Trenton Simpson breakout season coming after studying Roquan Smith in OTAs

Simpson is trying to mold himself into a star.
Baltimore Ravens v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baltimore Ravens v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens may not have loved the fact that Patrick Queen decided to break up his league-best partnership with Roquan Smith at inside linebacker by joining the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the impending breakout of Trenton Simpson could help mitigate that loss.

Simpson is in line to be a starter in his second season after effectively taking a redshirt year last campaign. While making the jump from backup to starter in the NFL has swallowed up the careers of thousands before him, both Simpson and the Ravens feel confident in this journey due to the presence of Smith next to him.

Simpson has spent the first few days of Ravens OTAs acting like a sponge and absorbing everything Smith says and does both on and off the field. The more tricks of the trade Simpson picks up, the better Zach Orr's defense will be in his first season at the helm.

"That dude is a dawg, man," Simpson said. "His mentality is the same every single day. It's a blessing to be beside someone like that, learn from him. Sitting right beside him in film. Whenever I have a question, he's there to answer it. Off the field, the relationship has grown a lot, also. I'm learning something from him and matching his energy."

Trenton Simpson learning from Roquan Smith is ideal for Baltimore Ravens

Simpson sliding to the third round was regarded as a massive surprise last season, as he graded out as both a premium athlete and perhaps the best coverage linebacker in his class. Baltimore didn't need a starting linebacker, but the value was simply too much for them to pass up here.

Baltimore seemed willing to let Queen leave for a division rival with the thought Simpson and a more run-stuffing linebacker in Malik Harrison could help replace him. Simpson has the speed, but he needed to be a bit more decisive before he was able to earn the trust of the coaching staff.

Playing next to Smith has to be the biggest godsend Simpson could have ever hoped for. Not only does he have a perfect veteran mentor, but any of his second-year mistakes that could normally lead to big plays for the opposition could be erased by Smith.

If the Ravens get even a competent facsimile of Queen's 2023 season after they promote Simpson to the starting lineup, it will go a long way toward achieving the very lofty goal of once again becoming the league's best defense.