With the Ravens signing of Elvis Dumervil, things are now starting to look up in Baltimore. The offense has really only lost one player, and now, with Dumervil on board, you can make a strong argument that the defense is already better. Hear me out on this one.
The Ravens lost Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Cary Williams. They have now added Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Elvis Dumervil. They are also expected to sign Michael Huff in the next week or so. Football is won in the trenches, and the Ravens are markedly better there now than they were in February.
Last season the Ravens had essentially 2 good defensive lineman. Haloti Ngata and the duo of Art Jones and Pernell Mcphee were excelent, but Ngata was banged up and played out of position all season. The Ravens added Chris Canty and Marcus Spears. Chris Canty is now expected to take over at LDE in place of Haloti Ngata. That moves Ngata to NT where he is an even bigger disruptive force than he is at DE because of his size and strength advantage over a league full of predominantly undersized centers. That puts Art Jones and PErnell McPhee on the same side they were before.
Old Line- Ngata, Kemoatu/Cody, Jones/McPhee
New Line- Canty/McPhee/Spears, Ngata/Spears/Cody, Jones/McPhee/Spears
Advantage new line.
The new line not only has a huge amount of versatility, but it also has about twice as much depth and Ngata might actually be able to take some plays off to keep him healthier. This group can also go to a 4-3 base and have some serious pass rushing ability by putting Ngata and Canty or Canty and McPhee at DT and Suggs and Dumervil on the edges. This gives some credence to the theory that the Ravens may move to a 4-3 because as a pass rushing unit, that group would be an absolute nightmare. The Depth is also huge, no player in this unit should ever get overly tired because the Ravens will be able to spell players and not take huge steps back in production at any time they want. It is pretty nice to have 6 starters on a 3 man line.
With Dumervil, I believe the Ravens LB corp is also already better than it was last year. Last year they were starting a combo of Kruger and Upshaw on the outside. Kruger is a decent pass rusher, but he is far from a game changing player and he has been one of the least consistent players in the league. Kruger had some good games, but I never felt he was a player teams were ever overly concerned about. Dumervil on the other hand is one of the premier pass rushers in the league and has 63.5 sacks in 6 years. The Ravens will also get back a healthy Terrell Suggs. Suggs played through a torn Biceps for most of the year and never really was 100% healthy from an offseason Achilles tear. He played all year at maybe 75% health tops. The Ravens will have lost Lewis and Ellerbe, but Lewis didnt play but 6 games in the regular season. The Ravens currently are looking at starting Jameel McClain and Albert McClellen. Granted, neither of those guys are as good as Ellerbe, but McClellen is a highly under-rated player and McClain was above Ellerbe on the depth chart for years before he got hurt. When healthy McClain is a pretty darn good ILB. This group comes down to taking away Kruger and his 15.5 sacks in 4 years(3.875 sacks per year) and replacing it with Dumervil and his 63.5 sacks in 6 years(10.583 sacks per year). I dont know about you, but i will take a huge step up in pass rush in an exchange for a step back in run support(both Ellerbe and Lewis were basically run defending ILBs) and day of the week.
Old LBs: Suggs/Kruger, Lewis/McClain, McClain/ Ellerbe, Upshaw/Kruger
New LBs: Suggs/Upshaw, McClain/drafted ILB, McClellen/drafted ILB, Dumervil/Upshaw
Advantage: New LBs.
Another thing worth noting, the Ravens have only signed released players, that means that they are currently in line for at lest 3 compensatory draft picks. at the end of the day the Ravens will probably have traded Paul Kruger(8 million per year) for Dumervil(max of 7 million per year, base of 5.5 million per year) and a fourth round pick. sounds like a good trade to me.
The Ravens now have more flexibility up front than i can ever remember(that flexibility improves even more if they land Alec Ogletree in the draft) them having. they have more DL depth than I can remember them having as a 3-4 defense.
If the Ravens can improve their ILB strength, then this might be the best front seven the Ravens have had since the years around the first superbowl.