After the NFL Draft comes a quiet period for the sport. Training camps are still months away, with the season ever further in the distance. During this quiet period, analysts and fans begin to predict key storylines to follow in the 2020 season.
A lot of people are talking about the Baltimore Ravens. Draft experts have been gushing over their off-season and draft moves, a good sign for a team coming off a 14-2 season. Baltimore has re-tooled its defense while sprinkling in new targets for quarterback Lamar Jackson. With an outstanding organization like the Ravens, positional battles in training camp will be intense. Here’s a look at some of those critical positional battles.
Training Camp Battle For Slot Receiver Role
The Ravens will have Hollywood Brown as their leading receiver this year, with Miles Boykin likely to be the number two. Willie Snead IV brings veteran experience to the slot receiver role, but he will face increased competition this year from the rookie class.
The Ravens drafted Devin Duvernay and James Proche in the mid-rounds this year. Duvernay only dropped one pass in college, and Proche led all of college football in receptions last year. Proche projects as a possession receiver who can excel in the slot. Duvernay has 4.39 speed, which can be used both as a deep-threat or as a star in the slot. If both have a great training camp, it’s no guarantee Snead will start in the slot this season.
Training Camp Battle For Tight End Three
The Ravens offense relies on it’s tight ends heavily. Mark Andrews was the teams leading receiver last year with 852 yards. He returns as a receiving threat, alongside Nick Boyle, one of the leading blocking tight ends in the NFL. The team traded former first-round pick, Hayden Hurst, to the Atlanta Falcons, and failed to draft his replacement last month.
The team signed undrafted free agents Jacob Breeland from Oregon and Eli Wolf from Georgia. They will battle with 2019 Practice Squad player Charles Scarff for the third tight end role. Breeland was the more productive player in college but is recovering from a torn ACL that ended his 2019 season. The position is up for grabs, and whoever wins the job will have a role in this offense.
Battle To Replace Marshal Yanda
Baltimore lost on its stars in the off-season with the retirement of right guard Marshal Yanda. Offensive linemen don’t often get highlighted as stars, but Yanda put together a hall-of-fame career anchoring the Ravens interior offensive line for 13 years. The Ravens have several young players who could replace him.
The only exception is D.J Fluker. Fluker is a seven-year veteran who Baltimore signed after being released by the Seattle Seahawks late last month. He has years of experience playing right guard, so he can be considered the early favorite to replace Yanda. If he fails to impress at training camp, expect the likes of Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson to usurp him. Both are mid-round draft picks from 2019 and 2020, respectively, and have the potential to earn the job. Third-round draft pick Tyre Phillips could be an outside contender to win the job also.
Who Will Come Out On Top At Weak-Side Linebacker?
One position Baltimore has always excelled with is linebacker. From Ray Lewis to C.J Mosley, the Ravens have always enjoyed good linebacker play. Yet heading into the draft, this was their most significant positional need. They addressed this by selecting Patrick Queen in the first round, before using a third-round pick to pick Malik Harrison.
Queen is a near-lock to win the starting middle linebacker role, but who will play alongside him at weak-side linebacker. L.J Fort is an eight-year vet who showed promise with the Ravens last season. Harrison’s skills are as a downhill run-stopping player who would ideally complement Queen. This will be a close battle, which only benefits the Ravens.
That wraps up this quick training camp battles article, let me know your thoughts on these positional groups in the comments below. For the latest NFL news follow the site page here. Be sure to also check out the site forum pages for fun sports discussion here. Also, follow the site on Twitter here.