The thought of adding a pass rusher is one that crosses Ravens fans minds every draft cycle.
With David Ojabo returning healthy to start the year, he'll join a group that includes Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser, Daelin Hayes and Jeremiah Moon. Veteran Justin Houston, who led the team with 9.5 sacks last year, is a free agent who could return.
There's certainly room for more depth, and Director ofPlayer Personnel Joe Hortiz hinted at the different types of edge rushersthe Ravens could seek in this draft to complement their group.
"Pass rusher is another one, outside backer. [With] us playing the 'RUSH-SAM' aspect, I think there are just different variations of players, but there are guys who can play in space and do more of the dropping and then certainly the edge setters and the pass rushers," Hortiz said.
Who are some edge rushers that fit the type of pass rusher the Ravens could be looking for?
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
- Four-star recruit out of Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Ga., where he had 22 sacks on a defense that allowed an average of 7.7 points per game as a senior.
- Played 41 games for the Crimson Tide, gathering 205 tackles, 62 tackles for a loss and 34.5 sacks.
- Finished his college career ranking 2nd on Alabama's all-time sack list, trailing only Derrick Thomas, who finished his NFL career with 126.5 sacks over 11 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Had 65 pressures (42 hurries, 9 QB hits, 13 sacks) and a 19.6% pass rush win-rate on 383 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'3, 253 pounds with 33 7/8" arms. Ran a 4.6 40 with a 1.61 10-yard split but did not complete other testing.
- Aligned outside the tackle on 543 snaps and over the tackle on 125 snacks in 2022 (per PFF).
- Excellent combination of length and size, but where Anderson really flashes is with his first step explosiveness, which instantly gets offensive linemen on their heels.
- Showed the versatility to rush from the inside, making him a moveable piece that could allow a defensive coordinator to get three edge rushers on the field on passing downs.
- Plays with outstanding leverage that allows him to stack and set up pass rush counters, along with good bend in his frame.
- Lateral quickness and hand usage make him a force against the run, especially against zone concepts where he can keep his chest clean and use his lateral agility to work down the line and beat blockers.
- In situations where he got quick set or a lineman was able to square him, he had a hard time deconstructing the block.
- Had four offside penalties in 2022 from trying to time the snap.
Anderson won't be available at pick No. 22, so he won't be a Raven unless there were a blockbuster trade. He projects as a true 3-4 OLB who would fitinto MikeMacdonald's scheme. His ability to slide inside and provide an interior pass rush is a bonus to a scheme that likes to have versatile pieces.
Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
- Three-star recruit out of West Ruck High School in New London, Texas to Texas A&M. After two seasons, transferred to Texas Tech and was granted immediate eligibility.
- Also lettered in track and field, where he was on the relay team and threw shot put.
- Played 43 games over four seasons with Texas A&M and Texas Tech, gathering 121 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.
- Missed three games in 2022 with a foot injury that also held him out of athletic testing at the NFL Combine and at his Pro Day.
- Credited with 25 run stops, 50 pressures (32 hurries, 10 QB hits, eight sacks) and a 22.6% pass rush win-rate on 261 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'5, 271 pounds with 35 ¼" arms. Did 23 bench reps. Did not do other athletic testing.
- Aligned outside of the tackle on 412 snaps, over the tackle on 106 snaps and in the B-gap on 13 snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- You'll be hard pressed to find too many 6'6 edge rushers with almost 36" arms that have the type of explosive first step that Wilson has, but it delivers high-level potential as a pass rusher.
- Does a great job at creating leverage and has a devastating bull rush that he can develop a pass rush plan with. Has a very potent inside pass rush game.
- Has a nuanced pass rush plan that includes swims, straight bull rushes, push-pull snatches, and club rips.
- When in a one-gapping situation, he's explosive and decisive against the run.
- In situations where he has to 2-gap, read and deconstruct blocks, he shows inconsistency in the run game. Specifically, he can over pursue running lanes and take himself out of plays or allow himself to get sealed.
- Lack of bend on the outside makes him more of an inside move pass rusher at this point than a guy that can constantly bend the arc.
Similar to Anderson, it's tough to envision a situation where Tyree Wilson is within striking distance for the Ravens at No. 22. He has an outstanding toolbox to develop as an EDGE rusher and can also play the 5T or 4i to see matchups with guards.
Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
- Three-star recruit out of Barrington High School in Illinois, where he was the 2019 Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
- He continued to play hockey through high school and led his high school to its first Final Four appearance in the state championship as a senior.
- Redshirted in 2020 and went on to play 27 games over two seasons, gathering 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks for the Hawkeyes.
- Had 10 run stops, 46 pressures (31 hurries, 6 QB hits, 9 sacks) and a 18.8% pass rush win-rate on 271 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'5, 272 pounds with 34" arms. Ran a 4.58 40 with 1.57 10-yard split. Ran a 4.32 shuttle and 7.02 3-cone. Jumped 31" vertical and a 9'10" broad jump. Earned a 9.39 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned all over Iowa's front, with 242 snaps outside the tackle, 62 over the tackle and 155 in the B-gap.
- The key to success for Van Ness is his ability to use his length to create leverage and keep his chest clean from blockers.
- When he rushes the passer, he does a great job of converting speed to power to drive back blockers and create a nice bull rush.
- He does a good job of converting long arm bull rush into inside power rush moves, such as a bull rip and an inside arm over.
- Against the run, Van Ness creates leverage and space that he can use to work laterally and fill rush lanes.
- Given his natural height, he can run into issues where he gets stood up and loses leverage.
- In the run game, he tends to be a split second late countering off his leverage point to close on the ball carrier.
Lukas Van Ness projects as a true stand up OLB that has a fiery play style and explosive twitch to his game. After the recent success of another Iowa first rounder, Tyler Linderbaum, it's easy to see the fit in adding Van Ness to the Ravens pass rush group. His power game and his ability to provide some value as an inside rusher would complement the current group very well.
Nolan Smith - Georgia
- Five-star recruit, and top 3 in his recruitment class, out of the IMG Academy, after transferring from Calvary Day in his hometown of Savannah, Ga.
- While at Calvary Day, he also lettered in baseball, playing centerfield and second base.
- Played 46 games over four years for Kirby Smart's defense, gathering 114 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
- Only played eight games in 2022 due to a torn pectoral muscle. Played through a hyperextended elbow in 2021.
- Credited with 10 run stops, 17 pressures (10 hurries, 5 QB hits, 2 sacks) and a 22.1% pass rush win-rate on 104 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'2, 238 pounds with 32 5/8" arms. Ran a 4.39 40 with a 1.47 10-yard split. Jumped a 41.5" vertical and 10'8" broad. Earned a 9.23 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned outside the tackle on all but two snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Shorter and lean edge prospect, but one that comes with all the twitchiness and flexibility you could want in a pass rusher.
- First step explosiveness to attack the arc and create outside pass rush lanes, as well as create speed to power.
- Quick lateral movement makes him a very dynamic player for stunts and other line games.
- Lateral pursuit and a very sure tackler makes him a good backside run defender.
- Lack of length and strength could be a challenge when facing athletic pass protectors in the NFL.
- Lack of an anchor in the run game is challenging against double teams or being on the play side of run plays.
Smith fits in the category with others in the top of the edge class that are twitchy, albeit a little undersized. He's at his best when he's spread out in a wide alignment and free to attack the edge. He'll need to develop more of an interior pass rush plan to matchup with athletic OTs, but he has the juice to bring some real upside as a pass rusher.
Myles Murphy - Clemson
- Five-star recruit, and the 7th-ranked recruit in 2020, out of Hillgrove Highschool in Powder Springs, Ga.
- Continued to play baseball and basketball through his sophomore season in high school.
- Played 38 games over three seasons for Clemson, gathering 139 tackles, 37 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
- Credited with 13 run stops, 34 pressures (21 hurries, 7 QB hits, 6 sacks) and a 17.8% pass rush win-rate on 356 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'4, 268 pounds with 33 ¾" arms. Ran a 4.53 40 with a 1.59 10-yard split. Ran a 7.21 3-cone and a 4.29 shuttle. Jumped 31" in the vertical. Earned a 9.71 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned outside the tackle on 473 snaps, over the tackle on 59 snaps and inside the tackle on 52 snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Murphy plays with good length and has clear upper body strength, but where he truly flashes is with his first step up field to widen tackles outside and attack arc of the pocket.
- Plays with good hand fighting as he's attacking a wide-setting OT and gives himself space to bend the arc cleanly.
