Overall, the Baltimore Ravens had another “pretty good” season in 2020. They made the playoffs for the third year in a row, but they just couldn’t win when it mattered the most. At this point, a “pretty good” season just isn’t going to cut it in 2021. The fans want more. It sounds like the front office wants more. And hopefully, the Ravens coaches and Ravens players also want more.
On paper, it appears the Ravens have improved their passing game quite a bit this offseason. One other glaring need this offseason was to improve the pass rush, especially after losing Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, and Jihad Ward all to free agency. Even after the draft, you could argue that there is still room to improve there.
If all goes well, though, there is no reason that the Baltimore Ravens cannot reach their third Super Bowl since 1996. However, during the offseason, it appears the hype mainly surrounds the new players coming to the team.
But what about the players that are already on the team? What about the younger players that maybe didn’t really get a chance to show what they can bring to the table yet?
Let’s take a look at a few Ravens players who deserve some more playtime in 2021.
Tyus Bowser is one player that not only deserves more playtime but also appears guaranteed to get it in 2021.
Now, losing Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, and Jihad Ward may appear to be a huge setback for the Ravens. However, in 2020, PFF graded Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee higher than all three of those players. They both fit the system better and were re-signed for far less money.
Over the last two seasons, Bowser technically only started two games. Yet, he recorded 58 combined tackles, 7 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 7 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 24 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown. Those are some pretty solid stats for a player that only started two games.
The Ravens may have gotten a steal by re-signing Bowser to a 4-year deal worth $22 million. But that’s only if Bowser breaks out. Given the Ravens’ history in developing the position (Suggs, Smith, Judon, Thomas, etc), all signs point to that happening.
Bowser may not immediately be that 8 to 10 sacks per season guy, but he can easily be one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. He has already proven that in just a small sample size.
It’s no secret that the Ravens love to run the football. Over the years, some of the best Ravens players on offense have been running backs. Whether it’s Jamal Lewis, Ray Rice, Mark Ingram, or most recently, J.K. Dobbins, they have all done well.
Here’s the thing, though, Dobbins looks like he has the potential to be the best to ever do it at the position for the Ravens. It really all depends on how much the Ravens have him share the football next season. Gus Edwards is also a solid running back. The Ravens brought him back for another season, but he hasn’t received a long-term deal yet.
We all know that the Ravens love to have more than one running back that is capable of starting. That’s their bread and butter. However, Dobbins earned the right to get the bulk of the carries. Last season, it seemed like he only got better every time he touched the football.
With only 134 carries in his rookie season, Dobbins was able to record 805 yards and 9 touchdowns with a 6 yards-per-carry average. It is not a reach to believe that Dobbins could potentially record well over 1,000 yards in his sophomore season.
Devin Duvernay should see an increased role in 2021. Even after drafting Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, Duvernay deserves more playtime. It will be hard to get, especially since the Ravens also signed Sammy Watkins this offseason.
But Devin Duvernay showed up on every opportunity he was given in 2020. There weren’t many opportunities either. Duvernay finished the season with 20 receptions on 26 targets for 201 yards (76.9% catch rate). He also had 4 rushes for 70 yards and 21 kick returns for 578 yards and 1 touchdown (93 yards).
Now, those aren’t eye-popping numbers. But for a team that had a passing attack that ranked at the bottom of the NFL, you think they would have given Duvernay more opportunities last season. Given the lack of a real offseason in 2020 because of the pandemic and the fact that 2020 was Duvernay’s rookie season, the lack of involvement is somewhat understandable.
But hopefully, after a more normal offseason, Duvernay can become more involved in his sophomore season. In 2019, Duvernay finished his college career at Texas by recording 106 receptions for 1,386 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is capable of making plays and the Ravens should give Duvernay more chances to prove that.
What do they have to lose?
Other Ravens players who deserve more play time:
Honorable mentions: Justin Madubuike, James Proche, Malik Harrison.
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