Mailbag: Is Odafe Oweh Leading the Defensive Rookie of the Year Race?

OLB Odafe Oweh

Mink: I'm sorry to report that Odafe Oweh is on the verge of the top-5 in current Defensive Rookie of the Year odds. Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons leads the bunch, followed by Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. and Washington linebacker Jamin Davis. They are all off to strong starts and are fantastic players, but how Oweh is that far back is tough to figure out.

Oweh has been the Ravens' most impactful defensive player this season. I'm not saying he's the best yet, but he's definitely changed games the most. His forced fumble preserved a win vs. the Chiefs. His forced fumble early against the Colts saved Baltimore from what could have been a disastrous start. Oweh has three sacks and two forced fumbles in five games so far, and he leads all NFL rookies in quarterback pressures with 18 (two more than Parsons).

So why is Oweh so far back in the DROY running? Maybe it's because the Ravens defense ranks 24th in the NFL overall? Both of Oweh's forced fumbles have come on national television, so it's honestly hard to understand why. I expect by season's end, Oweh will be one of the top vote getters because he's just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Downing: Something I've learned with Eric DeCosta is that you should never rule out the trade possibility. He's added Pro Bowlers Marcus Peters and Yannick Ngakoue in midseason trades, so he could try to pull another rabbit out of his hat this year. If DeCosta looks to make a trade this year, I would point to the offensive line as the likely target. We don't know at this point when left tackle Ronnie Stanley will get back on the field, and the Ravens have also placed Tyre Phillips and Ben Cleveland on injured reserve. (Phillips returned to practice this week, so the Ravens may get him back in the lineup soon).

I would be surprised to see a trade at cornerback or inside linebacker. Despite the Peters injury, the Ravens still have a talented secondary and Anthony Averett has generally played well since stepping into the starting lineup. The Ravens also have high draft picks at inside linebacker in Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, so I would be surprised to see a trade at this position. DeCosta has surprised us before, and I'm sure he's working the phone lines once again to this to see what moves he could make.

Mink: I'm not going to turn my back on the Ravens' rushing attack just because the 43-game 100-yard streak was broken by the Colts, or because Lamar Jackson and the passing game is so hot. There will absolutely come a time this season when Baltimore will need its ground game to lead the way, and I expect there are still some big games in store.

Let's not forget that All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is still not playing. His return, whenever it comes, will be a boost. Plus, opposing teams will have to adjust their gameplans of selling out to stop the run if Jackson keeps beating them with his arm. The Chargers have the league's last-ranked run defense in the league at 157.6 yards per game, so maybe it starts this Sunday.

Downing: The Ravens could use Clark more at the line of scrimmage is certain packages. He knows everything happening on the defensive side of the ball and doesn't hesitate to come down in the box and make a tackle. But there are limitations to that approach. Clark is 205 pounds, compared to Harrison at 247 and Queen at 232. It would be a tall order to expect Clark to step into the middle of the defense and shrug off blocking attempts from 300-plus pound interior linemen. If the Ravens make adjustments with their inside linebackers, I would expect to see more of Chris Board and Josh Bynes. The Ravens could turn to them on early downs to stop the run more effectively than what we saw last week against the Colts.

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