Training Camp Competition: Linebacker

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Left: OLB Jaylon Ferguson; Right: OLB Odafe Oweh

In the Hunt

  • ILB Otaro Alaka
  • ILB C.J. Board
  • OLB Tyus Bowser
  • OLB Jaylon Ferguson
  • LB L.J. Fort
  • LB Malik Harrison
  • LB Daelin Hayes
  • LB Pernell McPhee
  • OLB Odafe Oweh
  • OLB Chauncey Rivers
  • LB Patrick Queen
  • ILB Barrington Wade
  • ILB Kristian Welch

Projected Starters

At inside linebacker, Queen will man the MIKE spot, just as he did on a full-time basis last year as a first-round rookie. After a strong rookie season, Queen is confident his better understanding of the game and physical conditioning will lead to an even bigger sophomore campaign. His running mate is to be determined. Fort and Harrison shared the role last season and likely will again based on different packages and situations. Fort is well-suited for coverage duties while Harrison is a bigger-bodied run thumper. Board has been an effective reserve and is one of the team's top special teams players.

At outside linebacker, Bowser could go from a player that saw approximately 50 percent of the defensive snaps in most games to a starter with a full plate. The Ravens re-signed him to become a bigger part of the defensive unit and help offset the loss of former Pro Bowler Matthew Judon. On the other side, 32-year-old McPhee is back for another year and will likely still be a starter after serving in that role for 13 of 15 games played last season.

Best Battle

It's not really about who the "starter" is and there aren't too many questions marks about depth spots. The real competition is to see who steps into bigger roles, particularly at outside linebacker. The Ravens need somebody to step up and replace some of the quarterback pressure and sacks that walked out the door with Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. Who will that be?

If Oweh, a super-talented first-round rookie, gets up to speed quickly at training camp, he could become a major part of the rotation. The Ravens already view him as a premier run-stopper, so if he develops as a pass rusher, Oweh could see a lot of snaps. Ferguson is the other young player the Ravens are looking to see emerge in training camp. Entering his third season, it's time for the third-round pick to show why he finished as the NCAA's career sack leader.

Under the Radar

Entering his second season, Harrison is a player to watch because he could be a breakout player next to Queen. The third-round pick from Ohio State is known for being a downhill hitter, but he has the athleticism to be good in coverage as well. The Ravens have a number of young linebackers, including rookie fifth-round pick Hayes, that are looking to find their niche in a deep unit.

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