Skip to main content

Mailbag: How Is the Ravens Defensive Line Going to Look?

DT Travis Jones practices during Ravens OTAs.
DT Travis Jones practices during Ravens OTAs.

Mink: The Ravens have to replace Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis, who gobbled up 53% and 35% of the snaps last season, respectively. Baltimore has plenty of depth and talent to do so, but it's tough to say how they'll mange the rotation.

Calais Campbell would be one starter and play most of the defensive snaps. If lining up today, Derek Wolfe (hip surgery) wouldn't be able to suit up, and it remains to be seen when he'll be back on the field. Brent Urban would probably step in at defensive end if Wolfe's not ready, or the Ravens could use a heavy defensive tackle lineup.

I expect free-agent addition Michael Pierce to take on much of that, with Justin Madubuike being used in more pass-rushing situations. They could end up splitting starts. Pierce was a key addition who is a proven run-stopper hoping to get more opportunities to get after quarterbacks. Madubuike is the Ravens' most explosive defensive lineman in terms of getting penetration and pressure. He played 51% of the snaps last year and could be a little higher than that if he takes another step forward in Year 3.

That leaves rookie third-round pick Travis Jones likely as a top reserve at defensive tackle, relieving both Pierce and Campbell as a rotational piece that can stop the run and apply pressure. Jones can be a dominant run stopper, but the Ravens are also intrigued by his pass rush movement skills if he plays lesser snaps (and stays fresher) than he did at UConn. Broderick Washington will also be used as another rotational reserve

Downing: Outside of Rashod Bateman, third-year receiver Devin Duvernay is my favorite to have a big season in the wide receiver room. He put up 272 receiving yards last season, but he looked capable of putting up bigger numbers if he had more opportunities. He's likely to get those opportunities this year. Duvernay is a versatile player who can be used to stretch the field with his speed, out of the slot to move the chains or even out of the backfield. He has great run after the catch ability, which helped him earn a Pro Bowl invitation as a returner. Baltimore's receiver room is largely unproven (I'm not putting Mark Andrews in this equation since he's a tight end), but Duvernay is a talented player who looks ready to take a big leap this year.

Mink: We haven't gotten any update on their status since we heard early this year that they are expected to be back by the start of the season. Reporters got a glimpse of Dobbins last week during OTAs when he walked onto the field midway through practice to watch. He wasn't hobbled walking out, and he laughed with fellow rehabbing star Marcus Peters and GM Eric DeCosta. It looked like the fun-loving Dobbins we saw all last summer as we eagerly awaited a monster sophomore season.

Dobbins then sauntered to the Jugs machine to catch some passes, which is another good sign. It's good to see Dobbins, but that didn't really provide any new timeframe for his return. Either way, the Ravens added more insurance this offseason in case their dynamic duo isn't ready for Week 1.

Downing: The Ravens are getting a good look at both Daelin Hayes and Jaylon Ferguson in practice because injuries have left the outside linebacker rotation thin this offseason. Both players have made the most of the opportunities in OTAs. Ferguson has transformed his body this offseason and looks noticeably trimmer. Time will tell what on what kind of impact that has on his ability to get after the quarterback, but he knows this is a big season for him. Ferguson's prolific college career hasn't translated to the NFL at this point, but his focus on offseason training may help him going into his fourth NFL season.

Hayes was impressive in practice before injuries ultimately cut his rookie season to just one game. In spring practices, Hayes has picked up where he left off before the injuries. He has great effort and is regularly forcing his way into the backfield. He's stood out in the OTA practices open to the media. If he can stay healthy and make that kind of pass-rushing impact once the pads come on in training camp, then he'll have an important role in this year's defense.

Related Content