NBC Sports ranks NFL GMs, and Eric DeCosta is out of the top 10?
During the offseason, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta received high praise for his free agent acquisitions, excellent draft picks and roster building. But NBC Sports’ Patrick Daugherty doesn’t consider those offseason efforts worthy of DeCosta making the top 10 of his NFL GM rankings. DeCosta was ranked 12th on Daugherty’s list of NFL general managers.
“12. Eric DeCosta, Ravens: Eric DeCosta’s 2021 was a lesson in what can go wrong even when you have a franchise quarterback,” Daugherty wrote. “The league’s top running back was wiped out by ACL injuries before a real snap was played.
Although Daugherty ranked DeCosta outside of his top 10, his commentary is almost entirely positive, noting last season’s roster depth, a successful draft and good offseason additions.
Despite all that, DeCosta’s club sat at 8-4 entering Week 14. That’s what happens when you have a deep roster,” Daugherty wrote. “…DeCosta handled it the only way a Ravens executive knows how — by knocking the draft out of the park. Safety Kyle Hamilton was arguably the most talented player in the entire class. DeCosta took him at No. 14. Tyler Linderbaum was clearly best DeCosta took him at No. 25, helping stabilize the Ravens’ road-paving line.. S Marcus Williams was one of the standout signings of free agency, while Ravens running back Michael Pierce was one of the lowest.”
Daugherty offered no criticism of DeCosta’s decision-making, citing only “issues” DeCosta will have to navigate, including wide receiver depth, left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s health and Lamar Jackson’s contract situation . With those issues, Daugherty expressed confidence that DeCosta can handle whatever lies ahead.
“But DeCosta is showing the same ability to adjust and reload on the fly as his mentor Ozzie Newsome,” Daugherty wrote.
The Ravens’ roster was largely improved after the offseason dusted off
With the state of the Ravens’ roster heading into camp looking pretty settled, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec weighed in on whether each position group got better, worse or stayed the same. For the most part, Zrebiec believes the Ravens improved, as five positions received the “best” label.
“Outlook: As long as [Marlon] Humphrey and [Marcus] Peters is back playing at a high level, the Ravens will be in good shape,” Zrebiec wrote. “They have an intriguing combination of experience ([Kyle] Fuller, [Kevon] Seymour) and the gifted youth ([Brandon] Stephens, [Jalyn] Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams) to figure out the rest. The Ravens have corners that can play outside and in the slot and safeties that can play corner. Now, they have to find a way to keep their cover guys healthy.”
“Outlook: With a healthy [Ronnie] Stanley, [Kevin] Zeitler, Linderbaum and [Morgan] Moses, this group looks scary regardless of who wins the left guard job,” Zrebiec wrote. “However, there’s no guarantee that Stanley will recapture his pre-injury form, and Linderbaum faces a learning curve. However, DeCosta vowed to strengthen the offensive line this season, and he delivered. The Ravens are deeper, especially in the punt, and they may even have a surplus of 53-caliber forwards to trade at the end of the summer.”
“Outlook: How soon remains to be seen [Marcus] Williams picks up the defense and the way Hamilton passes in the NFL,” Zrebiec wrote. “However, the decision to double the position solidifies what should be one of the best secondaries in the NFL. The Ravens have five safeties they like that don’t even include Stephens and [Ar’Darius] Washington, who can get opportunities in the nickel role instead of losing out on the safety depth chart.”
However, Zrebiec believes the wide receiver and outside linebacker units did not improve during the offseason.
“Outlook: Not everyone believes Brown is a huge loss for the Ravens. However, until some of the team’s young receivers step up and become consistent producers and legitimate threats, it’s hard not to conclude that the departure of he hasn’t created a void of any significance,” Zrebiec wrote. “It still feels likely that the Ravens will bring in a veteran receiver at some point. However, unless DeCosta has a big surprise up his sleeve, it’s hard to believe the player will change what the Ravens do offensively.”
“Outlook: You can throw in a lot of ‘What ifs’ that work in the Ravens’ favor,” Zrebiec wrote. “What if Oweh takes a big step in year two, Bowser comes back strong, Houston finds the fountain of youth, Ojabo is ready before midseason? That’s a lot to ask. It’s hard to ignore the Ravens’ inability to tight end Za’Darius Smith will get another deal or walk away from another genuine double-digit guy. Add in the fact that three of their top guys had offseason surgery and Houston is a year older and the concerns are legitimate.”
James Proche is the Ravens’ ‘Best Kept Secret’
All eyes have been on the Ravens wide receivers this offseason and how the unit will perform after the Brown trade. According to Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport, one player on that unit, James Proche II, is “the best-kept secret.”
“Proche was extremely productive at SMU, posting 204 receptions over his final two collegiate seasons,” Davenport wrote.
Davenport acknowledged that Proche hasn’t had the same production at the professional level, but believes more is on the horizon for the young wideout.
“Per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Proche has excelled in OTAs, leading to speculation that his offensive role could increase significantly in 2022,” Davenport wrote. “If Proche emerges as a viable option on third downs, the 5’11”, 193-pounder will shatter new career bests across the board.
Justin Fried of Ebony Bird believes that “the secret [of Proche] it may come out soon”.
“The 25-year-old is expected to serve as receiver no. 3 to the Ravens behind second-year pro Rashod Bateman and special teams ace Devin Duvernay,” Fried wrote. “That should lead to plenty of opportunities for the former second-team All-American. And if past history is anything to go by, look for Proche to make the most of every moment he gets.”
Patrick Queen makes the entire under-25 defensive team
Third-year linebacker Patrick Queen will head into the 2022 season as one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan released his 2022 Under-25 NFL defensive backs team, and Queen joined former LSU teammate Devin White on the list.
“[Queen] was immediately able to reach over 100 tackles in his rookie year, which helped him finish third in Rookie Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2020,” Sullivan wrote. “He followed that up with another strong season in 2021, where he played all 17 games. and had a team-high 98 tackles and a career-high 10 tackles for a loss. The Queen received a 65.9 pass rush grade from PFF for 2021 and a 17.2 pass rush rate, both of which ranked 13th among linebackers.”
Ravenswire’s Kevin Oestreicher believes this season could be a big one for Queen.
“With another year under his belt and another season to improve his game, the third-year cornerback could make a lot of noise for the Ravens’ defense during the 2022 NFL season,” Oestreicher wrote.