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Ranking the Ravens’ 20 most important newcomers this offseason

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston picks his all-time top Raven at every position, including coach.

The Ravens have a tough act to follow in 2020, and not just because of their record-breaking 2019 season.

Before the Ravens won 14 games and cruised to their second straight AFC North title last year, they had a wildly productive offseason, especially in free agency. Top signings Earl Thomas III and Mark Ingram II both went on to make the Pro Bowl, and first-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown showed star potential in a productive debut season. Fellow rookies Jaylon Ferguson, Miles Boykin, Justice Hill and Patrick Mekari also helped out along the way.

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The Ravens are again being hailed as offseason winners, due in large part to their much-celebrated 10-player draft class, but their Super Bowl chances will depend on how their new faces fit. On the team’s 90-man roster are 31 rookies and five veteran newcomers.

With the value of returning starters like outside linebacker Matthew Judon well established, here’s how the Ravens’ top 20 additions rank in terms of importance.

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LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, the Ravens' first-round draft choice, celebrates a play against Oklahoma during the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 in Atlanta.
LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, the Ravens' first-round draft choice, celebrates a play against Oklahoma during the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 in Atlanta. (Danny Karnik/AP)

1. Inside linebacker Patrick Queen

For as long as he’s in Baltimore, Queen will be linked to the Ravens’ legacy of first-round inside linebackers: Ray Lewis became an NFL legend, and C.J. Mosley a four-time All-Pro selection. The 6-foot, 229-pound Queen won’t even turn 21 until August, but he has every opportunity to start his career with a front-line role on a defense built to maximize his talents.

In his breakout season at LSU, he blossomed from an inexperienced reserve into the College Football Playoff final’s most outstanding defensive player. He showed he can harass quarterbacks on blitzes, track running backs in coverage and diagnose plays in run defense.

In Baltimore, Queen will have a strong defensive front to keep blockers off him, a creative coaching staff and not many roadblocks between him and a Week 1 starting job. Mosley never saw less than 90% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in a single season. Queen is a different kind of player, but he should play a lot.

AFC defensive end Calais Campbell, left, then of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and quarterback Lamar Jackson, of the Ravens, greet each other at the NFL Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando, Florida. Campbell was named the game's defensive MVP and Jackson the offensive MVP. as the AFC defeated the NFC, 38-33. Now they're Ravens teammates.
AFC defensive end Calais Campbell, left, then of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and quarterback Lamar Jackson, of the Ravens, greet each other at the NFL Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando, Florida. Campbell was named the game's defensive MVP and Jackson the offensive MVP. as the AFC defeated the NFC, 38-33. Now they're Ravens teammates.(Chris O'Meara/AP)

2. Defensive end Calais Campbell

There might not have been a better marriage of talent, team and price this offseason than the Ravens’ trade for Campbell. At age 33, the 6-8, 300-pound Campbell is old for a defensive cornerstone. He’s been in the league for as long as John Harbaugh’s been the Ravens’ coach, and he’s played in almost every game in that span (186 overall).

But his ability is undeniable. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, including in each of his past three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Campbell is an elite run stopper and disruptive interior pass rusher. The Ravens almost never ask their linemen to be three-down players, but he has the tools to do whatever’s needed up front. His locker room value can’t be understated, either: Campbell’s the reigning Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and was an unquestioned leader in Jacksonville.

A pass by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is knocked down by Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe during the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 27-14 win Sept. 23, 2018. Wolfe is blocked by center Matt Skura.
A pass by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is knocked down by Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe during the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 27-14 win Sept. 23, 2018. Wolfe is blocked by center Matt Skura.(Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

3. Defensive end Derek Wolfe

Wolfe was the Ravens’ backup plan after their deal for defensive tackle Michael Brockers fell through, but he’s a more-than-capable starting lineman. Before dislocating his elbow in Week 13, he had a career-high seven sacks in 12 games for the Denver Broncos.

