Baltimore’s 2020 draft was almost universally praised last month, picking up great value in each round of the draft. There were bargains within the haul, in particular Justin Madubuike and Geno Stone. The Ravens have always focused on drafting best player available and, on paper it appears to have served them well, especially in such an uncertain offseason.
|5||170||Broderick Washington Jr||DT|
While the quality of players selected was impressive, there was one big hole that wasn’t addressed throughout the 255 picks. Despite it being Baltimore’s biggest need, certainly after drafting Patrick Queen in round one, the Ravens failed to draft any edge rush.
What do Baltimore already have?
There is some pass rush talent on the roster at the moment but it is unproven. What’s more, the main threat, Matt Judon, is playing under the franchise tag. If the draft is anything to go by, Judon is playing in Baltimore, at least in 2020. The option of tagging and trading is no longer feasible, if you are targeting a championship anyway.
While edge rush itself hasn’t been addressed, it has been supported in free agency and the draft. Veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe were brought in to bolster a porous interior, as well as drafting Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington Jr. Of course that was after the signing of Michael Brockers fell through.
It puts more emphasis on Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser to perform week in week out. The trio of outside rushers is supported by the return of Pernell McPhee after four seasons in Chicago and Washington.
Ultimately it has been a good offseason for the Ravens. And while it hasn’t been addressed particularly directly, Baltimore’s defensive pressure should be better in 2020. It has to be. The Ravens had 12th fewest sacks in 2019 with 37. It is a surprise though to that they are relying on veterans to improve the team. While Campbell is a three time All-Pro and five time Pro Bowler, he is entering his 13th season. There’s no guarantee that Derek Wolfe and Pernell McPhee can perform as starters. What’s more, they are more expensive than someone in their rookie year.
Front office has earned benefit of doubt
The Ravens have a strong roster, they blitzed the whole league last year. And in such an uncertain offseason, I would back them to handle a disrupted offseason better than most. Maybe the disruption is why the Ravens have favoured experience over youth. Chargers defensive lineman Isaac Rochell told me that “this is the toughest time to be a rookie”.
As the offseason becomes more and more irregular, it would hardly be a surprise to see teams prioritising veterans and the devil they know than uncertainty of inexperience.