Podcast: Jake and Nolan analyze where the Orioles are, and talk Ravens as OTA’S begin

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and author Nolan McGraw.

With the Orioles 17.5 games back in the American League East, some decisions need to be made in the warehouse. At what percentage do Jake and Nolan think players like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach could be moved? The guys also ponder what to do with Chris Davis, and look ahead to this week’s series against the White Sox.

On Monday, Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) begin for the Ravens in Owings Mills. The CCBW duo go over the biggest storylines surrounding the Ravens at this point in the offseason, including the relationship between Joe Flacco & Lamar Jackson, the retooled receiving core, the position battles along the offensive line, and the impact of concession price reductions at M&T Bank Stadium.

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Ravens wrap up 2018 draft with five picks in last three rounds

Round 5 – pick #162 overall: Jordan Lasley – WR, UCLA

The Ravens were lined up to have the 152nd overall pick but traded back once again to give themselves an extra sixth round pick. Jordan Lasley joins Jaleel Scott as the newest members of the Ravens receiving core.

Lasley is a smaller target than Scott but has more speed. He spent all four years of his college career at UCLA but struggled to stay out of trouble while there. Lasley was arrested twice in 2016 for alcohol possession as a minor and presenting a fake I.D at a club. He also received a three game suspension in 2017 that put a damper on an otherwise impressive senior year. Lasley accumulated 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns in just nine games.

The potential is certainly there but there are also concerns surrounding his hands. Lasley dropped 21 passes between his junior and senior year and struggles to haul in passes away from his body.

Round 6 – pick #190 overall: DeShon Elliott – S, Texas

The Ravens continued to add to their already strong secondary by selecting DeShone Elliot in the sixth round. Elliott is coming off of a spectacular junior season where he picked up 63 tackles, nine pass deflections and three forced fumbles. The numbers are good but Elliot also received a great deal of accolades in his first season as a starter, including a first team All-American and All-Big 12 honors.

The Ravens don’t have a desperate need for a safety but Elliot was projected by many to go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. Scouts note his physicality and tackling ability but also credit his football IQ and on field leadership. While playing at Texas, Elliot often took charge and got the rest of the defense lined up properly.

His strengths will likely make him most useful against the run and in the zone. Elliott has had trouble in one-on-one coverage but rarely misses a play in front of him.

Round 6 – pick #212 overall: Greg Senat – OT, Wagner

If you didn’t know who Greg Senat was before the Ravens selected him in the sixth round, you’re not alone. The 23-year-old offensive tackle comes from Wagner College, a small private school in Staten Island. Prior to football, Senat was a basketball player at Wagner. He made the transition after two years and started all 11 games for the Seahawks in 2016 and 2017.

Scouts note Senat has a lot of raw talent but his size could be better. Adding some muscle over the next few years will be necessary though if he wants to stay in the league. Veterans on the Ravens line like Marshall Yanda and James Hurst will be great mentors for Senat as he prepares to transition to the next level.

Round 6 – pick #215 overall: Bradley Bozeman – C, Alabama

Selecting a center in the sixth round is about as least flashy as you can get with a pick but Bradley Bozeman is a strong blocker with a good amount of experience in one of the top programs in the country, Alabama. He spent his senior season as one of the anchors on the Crimson Tide’s line, helping them capture another national title earlier this year.

You probably recognize him as the guy who proposed to his girlfriend on the field after winning the national title in January. Don’t let that be the only thing you like about Bozeman though. The new Raven is NFL ready with good core strength and the ability to adjust mid-play.

Round 7 – pick #238 overall: Zach Sieler – DE, Ferris State

Ozzie Newsome’s final draft pick as the Ravens general manager came late Saturday afternoon. Zach Sieler was selected from a division II school in Michigan called Ferris State. When scouts look at division II players, they want above average physical traits that allow them to dominate against their small school competition. That certainly applies to Zach Sieler who started his college career as a walk on and now becomes the first player drafted out of the school in program history.

In his final two seasons with the Bulldogs, Sieler racked up over 50 tackles for a loss and 26.5 sacks. The only thing working against him is his lack of experience against top-tier competition. Sieler will have to prove himself among an aggressive Ravens defensive line ,but who better to learn from than guys like Brandon Williams and Terrell Suggs?

