Baltimore Ravens defense: What is still needed this offseason?
By Billy Kosko
So far, the only moves made in NFL free agency to boost the Ravens defense have been re-signings. The Baltimore Ravens have not brought in any new free agents for the defense.
While I am happy with the re-signings they did make, it may be wise to add a couple more players in free agency or through the draft at least. I don’t think the losses of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are as serious as some people may believe.
Matt Judon didn’t put up four-year, $56 million numbers last season with only six sacks. The 2019 season may have been the only season where he put up numbers that would make me want to pay $14 million per year for him if I was a general manager of a football team. In 2019, Judon had 54 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles with 33 quarterback hits. Those numbers are worth a decent amount of money.
Yes, maybe Yannick Ngakoue could have been better next season with the team to learn the Ravens defense better. However, he just didn’t seem to fit that well in their defensive schemes. Plus, he ended up getting paid $13 million a year.
As good as the Baltimore defense usually is, they don’t really need to pay that much for an outside linebacker. Tyus Bowser had seven sacks, three interceptions, one forced fumble, 24 quarterback hits, and a touchdown over the last two seasons. He wasn’t even a starter. The fact that the Ravens re-signed him on a four-year deal at a low $5.5 million a year feels like the first time they retained (at a cheap price) an outside linebacker that is about to have a breakout season.
But will Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, and Jaylon Ferguson be enough at outside linebacker? Probably not. Though, Bowser and McPhee were actually the highest-graded linebackers on the Ravens roster last season.
If the NFL season started today, what would the Baltimore Ravens defense look like?
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- DeShon Elliott, FS
- Chuck Clark, SS
- Patrick Queen, LILB
- Malik Harrison, RILB
- Tyus Bowser, LOLB
- Calais Campbell, LE
- Brandon Williams, NT
- Derek Wolfe, RE
- Pernell McPhee, ROLB
- Marlon Humphrey, CB1
- Marcus Peters, CB2
Baltimore would also have Jimmy Smith potentially starting at cornerback if Tavon Young cannot play because Humphrey would move to the slot cornerback role. If Tavon Young can play, Jimmy Smith could help out the safeties in coverage. Justin Madiabuke is great depth on the line as well.
"“[Playing for the Ravens] would be a dream come true, because I come from a defensive school,” Ojulari said on Glenn Clark Radio March 10. “It would be a dream come true, playing with the best of the best and always having an opportunity to compete, get a chance to go to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl.”"
I would love for the Ravens to draft Azeez Ojulari and as you can see he would love to play for them. But I don’t think he will fall to the #27 overall pick. So, unless the Ravens trade up, another good option in the draft is Joseph Ossai.
However, let’s just consider a possible free agent to bring in that could help the pass rush out quite a bit. You know, the Ravens love cap casualties. There are other options, like Melvin Ingram, but because Carlos Dunlap was released, he may be the best one for the Ravens. Baltimore is actually rumored to have an interest in Dunlap.
If the team can sign Carlos Dunlap to a cheap short-term deal, it may be worth it. Dunlap went to Seattle midway through the season last year and was able to spark their pass rush with 5 sacks. I am sure Ravens fans remember Dunlap from his years sacking our quarterback when he played for the Bengals.
This signing would make a lot of sense and allow the Ravens to draft an outside linebacker or two in the later rounds. If Baltimore brings in Dunlap, it wouldn’t feel as necessary to draft a pass rusher in one of the first two rounds.
What about help in coverage?
As far as the secondary goes, if Tavon Young can stay healthy, I think the team’s secondary will be great. Jimmy Smith would provide depth at cornerback and safety. The Ravens also have a few young corners for depth, such as Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall.
However, I don’t believe the Ravens should rely on Tavon Young to stay healthy. It would be fantastic if he can because he can be a playmaker on the defense. When healthy, he was easily one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL.
With that being said, the Ravens should bring in either a coverage safety or a slot cornerback. Marlon Humphrey should be on the outside, doing what he does best. The Ravens could draft a safety, such as Jevon Holland or Andre Cisco. I like Malik Hooker, but he does have injury issues.
The Chicago Bears did just release All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller. Depending on the cost, Fuller could be a great option to add to the slot for the Ravens. He wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula. Plus, he is only two seasons removed from posting a career-high 7 interceptions.
I believe that adding one or two more pass rushers in free agency and the draft, plus a role player for the secondary, would help keep the Baltimore Ravens defense as one of the best.