NFL Baltimore Ravens

5 Unheralded Baltimore Ravens Who Must Step Up in 2014

5 Unheralded Baltimore Ravens Who Must Step Up in 2014

Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

After finishing last season with a disappointing 8-8 record and missing the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens will look to rebound in 2014 and once again contend for a Super Bowl. In order to do so, the Ravens will need several unheralded players to make a bigger impact than they did a year ago. Here are five players who will need to step up for the Ravens.

5. Matt Elam

Matt Elam
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

5. Matt Elam

Matt Elam
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens selected safety Matt Elam with their 2013 first-round pick. Elam took over as a starter early in his rookie campaign and quickly showed signs of why he was the 32nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. He finished his rookie season with 77 tackles and one interception. In 2014, the Ravens will look for Elam to become a bigger playmaker in their secondary.

4. Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown
Douglas Jones- USA TODAY Sports

4. Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown
Douglas Jones- USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Brown was drafted by the Ravens to fill the void left at linebacker after Ray Lewis' retirement. Unfortunately, Brown was unable to make any significant contribution in his rookie season. He struggled to transition from outside to inside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme and also suffered from a sports hernia injury. In 2014, the Ravens will need Brown to cement himself as a starter next to Daryl Smith.

3. Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

3. Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

After a slow start to his career, Jimmy Smith has emerged as a solid cornerback for the Ravens. Last year, Smith recorded two interceptions and 15 pass breakups in his best season as a pro. In 2014, the Ravens will need Smith to continue to improve upon these numbers, especially after losing veteran cornerback Corey Graham to the Bills this offseason.

2. Jeremy Zuttah

Jeremy Zuttah
Kim Klement- USA TODAY Sports

2. Jeremy Zuttah

Jeremy Zuttah
Kim Klement- USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens gave up 48 sacks in 2013, the fourth-highest total in the NFL. In order to help address their offensive line woes, Baltimore traded a fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay for center Jeremy Zuttah, who will replace Gino Gradkowski at starting center this season. The Ravens hope that he will strengthen an offensive line that desperately needs to improve.

1. Bernard Pierce

Bernard Pierce
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

1. Bernard Pierce

Bernard Pierce
Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

Ray Rice is facing numerous questions both on and off the field that have put his status for the 2014 season in question. Thus, the Ravens will need running back Bernard Pierce to make a much bigger impact in 2014 than he has in the past. Pierce averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and rushed for only two touchdowns last season. He will need to drastically increase his production if the Ravens are to contend for a Super Bowl.