Trenton Simpson turning heads at OTAs is a big win for Eric DeCosta, Ravens

Simpson is ready to assume a starting role
Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens
Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens / G Fiume/GettyImages

With Patrick Queen now on a division rival in Pittsburgh and the organization deciding not to use a top draft pick to bring in a replacement, the Baltimore Ravens have tasked second-year LB Trenton Simpson to evolve into a high-end starter next to Roquan Smith at inside linebacker.

While the Ravens may not hand the job to Simpson in the name of invigorating some competition, Eric DeCosta and Baltimore have pumped a ton of developmental energy into making sure Simpson hits his stride. Simpson's teammates seem to notice a huge change as OTAs tick on.

Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely told the media that Simpson is bigger and stronger than he was last season, but his biggest improvement may be between the ears. Simpson, per Likely, is "not as patient" as he was last year, playing a more aggressive and intuitive style of football.

“I’m going to give him a little credit today,“ Likely said. “He definitely beat me on a rep today, I know you all saw it...He’s definitely showing that what you guys seen on tape against Pittsburgh wasn’t a fluke. He’s fast, he’s physical, he’s listening and he’s really soaking everything up like a sponge.”

Trenton Simpson starring for Baltimore Ravens in OTAs

Last draft, Simpson was viewed in the same way many looked at Iowa State star and recent Ravens fourth-round pick T.J. Tampa. Both of them were expected to be selected much earlier than they were, as few saw one of the top two or three linebacker prospects in the class sliding to No. 86 overall.

Simpson made his name as an elite athlete, as his 4.43 40-yard dash, nearly unprecedented 10-yard split, and 40-inch vertical were part of the reason he was such an effective coverage linebacker. Playing next to Smith and Queen seems to have helped him absorb the tricks of the professional trade via osmosis.

Simpson could pair up with former college teammate Nate Wiggins and emerging superstar safety Kyle Hamilton to help the Ravens build a young defensive core that keeps them competitive for the next half-decade. Playing next to Smith will certainly help Simpson adjust to this new responsibility, as Roquan can erase mistakes that Simpson could make early on.

The Ravens will need to pull off a few more wins in the Draft as some of the giant contract extensions they have handed out start to take their toll on the team's financials. Simpson is tracking to be yet another late-round steal for DeCosta after gambling on his raw talent.