Mailbag: Which New Raven Makes the Biggest Impact?

081220-Campbell
DE Calais Campbell

Mink: I agree with you. Calais Campbell changes everything for the Ravens up front. If the Ravens defense had any weaknesses last year (there weren't many), it was with its run defense (which reared its head in every loss last year), and its lack of pressure up front. Campbell should be a solution to both problems.

While the Ravens allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (93.4) last year, they surrendered 4.4 yards per carry. Teams ran a league-low 340 times on the Ravens in part because Baltimore jumped out to so many leads. Campbell is one of the best run defenders in the game and will elevate the game of Brandon Williams and others around him.

The Ravens have also been lacking much of a pass rush threat on their defensive line for the past several years. Just four sacks came from defensive linemen last year. Campbell may very well double that number by himself, and he has his sights set high considering the strength of the secondary behind him.

Downing: Kenjon Barner's arrival adds more competition to the returner battle for rookie sixth-round pick James Proche II. The addition of Barner shouldn't necessarily be seen as a lack of confidence is Proche, as Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week that the punt returner job was "James' role to win and he's got to go win it." This is simply more competition for the both the punt returner and kick returner job. If Barner were to win either of those jobs and make the 53-man roster, then it could force a tough decision at the running back position simply because of the numbers game.

But we've been asked about the possibility of trading one of the running backs since the Ravens drafted J.K. Dobbins back in April, and I've said all along that I find that scenario unlikely. The Ravens have talked about their excitement for a four-headed monster in the backfield, and they seem committed to keeping those four ball carriers. Even if Barner makes the team, it would be primarily for his return ability, so that wouldn't necessarily impact the running back group. The more likely possibility would be that the Ravens could have to decide between keeping Barner and another special teamer such as Chris Moore.

Mink: Tough question but I have a three candidates. One would be wide receiver, where it wouldn't be shocking if Baltimore kept five instead of six like last year. You've got a lot of young players there that the Ravens want to get on the field, and if Devin Duvernay and Proche can contribute in a variety of special teams roles, that may eliminate the need for a sixth spot.

The Ravens also kept five safeties last year, including hybrid Anthony Levine Sr. They could trim that by one if Jimmy Smith can play there in a pinch. Baltimore also had four inside linebackers on the 53-man roster last season. If Queen and Malik Harrison show they're ready and can help on special teams (especially for Harrison), it could be just them and L.J. Fort.

Downing: Talk about big expectations! Did you forget that Jackson won the MVP last season and was just selected as the No. 1 player in the league in the NFL Top 100 player vote?! Patrick Queen is going to be a great player for this defense, but it's unfair to expect anyone to make a Lamar Jackson-esque impact. A better (and fairer) comparison for Queen would be inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who the Ravens took with their first-round pick in 2014. He started all 16 games that season and finished with 133 tackles. They'd be thrilled to get that kind of performance out of their rookie linebacker, and Queen has the potential to step into that kind of role.

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