1. A.J. Klein
Inside linebacker is one of the Ravens biggest needs. It’s a position that you see the Ravens addressing in several of the early mock drafts. Signing A.J. Klein would be a lot like signing Daryl Smith in 2013. The Ravens would be filling a need with a veteran linebacker, and they would potentially be getting a leader for the defense. Klein had 69 tackles for the New Orleans Saints this past season. Klein has been one of the most consistent players for the Saints in the past few seasons. He’s a good inside linebacker, yet he probably won’t set the market as he looks for his third contract. That means he would be a savvy move for the Ravens. If the Ravens replace Patrick Onwuasor or Josh Bynes with Klein, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Klein played the SAM linebacker spot with the Saints in their 4-3 defense. He would be the strong side inside linebacker in the Ravens 3-4 defense. Klein has been a player I have always liked, going back to his days at Iowa State. He’s a versatile linebacker who can blitz, cover and play the run. The number one trait that Klein has, that the Ravens will be looking for, is toughness. He’s got plenty of that. In seven years in the NFL he has 339 tackles, 10.5 sacks and three interceptions. He also has a defensive touchdown on his resume, which never hurts. He’s not Ray Lewis, but he’s a good linebacker who does what the defense needs him to do. He’s dependable.
The number one takeaway from this look at free agency should be that the front seven is where the Ravens need to improve the most. It can be a defensive end, and edge rusher or an inside linebacker. The Ravens just have to address the front seven in free agency. They need to be responsible spenders. Going after the top name makes the biggest splash, though it comes with the biggest cap hit. Going for the players on the next rung down, that aren’t quite under the radar is always a good idea.