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Ravens Talk About the One Need Left Unchecked – Edge Rusher

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta
Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta

One of the Ravens' biggest perceived needs entering the NFL Draft was at edge rusher but they left with none, making it the one question mark after a draft that otherwise provided a lot of answers.

Baltimore addressed multiple holes, and double dipped at inside linebacker, defensive tackle and wide receiver, but didn't take a defensive end or outside linebacker.

That leaves franchise tagged Matthew Judon, rising sophomore Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser as the only returning outside linebackers with NFL experience.

"We did the best we could. We tried to draft the best players that checked off the most boxes that could help us right away and also long-term," General Manager Eric DeCosta said.

"In most cases, you're going to have a hole that stays open [after the draft]. We'll continue to try to fil those holes. … Things always pop up, so you're always going to have needs, they change daily in this business. You just have to try to adjust on the fly and we will do that to the best of our abilities."

There wasn't a slam-dunk pass rusher to pick with the Ravens' first-round selection at No. 28. In the second round, Iowa's A.J. Epenesa was selected by the Buffalo Bills one pick before the Ravens were on the clock at No. 55. Baltimore traded back with New England at No. 60, and the Patriots took linebacker Josh Uche from Michigan.

The Ravens passed on Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun in the third round, instead taking defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. Baun went to the Detroit Lions three picks later. Utah pass rusher Bradlee Anae tumbled to the last pick of the fifth round, but the Ravens took defensive tackle Broderick Washington Jr. nine picks earlier.

One aspect to consider is that the Ravens, who ranked 21st in the NFL in sacks last year, have added a lot of pass rush prowess this offseason – just not at outside linebacker.

Defensive ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe will certainly turn up the sack production. First-round linebacker Patrick Queen is a great blitzer who can also be used on the edge. Fellow inside linebacker Malik Harrison also has position flexibility and is strong crashing the line of scrimmage. Madubuike was selected to provide more bite up the middle.

The Ravens could look to the free-agent market for reinforcement. Veteran Pernell McPhee, who got off to a strong start last season before suffering a season-ending torn triceps, is still unsigned. Clay Matthews, who was released by the Los Angeles Rams, is also still available.

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