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Ravens news, notes and opinions on 2015 draft class, Ryan Mallett, homestand

Ravens news, notes and opinions on 2015 draft class, Ryan Mallett, homestand
Ravens tight end Nick Boyle during training camp. (Gail Burton / Associated Press)

Tight end Nick Boyle's season-ending four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances caps what's been an absolutely horrendous year for the Ravens' 2015 draft class.

There's no way around it. Some members of the nine-man class haven't been good enough to consistently get on the field, even on an injury-depleted roster. Others haven't been healthy enough.

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Not counting fifth-round guard Robert Myers, who has been on the practice squad for much of the season, and running back Buck Allen, who has been active every week, the other seven members of the draft class have been sidelined for a total of 30 games through 12 weeks.

That number is only going up with wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Darren Waller on injured reserve, Boyle suspended, and cornerback Tray Walker and defensive tackle Carl Davis finding themselves as healthy scratches.

Allen's strong play the past two weeks has provided hope, but the Ravens needed far more production from the rookie group than they've gotten.

It's far too early to label the class as a bust, but come next year, the clock will start ticking.

Another quarterback needed?

I took the Ravens workout of Ryan Mallett last week as more of a potential move for the more distant future. But that might have changed with Matt Schaub getting knocked around so much in Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh sounded optimistic that Schaub will be ready to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but the veteran, who is dealing with a shoulder injury and also was hit on his knee Sunday, might miss part of the practice week, leaving Jimmy Clausen to take the first-team repetitions.

With the beating that Schaub has taken in just two weeks and with the caliber of opposition that they'll face the rest of the way, it seems inevitable that the Ravens will have to bring in another healthy quarterback to get through the year.

Mallett, who was cut by the Houston Texans this year for issues including being late and generally unprofessional, still has to work out some issues and the Ravens have to be comfortable with where he's at. Whether that ultimately happens, I'm not sure.

However, I do get why the Ravens wanted to take a look at him. The top backup quarterbacks are getting paid well these days. Mallett, on the other hand, would almost surely come cheap.

You'd think that he'd be happy to just be back in the NFL. If you can get him in the organization, see how he takes to coaching and the Ravens' culture, see if he's been humbled by his release and his time out of the game, then you may have a cheap and reasonably-talented backup behind Joe Flacco going forward.

But those are a lot of "if's" for a player who has proven unreliable in the past.

Evaluation mode

The focus this time of year for teams that aren't going to the playoffs is usually on evaluating younger players, and that should remain the case for the Ravens.

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However, don't discount that this is a key time for Ravens officials to be taking a longer look at their own free agents and deciding whether they are worth keeping around long term.

By now, the Ravens know what guard Kelechi Osemele, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and kicker Justin Tucker can do.

But what about cornerback Shareece Wright? Signed after Will Davis went down with a knee injury, Wright had a poor debut against the San Francisco 49ers, but he's played pretty well since. Given the Ravens' annual cornerback issues, he certainly has to be under consideration to be brought back.

How about wide receiver Chris Givens? He's been pretty quiet since becoming a starter, but the Ravens have all sorts of wide receiver question marks going forward and Givens' speed has showed at times.

Albert McClellan's name is never brought up when people are discussing the Ravens' pending free agents, but I can guarantee you that the team considers him a priority to re-sign.

McClellan is not only arguably the Ravens' top special teams player and a versatile reserve linebacker, he's also a team leader.

Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg absolutely love him. I'd be extremely surprised if the Ravens aren't aggressive in trying to re-sign McClellan.

A different way to commemorate 20th season

It's pretty remarkable given how high the Ravens' expectations were that in this, their 20th season in Baltimore, they could commemorate that inaugural 1996 year by tying that team for the fewest wins in team history.

Coach Ted Marchibroda's Ravens were 4-12. The Ravens have four wins with four games to play, but their final games are against the Seattle Seahawks (7-5), Kansas City Chiefs (7-5), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (10-2).

With Schaub at the helm and the rest of the team so banged up, I'm not sure I see a win in that group of games, unless the Bengals have home-field advantage clinched throughout the playoffs and sit many of their starters on Jan. 3.

Field change

The Ravens' decision to switch from an artificial surface to a grass field at M&T Bank Stadium starting in 2016 was not a reaction to the rash of injuries suffered during home games this season.

That's been speculated and the organization did consult studies that show there are fewer injuries on natural grass than on turf. However, their plan to make the switch from turf to grass was in motion long before Steve Smith Sr. tore his Achilles tendon, Joe Flacco tore up his knee and Justin Forsett broke his arm.

Ravens officials met with players about three months ago and when the consensus from the players and coaches was that they wanted to play on grass, that accelerated things.

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