Photo credits: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images, Jay Janner / Austin American Statesman, @Wagner_Football on Twitter, Marvin Gentry / USA Today Sports, Ferris State Athletics

Round 4 recap: Ravens make first defensive selections

The Ravens entered the final day of the 2018 draft with a surplus of picks. After trading back four times between Thursday and Friday, Ozzie Newsome and company had stockpiled seven picks for the final three rounds, three of which came in the fourth round.

Pick #18 (#118 overall): Anthony Averett – CB, Alabama

Cue the Alabama jokes. It’s no secret that Ozzie loves defensive players from his alma mater, but Averett provides the Ravens secondary with even more depth. Last year Baltimore added Brandon Carr in free agency and drafted Marlon Humphrey from Alabama. Both pick ups helped bolster a secondary that suffered from injuries in previous seasons and allowed the defense to withstand the test of a full season. With Jimmy Smith likely sidelined for a portion of the 2018 season, this pick makes a lot of sense.

The Ravens dedicated their first four picks to helping the offense but ending the weekend with another unbalanced draft would not do the team any favors. We saw this last year when the Ravens went all in on the defense.

Averett did not see any play time in his first two years at Alabama due to a stacked depth chart and some injuries. When he finally made it on the field as a junior and senior, Averett showed good consistency. Scouts commend his athleticism but note that he could become a target for QB’s to pick on.

Fun fact: Averett is the nephew of Bryant McKinnie, the former Ravens left tackle who was a part of the 2012-13 super bowl run.

Pick #22 (#122 overall): Kenny Young – ILB, UCLA

Just a few picks later the Ravens added another defensive player. Kenny Young really started turning heads during his senior year when he led the Bruins with 110 tackles and was named a first-team All-Pac-12 linebacker.

The Ravens already have their anchor at the linebacker position with C.J. Mosley but Young could come in and compete with the likes of Albert McClellan, Patrick Onwuasor and Kamalei Correa for play time. His speed and agility makes him a valuable defender against the run but scouts question his physicality.

Pick #32 (#132 overall): Jaleel Scott – WR, New Mexico St.

After missing out on and passing up some receivers in the first three rounds, the Ravens finally selected one in the fourth. Jaleel Scott is not a big name like D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley but he will join a diverse receiving core with good veteran leadership and talent around him.

Scott struggled academically out of high school making him ineligible for many of the D1 schools that were recruiting him. After redshirting his first year at Ellsworth Community College, Scott made an immediate impact and finished with all conference honors in 2015. Scott was able to transfer to New Mexico State in 2016 and played his final two years there. Scouts started to take notice during his senior season when he racked up 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns on just 76 receptions.

The Ravens were likely attracted to Scott’s size and reach. Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 218 pounds, Scott is a physical receiver with the ability to battle defenders for the ball. He doesn’t shy away from contact but lacks the speed and route running ability of other receivers drafted before him.

Photo credits: Rick Scuteri / Associated Press, Harry How / Getty Images, Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports

Ravens continue offensive overhaul in third round by selecting OT Orlando Brown and TE Mark Andrews

After trading back twice in the third round, the Ravens continued to build on the offensive side of the football by drafting two Oklahoma players – offensive tackle Orlando “Zeus” Brown (83’rd overall) and tight end Mark Andrews (86’th overall).

The Ravens were supposed to kick off the third round with the 65’th overall pick, but traded back to pick #75 from the Oakland Raiders. As a part of the trade, Baltimore received picks #152 (fifth round) and #212 (sixth round) from Oakland. Then, a few picks before pick #75 approached, the Ravens traded back yet again with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens received Kansas City’s 86’th overall pick and the 122’nd pick (fourth round).

Brown’s father, Orlando “Zeus” Brown, also an offensive tackle, played for the Ravens from 1996-98 and passed away in 2011 due to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Brown, 6’8″, 345 pounds, is not the best athlete in the world, but he knows how to use his size to his advantage. His hands and his arms are perhaps his best attributes, as he is able to extend his arms to prevent pass rushers from advancing into the pocket. However, his feet are slow, he lacks strength, and he has a tendency to hold.

