Patrick Queen finished third in the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, but grades his first season as just "decent."
Queen enters his first offseason as a pro with his goals still sky high, and he's going about getting there by using a magnifying glass. Queen asked for extra film to study this offseason, and he views that as one of the biggest ways he can improve his game.
"Once I nail down the route concepts, I feel like my game is going to transcend so much," Queen said on "The Lounge" podcast. "It's so simple, but it's so far away."
Queen started all 16 games and led the Ravens in tackles (106) and tackles for loss (10). He had three sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown.
The Ravens draft Queen with the 28th-overall pick last year because he's a fast, high-energy linebacker who makes plays all over the field. He did just that as an NFL rookie.
But Queen knows that to take the next step, he's going to need to grow more comfortable with pass coverage. Some of that comes with experience, something that Queen was short on coming out of college as a late starter at LSU. But Queen is working this offseason to fast-forward his growth.
"In college, playing the rover side, you wouldn't get that many three-man route concepts," Queen said. "You go to the NFL, you're in the Mike position, you've got to be with the nickel all the time. The three-man route concepts are way harder than two-man route concepts. That experience and getting in the film room and learning everything, that's probably going to be the biggest key."
While Queen felt like his coverage improved over the course of the season, he thought that his overall performance "fell off" down the stretch. Two of his sacks, both of his forced fumbles, and both fumble recoveries came in his first five games. He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a huge performance against his former college teammate, Joe Burrow, and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.
"Because I started off so hot, if I was to have a mediocre game, I started pressing," Queen said. "I wanted to make this play, make that play. Then you start thinking too much, and when you start thinking too much, you start playing tense. I feel like I got out of my game because I was trying to do too much instead of letting the game come to me."
Queen said that in college, making plays felt easy. In the pros, he had to learn to play more within the scheme. "It's me being relaxed, playing with experience and just getting better," he added.
New Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan certainly brings a lot of experience. Ryan has coached in the league for 20 years and the Ravens will be his ninth NFL team. His combination of experience and high energy should be a good fit for Baltimore's young linebackers.
"He's been there, done that. He's an older guy, seen it all," Queen said. "I just feel like there's more experience that he can add to my game."
In his first interview after joining the Ravens, Ryan talked about his excitement to be working with Queen and fellow rising sophomore inside linebacker Malik Harrison. Ryan said Queen is "a special guy to work with" because of his speed and athleticism.
"I think the game will slow down for him, especially for a student of the game, one that wants to study his craft," Ryan said. "You've had a Ray Lewis before. You've had a C.J. Mosely play the position. The tape room is not far away. He can go and get as much tape as he can and find out about those guys. I think the game slows down for the great ones that take that next step by studying extra. Patrick Queen can get even faster because he's going to know what to expect."
Queen wasn't mad that he finished third in the NFL Rookie of the Year voting. He was just upset they didn't show his highlights during the awards show. Queen said he simply "didn't earn it," but that "there's only one award you can get after that" – seemingly a reference to Defensive MVP.
"There's nothing I can't do on the field. I feel like this season, locking in, watching film even more than I did, getting with Coach and watching extra stuff, learning the route concepts, it's going to be big," Queen said.
"People don't understand the type of player I'm trying to be. I don't want to talk about it too much. When it happens, it happens. I can't wait."