The signing of Brandon Williams was met with mixed reactions from the crew at RSR. Some of us, including myself, liked the fact that the Ravens were able to retain the big run-stuffer. The Ravens pride themselves on stopping opposing backs, and with the exception of the tail end of last season they excelled in that area. Retaining Brandon Williams is an integral part of continuing that tradition, but others didn’t feel the same.
The man at the helm of RSR, Tony Lombardi, thinks the Ravens reached on the deal. They allocated a lot of resources that could have been spent elsewhere. The Ravens haven’t made Joe Flacco’s job any easier over the last few days and they still lack dynamic playmakers who are a home-run threat every time they touch the ball. The Danny Woodhead addition is an ok one, but that’s all it is. He’s a complementary piece, not a difference maker. So Tony makes a valid argument.
However, regardless of which side of the argument that you lean towards, it’s hard to argue that the Ravens don’t have a great foundation of defensive youth after retaining Williams and adding Tony Jefferson.
Brandon Williams is currently the best nose tackle in football and at age 28 he is in his prime. There is a chance his skillset may start to decline in the fourth or fifth year of the deal but right now he’s the cream of the crop at his position.
Tony Jefferson is only 25 years old and has gotten better with each passing year. He is an ascending player who will infuse some youth into the back end of the defense. The Ravens have been looking for a solid safety duo for the last few years and now there’s a chance they may have the best in the NFL after pairing Jefferson with Eric Weddle.
C.J. Mosley is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal and the Ravens will no doubt pick up his fifth year option after the season. Reaching an extension this season may be in both parties’ best interest. He is evolving into a leader in the middle of the defense and his athleticism was on display several times last season. He too is an ascending player whose best years are in front of him.
If (and it’s a big if) Jimmy Smith can remain healthy, he’s shown the potential to be a lockdown corner. When he wasn’t on the field last season it was clear how important he is to the defense. If the Ravens can manage to keep him on the field while combining him with Weddle, Jefferson, up and coming Tavon Young, and likely an early draft pick, it would form a potentially elite group. It could be a unit that went from being a major liability in 2016 to a major strength in 2017.
Ozzie said he isn’t done yet, and his focus should now turn to filling the holes that still remain and the list is still quite lengthy. But the front office did a good job in the early wave of free agency and the infusion on elite youth on defense is something to build around and something fans should be excited about.