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Ravens news, notes and opinions on coaching decisions, free agents and the draft

Ozzie Newsome is being realistic in his quest for a No. 1 wide receiver and an elite pass rusher.

On the surface, the potential hire of Greg Roman to coordinate the Ravens' much-maligned running game seems like a nice move for head coach John Harbaugh if he’s able to get it done.

While Roman’s play-calling has drawn plenty of criticism, his offenses have run the ball often and well. During his four years as San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator, the 49ers ranked as the No. 2 rushing offense. In his one full season calling the plays for the Buffalo Bills, the Bills ranked No.1 in rushing.

Harbaugh has said several times already this offseason that the team is focused on getting back to being more balanced on offense. It seems fans are skeptical, given that they’ve heard that before and Marty Mornhinweg is known as a pass-first offensive coordinator. However, the possible addition of Roman would certainly indicate a focus on improving the run game.

What remains to be seen is what his addition might mean for offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Perhaps, Castillo continues to coach the offensive line and just doesn’t have as much impact in the running play designs and schemes. In that case, though, there would be questions about whether the presence of Mornhinweg, Roman, Castillo and a quarterback coach to be named would create a situation where there was too many voices in the offensive game-planning process.


Other coaching notes: It’s been reported that Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave are the top candidates for the offensive coordinator job under new Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph. According to Mike Klis, Broncos’ beat reporter for 9News, there is a good chance that quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp stays on as well. That could leave Rick Dennison, the offensive coordinator under Gary Kubiak the past two years, as the odd man out, and free him up to return to the Ravens as quarterbacks coach.

Dennison worked really well with Flacco in 2014. Such a move could take a little while. Dennison has other things on his mind as his father, George, passed away last week.

There hasn’t been a ton of buzz about current Ravens assistants being up for promotions elsewhere, but it wouldn’t surprise me if linebackers coach Don Martindale garners some interest for a vacant defensive coordinator post. Martindale, the Broncos defensive coordinator in 2010 under Josh McDaniels, is a widely-respected coach and a potential successor to Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. C.J. Mosley and Zachary Orr getting All-Pro recognition is a testament to the job Martindale did this past season.


Ravens not in a rush: I wouldn’t make too much out of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, at Tuesday’s “State of the Ravens” address, not listing a pass rusher as one of the team’s top three needs (he cited improving the secondary and offensive line and adding a complementary wide receiver).

He later talked about the team’s interest in adding a pass rusher. Newsome surely saw the same thing everybody else saw with the team’s inability to get to the quarterback down the stretch. However, Newsome has to be realistic. There’s not a ton of impact pass rushers that will hit the free agent market because teams recognize the importance of the role and don’t often let stud pass rushers get away. The top pass rushers also figure to go pretty early in this year’s draft.

We’ll see how things unfold, but it’s hard to foresee the Ravens not making a meaningful addition at outside linebacker.


What's there at wideout?: It seems Newsome’s stated desire of adding a “complementary” wide receiver has also annoyed or confused fans. Ask yourself this, though: Where are they going to find a legitimate No. 1 receiver in his prime? Are you going to roll the dice and try and take the next Julio Jones or A.J. Green with the 16th overall pick? Good luck.

Will there even be a legitimate No. 1 receiver available on the free agent market? The top projected free agent receivers are Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Terrelle Pryor, Vincent Jackson, Kenny Britt and Michael Floyd. Where is the true No. 1 in that group? Jeffery maybe, but he’s not without his question marks.

Jackson is superfluous with Mike Wallace on the roster. Garcon would be a great fit, but he’s more a No. 2 receiver. Pryor doesn’t have enough of a track record at wide receiver to be currently considered a No. 1.

By now, I assume you get the point. It’s going to be extremely difficult for the Ravens to find that elusive No. 1 wide receiver, and Newsome knows that. I’m just not sure that guy is out there to get right now.


Draft matches Ravens' needs: There is some good news about April’s draft. It apparently fits well with the Ravens’ needs. According to NFL Network analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah, the draft has the “deepest/most talented group of [cornerbacks]” that he’s seen in years. Jeremiah also said the draft is loaded with quality edge rushers, safeties and running backs. All are positions the Ravens figure to address.

Matt Miller, the lead NFL drafter writer for Bleacher Report, tweeted Tuesday that eight of his top 22-ranked players in this year’s draft are edge rushers. That bodes well for the Ravens.

Wright could be gone soon: Given his struggles this past season and his just over $5 million cap hit for 2017, cornerback Shareece Wright seems to be one of the more obvious salary cap casualties this offseason. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti only reinforced that point Tuesday.

In discussing some of the organization’s evaluation errors, Bisciotti said, “We had Shareece Wright, who actually graded out better than Jimmy [Smith] in the last six weeks of the [2015] season. We made that one of our priorities that we thought we could lock that down, and Shareece gets away from the fundamentals and loses technique and starts playing poorly. That really set us back, to be honest with you.”



Hard to see Hard Knocks here: As colleague Jonas Shaffer wrote earlier this month, the Ravens are one of eight teams eligible to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks during 2017 training camp. However, if I’m a Ravens’ fan, I wouldn’t be setting my DVR just yet.

One, I would imagine Newsome and Harbaugh will strongly object to being the focus of the show, and the NFL prefers not forcing a team to do it. Two, the ongoing construction project at the Under Armour Performance Center would probably make for a logistical nightmare for HBO and all the additional personnel and cameras that the show would bring to the team’s headquarters. Plus, the construction will mean no fans at training camp, creating an environment that probably wouldn’t play well on television.


Ngata does good: And finally, passing along this story that chronicles a nice deed by former Raven Haloti Ngata

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