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. On Monday, Nos. 20-11 were unveiled. Here are the top 10.

Baltimore Ravens cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (44) and Damarion “Pepe” Williams (24) run a drill during practice on May 22. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

10. CB Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey’s 2023 season wasn’t great. He allowed a go-ahead touchdown catch in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, finished with a career-worst one takeaway (an interception off a fortuitous tip against the San Francisco 49ers) and played just 10 games, another career low, as injuries limited him from training camp to the AFC championship game. “Physically, it was just going into every game, like, feeling kind of like crap,” Humphrey said on his podcast after the season.

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But there were enough stretches of shutdown play to raise hopes for a resurgent 2024. From Week 6 to Week 10, according to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey allowed just five catches on 11 targets for 24 yards while playing nearly 200 coverage snaps. At age 28, he should also still be in his physical prime. Even if Humphrey’s ability as an outside cornerback slips, he’s been a menace throughout his career in the slot, where his blitzing ability and run defense stand out.

Justin Tucker stands at the podium to answer questions following organized team activities on June 6. (Eric Thompson for The Baltimore Banner)

9. K Justin Tucker

Tucker made 32 of 37 field goal attempts last season, ranking 14th in accuracy (86.5%) among the 33 kickers who attempted at least 10. The year before, he ranked 17th (86%) out of 34. On paper, it’s an uncharacteristic downturn for Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, but one that doesn’t fully capture where he misfired. Nine of those 11 misses came from at least 50 yards out; from 49 yards and in, Tucker was the league’s second-most accurate kicker (96.7%), according to TruMedia, behind only the Los Angeles Chargers’ Cameron Dicker.

Tucker’s most important role this season, though, might not be on the field goal unit. In previous years, the Ravens have occasionally tasked the seven-time Pro Bowl selection with launching high-arcing kickoffs that leave opponents with no choice but to return the ball from inside the 5-yard line. Under the NFL’s new kickoff rules, that skill — if repeatable — would be an asset for special teams coordinator Chris Horton. The bigger question for the 34-year-old Tucker might be his tackling ability, but he joked that he’s put on a few pounds of muscle in preparation for the season’s new rigors.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews warms up before the AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 28. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

8. TE Mark Andrews

Andrews’ speedy recovery from leg and ankle injuries last season cleared the way for an unlikely playoff comeback. Upon his AFC championship game return, however, it was obvious that he was still limited (two catches for 15 yards) — and that he was still needed. Without Andrews, an imposing and instinctive target who could’ve probed the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense for soft spots and won against their physical coverage, Jackson lacked a safety net over the middle.

In offseason workouts, Andrews looked like his old, dominant self again. Even his relatively quiet 2023 season — a career-low 544 receiving yards in 10 games — was quietly impressive. Andrews had a career-best 73.8% catch rate and finished second among qualifying tight ends in touchdowns (six), third in yards per route run and third in expected points added per target, according to TruMedia.

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Wide receiver Zay Flowers catches the ball during the third day of Ravens minicamp on June 13. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

7. WR Zay Flowers

Flowers set Ravens rookie records for catches (77) and receiving yards (858) last season, added six total touchdowns and was an ill-timed fumble away from a potentially iconic AFC championship game performance. But maybe the most impressive feature of his debut season was how quickly he became one of Jackson’s top options, if not the top option. Flowers was Jackson’s designed target or first read on a staggering 60% of his attempts in Week 1, according to Fantasy Points, and finished the season as the team’s runaway leader in the category (28%).

Despite some struggles against press coverage last season, Flowers profiled as a WR1. The first-round pick graded out as the NFL’s No. 10 wide receiver in ESPN’s receiver tracking metrics, which quantify a player’s route-running efficiency, catching ability and production after the catch. If Flowers can boost his Year 1 production on screens (a meager 4.1 yards per catch) and deep shots (just three catches of 20-plus air yards after Week 7), he should become the first Ravens wide receiver to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season since Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in 2021.

Center Tyler Linderbaum practices on the third day of Ravens minicamp on June 13. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

6. C Tyler Linderbaum

In March, coach John Harbaugh called Linderbaum the NFL’s best center. With the retirement of Philadelphia Eagles stalwart Jason Kelce, the door is at least open. Linderbaum arrived in the NFL in 2022 as an already advanced run blocker, but he made his first Pro Bowl last season after a massive improvement in pass protection. He finished third among centers in ESPN’s pass block win rate and didn’t allow a sack during the regular season or playoffs, according to PFF.

Amid offensive changes, Linderbaum could take on outsized importance this year. After the departure of starting guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler, he’ll need to be a stabilizing force inside. The 2022 first-round pick will also need to be in sync with Jackson, who’s expected to have more freedom before the snap to change plays, tweak the protection up front and vary his cadence.

Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (92) practices on the third day of Ravens minicamp on June 13. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

5. DL Justin Madubuike

For the first time in his career, Madubuike will enter this season as a marked man. He led all interior defensive linemen last year in sacks (a career-high 13); recorded at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive games, tied for the longest such streak in single-season NFL history; and played almost two-thirds of the snaps for one of the league’s best defenses.

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But Madubuike earned his four-year, $98 million contract extension and All-Pro honors not with a sudden breakout but with year-over-year growth. His pressure rate has improved each of the past three seasons, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, and so have his sack and quarterback hit totals. Madubuike will be hard-pressed to match last year’s pass rush production — even Aaron Donald had just eight sacks in his final Los Angeles Rams season — but he can elevate the rest of the defense by attracting double teams and maintaining his run-stuffing consistency.

Running back Derrick Henry takes questions from reporters on June 11 following the Baltimore Ravens’ mandatory minicamp. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

4. RB Derrick Henry

Playing behind a dreadful Tennessee Titans offensive line last season, Henry finished with just 1,167 rushing yards — his fewest in a healthy season since 2018 — and averaged a career-low 4.2 yards per carry. But his limited playing time next to a mobile quarterback offered a preview of what a full season with Jackson could look like. In the 78 carries Henry had with backup Malik Willis on the field over the past two years, he averaged 6 yards per carry and had an elite 43.6% rushing success rate, according to TruMedia.

Henry’s biggest obstacles in Baltimore will be his age and, again, his line. But the 30-year-old should have a lighter workload next to Jackson, and he’s just six months removed from reaching a top speed of 21.68 mph on a 69-yard run against the Jacksonville Jaguars, faster than any Keaton Mitchell carry last year. And even if the Ravens’ run blocking takes a step back, offensive coordinator Todd Monken has creative ways of creating light boxes for his ground game to exploit.

Inside linebacker Roquan Smith (0) laughs after a drill during the Baltimore Ravens’ organized team activities on June 4. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

3. ILB Roquan Smith

Besides Tucker and Jackson, Smith is the only player on the Ravens’ roster with multiple All-Pro honors. Both came while playing under Mike Macdonald, the former Ravens defensive coordinator who’s now leading the Seattle Seahawks, and next to Patrick Queen, who developed into a Pro Bowl performer before leaving for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.

A slight change in scenery shouldn’t dim Smith’s impact. He led the Ravens in tackles last season (158). He finished second in run stops — tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense — behind only defensive lineman Michael Pierce, according to PFF. He snuffed out screen passes and helped erase the middle of the field on play-action drop-backs. And he was the on- and off-field leader of a defense that was perhaps the league’s best, a unit that almost always had answers for the NFL’s most cutting-edge attacks.

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Kyle Hamilton speaks with the media after Ravens’ organized team activities. (Paul Mancano)

2. S Kyle Hamilton

Hamilton’s importance to the Ravens last season was never more apparent than when he was missing. With the All-Pro on the field, Baltimore’s defense allowed 4.4 yards per play, averaged 0.16 EPA per play and had a success rate of 63.8%, all of which would’ve ranked in the top two leaguewide, according to TruMedia. When Hamilton was off the field, the Ravens allowed 5.4 yards per play, averaged 0.03 EPA per play and had a success rate of 57.5%, all of which would’ve ranked in the bottom half of the league.

Defensive coordinator Zach Orr called Hamilton the “ultimate chess piece.” Few can match his versatility; according to PFF, he played at least 200 snaps in three spots last year: in the slot, in the box and as a deep safety, along with another 51 snaps along the line of scrimmage. Even Hamilton’s losses in coverage against Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the AFC championship game were offset by stretches of brilliance elsewhere. He turned one second-quarter drive into a three-and-out almost single-handedly, providing tight coverage on a deep shot, a quick tackle on a screen pass and a quarterback pressure off a slot blitz. In Year 3, Hamilton could be an NFL Defensive Player of the Year dark horse.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass during the Baltimore Ravens’ mandatory minicamp on June 11. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

1. QB Lamar Jackson

Who else but the league’s reigning most valuable player? Jackson went supernova down the stretch last season, passing for 8.3 yards per attempt (No. 2 among regular NFL starters), averaging 0.20 EPA per drop-back (No. 3) and posting a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (No. 3) as he went 6-0 against Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford, Trevor Lawrence, Brock Purdy and Tua Tagovailoa. Jackson was by far the best player on a team that looked like by far the league’s best.

Even more impressive: All his career highs as a passer — passing yards (3,678), completion percentage (67.2) and yards per attempt (8) — came in his first season under Monken. Another year in his system has already brought increased responsibility for Jackson before the snap. Another year in the system should also cultivate more consistency after it.

Jackson will not lack for playmakers. He has established stars at running back and tight end and a rising star at wide receiver. If he can help keep the offense on schedule even when its rebuilt line falters, he could have the Ravens back in position for a long-awaited Super Bowl breakthrough.

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