OTL: Where Are Ravens’ Remaining Question Marks?

May 15, 2024

Stadium Practice Linderbaum OTL

Yesterday, Ravens Flock found out the first task on the docket for the regular season: kick down the doors at Arrowhead and, hopefully, spoil the party for the defending Super Bowl champs. Tomorrow, we’ll get to see what the rest of the schedule looks like…

…but today, let’s talk about the road forward, and what the Ravens can still do to improve their odds when they get to the ‘24-’25 schedule.

Every Team’s Biggest Needs, Remaining Cap Space After 2024 NFL Free Agency, Draft | Bleacher Report

You’ll see some common ground among those roundups, with pundits focusing on the remaining needs at guard and safety. At this time of year, rosters across the league are still very fluid, and we know EDC thrives on late additions in free agency, so those needs could look a lot less dire by late summer. Still, I would agree that guard is probably the squeaky wheel that gets the oil first.

Looking at the early versions of the depth chart, your starting pairing at guard is Ben Cleveland and Andrew Vorhees, with the latter still being a question mark. Prior to his ACL injury at last year’s Combine, Vorhees was regarded as one of the top available guards in the class, but will his recovery be where it needs to be to fill the spot? Based on the front office being relatively quiet addressing the position, I’d say they’re confident in what they have. Still, what happens if Cleveland or Vorhees goes down? Do they have confidence in Sala Aumavae-Laulu or newcomer Josh Jones to fill the gaps?

One name that’s come up recently as a potential addition is Dalton Risner, who spent last season with Minnesota. While Risner did record 11 starts and did not allow any sacks (yay, pass protection!), his run-blocking left a lot to be desired, which could be enough to keep him out of Baltimore. Depending on the price point and what the young guys on the roster show when they return to camp, Risner could very well go from one purple team to another.

Elsewhere, while I’d agree that the Ravens could use another body at safety, I’m not sure I’m in lockstep with many of my national media counterparts on feeling it’s a great need. Granted, we need to see how Sanoussi Kane and UDFA Beau Brade adjust to the speed of the next level of the game, but I would argue that Brandon Stephens, who PFF says is Baltimore’s most underrated player…

…is versatile enough as a positionless DB that you can easily slot him in at safety, if need be, now that Nate Wiggins and TJ Tampa are in town. If the Ravens really wanted to pursue outside help at the position, Calvert Hall’s own Adrian Amos is still available, and, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, was a guy the Ravens have pursued in the past.

The Ravens were pretty far down the road of signing Amos last offseason before the New York Jets suddenly had an urgent need at safety after Chuck Clark went down with a season-ending injury. Amos chose to sign with the Jets, feeling like he’d get more playing time. He wound up getting released in early December and finished the season with the Houston Texans. The Baltimore native probably isn’t a starter at this stage of his career, but the Ravens don’t need one. They need a reliable veteran No. 3 or 4 safety to provide depth behind Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams and to play on special teams. You’d have to think the 31-year-old Amos would be intrigued by potentially finishing his career in his hometown, and he’d probably come cheap.

For what it’s worth, there’s a greater need in terms of depth on Baltimore’s defense as it stands, and one that’s very thin in terms of available free agents: inside linebacker. Don’t get me wrong, having first-team All-Pro demigod Roquan Smith leading that personnel unit is a good start, but we’re placing a lot of faith in second-year LB Trenton Simpson to replace a Pro-Bowler in Patrick Queen. I think Simpson’s going to be fine, and I anticipate maybe some early-season jitters before he settles in. Beyond that, though, your depth guys inside are Chris Board, Josh Ross, and a pair of UDFAs in Yvandy Rigby and Deion Jennings. On paper, I don’t hate the personnel group, but if the worst should happen and you lose one of those top two guys for an extended period, I think it spells trouble.

The defensive staff has been known to rotate Malik Harrison inside, and given his familiarity with the system, he does help ease the nerves a bit. Still, if you’re looking for a depth player of similar quality to the guys mentioned above at ILB in free agency, I’ve got news for you.

Not great, Bob.

There’s name recognition there, sure, but Kwon Alexander and Shaq Leonard looked like shadows of their former selves at last year’s destinations. If they’re willing to accept roles as rotational pieces on a defense contending for a championship, maybe you can get them on the cheap AAVs in that right column, but here’s hoping one of these UDFAs blows our socks off in Training Camp and makes this all a moot point.

Putting on my EDC cap for a second, if he wanted to get really funky, he could call Jerry Jones and ask about 2023 3rd-rounder DeMarvion Overshown. Overshown tore his ACL in the preseason last year, and the Cowboys chose to draft another ILB in this year’s class in Notre Dame’s Marist Liufau. If the coaching staff isn’t sold on Overshown getting back to 100%, maybe they could kick the tires on using those coming comp picks in 2025 to give him a second-chance opportunity elsewhere.

Hey, you never know with Jerry Jones. The worst thing he could say is no.