After winning a championship at LSU, Patrick Queen will try to help the Ravens accomplish that same goal.
The Ravens selected LSU's playmaking linebacker with the 28th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, filling perhaps their greatest need with the top player on their board at the time of their pick.
"This was kind of a no-brainer for us," General Manager Eric DeCosta said.
The pick fulfills the expectations of numerous mock drafts that linked Queen to Baltimore. The Ravens have been hit hard at inside linebacker during free agency, losing Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley in 2019. Then both Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor departed in March.
Queen is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker who blossomed into a key member of an LSU defense that helped the Tigers win a national championship, in which he was named the Defensive MVP.
However, there was no guarantee that Queen would still be on the board at No. 28. Two other inside linebackers went before Queen – Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 23 and Jordyn Brooks of Texas Tech to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 27.
The Ravens said all three are great players, but they were able to wait for one they loved to fall to them.
"It was a long, long, long wait, but it all worked out," Queen said on a video conference after the selection. "I feel like I'm going to bring everything to the table that their defense is known for, the passion, aggression, just total dominance of the defensive side. … It's a brotherhood over there. You can see it from past years, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs. It's just so much passion."
Here are a few reasons why the Ravens targeted Queen, the first player from LSU drafted by Baltimore.
He Has Huge Upside
Queen didn't start until his junior year, but once he got in the lineup, he didn't stop making plays with 85 tackles including 12 for loss and three sacks. Queen was all over the field during LSU's biggest games of the season, and his rapid improvement likely indicates he's just scratching the surface of his potential.
"He really is legit," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "His best football's in front of him, he's got some really good tape behind him this year. He's really a riser. They play a pretty complex system there at LSU. I think he'll fit our scheme very well. For us to come away with Patrick Queen is a big win."
Playing time was not handed to Queen at LSU. With Devin White – the No 5-overall pick in 2019 – ahead of him, Queen had to work for it, and having played just 28 games in college, he should enter the league with less wear and tear.
"He's not an entitled guy," DeCosta said. "This is a guy that didn't start most of his career at LSU. That's going to help him I think, because it's a difference coming up to this level. It can be a challenge for some guys. I think Patrick's already kind of undergone that challenge in some respects and he's thrived."
He Plays Fast
At 6-foot-0, 229 pounds, Queen ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, making him one of the fastest linebackers in this year's draft.
Some believe the importance of having strong play at inside linebacker has been diminished due to the speed of today's game. However, Queen's athleticism and speed makes him a player suited to play effectively in space, and to handle the matchups that will be thrown his way. He was a running back in high school who had 1,487 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior.
"He's just so fun to watch, he's so explosive," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said. "As the season unfolded, he just became a playmaker. He's an outstanding blitzer. He's exactly what teams are looking for with the linebacker position in today's NFL."
One thing that has dogged Queen, and continued to do so in comparisons to Murray in the pre-draft process, is his size. Then again, they said Ray Lewis was too small, which is why he lasted until pick No. 26.
"I'm not going to lie to you man, I'm so tired of hearing that," Queen said of questions about his size.
Queen plays the run well, he can cover tight ends, he can cover running backs and can blitz. That kind of versatility should play well in Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's scheme.
The Ravens like defensive players who can handle multiple assignments and make their coverages easier to disguise. Harbaugh said he could envision Queen coming off the edge to rush the passer, or even dropping deep into coverage against a wide receiver.
"He can cover, he can blitz, he can do a lot of different things," Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz said. "That's a huge piece to have."