Who the Baltimore Ravens lost this off-season and who replaces them
Lost: Za’Drius Smith
Za’Darius Smith’s career with the Baltimore Ravens was inconsistent to say the least. After breaking out as a rookie with 5.5 sacks, Smith had just 4.5 over the next two seasons. His 2018 season was his best season, of course in a contract year, as he recorded a career-high 8.5 sacks and 45 tackles.
Say what you want about Smith’s unpredictable production, he remained a valuable asset to the Ravens as a rotational specialist. The numbers weren’t always there, but Smith missed just six games in his four seasons with Baltimore. His reliability and leadership will be tough to replace, as will the production he put up in 2018.
Replacement: Jaylon Ferguson
This is where it becomes tougher for the Ravens to replace their stars from 2018. While this isn’t to slam Jaylon Ferguson, we would be asking a lot of him to generate 8.5 sacks as a rookie. But, they don’t call him the “Sack Daddy” for nothing.
It was Ferguson who broke Terrell Suggs’ NCAA career sack record with 45.0 in four seasons with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Ferguson generated these numbers behind his ferocious mentality and nonstop motor. These are skills that will translate smoothly to the next level, and if he can add more counter-moves to his toolbox he’ll be unstoppable.
In the case of Jaylon Ferguson, he has more upside than Za’Darius Smith, but has more to prove. Smith took time to develop into the player he would become. Asking Ferguson to immediately be everything that Smith was isn’t fair, but he’s more than capable of accepting the challenge. Ferguson is a legitimate Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.