It's time to open up our weekend Baltimore Ravens mailbag ...
@jamisonhensley If the Ravens were to open their season at home on Sunday night (to avoid the Orioles conflict) what opponent makes sense?— Josh (@JRock9615) April 9, 2015
@jamisonhensley: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the Ravens expect to play on the road to start the season. That was the message relayed to me by team president Dick Cass at the NFL owners meetings last month. It's difficult for both teams to play games on the same day because they share parking lots, and the Ravens have open dates for home games the following two weeks. Outside of that scheduling conflict with the Orioles a couple of years ago, the Ravens have been lucky when it comes to kicking off the season at home. They've done so in three of the past four seasons. So, where will the Ravens open the 2015 season? If the Steelers play at the Patriots in the first game of the season, that would narrow the Ravens' potential season-opening road trip to these seven teams: Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Raiders, Cardinals, 49ers and Dolphins. There has been a trend of opening against division opponents. The Ravens have played an AFC North team in five of the last eight season openers. But I could see the Ravens starting out west to break up the four long trips, especially if Baltimore is going to play at home in Weeks 2 and 3 (when the Orioles are on the road). My guess is the Ravens open at Oakland -- the A's are away that weekend. It would be a nice way to celebrate the Ravens' 20th season in the NFL. It was two decades ago when the Ravens played their first game as a franchise against the Raiders. The NFL is expected to announce its regular-season schedule in the next couple of weeks.
@jamisonhensley How likely is it that the Ravens will get their wish of staying out West for two consecutive games?— Kim (@UndertheMDsun) April 9, 2015
@jamisonhensley: When the Ravens made this request to the NFL, they understood that it could be difficult for the NFL to schedule their games at Oakland and San Francisco in back-to-back weeks. The reason why it gets tricky is the Ravens aren't the only team to play two games in the Bay Area this season. The Packers, Vikings and Bengals also play at Oakland and San Francisco in 2015. The NFL wouldn't want to show favoritism to the Ravens by allowing them to be the only team with consecutive games on the West Coast. The Packers and Vikings likely wouldn't have a major problem with it because they don't have the same cross-country trip as the Ravens. But the Bengals, a division rival, would probably want the same perk as the Ravens. I'm honestly not sure how difficult it would be for the schedule makers to make this happen for two teams. I believe it's possible, but I wouldn't bet on it.
@jamisonhensley Are the Ravens rounded enough going into the draft to stick to their typical "best player available" approach?— Nathan Beigel (@nathanbeigel) April 9, 2015
@jamisonhensley: This hasn't been the Ravens' best year at filling their voids entering the draft. Part of the problem is the limited cap room. The Ravens have been unable to replace wide receiver Torrey Smith, pass-rusher Pernell McPhee and tight end Owen Daniels, all of whom signed elsewhere in free agency. That doesn't mean the Ravens will reach at any of those positions. Based on what team officials are saying, they believe they can get a receiver with speed and a pass-catching tight end in the middle rounds. The Ravens still are all about value, but there are definitely positions that they are targeting throughout the draft.
@jamisonhensley Could Randy Gregory be the Timmy Jernigan of 2015 for the Ravens?— Josh (@starkey_josh_) April 9, 2015
@jamisonhensley: You're making the NFL combine drug test connection. There is a difference between the situations with Gregory and Jernigan. Gregory acknowledged that he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine this year, and Jernigan tested positive because of a diluted sample. Jernigan's agent explained there were “hydration issues” that caused his irregular drug test result. Still, Jernigan slipped out of the first round and fell to the middle of the second round. No one is expecting a similar free fall for Gregory, who remains the top-ranked outside linebacker by Mel Kiper Jr. Neither Kiper nor Todd McShay have Gregory getting out of the top half of the first round. If Gregory does unexpectedly drop, the Ravens will have to make a decision on Gregory, who has admitted to habitually smoking marijuana. They've done their homework on him and even brought him in for a pre-draft visit.
Note: If your question wasn't answered Sunday, there will be additional Twitter mailbags next weekend.