Ravens: Malik Harrison has earned a increased role in 2021

Ravens, Malik Harrison Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Malik Harrison Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

While much of the attention last season was on Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, another rookie linebacker on the Ravens roster, Malik Harrison, quietly made a strong first impression.

Queen was undoubtedly the star of the show who, despite his inconsistencies, showed flashes of greatness as Baltimore’s top linebacker. But Queen wasn’t the only rookie linebacker who made plays.

Harrison played in all 16 games, starting six, and serving a role as a rotational linebacker and special teamer. Going into 2021, he has an opportunity to earn a larger role in his second NFL season.

And given the promise he showed last year, it’s fair to say that Harrison has earned that larger role.

The Ravens should give Malik Harrison more defensive snaps in 2021.

A third-round pick a year ago, Harrison split time at linebacker with the likes of L.J. Fort and Chris Board. Fort received the most snaps followed by Harrison and Board, but all three were used in various situations.

Harrison excelled as a downhill thumper against the run where his 59.9 Pro Football Focus run defense grade was good for 35th out of 93 qualifiers at the linebacker position.

At 6-foot-3, nearly 250 pounds, Harrison has the size to take on and shed blockers with the athleticism to shoot gaps with the best of them.

He’s undoubtedly still a work in progress as a coverage linebacker, as is Queen, but his natural traits and sure tackling abilities should be enough to get him on the field more in 2021.

His primary competition with be the aforementioned L.J. Fort. Fort has re-invented himself in Baltimore after bouncing around the league with a number of different teams.

He’s a favorite of the coaching staff and a valuable player both on defense and special teams, but Harrison deserves the opportunity to take some snaps away from Fort provided he holds up in pass coverage.

Harrison played a total of 264 defensive snaps in 2020, but only received more than 50 percent of defensive snaps in one game — a Week 10 loss to the New England Patriots.

It’s likely the Ravens will continue to rotate all three linebackers (Harrison, Fort, and Board) opposite Queen. And there are certain formations where Queen is the only linebacker on the field anyway.

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But Malik Harrison has the skill set to become a valuable player for the Ravens. And in his second season, it would be ideal to see his role increased.