Mailbag: Anything New on a Pass Rusher Landing in Baltimore?

Left: Chargers DE Melvin Ingram; Center: Colts DE Justin Houston; Right: Washington DE Ryan Kerrigan

Mink: The Ravens acted quickly to grab Alejandro Villanueva to fill the opening at right tackle and there were expectations that Baltimore would do the same to add a veteran free-agent pass rusher after the draft. But here we are more than week later and there's been nothing.

I think the two situations are different. The Ravens had a much bigger hole at right tackle coming out of the draft than they currently do at outside linebacker. After picking Odafe Oweh in the first round, the Ravens could line up tomorrow with Oweh, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson.

With that said, I do think the Ravens, who reportedly worked out veteran Justin Houston before the draft, would still have interest in signing Houston or someone like him. Oweh is entering just his sixth year playing football. While he has immense upside, he's developing his pass rush repertoire. The Ravens could probably find more reliable quarterback pressure on the free-agent market.

You kind of answered your own question. There are still multiple veterans available who could help the Ravens. It seems the Ravens are in a good position to wait and see what they have before making a move. And, yes, the longer that wait goes on, the cheaper the price would seemingly be.

Downing: This is a great question, and I reserve the right to change my answer if the Ravens end up adding a veteran pass rusher like discussed in the question above. The Ravens lost their top two pass rushers in free agency with the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, and it's going to take increased production from multiple players to offset their losses. That means Bowser and Ferguson will need to provide more pressure off the edge, and Oweh will be counted on to make an immediate impact.

But the player I expect to lead the team in sacks is the veteran Calais Campbell. He had four sacks last year in his first season as a Raven, but he was hindered for a good portion of the year with a lingering calf injury. Campbell is still a force on the defensive interior. He had 31.5 sacks from 2017-2019, so he clearly knows how to get after the quarterback. With another year in Baltimore's defense – and as long as he stays healthy – Campbell has a good chance to lead the Ravens in sacks in 2021.

Mink: One player that isn't getting as much hype but could end up being a key contributor is Brandon Stephens. The reason is he provides depth at two key positions of cornerback and safety. Considering that the Ravens have frequently had to rely on undrafted rookies or waiver-wire pickups in recent years to fill in when injuries strike, there's a decent chance Stephens could be called upon.

He's still early in his development as a defensive back considering he was still a running back two years ago, but Stephens has the athleticism, smarts and toughness to step in and compete. He could also be a dynamic special teams player as a rookie.

Downing: The second-year receiver will have his work cut out for him in training camp to earn his spot on the roster. With the additions of veteran Sammy Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, the competition in the receiver room has definitely been elevated. Proche's contributions were primarily limited to punt return duties as a rookie, as he only had one catch on the year. He was sure-handed as a punt returner, but didn't break any big plays in that spot. The Ravens ended up using Devin Duvernay as the kick and punt returner down the stretch, making Proche a healthy scratch at the end of the season.

The competition at receiver will be one of the most intriguing to watch this summer. The likely "locks" to make the team are Marquise Brown, Watkins, Bateman, Duvernay and Wallace. The Ravens typically keep six receivers on the roster, which leaves Proche, Boykin and the undrafted rookies competing for that final spot. Proche flashed as a receiver at times in practice, but he'll have to show the coaches he can do that consistently if he's going to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Get ready for lots of receiver talk again in this year's training camp.

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