Just as important, one worrisome stretch of his medical history might no longer be cause for concern. The 6-5, 285-pound Wolfe said last month that the neck surgery he underwent in 2018 addressed the nerve pain that had sidelined him for parts of 2016 and 2017. He’s not the run defender that Campbell and defensive tackle Brandon Williams are, but he’ll be a fun piece for defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale on stunts and pass-rush games.

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins scores a touchdown against Maryland during the first half Nov. 9 in Columbus.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins scores a touchdown against Maryland during the first half Nov. 9 in Columbus.(Jay LaPrete/AP)

4. Running back J.K. Dobbins

The Ravens regarded their second-round pick as a borderline first-round prospect, a running back so talented that they didn’t have to worry about how he’d fit into a crowded backfield. Over three years at Ohio State, the 5-10, 212-pound Dobbins rushed for nearly 4,500 yards and over 6 yards per carry while averaging about 24 catches per season. His skill set and experience in the Buckeyes’ system should help him acclimate to the Ravens’ unique attack.

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Even if Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards again earn the lion’s share of snaps early in the year, Dobbins will have a role in the season opener and an even bigger one by the finale. No other team relies on its ground game as much as the Ravens.

Seattle Seahawks guard D.J. Fluker arrives to speak to the media after a training session at the Grove Hotel in Chandler's Cross, Watford, England on Oct. 12, 2018. The Seahawks were preparing for a game against the Oakland Raiders in London.
Seattle Seahawks guard D.J. Fluker arrives to speak to the media after a training session at the Grove Hotel in Chandler's Cross, Watford, England on Oct. 12, 2018. The Seahawks were preparing for a game against the Oakland Raiders in London.(Matt Dunham)
Michigan offensive lineman Ben Bredeson (74) plays in the first half against Rutgers in Ann Arbor on Sept. 28, 2019.
Michigan offensive lineman Ben Bredeson (74) plays in the first half against Rutgers in Ann Arbor on Sept. 28, 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP)

5-6. Guards D.J. Fluker, Ben Bredeson

There’s no replacing a stalwart like Marshal Yanda, but the Ravens are going to try. They now have a young in-house candidate (Ben Powers), a veteran with starting experience (Fluker) and a versatile fourth-round pick (Bredeson), among others.

The 6-5, 342-pound Fluker, who worked with Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris during his early years with the San Diego Chargers, is the early favorite at right guard after signing last week. He started 23 games over the previous two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, though he struggled at times.

The 6-5, 315-pound Bredeson is a short-armed but well-regarded and solidly built prospect. He was a four-year starter at left guard for Michigan and could compete at center, if needed.

Texas A&M defensive lineman Justin Madubuike runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 29.
Texas A&M defensive lineman Justin Madubuike runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 29.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

7. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike

The third-round pick was one of the nation’s more productive interior pass rushers in 2018 and 2019, with a combined 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks at Texas A&M. The Ravens haven’t had a defensive tackle with his skill set in a while, maybe since Willie Henry flashed in 2017.

But the 6-3, 293-pound Madubuike fits the team philosophically, too. He’s a strong run defender, versatile up front and athletically gifted (4.83-second 40-yard dash). He’s not expected to start, given the Ravens’ acquisitions of Campbell and Wolfe, but Madubuike should be an early rotational piece and an asset in obvious passing scenarios.

Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 29.
Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 29. (Michael Conroy/AP)

8. Inside linebacker Malik Harrison

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At 6-3, 247 pounds, the third-round pick is an ideal complement to Queen as an inside linebacker, and his run-stopping ability could be his ticket to early playing time. As a senior last season, Harrison led Ohio State with 75 tackles (16½ for loss). He’s athletic enough to drop into coverage and rush off the edge (seven sacks since 2018), but he’ll be better served as an early-down hammer against pulling guards.

Even if Harrison rises to the top of a young and unsettled group of strong-side linebackers, he likely won’t be a three-down presence as a rookie. The Ravens have better options with Queen and their stable of defensive backs.

Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay catches a pass at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 27.
Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay catches a pass at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 27. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

9. Wide receiver Devin Duvernay

The third-round pick is an atypical slot receiver, in that he wins more with speed than with quickness. But Duvernay’s route-running limitations didn’t keep him from showcasing his reliable hands and after-the-catch ability at Texas, where he had 106 catches for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

The 5-11, 210-pound Duvernay has experience as both an outside receiver and in the slot, where he thrived for the Longhorns and where the Ravens can use him as a gadget player. Starter Willie Snead IV will have to show him the ropes in the early going, but Duvernay’s big-play ability is a better fit long term for the track team the Ravens are trying to build around quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Mississippi State offensive lineman Tyre Phillips carries the "Egg Bowl" trophy as he celebrates after his team defeated rival Mississippi in Starkville on Nov. 28.
Mississippi State offensive lineman Tyre Phillips carries the "Egg Bowl" trophy as he celebrates after his team defeated rival Mississippi in Starkville on Nov. 28.(Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

10. Offensive lineman Tyre Phillips

The third-round pick, who started at left tackle last season for Mississippi State, might have the highest ceiling of any of the Ravens’ new interior linemen. But what will his rookie-year floor be? Even if the 6-5, 344-pound Phillips’ power and tenacity make him a promising guard candidate, rookie linemen almost always struggle. Having to learn a new position and a massive playbook won’t ease his transition, either.

The Ravens need a capable tackle behind starters Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., and if the team’s coaches trust Phillips enough on the edges, he could handle everything but center along the line next season.

SMU wide receiver James Proche runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 27.
SMU wide receiver James Proche runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 27.(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

11. Wide receiver James Proche

The sixth-round pick was among college football’s most productive receivers last season, leading Southern Methodist with 111 catches for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns. But his most immediate value to the Ravens might be as a punt returner.

Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said earlier this month that Proche may be the draft’s most sure-handed prospect, catches punts “really secure, but then he gets upfield quick.” He averaged 9.6 yards per return last year after 8.3 yards as a junior. With the lack of contenders at the position — wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas is the incumbent — Proche faces a less crowded path to early playing time there than at wide receiver.

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on March 1.
Iowa defensive back Geno Stone runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on March 1.(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

12. Safety Geno Stone

The seventh-round pick started 13 games at strong safety for Iowa last season, earning second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors after recording 70 tackles, a sack, three forced fumbles and an interception. He was considered a Day 2 prospect by Pro Football Focus but almost went undrafted because of questions about his athleticism.

Hawkyes defensive coordinator Phil Parker told The Baltimore Sun that the 5-10, 209-pound Stone projects betters as a “middle-safety, quarters [Cover 4] type of guy” than in man-to-man coverage concepts. With his instincts and tackling ability, Stone can be an early-impact contributor.

Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) is tackled by Texas Tech's Broderick Washington Jr. during the second half Oct. 5 in Lubbock, Texas.
Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) is tackled by Texas Tech's Broderick Washington Jr. during the second half Oct. 5 in Lubbock, Texas. (Brad Tollefson/AP)

13. Defensive tackle Broderick Washington

The fifth-round pick earned All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention for the third straight season last year after leading Texas Tech’s defensive line with 39 tackles (5½ for loss) and 2½ sacks. The 6-3, 304-pound Washington is a strong run defender who can line up anywhere from over the center to outside an offensive tackle. His arrival should help mitigate the loss of defensive end Chris Wormley in the long run, but he has to show he’s versatile enough to have a regular role in the 2020 line’s rotation.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan performs a drill during training camp July 28, 2018, in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan performs a drill during training camp July 28, 2018, in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin.

14. Inside linebacker Jake Ryan

Sidelined by knee problems, the former Green Bay Packers starter has appeared in just two games over the past two seasons. In February, the Jaguars declined to exercise the second-year option on his two-year, $7.5 million deal. The 6-2, 240-pound Ryan is only 28 and has a reputation as a solid run defender, so if he stays healthy and proves his value on special teams, he can vie for defensive snaps next season.

