Thursday was our first glimpse at the Ravens 2019 rookie class in live game action and I must say, they fared well. With the exception of Hollywood Brown (did not play, as expected) the rest of the Ravens rookies, including the undrafted free agents, found themselves on the stat sheet and leaving a positive impression on fans, and hopefully coaches as well. Here’s the skinny on your Ravens Rookie Report.
OLB Jaylon Ferguson (R3, P85)
While ‘Sack Daddy’ has been relatively quiet in practice, it appears from initial looks that he’s just one of those guys that won’t wow you in shorts, but shows up on game day.
Ferguson made his way into the lineup in the 2nd half of the game, and while we take his efforts against other 2nd and 3rd stringers with a grain of salt, we also realize that he’s a bull rusher with one good move.
And he’s damn fine at what he does.
Ferguson finished with 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, and while it won’t show up on the stat sheet, he also got in on Jags QB Lee, forcing the QB to shift to the right in the pocket and into the waiting arms of Patrick Ricard for the sack. He also showed some promise setting the edge on multiple run plays forcing the back inside for nominal gains.
WR Miles Boykin (R3, P93)
During last night’s broadcast, former Ravens head coach Brian Billick compared Miles Boykin to Calvin Johnson.
That says it all.
Boykin was targeted 9 times, had 4 receptions for 39 yards, and perhaps the biggest play of all was a 20+ yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone from Trace McSorely that was called back for offensive holding.
Boykin’s mix of size, speed, and hands will steadily become a major factor in this Ravens offense as he continues to grow.
RB Justice Hill (R4, P113)
Justice Hill is flat out fast, quick, shifty… whatever adjective you want to use, you get the drift, and seeing him in live action reaffirms that we haven’t had a player with this kind of quickness since Ray Rice.
In Hill’s NFL preseason debut he ran for 33 yards on 10 attempts, and added another 16 yards on 2 catches. Hill’s most notable play for me was a catch in the right flat where he turned the corner with a burst, cut back inside and picked up another 5 yards for a 14 yard gain. Hill will continue to gain traction and force Harbaugh/Roman to get him snaps once the games matter if he continues to make plays like that one.
LG Ben Powers (R4, P123)
Grading offensive linemen in preseason games is a challenge. Which is why I deferred to my Offensive Line guru and fellow RSR writer, Cole Jackson.
So what did Cole see?
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Ben Powers until the 2nd half. He showed a good anchor in pass pro and a much improved push in the run game compared to Jermaine Eluemunor. The big difference with Powers is that he looked for work. When he didn’t have a pass rush he was joining on double teams. Impressive debut for the 4th round pick.”
CB Iman Marshall (R4, P127)
“Biggie” Marshall found himself on the field for 23 defensive snaps and had a combo tackle to show for it. Also played some special teams and grabbed a tackle there as well.
No, it’s not a sexy stat line but in a deep secondary? That’s perfectly fine. He’ll find his role and carve it out, much like 2018 draft pick CB Anthony Averrett did last year (and he’s thriving so far this year).
QB Trace McSorely (R6, P197)
I personally have held low expectations for McSorely as a quarterback, and truly thought he’d be labeled ‘offensive weapon’ as a jack-of-all-trades for the Ravens, be it QB, WR or RB. Unfortunately with Bobby G-3’s injury, McSorley has been thrust into QB2 duties, which limits his usage elsewhere… which is fine. Let’s see what we have.
What Thursday’s game showed us is that McSorely (9/22 85yds, 0 TD, 1 INT) is a work in progress. He did make some very good touch throws including the go-route to Miles Boykin for a touchdown (the aforementioned play called back for holding), but he also struggled badly with accuracy at times. His pick came on a target of Boykin, but he held it too long, stared down his receiver, and threw it right into the corner’s waiting arms at the sticks.
He’ll continue to improve with time, but to think anybody other that Bob is the QB2 this year looks like a stretch.
-OG Patrick Mekari is a guy I’ve raved about as a sneaky final lineman to make the roster. Again, we check in with Cole Jackson on the line play:
“UDFA Patrick Mekari has shot up the depth chart and is giving fans a reason to take notice. He came in with the second unit and looked solid at RG. He combined with Prince for a pancake block while he and Bozeman had a few solid combo blocks.”
What a guy that Cole Jackson is…
-LB Otaro Alaka is the name I’ve heard as the best bet to continue the Ravens UDFA-to-roster streak. Alaka had a pair of great tackles in the second half, including a stuff of RB Devante Mays at the line in the 4th quarter.
-OLB Aaron Adeoye had himself a PBU in the final series of the game against RB Devante Mays.