Defensive line isn’t the biggest need in the world for the Baltimore Ravens, but more pass-rushing help is. Leonard Williams can provide just that.
The Baltimore Ravens pass rush was a modest unit in 2020, racking up 39 combined sacks (14th in the league). It was a disappointing effort after all the moves made during the offseason to strengthen the unit including trading for Pro Bowlers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue (midseason). Matt Judon led the team with just six sacks and he’s scheduled to be a free agent. Actually, a lot of the Ravens pass rushers are scheduled to hit Free Agency this offseason.
Joining Judon will be the aforementioned Ngakoue, Pernell McPhee, and Tyus Bowser are the team’s edge rushers getting ready to hit the market. Defensive linemen Jihad Ward and Derek Wolfe are also free agents, leaving Baltimore incredibly thin in the pass-rushing department. Reinforcements are needed and perhaps the Ravens should invest in some upgrades.
There are tons of edge rushers set to hit Free Agency that will both be expensive and otherwise that Baltimore can entertain bringing in. The defensive line group isn’t as deep, however, so picking the right pieces there will be very important.
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While the Ravens should heavily consider bringing both Ward and Wolfe back, the two of them aren’t exactly game-changing players. The two of them would make much better quality backups to someone else. Ideally, that player should be Leonard Williams.
Williams is coming off an 11.5 sack campaign with the New York Giants and is looking to cash out with a team after playing 2020 on the franchise tag. Williams will certainly be an expensive name on the market, but he is worth paying the big bucks to.
This is where the Ravens should come into play. With so many guys set to hit the market and none of them guaranteed to return, Baltimore needs to consider breaking the bank for somebody. Williams can definitely be that guy worth rolling out the brinks truck for.
Williams would be unique to this defense in that, like Campbell, he is rushing the passer from the defensive line rather than the edge. The Ravens have historically favored edge rushers to get after the quarterback and its defensive line to focus on eating gaps to stop the run and keep its linebackers clean. The philosophy could be changing now and adding Williams would emphasize that change.
Pairing Williams with Campbell would be a very good duo from the line. With those two eating up the interior of the line, the team’s edge rushers would get more one-on-one looks and make life a lot easier for whoever is coming off the edge.
We saw in the Super Bowl how important a good pass rush is, especially from the interior of the line. There are few teams in the league that boast an elite interior offensive line, so exploiting that weakness is a must. Bringing in Leonard Williams would be the key to that kind of a pass rush.
Leonard Williams’s addition to the Baltimore Ravens would be a curious one, as it would give us a pass rush we’re unfamiliar with. But change can be a good thing and having two down linemen devour opposing quarterbacks has never been sexier. If Baltimore wanted to spend big bucks in the offseason, Williams would be the guy who intrigues me most.