allen is a big back at 6' and 221 pounds that plays smaller than the size would dictate. He has fluidity to his cuts and can burst out with speed. He does not run with the power one
would expect from his size and is too upright with hesitation in the hole. He is a proven pass blocker. When injury forced him in as starter, he did decent but doesn't appear to be a franchise back. He carried the ball 137 times for only 514 yards and scored once. Some of that can be attributed to a lack of skill in all aspects of the Ravens offense but Allen didn't seem to have the vision, power and agility of top backs. He will have to improve a lot going forward to be a difference maker.
The Ravens have brought in former 1st round pick Trent Richardson for a look this year and Richardson has gotten into the best shape of his career. He is down to 218 pounds and he has the ability to play in this league if he is motivated and working hard. He did have a good rookie season back in 2012 with 950 rushing yards, 50 receptions and 12 touchdowns so he is somebody still worth keeping an eye on in Baltimore with marginal talent in front of him
Taliaferro had some good moments in 2014 as a rookie but tailed off last year.
Chris Moore, Keenan Reynolds:
Steve Smith was planning his retirement throughout the 2015 season but he went down with a season ending injury in week seven, disrupting his farewell tour and he has decided to come back one last time. At 37-years old one would expect him to slow down but he was on pace for 100 receptions and 1500 yards week seven when injury took him down. I don't believe we will see those kinds of gaudy numbers but 70 receptions, 950+ yards and 5-6 touchdowns is possible if he returns healthy.
I am surprised the Ravens decided to go with Mike Wallace in free agency this season. He has speed and ability but often wears out his welcome quickly, is lazy on routes and frustrates his quarterback. They have a good second-year option in Breshad Perriman who lost his rookie season with injury but I guess the team wanted some veteran experience at the position. He has proven in the past he can put up solid numbers despite his limitations but last year his numbers fell off a cliff. I don't expect more than 50 receptions at best in 2015 as the 30-year old continues to tease with ability but frustrate with effort.
The Ravens drafted speedster Breshad Perriman in the first round of last year's NFL draft and we were excited to see what he could do at the next level. Unfortunately a knee injury ended his season before he got started. He is back running again but no one is sure about the intensity as of yet.Perriman is the son of former NFL receiver Brett Perriman and Breshad has excellent size and speed. He must improve both his catch focus and route running but he is clearly a player that brings tons of potential and upside to the table.
With all the Ravens injuries on offense a year ago, Kamar Aiken, a former undrafted receiver from Central Florida got his chance to shine and all things considered put together a pretty solid year. He caught 75 passes for 944 yards and scored 5 touchdowns and became a dependable receiving threat for the club. However this year with Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman returning from injury and Mike Wallace added via free agency, Aiken will have his struggles finding that past success. If the players struggle to return from injury though and Mike Wallace looks like the Wallace of last year, Aiken could once again surprise so watch this situation close in early camps.
Darren Waller has freakish size at 6'6 with shocking speed but was unable to stay healthy in his rookie season suffering through concussion and hamstring issues. He only saw action in a handful of games but his size/speed ratio will keep him in the equation if he can stay healthy. He has issues tracking the ball at times and has some character concerns but you cannot teach 6'6 and a 4.46 forty time.
Marlon Brown had a shocking rookie season as an undrafted rookie out of Georgia when the 6'5 inch receiver caught 49 passes for 524 yards and 7 touchdowns. He disappeared over the last two seasons though with only 38 total receptions and no touchdowns. He was a nice story but likely a nice story heading into obscurity.
The 36-year old Ben Watson had a strong season in New Orleans last year catching 74 passes and scoring six times and he translated that into a nice two year contract with the Ravens. The 74 receptions however was a career high as was touchdowns and 50 receptions with 4 scores is more realistic in 2016 if he can emerge as the starter in a very crowded tight end group in Baltimore.
If a player is going to push Benjamin Watson for playing time and targets this year it is likely Crockett Gillmore who emerged as a legitimate weapon in his second season. He caught 33 passes for 412 yards and scored 4 times. The former 3rd round pick from Colorado State has great size at 6'6 and 260 pounds. He showed surprising athleticism throughout the campaign and with a good camp could certainly emerge as the top tight end on the roster. Going to be a good battle between Gillmore, Watson and Maxx Williams.
Maxx Williams had significant playing time as a rookie last year with the Ravens injury woes and he did catch 32 passes on the year. However he only finished with 268 receiving yards and a touchdown and really didn't have much of an impact. He displayed a decent burst off the line of scrimmage and tracks the ball well in the air but he lacks fluidity in and out of cuts and he is not a natural athlete. If he is behind Benjamin Watson in the depth charts, matching his reception totals from last year would be best case scenario.
2nd year tight end Nick Boyle is more used as a blocker than a receiver but he did snag 18 passes for 153 yards last year. He has good size at 6-4 and 268 pounds and his very reliable hands. There is so much depth at tight end with the Ravens right now that camp is going to be a huge battle.
Projected Starters: LT Ronnie Stanley - rookie, LG John Urschel, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Rick Wagner
Key Backups: , Alex Lewis - rookie, Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse, James Hurst
The Ravens were a strong unit last year but injuries throughout the offense limited the points and yardage for the team. The offensive line however played well and will help the team move the ball again this season with a healthy Joe Flacco. The Ravens did lose a big piece when Kelechi Osemele left in free agency but the team filled the hole well by adding Notre Dame standout tackle Ronnie Stanley. There is a chance that Stanley emerges as a right tackle or even left tackle as well but he will certainly start somewhere and putting him inside will take pressure off of the youngster. Marshal Yanda may be the best linemen in the NFL and he is certainly the best guard. He is a nasty, physical, agile lineman in the prime of his career. Jeremy Zuttah is a capable center who was injured last year but should be ready to go. Rick Wagner is a former 5th round pick that has 33 career starts. He is a serviceable tackle but if the Ravens can find another option at guard, Stanley or even 4th round pick Alex Lewis of Nebraska could push for the starting job. Eugene Monroe is a very good tackle but likely not deserving if the massive salary. He will be expendable one day and Stanley will slot in. Put it all together and this group looks like a top-ten group capable of elevating from there.
June 15th update: The team did release the expensive Eugene Monroe which opens the door for Ronnie Stanley to start the season at left tackle. For now John Urschel is slotted into the left guard position.
Tucker has hit 130 of 148 field goals so far in his four-year career. He is as solid as any kicker in the NFL today.