3 most important non-QBs to Baltimore Ravens success in 2023

2ENCXE9 Baltimore Ravens T Ronnie Stanley (79) participates in a practice at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on July 27, 2019. Photo/ Mike Buscher / Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA(Credit Image: © Mike Buscher/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA/CSM/Sipa USA)

  • Ronnie Stanley‘s presence solidifies Baltimore Ravens offensive line: Stanley’s importance is likely to grow in a Ravens offense that is expected to rely more on the passing game this year under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
  • Roquan Smith strengthens Ravens defense: From Week 9 through the playoffs, the Ravens had the fourth-best defense in the league in that regard (0.080 EPA per play) with Smith.
  • Slot CB will be vital: With Marlon Humphrey spending a lot of time out wide to combat the top receivers on the Ravens' schedule, it's paramount that they find a viable slot cornerback to raise the defense's floor in 2023.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Baltimore Ravens will go as far as Lamar Jackson can take them in 2023. That’s hardly a bold statement, as it is true of most franchises in football when it comes to their quarterback. Beyond the quarterback position though, there are varying degrees of importance when it comes to specific players on each roster.

Here, I’ll take a look at the three Ravens players, beyond Jackson,  I think are most important to their success this season.


LT Ronnie Stanley

Before a devastating injury in 2020, Stanley had developed into one of the premier pass-blocking tackles in football. His pass sets looked effortless at times as he shut down opposing pass-rushers, allowing just 10 total pressures across 543 pass-blocking snaps back in 2019. His comeback attempt in 2021 lasted just 40 snaps, and many wondered if he would ever play again at that point. Stanley made it back onto the field in Week 5 last year though, looking close to being back to his best. Earning an 82.2 PFF pass-blocking grade over the course of the season, he allowed just 15 total pressures from 334 pass-blocking snaps.

Stanley’s importance is likely to grow in a Ravens offense that is expected to rely more on the passing game this year under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Having Stanley on the field also solidifies the Ravens offensive line, which means that Patrick Mekari can be the top reserve across the line and fill in where needed rather than being needed to start at either tackle spot and force the Ravens to dig deep into their reserves pending any injuries.


LB Roquan Smith

Smith and the Ravens were a perfect match after a midseason trade last year, as the former Chicago Bears linebacker earned an 85.9 PFF grade over the second half of the season with the Ravens —he never earned a full-season grade over 67.2 in his time with the Bears. Smith has been good in coverage throughout his career though, earning 69.0-plus PFF coverage grades in three of his four years with the Ravens and coming in at 75.8 with the Ravens last year. His play really changed for the Ravens last season was when defending the run, where he earned an 89.3 PFF run-defense grade — his career best with the Bears comes in at 53.0.

Baltimore Ravens EPA per play allowed
  • Weeks 1-8: 0.041 (24th)
  • Weeks 9 onward: -0.080 (fourth)

Before Smith’s arrival in Baltimore, the Ravens defense was allowing 0.041 EPA per play through the first eight weeks of the season, the ninth-worst mark in the league. From Week 9 through the playoffs, the Ravens had the fourth-best defense in the league in that regard (0.080 EPA per play). That’s not all down to Smith, as it also has to do with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald finding his feet in the second half of his first season as an NFL coordinator. Nonetheless, in watching the Ravens on film, the Smith addition, along with the improvements seen by fellow linebacker Patrick Queen, allowed the Ravens to be stronger over the middle.


As yet unnamed slot cornerback

Maybe this is cheating a bit because it’s a position and not a player, but right now, it is the biggest issue the Ravens face on the defensive side of the ball. If the season were starting today, I think this would be Damarion Williams, but he struggled as a fourth-round rookie, earning a 41.0 PFF coverage grade. Kyle Hamilton will likely see some time in the slot, and Geno Stone can replace his safety snaps when that’s needed, but I don’t think that’s a realistic option for the full season. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Ravens bring in a veteran before the season to fill this role, though.

It matters because, as things stand, Marlon Humphrey is the best slot cornerback on the Ravens roster. Over the past four seasons, his 84.4 PFF coverage grade when lined up in the slot is the best in the league among players to play at least 1,000 snaps in that spot. However, pushing Humphrey into the slot leaves them with an even bigger hole on the outside, something that feels like a disaster waiting to happen in a division where they will play the Cincinnati Bengals and arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins twice.

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