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OWINGS MILLS — Just over 24 hours before the Ravens face the Los Angeles Chargers with Baltimore’s playoff dreams likely on-the-line, the team announced their intentions to retain head coach John Harbaugh. The news broke via the Ravens’ Twitter account.
As referenced in the Tweet, the team is working with Harbaugh towards a contract extension with the 11-year coaches’ deal set to expire after the 2019 season.
On November 11 during the Ravens’ bye week, NFL Insider Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that the Ravens and Harbaugh were very close to ‘mutually agreeing to part ways’ after the 2018 season concluded.
Since Baltimore’s bye, Harbaugh has coached the Ravens, with an entirely different offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, to a 4-1 stretch that has Baltimore (8-6) a half game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) in the AFC North.
Entering Saturday, the Ravens hold the #6 seed in the AFC playoff picture and could rise to first place in the north with a win over the Chargers and a Steelers loss to the Saints (12-2) on Sunday.
2018 was thought to be a crucial season for Harbaugh. The Ravens have not made the playoffs since 2014 and could miss out again depending on what happens over the last two weeks of the regular season. Making this announcement a day before the most important game of the season is peculiar, but it’s sure to make the players happy and take some pressure off the coaching staff. What would have been more peculiar, however, would have been letting Harbaugh go just one season after drafting Jackson.
Just because Harbaugh will remain with the Ravens next season doesn’t mean that change isn’t coming. General Manager Ozzie Newsome will step down after the 2018 season and will be replaced by Eric DeCosta. There’s also the possibility that the Ravens could move on from oft-criticized offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, but again doing so one season into Jackson’s career would raise some eyebrows.
Through almost 11 seasons coaching the Ravens, Harbaugh’s teams have made six playoff appearances, won Super Bowl 47, reached three AFC Championships games, and have played to a 102-72 record (10-5 in the playoffs).
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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