The Baltimore Ravens could boast an even stronger pass defense if they had drafted this star safety instead of linebacker Patrick Queen in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Most would agree that Queen has not yet developed into the top-tier linebacker the Ravens had hoped for as Queen has recorded terrible Pro Football Focus grades ever since he entered the league two years ago.
The young tandem of Queen and Malik Harrison hasn’t quite panned out for Baltimore, who had to recently re-sign veteran Josh Bynes to another yearlong contract to provide much-needed experience to the linebacker room.
Until Queen proves himself as a reliable and consistent performer in pass and man coverage, the Ravens may regret wasting a first-round pick on him in 2020. If the team could go back in time, would they do anything differently?
Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey took his stab at a 2020 NFL re-draft and had Baltimore ditching Queen for a safety instead:
"“At this point of the draft, Earl Thomas was still on the roster, but he wouldn’t make it to the start of the regular season. McKinney has shown himself to be a strong starting option at free safety for the Giants, ranking in the 75th percentile of all players at the position in PFF coverage grade from deep alignments. He would have been a quality addition to Baltimore’s secondary prior to the Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton additions this offseason.”"
Ravens take safety Xavier McKinney over Patrick Queen in 2020 redraft
McKinney, a second-round pick by the New York Giants, experienced a breakout year in 2021, recording 93 tackles, 10 passes defended, and five interceptions in 16 games last season.
There’s no guarantee that McKinney would have flourished in Baltimore the same way he did in New York, but given the Ravens’ arguably superior team culture and sustainable model of drafting and developing players, we think he would have done just fine.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but now there’s very little reason for Baltimore to look for extra pass defense given the team’s absolutely stacked secondary.
With three elite safeties in Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, and Kyle Hamilton, the last thing the Ravens need is another talented member of the backfield.
And had the Ravens nabbed McKinney in 2020, they probably wouldn’t have aggressively gone after Williams in free agency or Hamilton in the draft — changing their 2020 draft pick would likely have changed their 2021 and 2022 draft picks as well.
That being said, a few facts remain true: Patrick Queen has not yet lived up to his first-round potential, and the team needs to see more production out of him in 2022.
The Ravens can also go into the 2022 season confident about their pass defense and expect a vast improvement in performance compared to 2021, barring any major injuries of course.
Any team would love to have a young and talented safety like Xavier McKinney, but the Ravens aren’t shedding any tears over their 2020 draft choices just yet.