2015 was a rare down year for the Baltimore Ravens, and many fans were expecting big changes in the offseason. It was a strange season though, given just how decimated they were by injuries, losing their starting quarterback, running back, top receiver and one of their best defensive players all to season-ending injuries. With plenty of draft picks, they had the opportunity to set themselves up well for the future, and appear to have made the most of it, as five of their draft picks from the first four rounds are poised to make big rookie impacts.
Offseason grade: B+
New arrivals: S Eric Weddle, TE Ben Watson, WR Mike Wallace, CB Jerraud Powers, RB Trent Richardson
Re-signings: WR Kamar Aiken, CB Shareece Wright, LB Albert McClellan, OLB Chris Carter, LS Morgan Cox, K Justin Tucker
Departures: S Will Hill, G Kelechi Osemele, DE Chris Canty, WR Chris Givens, TE Allen Reisner, TE Chase Ford, OLB Courtney Upshaw, CB Brynden Trawick, QB Matt Schaub, QB Jimmy Clausen, ILB Daryl Smith, WR Marlon Brown
Free agency saw plenty of players leave Baltimore, but based on their level of play in 2015, the only key losses were Will Hill, Kelechi Osemele and Chris Canty. For Canty, it was a case of the Ravens getting younger at the position, with Timmy Jernigan (75.5 grade on PFF last year) developing well, along with other young players in Carl Davis (62.6), Kapron Lewis-Moore (47.9) and Brent Urban (52.2), who the Ravens have high hopes for in the future. Hill's departure was likely heavily influenced by a suspension that will keep him out for the first 10 games of 2016, and adding a replacement like Eric Weddle quickly filled the void. Hill's play also dipped in the second half of the year, with him grading as our fourth-best safety through the first eight weeks of the season, but our 14th-lowest-graded safety from Week 9 on. They also added another deep threat for Joe Flacco in wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace averaged 16.3 yards per reception or better in his first three seasons in the league, but hasn't averaged more than 13.1 in the past four seasons.
Mike Wallace's career statistics:
2016 NFL draft
- Round 1 (pick No. 6) Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
- Round 2 (pick No. 42 from Miami) Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
- Round 3 (pick No. 70) Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
- Round 4 (pick No. 104) Tavon Young, CB, Temple
- Round 4 (pick No. 107 from Miami) Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati
- Round 4 (pick No. 130 from Denver) Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska
- Round 4 (pick No. 132) Willie Henry, DT, Michigan
- Round 4 (pick No. 134) Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
- Round 5 (pick No. 146 from Jacksonville) Matt Judon, DE, Grand Valley State
- Round 6 (pick No. 182) Keenan Reynolds, WR, Navy
- Round 6 (pick No. 209) Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia
Ronnie Stanley might not be the most powerful run-blocker, grading at +9.3 last year and ranking 19th in the draft class, but he is incredibly smooth as a pass-blocker, and should give the Ravens long-term stability at left tackle. Kenneth Dixon was PFF’s highest-graded pass-catcher among running backs in this draft class, and should make a strong claim to at least be the Ravens third-down back as a rookie. BYU's Bronson Kaufusi is another player to add to the young ground of 3-4 defensive ends who helped push Canty out the door, with the fifth-highest pass-rushing grade among players on the defensive interior in this draft class. If there's one knock on this class, it's that they failed to add a difference-maker in the secondary, but fourth-round draft pick Tavon Young does have some intrigue. His coverage grade of +2.1 was tied for the 74th-best in this class in 2015, but in 2014 only six players from this draft class had a higher coverage grade.
The Ravens head into 2016 with a similar quality of team to the one they had in 2015. That might seem like a bad thing coming off a 5-11 season, but given how injury-riddled the Ravens roster was last year, it's not all doom and gloom. They've added key pieces for the future through the draft, as well as two pass catchers for Joe Flacco in free agency in Wallace and tight end Ben Watson. Really, the keys for the Ravens this season will be staying healthy, and hopefully finally getting some production from 2015 first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman. If they can, they should be able to compete in a tough AFC North in 2016.
Ravens’ projected base defense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):
Ravens’ projected base offense in 2016 (2015 grades shown):