The Baltimore Ravens’ took a hard hit during free agency as three top defenders left the team.
Free agency has been busy for the Baltimore Ravens, which has been both good and bad. Linebacker Terrell Suggs signed with the Arizona Cardinals, safety Eric Weddle joined the Los Angeles Rams and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith latched on with the Green Bay Packers.
New general manager Eric DeCosta stated he wanted to build a younger team, and he has plenty to work with. This year’s draft is filled with edge talent, but what about the in-house talent?
Outside linebacker Matt Judon was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Grand Valley State as a defensive end. The four-year veteran joined the Ravens and became an edge rusher. With no starts in his rookie season, he played well, recording 27 combined tackles, four sacks and two passes defended. In 2017, he became a more visible part of the defense.
He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 11 against the Packers and recorded 60 combined tackles, three passes defended and eight sacks in 12 starts for the season. Last season he was second on the team in sacks with seven. Now with Suggs and Smith signed elsewhere, Judon should be taking on more of a leadership role on the field but that is not something he can do on his own.
Tyus Bowser was one of two edge rushers selected in the 2017 NFL Draft for Baltimore. He was selected in the second round, 47th overall. During his rookie season, he was named Pepsi Rookie of the Week during Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns after picking up a sack and an interception in a 24-10 win.
However, other than a flash here and there, he has been mostly quiet. In 161 snaps, he ended his season with 11 tackles, one interception that he returned for 27 yards, and three sacks. Last season was not any better. In 162 snaps, he recorded 11 tackles and half of a sack.
Without question, he is expected to do better. He will have his chance since the team is down two linebackers and there is room for him to develop to the potential the front office sees.
Tim Williams was the second edge rusher selected in the 2017 draft. He was a third-round selection, 78th overall. The Alabama Crimson Tide standout had a good preseason with 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. In 2017, he was positioned behind Suggs and Smith on the depth chart.
Last season, there was a spark seen in Week one against the Buffalo Bills and Week four against the Pittsburgh Steelers as he recorded a sack in each game. His injury history started shortly afterward, as he missed Weeks six through nine due to a thigh injury before missing four games due to an ankle injury in 2018.
Bowser and Williams have been inconsistent over the last two seasons, but some players do take a year or two to become a valuable part of the team. Head coach
John Harbaugh recently stated that “they need to step up.” This essentially, means do or die. With the veteran defensive leaders gone, there is plenty of space and room for growth for the pair of third-year linebackers.