Top Defensive Position Called ‘up for Grabs’ During Ravens Camp

Pernell McPhee

Getty Pernell McPhee and the Ravens pursue Joe Burrow in 2020.

When training camp begins for the Baltimore Ravens, the team will have no shortage of issues to sort out, but the biggest could end up being at one of the most important spots on the defense.

Through the years, the Ravens have not had trouble rushing the passer classically, but all of that might be set to change a bit given some of the ups and downs that have occurred lately in terms of the team losing talented players to free agency.

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With this in mind, there’s pressure on the Ravens to get things right in terms of figuring out how to make training camp count. When that period starts, the edge position was said to be the biggest spot up for grabs in terms of players stepping up and snatching jobs. Writer Maurice Moton seems to think that the defense could see a major battle up front.

He wrote:

“The Baltimore Ravens lost two veteran edge-rushers via free agency in Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, so their young talent at the position must contribute to the rotation.

Tyus Bowser, a 2017 second-rounder, will likely line up as the strong-side linebacker. In March, the Ravens signed him to a four-year extension worth $22 million with $12 million guaranteed. Pernell McPhee could hold off a trio of developing players on the opposite side after starting in 13 contests last year.

With that said, McPhee hasn’t played more than 43 percent of his team’s defensive snaps since the 2015 term. He could move into a reserve role if someone else flashes at training camp.

The Ravens selected Odafe Oweh in the first round of this year’s draft. The rookie may take on a big role, though he could back up Bowser while developing his pass-rushing skills. As a collegian, the Penn State product recorded seven sacks.

Jaylon Ferguson, who’s the all-time NCAA sack leader, hasn’t translated his pass-rushing potential into significant production yet. He’s recorded just 4.5 sacks in two seasons, but the Louisiana Tech product will have a prime opportunity to break out with a pathway to more snaps on the edge.

As a rookie fifth-rounder, Daelin Hayes has an outside shot to emerge, but he turned some heads during the spring with simulated sacks at practice.”

Seeing someone emerge from this spot is a virtual certainty, so the most fascinating part will be who manages to step up their game enough to get this done. Obviously, it’s a potentially long road toward getting this done for the Ravens, but in a few weeks, the pursuit will begin.

Ravens End Depth Criticized This Offseason

The Ravens have a significant need to find a way to craft some depth at the end spot. After losing Matt Judon in the offseason, the team is looking a bit thin on the edge in terms of established edge rushers. As a result, it always seemed as if the pressure was going to be squarely on he guys on the roster in order to step up.

Baltimore might look to add another piece during training camp before the season, as the team has been mentioned to be interested in Justin Houston and perhaps some others. First, though, the team is likely to give these players a chance to crack their roster.

Pressure on Young Ravens Linemen to Produce

Knowing how many questions this defensive group has, how will the Ravens have success? That will depend on a few young guns stepping up like Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes. Additionally, the Ravens have some other players who need to step up such as Jihad Ward and Pernell McPhee. The only way the team is going to account for this is to have multiple players stepping up and contributing, which was just how things were when Judon and Ngakoue were playing for the squad last year.

Through the years, the Ravens have managed to find players to pressure the passer from across their roster in a variety of places. They will be called on to do that again, and training camp might deliver the best theater for such a battle.

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