Are the Baltimore Ravens ready to take the next step this upcoming season?
I believe so.
In order to take that next step and bring the Lombardi back to Baltimore, players are going to have to step up.
BaltimoreRavens.com writer Kevin Eck just recently posted about three defensive players who are ready to step up. While I definitely agree with the players listed, I want to take a look at both sides of the ball.
One player I definitely agree with Kevin on is Tyus Bowser.
OLB Tyus Bowser
I know a lot of fans were upset that the Ravens haven't added a veteran OLB. At least not yet. Personally, I don't know that it is necessary, though adding someone like Justin Houston wouldn't hurt. However, Bowser has already proven that he can be a huge asset in coverage without even being the starter.
I believe the Ravens got a huge deal in signing Bowser to such a low contract. Bowser is 26 years old and 26 is the same age when Paul Kruger and Za'Darius Smith posted sack totals of 9 and 8.5. This is the year fans and the rest of the NFL will see Bowser finally break out. And the great part is he can be a weapon in coverage, pass-rush situations, and run defense.
RB J.K. Dobbins
Dobbins averaged 6 yards per carry as a rookie. He was sharing the load. I imagine that he will continue sharing the load (to a point) with Gus Edwards. But with Mark Ingram gone, Dobbins is the clear starter, as he should be.
Dobbins set a lot of records at Ohio State. After a rookie year where he put up over 800 yards and 9 touchdowns on only 134 carries, I believe that Dobbins will easily break 1,000 yards next season. I could honestly see him finishing as a top 5 running back, depending on how the Ravens use both of these backs next season.
C/G Bradley Bozeman
Snapping the ball was a huge issue for the Ravens last season. Bradley Bozeman is moving back to his original position of center to try and fix that. I believe that he will. During his time at Alabama, Bozeman started during National Championship games as the center. The Ravens need a center who can play well during the regular season and the playoffs.
With the addition of Ben Cleveland (and the other competition at guard), Bozeman can focus on being the Center that the Ravens need. I believe he will step up to the occasion. He was drafted as a center and switched to guard and he didn't disappoint. I don't see why he would disappoint at the position he played most of his life.
Honorable Mentions: DT Justin Madubuike, WR Devin Duvernay
Are there any players that you believe will step up and have breakout seasons? It will be necessary for certain players to step up if the Ravens want to make it to and win the franchise's third Super Bowl since 1996.
Let's go Ravens! Bring home the Lombardi!