The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best inside-linebacker duos of the NFL. On the other hand, they are betting on two young players to rush opposing passers in the 2023 season. Are we sure that should be the case so early in their careers?
The pairing of Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith is anchoring the linebacker line of Baltimore's defense, which they have been doing since they acquired the former Bears ILB in the last trade deadline.
On the EDGE, though, the Ravens are expected to deploy sophomore David Ojabo and third-year veteran Odafeh Oweh.
Baltimore is not quite convinced about how deep and strong that unit is, though, and after losing veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Houston earlier this offseason, they recently decided to sign former no. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney to bolster their EDGE rotation.
Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus recently doubted how ready Ojabo is to start on the EDGE of the Ravens as soon as 2023 considering he's coming off a near-season-long injury last year and appearing in only two games last season.
While the analyst believes Ojabo's potential "is very much still there," he was quick to temper expectations by adding that Ojabo's play through two weeks of preseason "is enough to press pause on that excitement, at least for now."
Last year, Ojabo had a great and exciting Week 18 outing in which he forced a fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was also great in Michigan three years ago, appearing in 13 games in 2021 completing 35 tackles and getting a monster 11 sacks through the year while forcing five fumbles.
This preseason, per PFF charting, Ojabo has played 21 pass-rushing snaps but he's only pressured the quarterback once while struggling to clean the edge and get past the opposition.
McGuinness also pointed out that Ojabo is "struggling to get off blocks," and that his power-rushing "isn't there when he tries to bull rush."
After signing Jadeveon Clowney last week to bolster the linebacker room, and considering the experience, pedigree, and talent of the 2014 first-overall pick, it's nothing crazy to think that Baltimore will use the former Browns EDGE opposite Odafe Oweh.
In fact, that might actually be the best thing the Ravens can do through the first few weeks of the regular season while easing Ojabo in slowly before naming him into the starting unit.