Baltimore Ravens 2021 Team Preview

Baltimore Ravens 2021 Team Preview

The third year of the Lamar Jackson era was not without its troubles. Baltimore fell from its perch atop the AFC North with an 11-5 record, but the Ravens were able to secure their first playoff win since 2014, exacting revenge on the Tennessee Titans. However, Baltimore once again fell in the divisional round of the playoffs, this time losing to the Buffalo Bills.

While Baltimore did slip three games in the standings and lose the division to Pittsburgh, there were plenty of positives after a COVID-19 outbreak tried to put the season in doubt. Jackson and company ran ahead to six consecutive wins, providing hope for 2021 and beyond.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Team Previews.


Offseason Recap

Baltimore began its offseason by answering a three-headed question in the edge room. Tyus Bowser ended up being the answer as Yannick Ngakoue made his way to Las Vegas, and Matthew Judon landed in New England. In mid-April, the Ravens packaged 2019 Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and other picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the No.31 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and additional late-round selections. Baltimore signed former Chief Sammy Watkins. Watkins and offensive coordinator Greg Roman were together with the Bills during Watkins’ lone 1,000-yard season in 2015. Wide receiver Rashod Bateman (No.27) and edge Odafe Oweh (No.31) headline Baltimore’s 2021 draft class.


Baltimore is coming off a season in which they averaged 29.3 points per game, good for seventh in the NFL. Once again, the focus of the offense was the rushing attack. Led by Jackson, Baltimore romped to 3,071 rushing yards. Since the merger, Baltimore now has the No.1 and No.4 rushing attacks by volume and the top two by yards per attempt. The passing offense took a step in the wrong direction, falling from 10th in yards per attempt to 21st. Baltimore had the NFL’s worst volume passing attack, posting just 182.4 passing yards per game.


Even with the additions of Bateman and Watkins, Ravens fans should expect similar production from the ground game. Baltimore could become the first team to produce three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season. Jackson is the most likely to hit the mark while J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards will make it a race to watch as Week 18 approaches.


With the losses of Ngakoue and Judon, the Baltimore pass rush will likely not be as effective as it was in 2020. Oweh is closer to being a developmental pass rusher, but he should be an immediate impact as a run defender. The newly acquired Justin Houston should reach the 100-sack plateau in 2021, but the 2014 All-Pro can only do so much. Baltimore hopes for the likes of Justin Madubuike and Jaylon Ferguson (if he makes the roster) to take an extra step in 2021.

2020 first-round pick Patrick Queen was as useful as a tackling dummy in 2020, but he should improve in 2021. Draft-mate Malik Harrison should also take the next step. The secondary is once again one of the best in the NFL as 2019 All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters lead the line. Jimmy Smith could miss time at the beginning of the season, but he should be the go-to No.2 outside corner when Humphrey moves into the slot. Tavon Young is back after an injury-shortened 2020 season as the primary slot when Humphrey plays on the outside.

Predicting the 53-Man Roster

QB (3) – Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley


Baltimore tends to only carry two quarterbacks in the Jackson era, but this year could be the exception. McSorley and Huntley both have NFL experience when Jackson was out, and either would likely be scooped up by a different team if exposed to the practice squad. McSorley has the inside track of being the No.2 quarterback at the moment, but both should make the 53-man roster.

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RB (4) – J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard 

Other than special teams, this is the easiest. group to predict. Dobbins and Edwards will be among the league leaders in rushing while Hill is the prototypical third-down back. Ricard is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL. Expect late-round pick, Ben Mason, to end up on the practice squad.

WR (6) – Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, Marquise Brown, Devin Duvernay, James Proche

Injuries could throw a wrench into the wide receiver equation, but there seem to be five locks. Watkins and Brown are the likely Week 1 starters. Bateman and Wallace are rookies. Duvernay and Proche both have returning chops. Miles Boykin is on the bubble here, and Baltimore is expected to prioritize Proche’s vice-like hands and return skills over Boykin’s third-round draft pedigree.

