Ebony Bird Round-Table: Baltimore Ravens to watch in preseason
Mike Reid: Chris Board
Bart Scott. Jameel McClain. Dannell Ellerbe. Zach Orr. Patrick Onwuasor. All were former undrafted rookie linebackers who the Ravens molded into really solid starters on their defense. Now, Chris Board has a golden opportunity to carry on the great undrafted rookie linebacker lineage.
Board was undrafted last year out of North Dakota State. He appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens including their playoff game, as a key contributor on special teams. Board showed the Ravens he has a nose for the football as he led the special teams unit in tackles on the year with 12.
The Ravens need some juice added into the middle of their defense as they saw Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley leave the Flock for big money with the New York Jets. Mosley’s departure leaves big shoes to fill from a production standpoint and lock-room presence.
The Ravens however didn’t add any middle linebackers in free agency or the draft. Which gives a fairly big stamp of approval to the young guys they have currently. Patrick Onwuasor took big strides last year as a play-making linebacker and has one starting spot locked down. The other starting spot is up for grabs, as fellow second year linebacker Kenny Young will battle Board for it.
So far through training camp there has been a lot of buzz about Chris Board. He has been running with the first-team defense quite a bit and showing improvements in a lot of areas. According to linebackers coach Mike Macdonald, Board has really put in the work this off-season learning the playbook, bulking up, and flashing his side-to-sideline speed in practice. It also must be said that Kenny Young showed that he can also run and cover while playing a good amount of snaps last season on defense.
It may not be simple pure “starter” between Board and Young. Both of them look to be able to gain plenty of snaps during this season as it could be a nice platoon linebacker approach with those two playing alongside Onwuasor.
I believe though, Chris Board has a ton to gain this pre-season and the Ravens will give plenty of snaps to prove it. Ravens fans so be very excited to watch #49 fly around and make plays this next month. As they could be watching the next great undrafted Ravens linebacker rise up the depth chart.