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Ravens News 3/6: Overpriced free agents, All-Combine team and more

2019 NFL free agency: Eight players who could be overpriced – Gregg Rosenthal

Rodger Saffold, OG, Los Angeles Rams (… or any other top interior OL)

There was scuttlebutt around Indianapolis last week that Saffold could become the highest-paid guard in football despite never making a Pro Bowl. Dynamic in the running game and on screens, Saffold is closer to average as a pass protector. He’s a good player who is about to be paid like an absolute superstar as he enters his age 31 season and changes offensive systems.

There is this strange bromide often repeated at this time of year about guards in the draft being “plug-and-play 10-year starters” or free-agent guards being “safe pickups,” but a look at recent interior lineman getting big money in free agency reveals results as mixed as any other position, with Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell, Bucs center Ryan Jensen, 49erscenter Weston Richburg, Browns guard Kevin Zeitler, former Vikings guard Alex Boone and Lions guard T.J. Lang among the big-ticket items since 2016.

Saffold is my favorite interior lineman available, but paying him more than $12 million per year is a tell that a team can’t develop its own guys.

The league-wide scarcity of quality offensive lineman will continue to drive up prices this offseason.

2019 NFL Scouting Combine Team – Chad Reuter

Wide receivers

Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, Ohio StateBest team fits: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers.Analysis: These Buckeyes ripped up the Lucas Oil Stadium turf Saturday. The two similarly sized receivers (6-0, 205-208 pounds) ran among the best 40-yard dashes of the receivers, with Campbell tying for the best mark in the position group at 4.31 and McLaurin coming in at 4.35. Their jumps were among the best, as well (McLaurin recorded a 40 1/2-inch vertical and an 11-2 broad; Campbell a 40-inch vertical and an 11-3 broad). Most importantly, they were two of the more consistent pass catchers on the field after the tests were done. Both have become much more polished receivers in the past year than they were as underclassmen, and that work showed as they ran crisp routes and snatched the ball out of the air.

Edge rushers

Ben Banogu, Texas Christian

Best team fits: Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Analysis: TCU posted the second-highest sack total in the Big 12 in 2018 thanks to Banogu’s team-high 8.5 quarterback takedowns. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defender started his workout Sunday with a solid 4.62-second 40-yard dash. He finished among the top edge rushers in the three-cone (7.02 seconds) and short shuttle (4.27 seconds), translating those marks to nice movement in the field drills. Banogu’s explosiveness as a rusher came through in his 40-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump, which ranked among the best in the entire combine. Scouts were pleased to see that he could push the 225-pound bar up 23 times even while possessing good length (33 5/8-inch arms). This performance makes him one of the top second-tier pass rushers in the draft.

McLaurin and especially Campbell would fit well in Greg Roman’s new offense as players who can make splash plays with the ball in their hands.

Four Downs: AFC North – Rivers McCown

Baltimore Ravens

Biggest Hole: Wide receiver

Throwing three new additions at a clear problem area last year, the Ravens hit on their low-level gambles but failed on their real investment. Michael Crabtree was statistically one of the three worst receivers who cleared 100 targets last year, finishing 74th of 81 qualifying receivers in receiving DVOA. Crabtree also finished tied for third in the NFL in drops, with eight. With $4.7 million in cap space cleared up on his release — and more if he’s designated as a post-June 1 cut — cutting him was sort of a no-brainer.

Willie Snead and John Brown were finds for the Ravens, but struggled to be consistent through the offensive change from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson. Brown was a fantasy football find for as long as deep balls were being dialed up for him, and Snead replicated his success from New Orleans as a slants-and-underneath short-area receiver. The only other receiver to play much of a role last year was Chris Moore, a useful speed guy who is not quite the deep-ball artist Brown is. Even if Brown comes back in free agency, the team could use some help here. If Brown flees, look for the Ravens to target another deep specialist like Oklahoma’s Hollywood Brown.

Hopefully new general manager Eric DeCosta can add a couple receivers who will be long term solutions at the position. Considering the weakness of the free agent crop, double dipping for receivers in the draft may be his best option.

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