Who Should Ravens Pursue at Inside Linebacker?
With the moves the Ravens have made this offseason, they arguably have a better roster than last season’s 14-2 squad. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs, and the consensus is that inside linebacker should be at the top of the team’s priority list at this point. L.J. Fort – a midseason acquisition who signed a two-year contract extension in November – is the only returning regular.
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski wrote that the Ravens should sign free agent Nigel Bridham, a 30-year-old veteran who spent the past four seasons as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles and relayed the signals on defense.
“Nigel Bradham can step in as an experienced starter and three-down linebacker to create a cohesive unit at all three levels,” Sobleski wrote. “His 96 starts in eight seasons would easily make him the most experienced linebacker on the Ravens roster.”
Former Ravens Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor are still available in free agency and could return.
“Bynes is the more likely to re-sign, though Onwuasor has the greater potential and can contribute on special teams,” Shaffer wrote.
It’s a strong draft class at inside linebacker, and Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen have been linked to the Ravens at No. 28 in mock drafts. In looking at needs of the top Super Bowl contenders heading into the draft, Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner identified linebackers Zack Baun of Wisconsin and Jordyn Brooks of Texas Tech as potential fits for Baltimore.
“With how much the Ravens blitz (54.3% of passes last year, most in NFL), adding an off-ball linebacker who can add as a pass-rusher could provide a ton of value,” Renner wrote. “That’s Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, as he earned a 91.0 pass-rushing grade going against offensive tackles off the edge last year at Wisconsin. He also blazed a 1.54 10-time, which was tops among edge players at the Combine.
“With two picks at the end of Round 2, one of them could be Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, who racked up 44 pressures on 117 pass-rushing snaps as an off-ball linebacker last season. While not quite as adept as Baun at beating offensive linemen one-on-one, Brooks comes downhill with reckless abandon and will blow up running backs en route to the quarterback.”
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