Ravens Draft: Pass rusher is most under looked team need
By Cory Hughes
Over the last few years, Ozzie Newsome has drafted edge pass rushers that just haven’t panned out. Could drafting one more be on his check list of things to do on draft night?
Last season Terrell Suggs lead the Ravens defense in the sacks category on the stat sheet, a close second was Matt Judon with eight. There’s quite a drop off after that. Sadly, The Ball So Hard University graduate will be entering the final year of his contract in 2018. He’ll also be turning 36 years of age in October. Who knows if the front office will want to keep Suggs around for the 2019 season when he’ll be turning 37. Players don’t get paid for what they’ve done in this league, they get paid for what general managers think they’re capable of doing on the field.
And when it comes time to decide whether “Sizzle” will remain a Raven, it will be newly crowned general manager, Eric DeCosta’s decision whether to keep him. And if you think they won’t let Suggs walk, just remember, they choose not to pay Ed Reed and let him play for another team.
Ozzie and company will surely have to look at drafting an EDGE/SAM linebacker to have for the future. They selected two in last year’s draft, Tyus Bowser and Timmy Williams. While it was only their rookie years, they both struggled to even see the field. Hopefully new defensive coordinator, Don Martindale, will be able to unlock their true abilities in the NFL. The year before that, they drafted OLB Kamalei Correa and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi in the second and third rounds. They haven’t exactly panned out either.
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Newsome in his final year, might be under the same pressure to hit on a pass rusher, as he is to hit on a wide receiver and a tight end.
What are the options, and how early should they consider drafting a pass rusher?
Every Ravens fan knows the philosophy the front office lives by: Drafting the Best player available. And there wouldn’t be a more fitting ending the Newsome Era in Baltimore, by doing just that. When the Ravens are on the clock in the first round, the front office could certainly consider a prospect like Harold Landry. A player, who over the last two seasons has racked up over 20 sacks. He is a 6’3 250lb outside linebacker that runs a 4.6, 40 yard dash, that has crazy athletic traits and strength to match them to give offensive tackles nightmares. Sounds like a Newsome kind of player, doesn’t it?
The second day could also present a dilemma for the front office. As everyone knows they could use a tight end, a running back and a wide receiver or two. The second day of the 2018 draft could have some steals at pass rusher.
The Alabama guy drafting from LSU?
Newsome has never drafted a player from LSU in his tenure. But when round two comes around and a player like Arden Key is still available, he could unquestionably be swaying in Key’s direction. Key has an exceptional first step coming off the edge, and his lean frame permits him to have great top end speed when going up against offensive tackles. Coming into the 2018 season a lot of experts had Key going in the top ten, a few even had him going first overall like Myles Garrett did. Playing hurt this season and the little production he did contribute to the Tigers, most likely knocked him out of the first round. His 4.8 40 time didn’t do much to help that either. Key might have some question marks next to him, but he’d surely be a bargain as a second-round pick.
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This is probably something that most Ravens fans don’t want to hear or read. This front office has drafted its fair share of edge pass rushers and outside linebackers that just haven’t panned out. So why keep drafting more, in the early rounds when the team has much more positions of need it commands for? Believe me, I get it. This team needs offense. But with the team’s most sufficient pass rusher is currently going one on one with father time, a fight no athlete ends up winning, The Ravens might have to take precautions, so their lack of pass rush doesn’t show. That might just mean taking a player at the position in rounds one or two, for the third year in a row.