TE (3) – Mark Andrews, Eric Tomlinson, Josh Oliver

With Nick Boyle on the PUP list, the No. 3 tight end battle will end with both Tomlinson and Oliver making the initial roster. There is a chance that Baltimore elects to carry just two tight ends (plus Ricard). However, with Baltimore’s propensity for multiple tight end sets, they should carry three for much of the season.

OL (9) – Ronnie Stanley, Ben Cleveland, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, Ben Bredeson, Trystan Colon-Castillo

Stanley, Bozeman, Zeitler, and Villanueva will be Week 1 starters. One of Cleveland, Powers, or Bredeson will get the start at left guard. Phillips will be the swing tackle. This leaves the swing guard/center spot to Colon-Castillo and Patrick Mekari. Mekari has more NFL experience and versatility, but the Ravens could prioritize Colon-Castillo’s youth and development.

DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis, Derek Wolfe, Broderick Washington

Campbell, Madubuike, Williams, and Wolfe are locks to make the roster. Ellis has a fairly safe roster spot as well. Washington is on the bubble, and he could be involved in the last round of cuts for Baltimore. He failed to show much as a rookie, and he could be cut in favor of depth at a different position.

EDGE (5) – Pernell McPhee, Justin Houston, Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Daelin Hayes

Perhaps the biggest name to be on the outside looking in is Ferguson. Houston and Bowser are locks. McPhee is not quite a lock, but he currently is atop Baltimore’s depth at the RUSH position, so he seems to be set. Oweh and Hayes are rookies. This leaves Ferguson in a less than ideal No.6 role.

LB (4) – Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, L.J. Fort

Queen and Harrison need to show improvement in 2021. They will likely see the field in upwards of 85% of snaps if healthy. Fort and Board are key special team contributors, but he has played over 600 snaps on defense with Baltimore over the last two seasons. Similarly, Board is primarily a special teamer, but he played 264 snaps on defense last season.

CB (6) – Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey,  Tavon Young, Anthony Averett, Shaun Wade

Peters and Humphrey will be on the field for as many snaps as possible. Smith and Young (when health permits) will be role players in the secondary. Averett is one of the few Ravens who could be poached through trade, while Wade is likely to be the No.2 slot option behind Humphrey/Young.

SAF (4) – Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Jordan Richards, Brandon Stephens

Clark, Elliott, and Stephens are locks. The final safety spot is a battle between Richards and Anthony Levine. Both players are special teams aces, but it is unlikely that Baltimore will carry both players. Look for Geno Stone and Ar’Darius Washington to make the practice squad.

ST (3) – Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Nick Moore

While the “Wolf Pack” was broken up with 2020 All-Pro long snapper Morgan Cox heading to the Titans, Moore seems to be the next great long snapper for the Ravens. Tucker and Koch are among the best in the NFL, and expect Tucker to be in play for his fifth Pro Bowl and fifth All-Pro nod.

One Player to Add

Houston would have been the piece mentioned here, but Baltimore already signed him. If the Ravens were to make any more moves, it might involve trading Averett. Player-for-player swaps are rare in the NFL, but if the opportunity arose, Baltimore could jump on it.

Baltimore has been linked to Todd Gurley, but Gurley is on the wrong side of his prime and should be avoided at all costs. Similarly, Baltimore has been linked to Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles as a trade target. However, it would be hard to imagine a former star like Ertz would accept being the No. 3 tight end in Baltimore once Boyle is healthy.

2021 Outlook & Odds

Many oddsmakers have the Ravens and Browns as joint-favorites to win the AFC North (+125). Baltimore’s over/under line is 10.5 wins, meaning the Ravens would need to go 11-6 to hit the over. Betting the over is certainly a risk as it necessitates a strong bill of health for Baltimore’s stars, but an 11-6 season should be in play.

Over the last two seasons, the Ravens have compiled a 25-7 record, including a 24-6 record with Jackson at the helm. With a healthy Jackson, the Ravens are a solid bet to win 11 or more games and win the division. Cleveland has an ever-so-slightly easier schedule, so the division is a true toss-up.

Season Prediction: 11-6, Earn No. 5 Seed in AFC Playoffs

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
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