Mel Kiper Explains Why He's Projecting Patrick Queen to Ravens

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LSU linebacker Patrick Queen celebrates after tackling Clemson running back Travis Etienne during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game.

LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen already has a few things in common with a Lamar Jackson.

Both had breakout seasons in 2019, wearing jersey No. 8. While Jackson became the NFL's most valuable player, leading the Ravens to their best regular season in history, Queen emerged as one of the country's top linebackers and helped LSU win the national championship.

Will Jackson and Queen share the same locker room next season? In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Ravens selecting Queen with the 28th pick. Kiper also tabbed Queen to the Ravens in his first mock draft, so the Baltimore native feels pretty strongly about it.

Connecting the dots between Queen and Baltimore is easy. The Ravens lost four-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley during free agency last year, and inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor are free agents. Drafting Queen would address an obvious need, and he's a player Baltimore is expected to monitor closely at next week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

"I think Patrick Queen would be a great fit for them," Kiper said Wednesday during a conference call. "He's a three-down guy, had a phenomenal year, great tackler. You saw that in the game against Clemson, kind of saved them in a couple of spots there in that championship game."

Queen's improvement in 2019 has resulted in a meteoric rise among draft evaluators over the past several months. He was strong against the run, he was an effective blitzer, and he was athletic enough to cover running backs and tight ends . Queen's versatility would fit well in Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's scheme, or in any scheme.

At his season-review press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh said adding talent to Baltimore's front seven was an offseason priority.

Queen and Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma are widely considered the top two inside linebackers in the draft, and the Ravens have shown affinity for Oklahoma players recently, drafting four over the past two years – tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Marquise Brown, right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and offensive lineman Ben Powers – though all on offense.

"Queen or Murray, that's a toss-up right now," Kiper said. "Queen had that one great year, the most improved player on a talent-laden defense. He goes from being a guy who's maybe eighth on the tackle chart to being a guy who's all over the field making plays. Patrick Queen wasn't even considered a guaranteed starter. He emerged as their most improved player, Dave Aranda (former LSU defensive coordinator) said that."

However, both Murray and Queen could be off the board when it's the Ravens' turn to pick. Kiper has Murray slated to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 19 and Queen could go earlier too.

"Patrick Queen, if he tests well, will not be there for Baltimore," Kiper said. "If he tests just ok to average, to good, there's a possibility."

If both Queen and Murray are off the board when the Ravens draft, Kiper thinks the Ravens could lean toward and edge rusher. One possibility is Penn State defensive end Yeter Gross-Matos, who Kiper mocked to the Tennessee Titans at No. 29. However, Kiper thinks Baltimore could also wait until later in the draft to find a pass rusher.

"The Ravens have done a great job with ZaDarius Smith and (Matthew) Judon, and going back to Pernell McPhee, finding pass rushers later," Kiper said. "That's what they've always been able to do and I think they can do it this year as well. You'll find somebody in that fifth, sixth, seventh round that can get after the quarterback."

However, if Queen is still on the board at No. 28, Kiper believes a call from Baltimore could be forthcoming. Queen finished the 2019 season with 85 tackles, three sacks and one interception, compared to 40 tackles, one sack and no interceptions in 2018. Next week, the 6-foot-1, 227-pound Queen will arrive in Indianapolis looking to build on the buzz he has already created.

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