With the departure of Calais Campbell, defensive tackle stepped up as a sneaky draft need for the Ravens.
Generating interior pressure has been a focus of the Ravens team building and they could look to address that if the opportunity arises with their draft board.
"[There are] some defensive linemen that we like as well," General Manager Eric DeCosta said. "So, we think it kind of shapes up nicely based on our needs."
So who are the key defensive line prospects that Ravens fans should have on their radar?
Jalen Carter, Georgia
- Five-star recruit out of Apopka, Fla. after leading the Blue Darters to a 12-1 record and appearance in the 8A State Championship Game.
- Was also a competitive basketball and weightlifter at Apopka, placing second in the State 2A heavyweight division with a bench press of 395 pounds.
- Played 38 games over three years for the Bulldogs with 83 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks.
- Credited with 18 run stops, 32 pressures (18 hurries, 5 QB hits, 3 sacks) and a 15.8% pass rush win-rate on 273 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'3, 314 pounds with 33 ½" arms, but did not do any athletic testing. Raised questions about his conditioning at his Pro Day.
- Aligned in the B-gap on 255 snaps, over the tackle on 83 snaps and in the A-gap on 30 snaps (per PFF).
- Pled no contest and accepted a plea deal for a misdemeanor reckless driving and racing charges that resulted in the death of teammate Devin Willock and Georgia staffer Chandler LeCroy.
- Carter has an elite combination of size, strength, length, and explosiveness that gives him true three-down ability at the NFL level.
- An explosive first step and elite lateral athleticism makes Carter a force in 1-on-1 blocking situations, both against the run and rushing the passer.
- Active, accurate, and powerful hands give Carter a high level ability to deconstruct blocks and dictate reps.
- Has a nuanced pass rush plan for a prospect, including a swim, arm over, club rip and an impressive step over move.
- In close quarters, OGs with a stout anchor had success quick setting Carter and neutralizing his first step.
- Similar to comments about his former teammate Jordan Davis, there's questions about how many snaps Carter can play on a consistent basis.
Expecting Carter to fall is about as unlikely as seeing a trade up with limited draft capital. However, Carter has all of the tools to be an elite addition to the defensive line. Pre-draft interviews will be essential for his draft stock, but on tape, he has three-down ability and should make an immediate impact.
Bryan Bresee, Clemson
- Five-star recruit and No. 1 recruit (at any position) in the 2020 class. He was 18th all-time, according to 247 Sports, out of Damascus High School in Maryland, where he was a national All-American and the Maryland Defensive Player of the Year.
- Was a high level basketball player and averaged 13.7 points and 11.9 rebounds as a junior in high school.
- Started as a true freshman, and played 26 games over three years, racking up 50 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
- Credited with six run stops, 24 pressures (17 hurries, 4 QB hits and 3 sacks) on 203 pass rush snaps, with a 14.3% pass rush win-rate (per PFF).
- Missed the majority of 2021 due to a torn ACL, missed games in 2022 due to a kidney infection caused by strep throat and played limited snaps throughout the year as he recovered.
- Measured 6'5, 298 pounds with 32 ½" arms. Ran a 4.86 40-yard dash with a 1.65 10-yard split. Ran a 7.41 3-cone and 4.38 shuttle. Jumped a 29" vertical. Resulted in a 9.61 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned all over the Clemson defensive line with 231 snaps in the B-gap, 32 in the A-gap, 29 over the tackle and 36 outside the tackle.
- Athletic, broad shouldered, versatile five-technique/three-technique prospect who slid up and down Clemson's defensive line, showing his ability to play both inside and outside the OT.
- He uses his hands very effectively to keep his chest clean and stack and shed offensive tackles. Pairs together a rip and swim move effectively while stacking offensive linemen.
- Explosive first step as an interior pass rusher with good flexibility for an interior player to widen offensive guards and bend to get up field.
- Significantly developed his anchor from 2020 to 2022 on film, making that transition as an interior player in the run game enticing.
- Needs to play with consistent pad level on the inside, especially as he's widening offensive guards where he can get stood up.
- Production was spotty over three years at Clemson and doesn't show the true potential of what you see on film.
The injuries, and his recovery from a kidney infection, limited Bresee's snaps at Clemson, but what he puts on film is high level ability as a pass rusher. The Ravens are going to be in search of an inside-outside defensive lineman to replace Campbell and Breese, while a different style player than Campbell, makes sense in filling that role. He can provide some edge setting as a five-technique in the run game but has the upside of being able to slide inside to the three-technique in odd fronts to rush the passer with good size, strength and athleticism.
