The Ravens' middle linebacker of the future is going to be learning first-hand from the Ravens' legend of the past.
While at the Pro Bowl Games this week in Las Vegas, Roquan Smith and Ray Lewis have made plans to get together this offseason for joint film watching sessions.
Lewis is the defensive coordinator of the AFC Pro Bowl Games flag football teams, and he wants to continue sharing his knowledge with the Ravens linebacker.
Lewis has long been an admirer of Smith's game. When Smith was in high school, he attended an Under Armour camp that Lewis hosts.
"I was like, 'What?! This freaking kid!' Lewis said. "Now when I'm watching him, I'm saying, 'How can I help him get better?' This offseason, we're really going to sit down and go through film, so I can teach him little things."
Smith, who is at his first career Pro Bowl, is all ears and jumping at the chance to sit down with Lewis.
"Who wouldn't? A 17-year veteran, the guy is one of the best to do it, a defensive MVP, how could you not try to get that knowledge?" Smith said. "I'm just grateful to be in his presence, I've got a lot of respect for him and try to soak up everything I can."
Lewis said he can help Smith take little false steps out of his game, gain a better understanding of his coverages, and what different formations mean so he can also help his teammates play faster. Lewis said there are big plays that Smith is leaving on the field.
"Roquan, if he takes his game and just takes one more step up, I just think he could be freaking phenomenal," Lewis said.
But much of Lewis' vision for helping Smith is about becoming an even better leader. Smith was lauded for the impact he made on his teammates despite joining them midway through the year. As Smith prepares for his first full season as a Raven, Lewis believes he has a chance to elevate that leadership even further.
"I know it's him in his first year getting comfortable with the guys. Him being able to take that next step of leadership and being able to get everybody playing on one shoestring, I think that's why he can really improve," Lewis said.
"Roquan has that type of brain. It's a leader, but it's also a servant – a person that's willing to learn everything to get everybody to see it together."
Lewis and Smith are the only two players in NFL history to have at least 100 tackles, two sacks and one interception in each of their first five seasons. Lewis was ecstatic when the Ravens traded for Smith and signed him to a five-year extension.
After Smith joined the Ravens, they gave up the second-fewest points in the league and became a dominant unit down the stretch. While the advancement and changes on Baltimore's offense will be a focal point this offseason, the Ravens defense has a lot of returning talent and an opportunity to be a special unit in 2023 with Smith as the cornerstone.
"You can see good defenses because they've got a bunch of great guys that can play. Great defenses, everybody sees it the exact same way," Lewis said.
"But that takes a leader to take ownership of it, so when you step on the field, you don't need a coach. You guys become the coach. That's what Roquan has the ability to do. That's what I challenged him with. I said, 'You can make this Baltimore defense the way we left it.' Nothing was unspoken. We communicated everything down the line. That's the next thing for that defense to be great."