Skip to main content
Presented by

Late for Work: Ravens Defensive Triplets Ranked Best in NFL

S Kyle Hamilton (left), ILB Roquan Smith (middle), & DT Justin Madubuike (right)
S Kyle Hamilton (left), ILB Roquan Smith (middle), & DT Justin Madubuike (right)

Ravens Defensive Triplets Ranked Best in NFL

While the Ravens' offensive triplets were ranked top five in the NFL by Sports Illustrated's Matt Verderame, their defensive counterparts, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, inside linebacker Roquan Smith and safety Kyle Hamilton, are ranked the NFL's best.

"The Ravens were the obvious choice for this No. 1 ranking because they're the only team that can confidently say they have at least one elite player at all three levels of the defense," Verderame wrote. "Madubuike elevated his game last season and is now one of the highest-paid defensive tackles after signing a four-year, $98 million contract extension. Hamilton also enjoyed a breakout 'sophomore' season, earning an All-Pro First-Team nod, and is now regarded by many as the NFL's best safety because of his versatility. As for Smith, he's been one of the league's best linebackers since being drafted by the Bears in 2018."

A few former Ravens also graced the top five of Verderame's list in linebackers C.J. Mosley for the New York Jets, ranked No. 3, and Patrick Queen for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ranked No. 5.

ESPN Projects AFC Championship Game Rematch; Ravens Among Super Bowl Favorites

The quest for the 2024 Lombardi Trophy has yet to begin, though the Ravens have been laying the groundwork throughout organized team activities the past few weeks. While games are months away, ESPN's Football Power Index has the Ravens among the NFL's favorites to win Super Bowl LIX, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder. According to the FPI, the Ravens have the fifth-best chance to win (8%), behind the Dallas Cowboys (9%), Detroit Lions (10%), Kansas City Chiefs (12%), and San Francisco 49ers (16%), partially due to the NFC being easier than the AFC.

"The 49ers' edge in quality over the Baltimore Ravens and Chiefs is narrow, but because San Francisco plays in the weaker NFC, its championship chances (16%) are notably higher than any other club's," Walder wrote. "… Although Baltimore is right behind Kansas City in overall FPI rating, its chances to reach the Super Bowl lag behind the Chiefs' (24% to 17%) because the Ravens play in a much tougher division. The Ravens have only a 46% chance to win the AFC North (compared with a 74% chance for the Chiefs in the West), and their chance to land the No. 1 seed is 18% to the Chiefs' 24%. That said, Ravens-49ers is the second-most likely Super Bowl matchup at 4%."

According to the FPI, the Ravens are the third-best team in the NFL with a 4.8, behind the Chiefs (5.0) and 49ers (5.1).

As for the division being a challenge, it doesn't come as a surprise. We noted in Friday’s LFW pundits ranked the AFC North as the best division for a second straight year.

Making it out of the AFC North won't be easy, but the FPI projects the Ravens to reach the AFC Championship game for a rematch against the Chiefs. Of the 10 most likely matchups, the FPI has the Ravens in five, tying only the Chiefs.

By all accounts, the FPI has the 49ers, Chiefs and Ravens as the best of the best. It's up to the Ravens to keep the rest at bay and surpass the two above them.

Pundit Links Ravens to Numerous Remaining Free Agents

High-caliber talent remains on the free agent market, including a few former Ravens, who could contribute for a team pushing for a championship. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox links a few Baltimore could consider this offseason.

Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

"Yannick Ngakoue is a fairly one-dimensional edge defender, as run support has never been his strongest attribute. However, the 29-year-old has been consistently good at getting after opposing quarterbacks," Knox wrote. "The Ravens, who employed Ngakoue for nine games in 2020, should also be interested. While defensive tackle Justin Madubuike led Baltimore with 13 sacks last season, Jadeveon Clowney led the edge-rushing rotation with 9.5 sacks. Baltimore retained Brent Urban and Kyle Van Noy this offseason, but it has yet to replace Clowney. Ngakoue could help fill that void."

Charles Leno Jr., Offensive tackle

"At this point in his career, Leno should be an affordable option well-suited to fill an insurance role for a playoff hopeful," Knox wrote. "The Ravens might also want to consider Leno as insurance behind Ronnie Stanley. Ankle injuries ended Stanley's 2020 and 2021 campaigns prematurely, and the 30-year-old battled a knee issue for much of 2023. Baltimore is primed for a Super Bowl push but will already have a new starter at right tackle in rookie second-round pick Roger Rosengarten. Losing Stanley for any length of time could prove disastrous. Baltimore also happens to now employ Washington's 2023 offensive line coach, Travelle Wharton, as its assistant offensive line coach."

Calais Campbell, Defensive line

"Calais Campbell is 37 years old, but he's still one of the best available defenders at any position. Capable of rushing the quarterback from the edge or stonewalling running backs as a down lineman, the six-time Pro Bowler is a productive and versatile playmaker," Knox wrote. "Campbell, who played for the Ravens from 2020 to '22, is another pass-rusher who would make sense for Baltimore. While Mike Macdonald is no longer the defensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator Zach Orr was a Ravens linebackers coach in Campbell's final year with the franchise. Baltimore is seeking a Super Bowl in 2024 and needs a deeper pass-rushing rotation."

Justin Simmons, Safety

"Simply put, the gap between Simmons and the rest of the safety market is quite substantial," Knox wrote. "That's why Simmons should be high on the Ravens' wish list. Baltimore has two solid starters in Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, but it regularly used a three-deep rotation in 2023. The Ravens, who lost Geno Stone in free agency, are apparently looking to maintain that formula and have been hunting for more safety depth. The Ravens recently brought in Jamal Adams for a visit. However, Simmons' status as a deep playmaking safety makes him an even better fit for Baltimore."

Quick Hits

  • Ravens have four players in ESPN’s Field Yates' Top 55 fantasy football PPR rankings for 2024: Derrick Henry (22), Lamar Jackson (36), Mark Andrews (40), Zay Flowers (54).

Related Content