- Has a strong long arm to stick OTs and push the pocket.
- As a run defender, he anchors well against double teams and sets the edge to contain outside runs.
- Lacks inside counters to pair with his efficiency attacking the outside arc of OTs.
- At times, Murphy can work himself too far up the field, which causes him to get run around the back of the pocket or takes him out of the play in option concepts or delayed runs.
Murphy's explosive first step and play strength are reminiscent of what the Ravens envision with Oweh. While his first step explosiveness and his strength provide the traits to develop a good speed-to-power pass rush plan, it could be possible that there's redundancy in the skillset from what the Ravens currently possess in their OLB group.
BJ Ojulari, LSU
- Four-star recruit out of Marietta High School in Georgia, and the younger brother of New York Giants pass rusher Azeez Ojulari.
- As a senior, Ojulari led Marietta to a 7A State Championship racking up a school record 19 sacks.
- Originally committed to Georgia to follow in his brother's footsteps, but switched to LSU to play with a former high school teammates for the Tigers.
- Had 15 run stops, 48 pressures (26 hurries, 14 QB hits, eight sacks) and a 17.9% pass rush win-rate on 346 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'2, 248 pounds with 34 ¼" arms. Completed only jumps due to a nagging hamstring injury at his pro day, jumping a 33.5" vertical and 10'6" broad. Earned a 4.61 Relative Athletic Score.
- Played the majority of his snaps outside the tackle in 2022 (per PFF).
- One of the most impressive toolboxes of pass rush moves in the 2023 EDGE class, Ojulari comes prepared with outstanding bend and good upfield burst to threaten the arc of OTs.
- In 2022, Ojulari added a long arm to his pass rush game and it has really unlocked another element.
- Possesses quick hands and rushes the passer decisively with a plan in place. Beats OTs outside with an inside arm rip, swim move and has a stab-and-rip with his long arm to counter back inside.
- As a run defender, he is scrappy and physical to set the edge and attack ball carriers.
- Shorter and lighter than average, he can have issues when his quickness is matched by athletic OTs.
- Lacks lack drive to unlock a bull rush in his game.
Ojulari has a lot of upside as a pass rusher at the next level due to his burst, bend and wide array of pass rush moves. In a way, he has some similarities to Ojabo, but the fit makes a ton of sense. With both looking to make the leap to the next level, they would be complimentary edge rushers that could be unleashed on passing downs and compliment the rest of the Ravens edge group.
Will McDonald IV – Iowa State
- Three-star recruit out of Waukesha North in Wisconsin, where he was a very good basketball player and didn't join football till his junior year.
- He ended up lettering in basketball, football, baseball and track and field. As a senior, he won the state discus title and finished third in long jump, while also running the 110-metre hurdles and throwing shot put.
- Credited with 17 run stops, 23 pressures (14 hurries, 3 QB hits and 6 sacks) and a 15.7% pass rush win rate on 261 pass rush snaps in 2022 (per PFF).
- Measured 6'3, 239 pounds with 34 7/8" arms. Ran a 4.7 40 with a 1.63 10-yard split. Ran a 4.22 shuttle and 6.85 3-cone. Jumped a 36" vertical and 11' broad. Earned a 9.67 Relative Athletic Score.
- Aligned all over Iowa State's line with 293 outside of the tackle, 157 over the tackle and 53 snaps inside (per PFF).
- Despite being on the shorter and lighter side among of the edge rusher class, McDonald has great length that he uses to his advantage.
- Twitchy pass rusher when he's allowed to stand up as a 3-4 OLB, McDonald plays with great bend and quick hands to keep himself clean as he bends the arc and gets to the QB.
- He does a good job finishing on the QB, when he gets his shot, he rarely misses.
- Against the run, McDonald plays with physicality and has high level lateral agility to defend against zone run concepts.
- There was a lack of a power pass rush game (i.e. converting speed to power in a bull rush) and McDonald could benefit from adding a long arm game given his length and explosiveness.
- Needs to stay more disciplined when he's on the play side of run concepts to keep the edge.
Similar to Ojulari, McDonald fits a lot of the criteria the Ravens have been looking for lately in their pass rushers. He has outstanding athleticism and is twitchy off the edge, paired with good length and good hand usage. He would add another ball of clay to newly hired Outside Linebacker Coach Chuck Smith's group to be developed.