Five Ravens make the CBS Top 100 NFL players of 2020 list
CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco recently released his top 100 NFL player rankings heading into the 2020 season and five Baltimore Ravens made the list. Read about who got ranked where and who got left off below:
QB Lamar Jackson: No.7
He led off the article mentioning the reigning league MVP that racked up all types of franchise and league records last season, yet he didn’t have him in the top three or even the top five for that matter. To go from being on hardly ranked on any one’s list to cracking the top 10 is a remarkable feat but to have him ranked below players like Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Christian McCaffery of the Carolina Panthers—who were both in MVP discussions with Jackson for part of the year but got no votes when the time came since he became the only player since Tom Brady in 2010 win it unanimously—is downright disrespectful. The only player listed above Jackson heading into the 2020 season with a leg to stand on is Patrick Mahomes who tops the list at No.1 and even that is debatable if you remove recency bias since his incredible playoff run is the last actual major sporting event that we all remember.
OT Ronnie Stanley: No.27
He broke out last season and was widely recognized as the best left tackle in the game for his pass protecting prowess and was instrumental in Jackson’s dramatic improvement as a passer from his rookie season because the first-team All-Pro selection kept him upright so that he could throw his league-leading 36 passing touchdowns which included a league-high 25 from the pocket. Despite not allowing a single sack last season and giving up just six quarterback pressures in 16 games, he wasn’t even the top-ranked offensive tackle on this list.
That designation went to New Orleans Saint’s right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. He also made the All-Pro first team like Stanley in 2019 but not the Pro Bowl. He is known for being a dominant force as run blocker and won Pro Football Focus’ Run Blocker of the Year Award for a second straight. However, Stanley was not only the best passing blocking offensive tackle in the league last season which earned him PFF’s Pass Blocker of the Year award, he also dominated as a run blocker. According to PFF, the Ravens averaged 7.2 yards a carry running behind Stanley on the left whereas the Saints averaged a respectable 5.4 running behind Ramczyk on the right.
DE Calais Campbell: No.39
He is the Ravens’ biggest offseason acquisition from a literal and potential impact standpoint that will greatly improve their interior pass rush and has the versatility to line up on the edge as well. He’s been a model of consistency throughout his career, recording at least five sacks in every season dating back to his second year in the league (2009). Campbell seems to age like fine wine and gets better and better as his career goes along. He’s putting up better numbers in his 30s than he was when he entered the league 13 years ago as a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals out of the University of Miami. He amassed 48.5 sacks in his 20s from 2008-2015 and since he turned 30, he has recorded 39.5 sacks and counting including a career-high 14.5 in 2017 when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He’ll be a welcomed addition to the roster as a playmaker and the locker room as a veteran leader. Many of the defensive linemen ranked ahead of him on the list are much younger and have been productive and dominant but not as dominant as Campbell who could be set up to have himself another career year with the Ravens this year since they have quality depth behind him and he’ll be able to stay fresh in their regular rotation.
CB Marlon Humphrey: 59
He went from one of the best young defenders in the league to just one of the best regardless in 2019 and is the only first-team All-Pro corner on the list to rank outside of the top 55. Humphrey highlights the best and deepest secondary in the league and is part of arguably the best cornerback tandem in the league as well. Prisco wrote, “He isn’t great against the run, but he’s a smooth cover corner”. While he is spot on about him being smooth in coverage with the way he mirrors opposing receivers as if he was running the route right alongside them, he couldn’t be more wrong about his ability to defend the run well.
Humphrey’s physicality at the line of scrimmage when he is checking receivers before plastering them all over the field extends to his mentality when it comes to defending the run. He’s one of the surest tacklers on the team and has made several stops behind the line of scrimmage and deep in the backfield on ball carriers trying to get to the edge.
TE Mark Andrews: No.100
For a player that broke out in a big way in 2019 and became one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the game in the process, dead last on the list seems more than a tad bit disrespectful. Especially when there are other players at his position and other pass catchers period that didn’t have the kind of impact on their team’s offense in the way that the 2019 Pro Bowler was for the Ravens last year and projects be heading into 2020 and beyond.
