Young core gives hope to Ravens for fu­ture

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - Mike Pre­ston Ravens In­sider

The Ravens have taken a lot of crit­i­cism about pre­vi­ous drafts, but if the 2017 class pans out, the team ap­pears to have built a strong foun­da­tion for the fu­ture.

It takes three or four years to eval­u­ate the suc­cess of each draft, but the Ravens seem to have put to­gether back-to-back good classes. Com­bined with sev­eral de­cent rook­ies in 2015, the Ravens have loaded up on de­fense and have good over­all depth.

In two pre­sea­son games, the Ravens have routed the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and Mi­ami Dol­phins. But the most telling part has been in the sec­ond half, when both teams have had their young play­ers on the field. The Ravens have scored 28 points and al­lowed only three.

De­fen­sive play­ers are start­ing to get ex­cited again.

“The guys that [gen­eral man­ager Ozzie New­some] and coach [John] Har­baugh added are com­ing into their own,” nose tackle Bran­don Wil­liams said of his young de­fen­sive line­mates. “They are get­ting the play­book even bet­ter. They are start­ing to know the plays, but at the same time read the cov­er­ages and read the line.

“We are mak­ing big strides, but we still have a long way to go. We­have a high bar for our room and for our de­fen­sive line, and our de­fense. Ev­ery day we are out here grind­ing, and mak­ing our­selves bet­ter and bet­ter ev­ery time. When­the sea­son starts, it will be a cake­walk.”

The Ravens still need more play­mak­ers, es­pe­cially on of­fense, but foot­ball is a sport that re­quires more blue-col­lar play­ers than superstars. And who knows? The next

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