Oregon tight end Jacob Breeland scores a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt against UCLA in Eugene on Nov. 3, 2018
Oregon tight end Jacob Breeland scores a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt against UCLA in Eugene on Nov. 3, 2018 (Thomas Boyd / Associated Press)
Georgia tight end Eli Wolf plays peekaboo with 8-month-old Harlem Williams during a visit to Ochsner Hospital for Children before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Dec. 30.
Georgia tight end Eli Wolf plays peekaboo with 8-month-old Harlem Williams during a visit to Ochsner Hospital for Children before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Dec. 30.(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

15-16. Tight ends Jacob Breeland, Eli Wolf

After trading away Hayden Hurst this offseason, the Ravens need a third tight end to help ease the burden on Nick Boyle and Mark Andrews. Breeland and Wolf don’t have the pedigree of a first-round pick, but they’re both intriguing undrafted prospects.

The 6-6, 252-pound Breeland led Oregon in receptions (26), receiving yards (405) and receiving touchdowns (six) before suffering a knee injury in October. The 6-4, 238-pound Wolf has just 280 receiving yards in his career, including 194 last year at Georgia, but his measurables are impressive.

Nigel Warrior does a flip while celebrating after Tennessee defeated Southern Mississippi at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017, in Knoxville.
Nigel Warrior does a flip while celebrating after Tennessee defeated Southern Mississippi at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017, in Knoxville.(Michael Reaves /)

17. Safety Nigel Warrior

The son of former Ravens cornerback Dale Carter started 38 games at Tennessee, where he earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior. The 6-1, 197-pound Warrior tied for the league lead in interceptions (four) and ranked third on the Volunteers with 70 tackles. He doesn’t have the range to play as a regular center-field safety, but he could contribute on special teams and as a reserve if he impresses in training camp.

Maryland running back Anthony McFarland is tackled by Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch (34) during the first half Oct. 20, 2018, in Iowa City.
Maryland running back Anthony McFarland is tackled by Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch (34) during the first half Oct. 20, 2018, in Iowa City.(Charlie Neibergall / AP)

18. Inside linebacker Kristian Welch

Despite missing 3½ games last season because of a stinger, the 6-3, 240-pound Welch led Iowa in tackles (87). He was a combine snub, but his unofficial time in the three-cone drill (6.58 seconds) would have easily been the quickest among the 18 linebackers who ran it at the combine. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz has compared him to former Iowa linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann, both now with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Ravens have a track record of finding NFL-caliber undrafted linebackers.

St. Francis quarterback Jason Brown (8) is pursued near his own end zone by James Madison defensive lineman John Daka (7) on Sept. 7 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
St. Francis quarterback Jason Brown (8) is pursued near his own end zone by James Madison defensive lineman John Daka (7) on Sept. 7 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.(Daniel Lin/AP)

19. Outside linebacker John Daka

The 6-2, 240-pound Daka set the James Madison single-season record for sacks (16½) and led the Football Championship Subdivision in sacks and tackles for loss (28) as a senior. The Maryland native and Wise High School alumnus has also put on over 10 pounds of lean muscle since last season, when he was listed at 227 pounds. He’s a long way from making the team and cracking the rotation, but the Ravens need some young edge rushers to develop alongside Jaylon Ferguson.

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Missouri offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo stretches at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 28.
Missouri offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo stretches at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 28.(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

20. Center Trystan Colon-Castillo

The 6-4, 315-pound Colon-Castillo spent four years at Missouri, but he bypassed a final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. After being named the Tigers’ Lifter of the Year in 2016, he started 38 games over the next three seasons in the team’s up-tempo, spread attack. Colon-Castillo doesn’t have exceptional traits — he managed just 11 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine — but he’s regarded as a high-IQ, high-effort lineman. With the Ravens’ uncertainty at center, he could find a role.

Also considered: quarterback Tyler Huntley, outside linebacker Chauncey Rivers, fullback Bronson Rechsteiner and offensive lineman Sean Pollard.

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