Derek Wolfe (Denver days)
Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
- Three-star recruit out of Miami Northwestern High School, where he led his team to back-to-back Florida 6A state championships.
- Became a full-time starter in 2021, earning 27.5 tackles for a loss and 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
- Amassed 13 run stops, 47 pressures (30 hurries, nine QB hits, eight sacks) on 275 pass rush naps and a 22.2% pass rush win-rate in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'01, 281 pounds with 30 5/8" arms. Ran a 4.67 40-yard dash with a 1.58 10-yard split. Ran a 7 second 3-cone and 4.36 shuttle. Jumped 33.5" in the vertical and 9'4" in the broad. Earned a 9.60 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned primarily as a three-technique with 358 snaps in the B-gap and 92 snaps elsewhere on the DL (per PFF).
- Missed two games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury.
- Kancey has an explosive first step, paired with a very fluid lower body, which allows him to work through blocks and work up field for quick pressure.
- Against spread offenses, Pitt asked him to 1-gap in the run game, which opened up space for other defenders against the run.
- Large toolbox of pass rushing moves, including a swim move, club rip and an explosive bull rush to keep blockers guessing.
- Plus lateral agility paired with a 1-gap attack makes him a tough block for bigger, heavy footed, offensive guards.
- Considered undersized as an interior lineman and can have issues anchoring in the run game, especially against double teams.
- Against a wide zone rushing attack, his athletic upside is minimized in the run game as offenses typically have offensive linemen to match the athleticism.
The Ravens have a very nice rotation on the interior, but they're always seeking an interior pass rusher to add to their arsenal. While Kancey may not be a force against the run, I don't think he'd have to be. In a scenario where he ends up in Baltimore, he'd be able to be used as an interior pass rusher, which keeps him in comfortable situations and fresh.
Colby Wooden, Auburn
- Four-star recruit out of Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., where he made it to the 7A state semifinals as a senior.
- Earned a starting role as a redshirt freshman in 2020, earning SEC All-Freshman honors.
- Went on to start 36 games over three seasons for the Tigers, gathering 30 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks with three forced fumbles.
- Was credited with 19 run stops, 35 pressures (24 hurries, 5 QB hits, 6 sacks) on 371 pass rush snaps and a 12.7% pass rush win rate in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'4, 273 pounds with 33 ¾" arms. Ran a 4.79 40 yard dash with a 1.63 10-yard split. Jumped a 9'7" broad jump and ran the three-cone in 7.49 with a shuttle run of 4.52. All of these measurements good for a 9.26 Relative Athletic Score.
- Split snaps along the DL 259 in the B-gap, 131 over the tackle and 253 outside the tackle (per PFF).
- Wooden is a long, broad prospect with an explosive first step that played up and down the Auburn defensive line.
- He is at his best on the interior, where he can use his length and skilled hands to gain leverage, keep interior offensive linemen off his chest and react to the ball.
- When asked to 1-gap and play an attacking style, he showed explosiveness with a good bull rush that he could stack defenders and use rips for secondary pass rush moves.
- Brings versatility to play as a base DE or on the inside as a 3T pass rusher, making him a good situational pass rusher.
- Lacks awareness in the run game and can lose his assignment at times.
- Will need to develop his mass a bit more to prepare for double teams and stacking and shedding interior offensive linemen in the NFL.
Auburn moved Colby Wooden around the entire defensive line, but he was at his best on the inside, where his assignment was freed up to be an attacking 1-gapping 3T. He has heavy hands and uses his length well to keep defenders off his chest. On the edge, he didn't play with the same awareness, explosiveness or pass rush ability, but he projects inside and would be a versatile piece as the Ravens seek a player to slide between the 5T and 3T.
Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
- Three-star recruit out of Craig High School in Janesville, Wis., where he was first-team All-State as a senior after finishing with 75 tackles and two sacks.
- Was a two-time state qualifier in wrestling, finishing as Division 1 runner-up at 285 pounds as a junior with a 48-2 record.
- Played 45 games for the Badgers over four years, gathering 80 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
- Was credited with 21 run stops, 29 pressures (11 hurries, 11 QB hits and six sacks) and a 13.7% pass rush win-rate in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'3, 309 pounds with 33 7/8" arms. Ran a 5.08 40 with a 1.74 10-yard split. Ran a 7.34 3-cone and a 4.65 shuttle. Jumped a 29.5" vertical and a 9'3" broad. Earning an 8.90 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned in the B-gap on 233 snaps and the A-gap on 190 snaps (per PFF).
