At this point in the NFL offseason, rosters are pretty much set. The draft and free agency have passed and all that’s left is cuts to form the 53 man roster. For the Baltimore Ravens they enter the season with a talented roster and high expectations.
Over the past two seasons Baltimore has been contenders in the AFC, but have fallen short in the divisional round of the playoffs. Yet, the Ravens have some underrated sleepers on their roster that could help them get over the hump this upcoming season.
Two players in particular have a chance to exceed the expectations of their fanbase and be difference makers for this Ravens team.
Sleeping Ravens: 2 Sleepers on Baltimore’s Roster
One of the Ravens biggest offseason acquisitions was the signing of wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The former fourth overall pick was brought in to help Baltimore’s passing attack. However, because of his injury history expectations are low. Watkins has not played a full 16 game season since his rookie year.
For the past three years Watkins has had a small role in a Kansas City Chiefs offense that had an array of weapons. But now in Baltimore, Watkins could play himself into a bigger role.
When healthy Watkins has proven that he can be a number one wide receiver, and obtain a 1,000 yard season. This is a feat that none of the young receivers in Baltimore have accomplished.
Another thing Watkins brings to the Ravens offense is the ability to come out in 11 personnel. Which includes one running back, one tight end and three receivers. To put names to these positions, it would be J.K Dobbins, Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, first round pick Reshod Bateman and Watkins.
This would be the best player personnel quarterback Lamar Jackson has been surrounded by since become the starter for the Ravens. So, if Watkins can remain healthy he is a sleeper on the Ravens roster that can unlock an element to their offense.
The second sleeper on the Ravens roster comes on the defensive side of the ball. Baltimore already has a strong secondary but if safety DeShon Elliott exceeds expectations it could take their defense to the next level.
Elliott was a first time starter last year and had some impressive moments. His season stats included a combined 80 tackles, two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks.
To see the impact elite safety play makes on the Ravens defense, you would have to look at the 2019 season when Earl Thomas was starting at safety. Thomas was one of the best safeties in the league and it showed in the Ravens defensive numbers.
While Baltimore still ranked in the top three in terms of points allowed, their yards allowed per game dropped without Thomas in 2020. Elliot’s development in his second year as a starter is exactly what the Ravens need. Especially, after they had some key departures on defense this offseason.
This includes two important pass rushers in Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, making the secondary more important than ever. Baltimore is already a title contender but if these two sleepers exceed expectations they could become AFC favors over the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.