He followed a solid rookie season with a sensational sophomore one where he finished as the team’s leader in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. Andrews was Jackson’s most trusted target in the passing game during his MVP campaign and was a dynamo for fantasy football owners that picked him up in the later rounds. Las Vegas Raider tight end Darren Waller, formerly of the Ravens, also broke out in 2019 and while he hauled in 26 more passes and recorded 293 more yards than Andrews, he caught seven fewer touchdowns and didn’t make the Pro Bowl yet he ranked 21 spots ahead of him on Prisco’s list.
CB Marcus Peters:
He is the other half of arguably the best cornerback tandem in the league that I mention above when referring to Humphrey and he is the only All-Pro corner not to make list—which is mindboggling. Peters joined the team midway through last season and along with the ascension of Chuck Clark into the starting lineup, was the catalyst for the secondary and defense as a whole recovering from a rocky start to the season and finishing as a top-five unit in the league. He instantly became the ballhawk that they have been missing in the backend since Ed Reed left following the 2012 Superbowl winning season.
He recorded an interception in his very first game with the Ravens and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, jumped another one a few weeks later and took it back 90 yards for a score and intercepted a pass on Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams—the team that traded him to make room for Jalen Ramsey who hasn’t made an All-Pro team since 2017 yet ranked No.26 on this list whereas Peters was off it entirely.
OLB Matthew Judon:
He has been an ascending talent since he was a rookie and officially broke out in 2019 by leading the team with a career-high 9.5 sacks, tying for fourth in the league in quarterback hits, and getting named to his first Pro Bowl. The Ravens placed the franchise tag on him this offseason with hopes of signing him to a long-term deal or at least having a proven pass rush presence on the edge for at least one more season. Since he’ll be playing on a one-year deal, Judon will be as motivated as ever to not leave any shroud pf doubt that he’s worth a significant financial investment.
Bud Dupree of the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers also got franchise tagged this offseason after recording a career-high 11 sacks last season made the list at No.60—one spot after Humphrey—but 2019 was his first year of really god production considering where he was drafted whereas Judon, a former fifth-round pick out of a small school, has vastly outplayed his draft status.
The Grand Valley State alum has been much more of a consistent player and edge presence against both the run and the pass than the former first-rounder out of the SEC powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs who only has one season of all-around good play and still didn’t make the Pro Bowl despite recording two more sacks, two more tackles for loss, 14 more total tackles and the same amount of quarterback hits as Judon.
OT Orlando Brown Jr:
He was third second-year players to break out in 2019 by starting all 16 games at right tackle, allowing just three sacks and being credited with only three penalties per Pro Football Focus. Brown was a mauler in the Ravens’ record-setting run game and improved in pass protection as well. He was Pro Bowl first alternate and with another year in the league, he could find himself ranked among the league’s best like his bookend buddy on the left side who was an All-Pro first-team selection.
S Earl Thomas:
He bounced back as well as anyone could have imagined from his broken leg that ended his final season with the Seahawks after nine great seasons and became a stabilizing force in the Ravens secondary. Thomas was the eraser that helped their defense cut down on big plays down the field once the starting lineup crystallized and a veteran leader in the locker room as well as on the gridiron.
His former teammate in the Emerald City, Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers, made an appearance on the list at No.57 which is well deserved because he proved that he’s still one of the best corners in the league. However, the safety position as a whole didn’t get a lot of love from Prisco with the highest-ranked player at the position being the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tryann Mathieu so leaving Thomas off is more of a reflection of his view on the position itself more so than the players and their value around the league and to their team’s overall success.
In closing, the Ravens were well represented on the list and tied for the second-most players by any team. However, if Prisco had included specialist on his list or comprised a list of the 100 best special teams player heading into 2020, the Wolf Pack—kicker Justin Tucker, punter Sam Koch, and long snapper Morgan Cox—would definitely crack the top half of the list with Tuck occupying the No.1 spot.