Baltimore Ravens: 3 off-season story lines to follow closely

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 9: Kenneth Dixon #30 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates after scoring the teams first touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 9: Kenneth Dixon #30 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates after scoring the teams first touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 9: Tim Williams #56 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 9: Tim Williams #56 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Who starts opposite Matt Judon at edge?

Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith are both gone from the Baltimore Ravens, leaving a lot of questions about the team’s defense entirely, like who will step up as leaders, but more importantly who will rush the passer? Luckily, part of the solution is Matt Judon, who has 19.0 sacks in his first three-seasons in the NFL. Who produces opposite him, however, is the question we have left unanswered.

Baltimore was hoping it solved this issue back during the 2017 NFL Draft, when it selected Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams in the second and third rounds respectively. Unfortunately, that has not come to pass thus far in their careers, which is why the Ravens spent their third round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Jaylon Ferguson, a player who I believe could be what the Ravens wanted the other two to be.

Matt Judon and Jaylon Ferguson could be dynamic tandem for Ravens. light. Related Story

It’s not entirely Bowser and Williams’ fault, as injuries have been a large part in their failures. In the case of Bowser, we’ve seen flashes of the versatility that had many in love with his potential. Not many outside linebackers have the coverage and movement skills that he has, and this could make him a strong candidate to move to inside linebacker (a topic my co-expert, Chris Schisler, discussed here).

As for Williams, he’s been a similar story, but more geared towards his pass rushing adeptness. Williams was thought of as an elite pass rusher leaving Alabama who needed work in every other aspect in his play. When Williams is healthy (and committed) he certainly has the speed to bend the edge that we all hoped for. However, Williams has had a tough time getting on the field for one reason or another, and we can’t keep giving him excuses.

This makes Ferguson the best candidate to start opposite Judon. It’s hard to overlook Ferguson’s production at Louisiana Tech, and he fits the mold of the kind of elephant pass rusher Baltimore loves to employ.

We’ll have all off-season, including the preseason, to find out who will get starts opposite Judon. We can’t forget that last off-season we saw Williams excel during the preseason, only to disappear during the regular season. Keep your eyes peeled, but center them on these three in particular.