The Baltimore Ravens drafted two inside linebackers. Let’s take a look at how this position group looks going into the season:
The players involved in the Baltimore Ravens inside linebackers grouping are Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, L.J. Fort and maybe Chris Board and Otaro Alaka. Let’s take a look at the positions these players will play and how the playing time will break down.
The construction of the Ravens defense is fairly straightforward going into the season. We know the starting SAM linebacker will be Matt Judon. The RUSH linebacker will be a combination of Pernell McPhee, and Jaylon Ferguson. Today we’re talking about players who will be sandwiched in between these players in the second level of the defense.
Patrick Queen is the starting MIKE linebacker and L.J. Fort is probably going to be the starter next to him as the WILL linebacker. Fort and Harrison will both see time at the WILL linebacker role. Fort will most likely get the start because he doesn’t have to learn the defense and he has a lot of experience in the NFL.
Harrison may end up getting more playing time, but he’s going to begin behind Fort. Harrison has to earn it. Fort is a trusted part of the defense. Fort was signed in the middle of the 2019 season and got a contract extension fairly quickly. Harrison was one of the most underrated linebackers in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was drafted way later than he should have been so I do expect big things from him.
It’s worth noting that the inside linebacker spots are fairly interchangeable in this defense. Don Martindale is going to show a lot of different looks and there will be a lot of moving parts and sub packages. The one thing that the Ravens have improved the most at the position is the ability for their linebackers to play coverage. The one main concern is how new the linebacker corps is. Young and inexperienced can be problematic adjectives for this position group.
The Ravens drafted Queen to be an every down linebacker. He’s going to be on the field the majority of the time. His athleticism is going to be the key to making this whole thing work. He’s the jack of all trades linebacker. You’ll see him in coverage, blitzing and everything in between.
The question is whether or not the Ravens will use one of their extra roster spots on a fourth inside linebacker. If the Ravens do that, which one will get the spot, Board or Alaka. My money is on Alaka. He was impressive in the 2019 preseason. Somebody has to play special teams and it would be nice if that special teams player could add quality depth to the defense. Board has been with the Ravens for two seasons and he hasn’t made a huge impression.
There you have it. A simple run down of what the Ravens have going on at the inside linebacker position. There’s a lot of young hope at the position. Queen is the most exciting defensive rookie the Ravens have had in a long time. Harrison should be good and I wouldn’t bet against Alaka having a solid career in the NFL. He could be an up and coming player.