The Baltimore Ravens have always been known for their defense, with the central position in said defense being at linebacker. Some former greats at the position include Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Peter Boulware and Bart Scott. The Ravens saw some good production from outside linebacker in 2019.
Despite struggles rushing the passer, outside linebacker Matt Judon led the team with 9.5 sacks. He’s re-signed on the franchise tag, as both sides work on a longer-term deal. Behind him they have some veteran experience, and some promising young players ready to step up. Let’s examine the position group for the Ravens.
Matt Judon: The Long Term Answer at Outside Linebacker?
Matt Judon has developed into the next great Baltimore Ravens linebacker. Since entering the league in 2016, Judon has become a key contributor for the Ravens. His 24.5 sacks in the past three years lead the team and have helped massively for a team struggling to pressure the quarterback.
With Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith departing last year, Judon is now the focal point at outside linebacker. His production in 2019 shows he can step up into a leadership role, and it’s crucial the Ravens re-sign him this off-season. With so much turnover at linebacker in recent years, the Ravens need to make re-signing Judon a priority.
Pernell McPhee Embodies A Baltimore Raven
Pernell McPhee returned to the team that drafted him last year, but his comeback year was cut-short because of a triceps injury. McPhee was a star in Baltimore, before departing in free agency in 2015. Many within the building note that McPhee is the embodiment of being a Raven, and a player that takes a leadership role on defense.
Baltimore re-signed the 31-year old in May, to bring some experience and leadership in the locker room. Three sacks in seven games in 2019 suggest he could be productive in 2020. McPhee will be hoping he can have a good year, to prolong his nine-year NFL career. He’s had a years experience of Wink Martindale’s defense, and back fully fit McPhee could be a surprise contributor in 2020.
2020 A Big Year For Tyus Bowser
2020 has become a big year for outside linebacker Tyus Bowser. Since selecting him in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he’s failed to impress enough in Baltimore. The 25-year old has shown flashes, but not consistently enough for a player drafted in his position.
Bowser did set career highs for tackles (24), and sacks (five) in 2019, but needs a big year if he wants to be re-signed by the Ravens. With only Judon and McPhee ahead of him, Bowser should earn an increasing role in this defense. Now it’s up to him to show his talent.
Jaylon Ferguson The Young Hope at Outside Linebacker
Baltimore used the 85th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Jaylon Ferguson, a very promising outside linebacker from Louisiana Tech. He holds the college football record for all-time sacks at 45 in four years.
Despite not starting until week nine, Ferguson flashed enough to impress coaches. He ended the year with 31 tackles and 2.5 sacks from 14 games. Despite only entering his second year, Ferguson could play a significant role in 2020. If Bowser fails to impress, Ferguson will usurp him and earn a bigger role in Baltimore.
The Outside Linebackers Looking For A Chance
Behind these four the Ravens have a plethora of young, unproven players looking for an opportunity. Both Mike Onuoha and Aaron Adeoya have a years experience, spending 2019 on the Practice Squad after going undrafted. With only four established players at the position, it’s likely at least one will make the final-53 man roster.
This year the Ravens signed three undrafted free agent linebackers. Chauncey Rivers is the headline signing, having starred in season two of the Netflix hit Last Chance U. Rivers impressed in his senior year, with 43 tackles and five sacks by far the most production of the three they signed. Daka and Willoughby have flashed at smaller colleges, but will struggle to make the roster. Rivers has the ideal size and is the most likely to make the final roster.
That wraps up my recap of the Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker position group for 2020. Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below. For the latest sports news follow the site home page here and the specific NFL page here. Also check out the site forum page here for more sports discussion.
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