All eyes are on now 2022 for the Ravens after a season-ending loss on Sunday. The roster is full of question marks as this offseason figures to be a real turning point in the direction of the franchise. In lieu of a weekly Stock Report but keeping it finance-related, here are some Ravens I’m buying, selling and holding as we enter the new year.
In one sense, Lamar Jackson’s value is at an all-time low. A bone bruise in his foot sidelined him for the last four games of the season and he wasn’t playing particularly well before the injury either. In another sense, his value has never been higher. The Ravens closed the season on a six-game losing streak, five of which a backup either started or played the majority of. A common theme throughout the losing streak was the inability to close games offensively, something Jackson has excelled at.
Regardless, there’s reason for optimism that Jackson will get back to a relatively high level of play in 2022. He’ll go into the season with the best group of wide receivers and tight ends he’s ever had, he’ll get his running backs back, and should have a redone and bolstered offensive line. With some tweaks, he could have the best line he’s had since 2019.
You can’t buy any Mark Andrews stock, and you’d be crazy to sell it. Andrews set the franchise record for catches and receiving yards in 2021 with possibly the worst QB play he’s ever had. There’s no reason why he can’t repeat with a similar season in 2022.
Rashod Bateman’s finish to his rookie season was phenomenal. It took a few weeks, but he quickly rose to a top option in the Ravens’ passing attack when he returned from injury in Week 6, flashing plus route running, after the catch and ball skills.
Getting a full and relatively normal offseason and camp, something he did not get in 2021, will be huge for his development going into year two.
2022 is shaping up to be a turning point in Justin Madubuike’s career. He’s played in a mostly part-time role behind Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe through his first two seasons. It’s looking like at least two or maybe all three of the aforementioned “Mon-Stars” will be gone. Therefore, Madubuike’s role will have to expand. He has the skillset and the tools to be an every-down defensive lineman, and we’ve seen flashes of the player he can be, but he’s been unable to string it together for any sustained success.
It’s now or never for him. If he can step into an every-down role and be impactful doing it, he can be one of the building blocks on the defense as the unit undergoes a mini rebuild this offseason. If he can’t, he may never be anything more than a nice rotational piece and the Ravens will have to throw more resources at the line than they’d hoped.
Patrick Queen’s second season was a rollercoaster with high highs and low lows. The turnaround from his early season struggles to second half successes will overshadow that he is still a poor tackler and continued to struggle in coverage. Like Madubuike, the flashes are there but he has yet to be able to put them together. The good news is the weaknesses are obvious and somewhat correctable and will only get better with more reps.
I’m curious to see how the team views Queen in regard to moving him back to the inside. He excelled playing outside, a position with less responsibility and one where speed, which Queen has a lot of, is key. Do the Ravens view him as the long-term option on the inside, or will they keep him at the position it seems like he’s more natural at and bring in a Josh Bynes type (or bring back Bynes himself)?
“[Queen] might be the best linebacker in the AFC North,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said last week. The sky’s the limit for what Queen can be as a player, and I think he takes another step in the right direction in 2022.
Brandon Stephens showed huge improvement over the season’s final weeks. From the beginning of the season – when his playing time was decreased in favor of Geno Stone for poor play – to now, Stephens has transformed into a legit option at free safety if DeShon Elliott is not brought back. He was a pleasant surprise filling in for Elliott in 2021 and has the chance to become a nice player with an expanded role in 2022.
Nick Boyle obviously was not his old self after he returned from his gruesome knee injury suffered in 2020. He was seldom used as a receiver and very clearly not himself as a blocker, although he did have his moments. A healthy offseason will do wonders in getting him back on track to becoming an elite weapon in the run game. He, as well as Pat Ricard, was greatly missed in that regard.
Marquise Brown’s drop off in production since Bateman debuted was steep and alarming. Obviously, introducing a new talented receiver into the mix will hinder other receiver’s production. But Brown had just one 100-yard game, had fewer than 60 receiving yards nine times and scored just one touchdown since Bateman returned. He’ll enter the offseason on a five-game streak of fewer than 50 yards. Brown could be in line for a No. 2 role in 2022.
Derek Wolfe will be 32-years-old when the 2022 season begins and coming off a major back injury that prevented him from playing all season. He was rumored to be close to returning around midseason but either suffered a setback or never truly had a chance to play; it was never specified. Neither bodes well for Wolfe’s future with the Ravens. He has two years remaining on his contract, so cutting him would be tricky. It’ll be tough for Wolfe to get back to a high level of play in 2022. I’d ease my expectations for him next season.
The post Buy or Sell: Which Ravens Are Rising or Falling After 2021? appeared first on Russell Street Report.
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