Brown’s NFL combine performance was especially concerning. He finished at the bottom of the list of NFL lineman in the 40-yard dash (5.85 seconds), vertical jump (19.5 inches), and posted the worst bench press total in the vertical jump for all offensive lineman (14 reps, 225 pounds). His stability and toughness are a major concern going forward.

Andrews, a former wideout, caught 62 passes for 1,765 yards and 22 touchdowns over three seasons at Oklahoma, averaging 15.8 yards-per-catch. He knows how to produce in the red zone, catching one touchdown for every five catches. He’s a big frame at 6’5″, 256 pounds, but he can still make defenders miss. His speed declined over his collegiate career, his blocking needs to improve, and he could be a liability in the run game.

The Ravens have now used their first four picks of the 2018 draft on offense, with two picks dedicated to the tight end position. Along with Andrews, the Ravens drafted South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst on Thursday. Andrews and Hurst will join a tight end room with Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.

Brown’s case will be interesting. Ronnie Stanley will be the starting left tackle in 2018, but the right tackle spot will be Brown’s position to lose. The Ravens gave James Hurst a four-year, $17.5 million contract in the beginning of the offseason, but he has not proven to be reliable at either tackle position. He is better suited as a left guard. Marshal Yanda will return, along with Alex Lewis and Matt Skura. Skura and Lewis look to lock down starting jobs along the offensive line. Brown will certainly have an opportunity to lock down the right tackle job, but there are several concerns with his technique and work ethic.

Rounds 4-7 will take place tomorrow, Apr. 28, beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST. The Ravens will pick seven times on Saturday; three times in the fourth round (#118, #122, and #132), once in the fifth round (#152), twice in the sixth round (#190 and #212), and once in the seventh round (#238).

Image Credit: Dani Krempasky 

Ravens trade up to pick 32 and draft Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson

Seven picks after drafting South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst 25’th overall, the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the first round in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, acquiring the 32’nd overall pick and selecting Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

For the 32’nd pick, the Ravens sent pick #52 (second round), pick #125 (fourth round), and a 2019 second-round pick to the Eagles.

Jackson stands at 6’2″, 216 pounds. A native of Pompano Beach, Florida, Jackson played in 38 games over three seasons at Louisville, where he threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in that span.

Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, becoming the youngest player ever to win the award. Jackson is just 21-years-old, and will not turn 22 until Jan. 17, 2019. In his Heisman-winning season, Jackson threw for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns.

For a quarterback, Jackson resembles a speedy play-maker who relies on his ability to move out of the pocket and make plays with both his arms and his legs. He has a powerful arm and can easily avoid defenders with his speed. He’s a touchdown machine  both as a runner and a thrower, reminiscent of Michael Vick.

As the case is with any scrambling quarterback, the big concern with Jackson will be whether or not be can stay healthy at the NFL level. Although he did not miss a start over his last two seasons at Louisville, collegiate superstar quarterbacks, like Robert Griffin III, saw their professional careers fall apart due to injuries. With Jackson being less than 220 pounds, that’s definitely something to worry about. The more Jackson runs, the better chance he has of getting hurt.

Although scouts praised Jackson for his arm strength, his accuracy needs some improvement. He needs to lower the height on his deep balls, adjust his low release point, and stop staring receivers down. These types of things lead to tipped passes and interceptions, and Jackson has thrown 27 of them in his collegiate career.

For a team who’s owner said a few weeks after the 2017 season ended that the Ravens “had bigger fish to fry” than finding Joe Flacco‘s potential replacement in the 2018 draft, this is a stunner. Most expected the Ravens to take a quarterback in the mid rounds, but not this early. Although John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ brass said after the pick that Flacco is still their quarterback going forward, the writing is on the wall. Jackson will likely need some time to develop under Flacco, but if the 11-year veteran fails to lead the Ravens back to the postseason for the first time in four years, the Lamar Jackson era could very well begin in Baltimore. After all, Flacco has no more guaranteed money on his contract after the 2018 season.

