The Ravens’ roster last year wasn’t perfect, but it was powerful. Leading the way was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, quarterback Lamar Jackson. Behind him was one of the league’s deepest teams.

Jackson was one of seven Ravens named to the Pro Bowl, a mix of standouts young and old, established and ascendant. Now, after an offseason of high-profile departures, the team enters the 2024 season with a smaller core of stars and a new class of up-and-comers. How they’ll fare under the weight of renewed Super Bowl expectations is anyone’s guess.

Ahead of the start of training camp this month, The Baltimore Banner ranked the top players on the Ravens’ 2024 roster based on their projected impact this season. Here are Nos. 20-11, with the top 10 coming Wednesday.

20. WR Rashod Bateman

Not long ago, this looked like a crossroads season for Bateman. His third year in Baltimore had taken on all the contours of his frustrating Ravens career: injury questions, dormant stretches, a few moments of brilliance. Then, in April, the 2021 first-round pick signed a contract extension through the 2026 season, undercutting some of the make-or-break urgency around his 2024.

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The talent to launch a breakout year is still there; first-round pick Nate Wiggins called Bateman the most difficult wide receiver to cover this offseason, and tight end Mark Andrews has said he looks “incredible.” Bateman’s health, for now, is in a good place, too. His next step is crucial. Can he finally convert his route-running ability into a connection with Jackson? Last year, Jackson seldom looked for Bateman (32 catches for 367 yards). They’ll need each other more than ever this season.

19. OLB Kyle Van Noy

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Kyle Van Noy (50) hypes up the crowd during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.
Outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension in April. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The two-year, $10 million contract extension that Van Noy signed in April wasn’t so much a reflection of his resurgent 2023 season as it was the circumstances under which he resurged. Van Noy hadn’t just finished with a career-high nine sacks in 14 games despite starting late September on the Ravens’ practice squad. He’d done so at the ripe old age of 32.

Now, unsurprisingly, Van Noy faces long odds in replicating last year’s production. Since 2021, only six players in their age-33 season or later have recorded at least nine sacks, according to TruMedia. But Van Noy will at least enter training camp with experience in the Ravens’ system and a full-time focus on the outside linebacker position, which he said he lacked earlier in his career. If those comforts translate to more quarterback pressures — his 14.8% win rate last season ranked 26th in the NFL among qualifying edge rushers, according to Pro Football Focus — Van Noy could defy Father Time once more.

18. CB Nate Wiggins

It’s hard to bet against the Ravens’ track record of first-round cornerbacks. Duane Starks (1998) had five interceptions as a rookie. Chris McAlister (1999) started 12 games. Jimmy Smith (2011) appeared in 12 despite an ankle injury. Marlon Humphrey (2017) played over half of the snaps for one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Wiggins, taken No. 30 overall, waited the longest of those Day 1 picks, but general manager Eric DeCosta called him “the best cover corner” in this year’s draft and a potential “true shutdown-type corner.” Standing in the Clemson product’s way are size concerns and a crowded depth chart, both of which might be resolved before long. The Ravens have a development plan in place for the skinny Wiggins, who should find a role in the defense as a rookie, especially if injuries again befall the team’s secondary.

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17. LT Ronnie Stanley

Once a foundational piece of the Ravens’ roster, Stanley finds himself on the verge of free agency. Offseason revisions to his contract reduced his base salary from $11 million to $3 million and turned the final year of his contract into a void year, effectively cutting Stanley out of the team’s plans beyond 2024. (Second-round pick Roger Rosengarten, who has experience at both tackle spots, could be his eventual replacement.)

Stanley will have to show he has staying power. A series of injuries limited him to 18 games from 2020 to 2022, but he appeared in 13 last year, his most since he earned All-Pro honors in 2019. A nagging knee injury hampered Stanley, who gave up four sacks and 39 pressures last season, according to PFF, both career worsts. Still, with his athleticism, football IQ and technique, a revival isn’t out of the question. Stanley allowed just one sack and five pressures over the Ravens’ final five games last year, including the playoffs.

16. DL Michael Pierce

Before suffering a torn biceps in Week 3 of the 2022 season, Pierce had looked like one of the NFL’s best nose tackles. Back at full strength, he looked the part again for stretches of last season. Pierce’s 25 run stops — tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense — led the Ravens and ranked 15th among all interior defensive linemen, according to PFF. His strength and durability, a question mark in recent years, helped fortify a defense that could bottle up ground games even when it was playing with light boxes upfront.

Pierce (one sack, three quarterback hits) also showed surprising punch as a pass rusher in 2023. Over the season’s first 10 weeks, he had 23 pressures and a 12.3% win rate, according to PFF, which ranked 22nd and 23rd, respectively, among qualifying linemen. Even if Pierce loses snaps to Travis Jones, a lighter workload could help him sustain his productivity in his age-32 season.

