The Baltimore Ravens have a handful of intriguing undrafted free agents trying to find roster spots. Today we’re going to look at the top 3:
Few teams have done a better job than the Baltimore Ravens when it comes to developing undrafted free agents into NFL starters. Previously under the direction of Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore’s final roster has consisted of at least one UDFA in each of the last 15 seasons, currently the longest active streak in the league.
With former undrafted free agents such as Michael Pierce, Patrick Onwuasor, and Gus Edwards all playing a key role in Baltimore’s success last year, it’s quite easy to see how valuable these undrafted players can turn out to be.
Now with Eric DeCosta at the helm, only time will tell if the first year GM has the same knack for finding undrafted gems as his predecessor did. Among the group of UDFA’s that were signed this year, three players in particular have separated themselves from the bunch and have the best shot at keeping Baltimore’s historic streak alive.
Arguably the best undrafted rookie so far, Otaro Alaka has made a strong case for a spot on the final roster. The Linebacker from Texas A&M burst onto the scene against the Packers where he had a team high six tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage. Alaka did a great job getting into the opposing backfield for the Aggies last year with 14.5 tackles for a loss along with 4 sacks.
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Although the Ravens are pretty set with their current inside linebacking core, Alaka could certainly find his way onto the roster for his special teams abilities. The Ravens would love for the rookie to follow in the footsteps of former UDFA, Patrick Onwasour and make the transition from special teams standout to starting linebacker on one of the league’s top defensive units. With Chris Board out with a concussion, Otara Alaka will now have a great opportunity to showcase his skills over these final few weeks before the regular season kicks off.
Struggling with a back injury for most of the summer, LG Patrick Mekari started his 2019 campaign a few steps behind the competition. However that hasn’t stopped him from performing at a very high level this preseason, as his strong play has caught the attention of his teammates and coaches alike. After his effort against Jacksonville, Merkari had the opportunity to take snaps with the first team offense at practice the following week.
Current projected starter, Jermaine Eluemunor, had two false start penalties in that same game and has not done nearly enough to solidify his starting position. This leaves the battle for left guard wide open as there is no clear-cut front runner for the time being. Mekari has done his part to earn a roster spot on this year’s team; he is one of only two rookies that haven’t allowed a pressure all preseason. For a team that will rely heavily on the run this season, Baltimore’s offensive line must be up to par if they want to compete for the division title and more in 2019.
Many analysts thought Willis could be a dark horse to make the roster when he was first signed with the team in late April. Originally pegged as a mid round pick, Willis never heard his name called in this years draft due to a handful of off-the-field issues. The Ravens have given him a second chance by bringing him in and giving him an opportunity to prove that he is capable at playing at the NFL level.
With the Hurricanes, Willis posted 49 tackles and 4 sacks in 2018. Willis’ ability to get to the quarterback is a quality that the current defensive tackles of the Ravens lack. With the massive run-stuffing defensive tackles we already have in Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, Willis’ versatility could be something that the Ravens value.
Although the Ravens defensive line is deemed to be one of the stringer units in the league, don’t be surprised if Gerald Willis finds his way onto this years squad.