Ravens: Justin Madubuike could have a breakout 2021 season

Ravens, Justin Madubuike (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Ravens, Justin Madubuike (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens have one of the most experienced defensive lines in football. But one relatively inexperienced player who could be in for a breakout 2021 season is Justin Madubuike.

A third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Madubuike flashed as a rookie despite dealing with a couple of nagging injuries.

He showed up to spring practices looking slimmer and more explosive than he did a year ago. Now with a year of experience under his belt, Madubuike could be primed for a huge season in 2021.

At the very least, he should receive every opportunity to do so.

The Ravens have high hopes for Justin Madubuike in 2021.

Madubuike was seen as somewhat of a developmental project coming out of Texas A&M. A two-year starter, Madubuike recorded 11.0 sacks during his time as a starter and led his team in sacks and tackles for loss as a junior.

He was a twitched-up athlete with impressive physical traits, but he remained mostly unrefined as a prospect. Still, Madubuike saw significant playing time as a rookie playing nearly 25 percent of defensive snaps.

This was despite playing behind the likes of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe on a veteran-heavy defensive line.

Campbell and Wolfe are both back in 2021, but Madubuike is making a strong case for more snaps. Especially following the departure of Jihad Ward in the offseason.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec praised Madubuike for his strong showing this spring and reiterated that 2021 could be the year that the 23-year-old breaks out.

"“What fellow Ravens saw from him over the last couple of weeks only strengthened that belief. If he stays healthy, he’s a candidate for a breakout year. You don’t see too many guys with his combination of size and quickness.”"

Madubuike finished his rookie season with 19 tackles, two tackles for loss, two QB hits, and a sack in 10 games. It was enough to earn him a 70.3 Pro Football Focus grade that ranked 41st out of all interior defensive linemen.

Modest production for a third-round rookie, but Madubuike has the athletic profile to be a high-impact player in the Ravens defense. Especially given the uncertainty surrounding the future of Calais Campbell.

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Madubuike is very much in Baltimore’s plans for the future. And that future could arrive as soon as this season with a breakout campaign for the former Texas A&M star.