15. FB Patrick Ricard

Coordinator Todd Monken’s arrival only reinforced Ricard’s value to the Ravens’ offense. When he was on the field last season, the team averaged 6.1 yards and 0.11 expected points added per play and had a 44.8% success rate, according to TruMedia, all top-five marks leaguewide. When he was off the field, it averaged 5.7 yards and 0.00 EPA per play and had a 43.5% success rate — still top-10 marks, but a clear step down.

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Although Ricard’s impact is partly limited by his playing time — he played 39% of the Ravens’ offensive snaps last season, his lowest share since 2019 — his contributions are unique. Before the snap, Ricard’s mere on-field presence can force defenses to line up in heavier personnel, a rarity in the NFL. After the snap, he can be a devastating run blocker and wall off top edge rushers on drop-backs, skills that the team’s offensive line uncertainty has made all the more important.

14. TE Isaiah Likely

Likely was one of the NFL’s most productive tight ends down the stretch last year. Over the regular season’s final six weeks, with Andrews sidelined, Likely ranked eighth in receiving yards at the position, first in yards per target, first in receiving touchdowns, first in EPA per target and seventh in yards per route run, according to TruMedia. Jackson’s passer rating when targeting Likely during that stretch was 156.3, just two points shy of the maximum.

With Likely’s talent now obvious, his role has turned into one of the offense’s biggest question marks. From Week 2 to Week 10 last season, before Andrews went down with a leg and ankle injury against the Cincinnati Bengals, Likely played just 22.5% of the Ravens’ offensive snaps. From Week 11 on, Likely played 68% of their snaps. Monken never fully embraced two-tight-end looks last season, but they could be the best way to maximize Likely’s skill set in 2024.

13. CB Brandon Stephens

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Stephens (21) reacts during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023.
As cornerback Brandon Stephens approaches free agency, he has the chance to greatly increase his market value. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Before last season, the versatile Stephens was reluctant to call himself a cornerback, preferring the “defensive back” label instead. By the end of the season, it was clear he was the Ravens’ top option out wide. In Stephens’ first year as a full-time starting corner, he almost never came off the field, playing 100% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in 14 games and finishing with career highs in interceptions (two) and passes defended (11).

With free agency looming next offseason, another year of development at the position could help take Stephens’ game to another level. He showed his shutdown potential last season against Bengals star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, whom he blanketed in a Week 11 win. But he also struggled against San Francisco 49ers star wideout Brandon Aiyuk in Week 16. Marlon Humphrey, Wiggins and a deep cornerback room should help push Stephens all year long.

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12. OLB Odafe Oweh

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Odafe Oweh (99) sits alone on the Ravens sideline after losing the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024. The Chiefs beat the Ravens, 17-10, to advance to the Super Bowl.
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has a chance to double his sack total of last season. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The good news: Oweh is primed for a breakout season. Despite missing four games with an ankle injury last year, Oweh finished 32nd in the NFL in pressures among edge rushers, according to PFF. His pressure rate, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, ranked ahead of those of the Minnesota Vikings’ Danielle Hunter (now with the Houston Texans), the Detroit Lions’ Aidan Hutchison and the Chicago Bears’ Montez Sweat, all of whom had at least 11.5 sacks.

The bad news: Although pressures are more predictive of sacks than sacks themselves, takedowns have been elusive throughout Oweh’s career. The 2021 first-round pick had just five sacks in 2023, matching a career high, and his sack rate ranked 44th among qualifying edge rushers. Still, the physically gifted Oweh is in good hands with pass rush coach Chuck Smith. With a boost in confidence from the Ravens’ offseason pickup of his fifth-year option, Oweh could easily double his sack numbers this year.

11. S Marcus Williams

It’s hard to know what Williams is capable of. Injuries haven’t let him show much. Five games into the five-year, $70 million contract he signed with the Ravens in 2022, Williams suffered a dislocated wrist that sidelined him for two months. Last year, he missed three games with a hamstring injury and three with a pectoral injury that limited his ability to do almost anything — play the ball, tackle, reach top speed — after Week 1.

Although Williams’ medical history is a red flag, the injuries themselves shouldn’t affect his on-field ability or leadership in the secondary. He had a team-high four interceptions in 2022 and allowed just 186 yards when targeted in coverage last season, according to PFF. If Williams can reestablish himself as one of the NFL’s best center-field safeties, he’d help free up All-Pro Kyle Hamilton to wreak havoc closer to the line of scrimmage.

Honorable mention: RB Keaton Mitchell, DL Travis Jones, ILB Trenton Simpson, CB Arthur Maulet, P Jordan Stout

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