Baltimore Ravens: Gerald Willis III could be next great UDFA
The Baltimore Ravens have a tendency to find diamonds in the rough through their undrafted free agents, and Gerald Willis III could be their next stud.
Bart Scott. Justin Tucker. Zachary Orr. Michael Pierce. These are just a few of the best undrafted free agent signings that the Baltimore Ravens have ever made. Once again, Baltimore has found itself a solid UDFA pool so far, with Louisville’s Jaylen Smith highlighting the group. But of all their pick-ups, could Miami’s defensive linemen Gerald Willis III join this historic group of studs?
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It certainly won’t be easy, but perhaps it’s more of as reality than we may think.
Right now, the Ravens have a very deep defensive line group, however it doesn’t have a ton of versatility. The top guys are the aforementioned Pierce and Brandon Williams, both of whom play well over 330-lbs. Essentially, Baltimore is running two nose tackles on the field at once, although this is historically a scheme they often employ. After them, it becomes a crap shoot.
Names like Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, Zach Sieler, and fellow rookie Daylon Mack will also be competing for a roster spot. Mack is a safe bet to make the team, as Baltimore just drafted him in the fifth round. The others will be competing for their futures in Charm City.
In order for Gerald Willis to earn his keep, he’ll have to impress the coaching staff and prove that his upside is better than the rest of the group. Henry has shown flashes of dominance, but his inability to stay healthy could be his undoing. Meanwhile, Wormley has struggling to get consistent reps and Sieler may be nothing more than a developmental, depth contributor… But, Willis has more potential than any of these three.
For most of these players, their forte is in stuffing the run. Henry has shown potential as a pass rusher, and Wormley and Sieler were solid pass rushers themselves in college. However, it’s Gerald Willis who holds the keys to dominance here.
In Willis’ only year of college play, he accumulated 18.0 TFLs and 4.0 sacks to go with 59 tackles. None of the other defensive linemen, even the locks for the roster, had that kind of production in college, let alone against Power Five conference teams. Willis proved he belongs with the big boys as long as he can keep his head on straight.
The biggest key for Gerald Willis to make this roster is to rush the passer at a high-level, or at least better than his competition. No one on this defensive line has the raw talent that Willis possesses, making him more than a good enough player to hold on to.
When it comes down to making final roster cuts, I’d be willing to bet the Baltimore Ravens would have a hard time justifying cutting Willis. If they do decide to hold on to him, don’t be surprised to see Gerald Willis III become the next great Ravens UDFA, and maybe even become a defensive staple in a reloading phase for the team’s defense.