Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen has had an up-and-down sophomore season, but a string of strong performances have earned him some high praise from Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
“Patrick Queen has really emerged in year two. He might be the best linebacker in the AFC North,” said Tomlin on January 4, per WBAL Baltimore’s Bobby Trosset, “I know his tape looks like that.”
Tomlin’s comments come a few days before the Steelers’ visit to Baltimore for both team’s regular season finale, with a playoff spot potentially on the line.
“He appears to be doing the things that come with the position,” said Tomlin, who singled out Queen’s presnap communication with both the defensive line in front of him and the secondary behind him.
In crowning Queen as the best linebacker in the division, Tomlin subtly put down his young middle linebacker, Devin Bush, who was taken by the Steelers with the 10th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, a year before the Ravens used their first-round selection to draft Queen.
Bush and veteran Joe Schobert have been Pittsburgh’s starting inside linebackers all season, though Tomlin certainly isn’t fully satisfied with their efforts based on his assessment of Queen.
Tomlin also ranked Queen ahead of highly-graded Browns rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who earned praise for his play against Lamar Jackson in November.
Queen’s Sophomore Leap
Such high praise from Tomlin speaks to Queen’s massive leap forward in his second NFL season after an inconsistent rookie year in 2020.
He’s started all 16 of the Ravens’ regular season games at middle linebacker, leading Baltimore with 93 combined and 66 total tackles. Both of those figures are 20 tackles higher than the next closest player, rookie safety Brandon Stephens.
While Queen struggled to bring down opposing ballcarriers early in the season – he missed 10 tackles in Baltimore’s first five games – he’s only missed seven tackles in 11 games since, including an eight-game stretch with just two missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus.
That sequence of games included a gutsy performance against the Browns in Week 14, with Queen playing through severe pain due to a rib injury to record a team-high eight tackles.
He then took to Twitter to call out a comparison to Koramoah by Sam Monson of PFF, who have been extremely inconsistent with their assessment of Queen all year.
Ravens’ LB Situation in 2022
Queen is expected to start the 2022 season as one of Baltimore’s starting inside linebackers, but it’s unclear who will be beside him.
The Ravens selected Ohio State standout Malik Harrison in the same draft as Queen in the hopes that the pair would emerge as the team’s inside linebackers, but Harrison has not played with enough consistency to merit a starting spot next year. It’s possible he makes enough strides in the offseason to earn more playing time, but head coach John Harbaugh told media in December that Harrison could be playing more outside linebacker in the future.
That would leave the Ravens without any full-time inside linebackers under contract for next season, per Spotrac, though special teams contributors Kristian Welch and Otaro Alaka are eligible for free agent tenders.
L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes could both return to provide a veteran presence next to Queen. Fort suffered a torn ACL in the preseason, forcing Baltimore to re-sign Bynes, who won Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens in 2013, to steady the middle of the defense.
Chris Board is also a free agent, but his role on special teams and in pass coverage could inspire the Ravens to pursue another contract with him, as well.