Ravens News 2/15: Rookie Review (2024)

NFL’s 2023–24 Winners and Losers: Chiefs’ Dynasty Arrives As Cowboys, Jets Remain Punchlines

Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated



This might sound harsh, but it’s a testament to the high bar Lamar Jackson has set for himself as a two-time MVP. Like Josh Allen, Jackson needs to be better in the postseason to be regarded as an elite quarterback.

The Baltimore Ravens and Bills are like the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers of the 1990s, two teams that couldn’t get past Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. Mahomes, obviously, is Jordan, and the Chiefs’ elite QB continues to haunt the rest of the AFC.

Baltimore knows how to get to the postseason regularly, but Jackson will eventually need to find a way to beat the Chiefs because they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And it’s not all on Jackson. His best wide receiver was a rookie (Zay Flowers) in 2023 and his running back crew consisted of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. They need upgrades at the skill positions.

NFL rookie grades, AFC North: Steelers add juice on defense; Bengals scoop up contributors

Chad Reuter, NFL.com

Baltimore Ravens

Grade B

Flowers made an immediate impact working with MVP Lamar Jackson in Baltimore’s offense. The rookie led the team with 77 receptions for 858 receiving yards, excelling on all types of routes despite fighting off injuries. Jackson waited a long time for the team to add a reliable playmaker who could help him move the offense, and it appears the Ravens’ personnel evaluators finally came through.

Baltimore traded its second-round pick to Chicago for linebacker Roquan Smith in 2022, leaving one Day 3 selection in last year’s draft — which the team used to add Simpson. The former Clemson linebacker did not start any games, but he took advantage of playing time in the season finale, making seven stops, including two for loss, with a sack against the Steelers. He should be more of a presence in 2024.

Robinson was the only Saturday pick that contributed, seeing the field more regularly than Simpson as a reserve edge (26 tackles and a sack). Kelly was waived after training camp but played five games with Seattle, one with Green Bay and two with Washington. Aumavae-Laulu is a backup lineman who did not play in the regular season, and Vorhees spent the year on injured reserve trying to heal from a knee injury suffered at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Mitchell spent the first portion of the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, then put up some eye-popping numbers in his eight appearances, including a 138-yard effort against Seattle in Week 9 and a per-carry mark of 8.4 yards. Unfortunately, a knee injury in December ended his season prematurely.

Reviewing Ravens’ rookie class after 2023 season

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

ILB Trenton Simpson

Draft position: Third round, 86th overall

Defensive snaps: 46 over 15 games

Synopsis: Most of the Clemson product’s defensive playing time came in a meaningless Week 18 loss to Pittsburgh, but he flashed his potential with a sack and seven tackles in that contest. This will be a big offseason for Simpson as he’s widely viewed as the replacement for 2023 Pro Bowl selection Patrick Queen, who appears very likely to depart as a free agent. The 22-year-old Simpson finished third on the team in special-teams snaps (258) and second in special-teams tackles (six).

OLB Tavius Robinson

Draft position: Fourth round, 124th overall

Defensive snaps: 335 over 17 games

Synopsis: Overshadowed by the lucrative success of veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy as well as the third-year improvement of Odafe Oweh, Robinson gained valuable experience that will hopefully pay off in 2024 and beyond as the Ravens deal with a tighter salary cap picture. The 6-foot-6, 258-pound outside linebacker saw his playing time diminish over the second half of the season and has more developing to do as a pass rusher, but he finished with a sack and 26 tackles while appearing in every game as a rookie.

Pay Justin Madubuike? Draft a tackle? What Ravens need to do to keep Super Bowl window open.

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens don’t need to re-sign wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He’s a nice guy and worked well with young players, but he didn’t deliver enough big plays (35 catches, 565 yards, three touchdowns during the regular season) to warrant the $15 million he made in 2023. The same can be said for veteran Nelson Agholor (35 catches, 381 yards, 4 TDs), who was a good leader and a solid performer as well.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens just need to ante up and pay defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, who could command $20 million per year. He was sixth on the team in tackles (56) and led the Ravens in sacks (13) and quarterback hits (33). He has done everything asked of him since being drafted four years ago, and yes, he is worth that kind of money.

Both inside linebacker Patrick Queen and outside linebacker-defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might be out of the Ravens’ price range, especially since the team signed Jackson and middle linebacker Roquan Smith to lucrative contract extensions last offseason.

2024 NFL mock draft: Round 1 pick predictions

Field Yates, ESPN

30. Baltimore Ravens

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

The Ravens did a remarkable job defensively last season with an injury-impacted cornerback room, but counting on repeating that effort would be a challenge. Lassiter is confident in man coverage and welcomes the challenge of sticking on opposing top-flight wideouts. Baltimore has several key free agents on defense this offseason, and turnover is to be expected. Lassiter, who broke up eight passes in 2023, could help.


1. Terrion Arnold, Alabama

2. Nate Wiggins, Clemson

3. Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

4. Cooper DeJean, Iowa

5. Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Missouri

Ravens News 2/15: Rookie Review (2024)
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