Pass Rusher An Underrated Draft Need For Ravens


Outside linebacker may have been the deepest position on the Raven's roster last year.

Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were the top pass-rushing duo in the NFL with 29 combined sacks. Pernell McPhee racked up 7.5 sacks of his own as a pass-rush specialist, and Courtney Upshaw was a valuable edge setter against the run game. 

The Ravens hardly had room on the roster for young outside linebackers last year, but that could change in 2015 as two key draft experts think the Ravens may target an edge rusher early in * *the draft.

"That edge position also has to be looked at," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said during a recent conference call.

"I would say a young outside linebacker at some point is something they have to bring into the fold," ESPN's Mel Kiper added.

Even though the Ravens already have two of the best pass rushers in the business with Suggs and Dumervil, Mayock pointed out the need to get young depth to build for the future when the two veterans might slow down. They also need to replace McPhee if he ends up leaving in free agency.

"The whole thing at outside linebacker, Suggs is going to be 33. Dumervil is 31," Mayock said. "Pernell McPhee is a better football player than a lot of people think. He's a free agent. Courtney Upshaw sets an edge."

The Ravens already indicated that keeping McPhee in Baltimore will be a challenge based on the salary he'll likely command on the open market. His departure would create an immediate need in that area, and Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is already known for his philosophy that "you can never have too many pass rushers."

If the Ravens were to go that route in the first round, some potential options are Kentucky's Bud Dupree, Oregon's Arik Armstead and UCLA's Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Pass rushers have a tendency to fly off the board in early picks of the draft, but the Ravens could snag one of them if they end up falling to the back of the first round.

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