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Baltimore Ravens: 3 Under-the-Radar Players to Watch for in 2019

April 11, 2019 - 7:29 am
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By Joe Schiller 

Every year, players on NFL rosters make unexpected leaps to become key contributors on their teams.

For the Ravens, undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards rushed for 718 yards and two touchdowns in a breakout campaign last season. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor totaled a career-high 5.5 sacks along with 59 tackles and three passes defensed.

With eight picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Ravens won’t be able to fill every need on the roster, which means they’ll be relying on younger talent to take the next step.

Here are three under-the-radar players to watch for.

Chris Board, Linebacker

The Ravens have an obvious void to fill inside linebacker following C.J. Mosley’s departure in free agency.

Currently, Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young are the leading candidates to line up at linebacker Week 1 of the 2019 season. This is before any draft selections are made, but don’t dismiss the potential of Chris Board.

Board, a second-year undrafted linebacker, played just 14 defensive snaps in 2018 but led the Ravens with 356 special teams snaps. That’s where players like defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. and former Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan made their names before becoming a regular part of the defense.

Board played and succeeded at North Dakota State, an FCS powerhouse.

The draft’s top linebackers Devin White and Devin Bush are expected to be gone by pick No. 22. Given that factor, paired with the free agent market, the Ravens likely won’t be able to replace Mosley’s production with one player. Board could be part of a rotation at linebacker with a strong offseason.

Jaleel Scott, Wide Receiver

There’s a very good chance the Ravens draft a receiver, maybe two, within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. The current roster consists of two players who’ve caught regular-season passes in Baltimore last year (Willie Snead IV and Chris Moore) and newly signed free-agent Seth Roberts.

Lost among the rebuild of the receiving corps is second-year receiver, Jaleel Scott. The fourth-round pick had an underwhelming preseason and was placed on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury before the regular-season.

Scott is a raw talent, but with the mold to become a receiving threat. Listed at 6-foot-5 on the Ravens official roster, Scott has rare length. That gives him a wider catch radius than the average receiver, a key for Lamar Jackson as he continues to grow as a passer.

Scott’s length also gives him an advantage over defenders in the red zone. Jackson completed only 37.5 percent of his passes inside 20 yards and 40 percent of his passes inside 10 yards last season. He threw 8 touchdowns to zero interceptions in the red zone but the Ravens ranked 20th with a 55.74% red zone scoring percentage (touchdowns only), according to TeamRankings.com.

I’m intrigued to see how wide receivers coach David Culley works with Scott this season.

Willie Henry, Defensive Tackle

Brandon Williams’ established dominance and Michael Pierce’s emergence gives the Ravens a high-quality interior defensive duo in the trenches. That’s not including defensive tackle Willie Henry.

Henry was a relatively forgotten player after appearing in just three games last season. He missed the first four games of the regular-season recovering from hernia surgery and was placed on IR shortly after with a herniated disk in his back.

Henry totaled 32 tackles and 3.5 sacks during a breakout campaign in 2017. He’s one of the top interior defensive tackles at getting to the quarterback, production the Ravens will need with Za’Darius Smith gone and Brent Urban still an unrestricted free-agent.

The key for Henry this season is staying healthy. He’s yet to play a full 16-game season in four years as a pro.