By Chris Schisler
Which second-year Baltimore Ravens are set up the best?
The 2020 NFL Draft gave the Baltimore Ravens a good bit of talent. They found their next star at the running back position in J.K. Dobbins. Baltimore remixed the inside linebacker position with Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. It was a solid draft class that made an impact in year one. Let’s look at year two though. Which second-year Ravens are in the best position?
1. J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins is in the best spot of all the second-year players for the Baltimore Ravens. Dobbins is the lead running back of the team that has rushed for more yards than any team since 2018. This is the right team to be a good running back on. Dobbins is in the perfect situation. He had a strong rookie showing. Gus Edwards will share the workload, and he’s the perfect fit for the offense the Baltimore Ravens operate.
Dobbins needs to increase the impact he makes as a receiver out of the backfield. That’s about the only concern you have with the Ohio State running back. This is a player who averaged six yards a carry in his rookie season. As a ball carrier, there’s very little to be desired. Dobbins gets the job done there with great power, vision, and contact balance to go along with speed.
All Dobbins has to do is catch more passes out of the backfield. If that becomes a prominent part of the Ravens’ offensive attack, Lamar Jackson will have the ultimate safety valve. This could be a security blanket in the passing game with edges that carve up opposing defenses. Dobbins is in the perfect situation and is clearly good at his job. He’s only getting better and in a more dynamic offense, he will be even more dangerous.
2. Patrick Queen
Patrick Queen is going to be on the field a lot in his second season. He has the chance to start taking a leadership role in Don Martindale’s defense. Queen is in a very similar situation as Dobbins. It’s very clear that he has the goods. Queen is an uber-athletic linebacker who can hit like a freight train. The one thing Queen needed when he came into the NFL was polishing.
Queen in year two can be a little more comfortable in the defense. There’s a little less thinking and hesitation and a little more flying around and finding flow. Queen played like a rookie linebacker in the 2020 season. That isn’t a knock on him, that was to be expected. A little more experience and Queen may be able to take the tools he has and produce an unbelievable career.
The good news for Queen is that he had moments of great production as a rookie. 106 total tackles and 66 solo tackles make for a solid start. He also had three sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. Queen is on the right track. He’s on the expected track. If he keeps progressing he’s in a very comfortable spot.
The exciting thing about Justin Madubuike is that he is such a needed second-year player. The Ravens have a lot of talent on the defensive line. Think about that talent though. It’s Derek Wolfe, Brandon Wiliams, and Calais Campbell. When healthy the starters are great but that’s the caveat.
The age of the starters requires the second wave of impact players on the defensive line. Madubuike is a young player with a high motor.
Madubuike is a player who has a chance to see an increased workload in the 2021 season. He can show himself to be a big part of the plan for the future. If Campbell does indeed retire at the end of the year, Madubuike could theoretically take his starting job. He’s a 6-3 293 pound defensive tackle with a good first step and some explosion. Things are just getting going for Madubuike.
4. Malik Harrison
Malik Harrison is going to be a really solid Ravens linebacker. He had a strong showing in his rookie season. Harrison is in a near-perfect position. He was a third-round pick who was asked to contribute on a rotational basis. It went fairly well. In fact, Harrison showed he was a more complete linebacker than many thought he was coming into the 2020 NFL Draft.
Things should stay mostly the same for Harrison in his second season. He could get more playing time in year two. The important thing to remember is that he is a solid contributor to an inside linebacker corps that is collectively as good as any in the NFL.
It stands to reason that Devin Duvernay is looking at a starting job. It may not be at wide receiver after Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins were added to the offense, though he should be the kick return specialist. Duvernay has a natural feel for returning kicks and is a dangerous player in the open field. That works to his advantage.
Duvernay’s challenge is fitting himself into the offense. It’s hard to really predict what the Baltimore offense will really look like. It’s hard to figure out who’s going to be getting the increased work with an elevated number of pass attempts. Duvernay is coming off a 20 reception season. They never let him fully establish himself as a rookie receiver.
If the Ravens didn’t add so much to the wide receiver group he would be in a much more comfortable year two position. We’ve seen nothing but good from Duvernay. I think I actually conduct the Duvernay fan club train, but he’s in the middle of the pack in terms of rookie situations.
The Ravens need their young defensive linemen. Washington didn’t help himself by getting into a little bit of trouble off the field. It’s too early to know what to think about Washington. He hasn’t made a huge impression. While pass rush is probably never going to be his thing, becoming a serviceable space-eater and a solid understudy to Brandon Williams is on the table.
7. Ben Bredeson
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that the left guard position is still up for grabs technically. The bad news is that is really the only position Bredeson can compete for a starting job and there is a big logjam at the position. There is a lot of hype for Ben Cleveland. Ben Powers has some positive tape to build off of. Bredeson is essentially an unknown and he could get lost in the shuffle.
8. Tyre Phillips
Tyre Phillips showed the Ravens why it was so important to add to the offensive line this offseason. The Ravens may have traded Orlando Brown Jr., but their main additions of Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, and Ben Cleveland show the Ravens aren’t into the idea of keeping the offensive line the same.
Phillips got a ton of experience in his rookie season. A lot of it wasn’t good. He’s got traits and he could be a swing tackle kind of a backup. Phillips went from a starter in year one to a player who may not even see the field in year two.
9. James Proche
It’s official. The Ravens Flock has always like James Proche more than the Ravens did. Proche didn’t get much of an opportunity in the 2020 season. Now the Ravens have added Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Tylan Wallace. Proche is in a very bleak year two predicament
10. Geno Stone
The Ravens have an on-and-off relationship with Stone. Let’s see if he sticks around before we get excited again for Stone. The Ravens added Ar’Darius Washington, an undrafted free agent out of TCU. It’s hard to see it all coming into fruition for Stone.
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