The drafting of Jackson likely means that RGIII will not make the 53-man roster as training camp progresses. Jackson and Griffin are virtually the same quarterback, and the Ravens’ intentions are clear with this pick. Griffin will need an outstanding summer performance to even warrant the Ravens keeping a third quarterback on the roster.

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Image Credit: Houston Chronicle 

After trading down twice, Ravens draft South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst 25’th overall

The Baltimore Ravens traded back twice before finally making their first-round selection on Thursday night in the 2018 NFL Draft. With the 25’th overall pick, the Ravens drafted South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst.

Right as the Ravens came on the clock at pick #16, it was announced that the Buffalo Bills traded the very first pick of the third round (#65) to Baltimore, who moved down to the 22’nd overall pick. Buffalo also received pick #154 (fifth round) from the Ravens in the trade. Then, when the Ravens were on the clock for pick #22, they traded back again, this time with the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens moved down to pick #25 and also received pick #125 (fourth round), while the Titans received pick #215 (sixth round).

Hurst, 24-years-old from Jacksonville, will turn 25 on Aug. 24. That’s due in-part to the fact that Hurst was also a 17’th-round draft pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hurst played two years of rookie ball in 2013-14 before walking onto South Carolina’s football team.

Entering the draft, the biggest hole on the Ravens’ roster was clearly the tight end position. Following the departure of Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, and Vince Mayle made up the tight end room for Baltimore. Neither of them has accumulated more than 268 receiving yards in a season. Ever since Dennis Pitta‘s hip injuries derailed his career, the Ravens have lacked a sure-handed, pass-catching tight end that Joe Flacco loves to utilize. Hurst could fill that hole.

Over three seasons at South Carolina, Hurst accumulated 100 receptions for 1,281 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged at least 12.7 yards-per-catch in every season, and started every game over the last two seasons. He stands at 6’5″, 250 pounds, and ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February.

According to scouting reports, Hurst is a fiery competitor who can line up all over the field. Having played multiple sports, now professionally, Hurst is a natural athlete. He consistently catches the football and has quick feet. His route-running and physicality on the line need some work, but the Ravens desperately needed a tight end that can stretch the field and give Flacco a security blanket.

Following their first trade-back with the Bills, the Ravens will pick three times over the second and third rounds on Friday night. Baltimore will pick 52’nd overall in the second round, along with picks #65 and #83 in the third round. The second round will get underway at 7:00 p.m. EST on Friday evening.

Image Credit: My Fantasy Sports Talk 

Ravens officially land wide receiver Willie Snead

OWINGS MILLS — On Friday, the Baltimore Ravens signed restricted free agent wide receiver Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million offer sheet. The New Orleans Saints had a five-day window to match the Ravens’ offer and retain Snead. According to NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport, the Saints will not match the offer, officially landing Snead in Baltimore.

Snead, a four-year veteran out of Ball State, went undrafted in 2014. He bounced around in Cleveland and Carolina before being signed to the Saints’ practice squad in December 2014. Snead made the Saints’ 2015 53-man roster after a strong showing in training camp.

In three seasons, Snead has accumulated 149 receptions for 1,971 yards and seven touchdowns. 2015 marked Snead’s most productive season when he posted 69 receptions for 984 yards and three touchdowns.

Now in Baltimore, Snead looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 campaign. He served a three-game suspension early in the season for a DUI. After Snead returned from suspension, he suffered a thigh hamstring injury that lingered through the rest of the season and hurt his production. He finished the 2017 season with just eight receptions for 92 yards.

The signing of Snead marks another change to the Ravens’ wide receiver room. Baltimore cut Jeremy Maclin early in the offseason. Mike Wallace and Michael Campanero signed one-year contracts elsewhere. Snead will join fellow free agent acquisitions Michael Crabtree and John Brown on the Ravens’ revamped wideout corps, with Breshad Perriman (for now) and Chris Moore set to return.

Snead could develop into the slot receiver that the Ravens have long been searching for. Although last season was disappointing, when healthy, Snead has produced. With the NFL Draft just days away, the Ravens will likely add one or two more wideouts. There will be plenty of competition among wide receivers in training camp, and Snead will be hungry to put last season behind him and solidify a role in the Ravens’ passing attack.

Image Credit: Barstool Sports