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Mailbag: Exploring Ravens' Options at Inside Linebacker After Bobby Wagner

Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis.
Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Mink: Eric DeCosta said he expects to make more free-agent signings, either before the draft or after (probably after). He even referenced veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who the Ravens signed in June in 2013 to help replace Ray Lewis. Smith was a great addition who had three strong years in Baltimore. So, to your question, yes I do think the Ravens will continue to keep an eye on the veteran inside linebacker market. Let's also not forget that Josh Bynes is still available and would like to return.

Much of this depends on the draft. If the Ravens landed a plug-and-play inside linebacker in the first couple rounds, they wouldn't spend much, if anything, on a veteran free agent. But considering there are much bigger draft needs, the most likely outcome is a veteran addition. Some good options remain and others will shake loose after the draft, so there's a mini wave of free agency the Ravens could ride.

Mink: I'll take this question too since it's also on inside linebackers. I would not rule out the Ravens using a first-round pick on Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd. Lloyd was named the 2021 AP defensive player of the year. He's big, rangy, versatile, has great instincts and leadership. College coaches rave about him. Imagining him next to Patrick Queen could be a sledgehammer in the middle of the Ravens defense. Georgia's Nakobe Dean could be another interesting trade-back option.

I do think Leo Chenel, who is a very strong run defender, would also be a good fit. Chad Muma is a similar prospect who would pair well with Queen. Another Day 3 linebacker that's intriguing is Montana State's Troy Anderson, who ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and could be a core special teams player.

Downing: These questions are always tough to answer. If I can make the case for a particular position, then I'm not sure how shocking it would be for the Ravens to go in that direction. The most popular first-round projections for the Ravens are cornerback, pass rusher, defensive line or offensive tackle. If the Ravens go with a surprising first-round pick, the position I'd point to is safety. They already addressed the spot this offseason in a big way with the addition of Marcus Williams, and they already have both Chuck Clark and Brandon Stephens. But if the Ravens are on the clock at No. 14 and Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton is on the board, he may be too good to let pass. Hamilton has All-Pro potential, but he could slide in the draft because safety isn't as highly valued of a position compared to spots like cornerback, pass rusher, receiver or offensive line, and because of a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash time.

The projections for Hamilton vary in terms of how high he'll get drafted. Some mocks have him as a top-five pick, while others think he could slide into the teens. If Hamilton is available for the Ravens at No. 14, DeCosta may have a tough decision on his hands. Even though the Ravens have more pressing immediate needs, the Ravens still subscribe to the best available player philosophy, and Hamilton looks like someone who could fit that mold.

Downing: It doesn't seem like anyone really knows, including DK Metcalf. There are reports that the Seahawks would be willing to trade the dynamic wide receiver, and quarterback Lamar Jackson added some fuel to that speculation by tweeting at Metcalf that the Ravens would welcome him with "open arms."

Bringing Metcalf to Baltimore would be a surprising development. The Ravens like their young receiving corps, and already have a pair of first-round picks with Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. Plus, the recent contracts handed out to receivers like Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams suggests that acquiring Metcalf would take significant draft capital and then a big new deal. The Seahawks may ultimately decide to trade Metcalf this offseason – it seems like anything is possible after they traded Russell Wilson – but it would be a surprise to see him land in Baltimore.

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