When the Ravens took the practice field for the final day of minicamp last week, veteran middle linebacker Daryl Smith had a new teammate next to him.
It was rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley.
The first-round pick was taking reps with the starting defense by the end of the offseason program, an indication that he has continued to impress since he arrived in Baltimore two months ago.
Count Smith among those who think Mosley has a bright future.
"I think it's a great pick," Smith said with a smile. "[Mosley] has been here working his butt off, and he's definitely got some ability."
Mosley, the 17th overall pick in the draft, will compete with second-year linebacker Arthur Brown for the weak-side spot next to Smith. Jameel McClain started there for the last four years, but the Ravens cut him in March and he signed with the New York Giants.
Brown was used as a reserve linebacker last season, specifically in the nickel package on passing downs. He finished the year with 15 tackles, one forced fumble and a half sack. Brown has received universal praise for his development during the offseason, and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees recently said that the linebacker is "light years" ahead of where he was last season.
Brown was in line for the job before the Ravens drafted Mosley with their highest draft pick since selecting Haloti Ngata (No. 12) in 2006. Now the two young linebackers are expected to be in tight competition for playing time when training camp opens next month.
"It's going to be good," Smith said of the competition. "We've got a lot of young guys that can play some ball here. Competition brings the best out of all of us, and it's good for us."
Mosley and Brown will also push Smith, who led the Ravens with 123 tackles last season. Smith signed a four-year extension with the Ravens this offseason, and said last week that he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Baltimore.
Having Mosley and Brown in a tight battle next to him gives the Ravens quality depth at linebacker, and fits with the team's philosophy of being strong up the middle.
"We added some pieces and look pretty good," Smith said. "We've got a long way to go, but I definitely think we've got the guys in here to do it, and we're all motivated."