Ravens pass rush named one of the NFL’s biggest roster concerns

Justin Fried
Ravens Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens have a pretty stacked roster from top-to-bottom. But the one position that remains somewhat of a concern heading into the 2021 season is their outside linebacker corps.

The team lost the likes of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in the offseason and will trot out a mix of unproven pass rushers and experienced role players this season.

As such, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt recently named the Ravens’ pass rush as one of the biggest concerns on any NFL roster going into 2021. In fact, it was the second-biggest concern on his list.

Brandt didn’t rule out the possibility that the team could add a veteran like Justin Houston in free agency in the near future. But as of right now, it’s undoubtedly a point of concern.

The Ravens have an unproven pass rush heading into 2021.

Brandt made note of the fact that the Ravens blitzed a league-high 45.3 percent of the time last season under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.

However, there will be no Judon or Ngakoue this season. Instead, players like Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson, and 2021 rookies Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes will be forced to pick up the slack.

Each player provides reason for upside, but none are guaranteed to be impactful pass rushers this season. And therein lies the problem.

Bowser has proven to be an underrated role player, but is more of a well-rounded linebacker than a game-changing pass rusher. McPhee is a fine situational rusher at this stage, but he’s on the wrong side of 30.

Ferguson flashed at Louisiana Tech but has been a disappointment in the NFL. And as for Oweh and Hayes, the jury is still out on how much of an impact each will have in their rookie season.

As Brandt points out, the “ideal scenario” would be if Oweh and Hayes prove that they could contribute early in their careers, thus taking some of the pressure off the team’s returning veterans.

After all, a trio of Bowser, McPhee, and Ferguson isn’t striking fear into opposing offenses.

If the Ravens are going to compete with the AFC’s best, they’ll need a competent pass rush. Their talented secondary can only do so much.

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There are reasons to be optimistic about Baltimore’s pass rush. But it’s hard to argue it doesn’t remain the team’s biggest concern heading into this upcoming season.