- With an explosive first step at 6'4, 310, Benton has a nice ability to work up field or work laterally in the run game.
- Benton uses powerful hand counters to stack and shed blockers in the run game when he consistently stays square with the LOS.
- When put in the position as a 3T, he used the extra space to set up a solid pass rush plan, including a bull rush, push-bull and club / club-rip.
- When he takes on double teams, he does a nice job of playing with a wide base to anchor.
- Benton's upper body can get out of control when he gets turned and stood up in the run game, causing him to lose leverage.
- Lacks flexibility in his lower half to constantly anchor and split double teams or bend as a pass rusher.
A lot of the analysis of Benton will focus on his ability as a nose tackle or a 2-gapping 3 technique DT. However, he was at his best as a pass rusher when he played in space and showed a power rush skillset at the Senior Bowl. Much of that seems to be about how he was used at Wisconsin and there's a lot more upside, especially if the Ravens are seeking an attack style 3 technique.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
- Three-star recruit out of North Kansas City High School, where he earned Kansas All-State First-Team honors as a senior.
- Played 41 games for Northwestern, gathering 68 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
- Credited with 22 run stops, 31 pressures (22 hurries, three QB hits and six sacks), and a 14.9% pass-rush win rate on 305 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'1, 282 pounds with 33 7/8" arms. Ran a 4.49 40 with a 1.55 10-yard split. Ran a 4.26 short shuttle and 7.13 3-cone. Jumped 37.5" vertical and a 10'5" broad. Earned a 9.72 Relative Athletic Score (elite in all measures except size).
- Aligned outside the tackle on 374 snaps, over the tackle on 75 snaps and in the B-gap on 271 snaps (per PFF).
- His parents are originally from Nigeria and his father is a prince from African royalty.
- Won a state 5A championship in shot put and came second in discus in high school.
- Adebawore made waves during the 2023 NFL Combine when he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at 282 pounds. This athleticism pops on film. He's a shorter, burly defensive lineman, but has an explosive first step and is highly athletic.
- Works laterally effectively and projects to being a very good zone run defender for his ability to move down the line in pursuit.
- As a pass rusher, he uses leverage well and has a nice bull rush that he can add counters to at the next level.
- Plays with consistent pad level and uses his length effectively to gain leverage and control the chest of defenders.
- He needs to more effectively put together a pass rush plan, as he has reps where he gets stuck in a bull rush without setting up a counter.
- Struggled against "wide hands" pass blocking and didn't have the bend to work laterally while in an up field pass rush.
Adebawore projects as an attacking 3T in the NFL and would fit well in a Mike Macdonald defense. The already deep defensive line group has some stout run defenders, but Adebawore would be a player that would be effective against wide and outside zone concepts, while developing an interior pass rush game with his high upside given his athleticism and burst.
Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida
- Five-star recruit out of Lake Wales, Fla., after earning multiple All-American accolades in his senior year where he had 103 tackles, 35 tackles for a loss, 18 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
- Also started all four seasons on the Lake Wales varsity basketball team and qualified for the class 2A state championship in the discus throw.
- Played 38 games in three seasons for the Gators, gathering 125 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
- Had 25 run stops, 25 pressures (20 hurries, 3 QB hits, 2 sacks) and an 8.4% pass rush win-rate on 347 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'5, 310 pounds with 32 ¼" arms. Ran a 4.88 40 with a 1.7 10-yard split. Ran a 7.5 3-cone and 4.7 short shuttle. Jumped a 31" vertical and 9'2" broad. Earning a 9.52 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned in the B-gap on 515 snaps, over the tackle on 107 snaps and 46 snaps in the A-gap in 2022 (per PFF).
- Dexter Sr. pairs a strong anchor with a powerful upper body to constantly make plays in the run game.
- Has active hands in the run game to work his way down the line against any wide running concepts, such as outside zone.
- Uses his length effectively to keep blocks off his chest and allow himself to use his powerful hands to stack and shed and make plays on the ball carrier.
- Has a powerful bull rush to walk back offensive linemen as a pass rusher.
- Will need to develop a more consistent pass rush plan at the NFL level that builds off his powerful bull rush.
- Consistently a half step slow off the ball.
Dexter Sr. fits a lot of the criteria that the Ravens seek in a defensive lineman. He projects to being a very effective two-gapping IDL that can slide from the nose all the way to the 5T. He has a high ceiling as a run defender, but I do question if the Ravens will seek a more explosive pass rusher to complement their current grouping of powerful DL.