The Ravens are in the market for pass rushers in this year's draft, and Joey Bosa is regarded by many analysts as the best in the class.
The Ohio State defender has been linked to the Ravens in a handful of mock drafts, but there have also been questions about how he would fit in Baltimore's defense. Bosa played defensive end in a 4-3 system in college, but the Ravens mostly operate out of a 3-4 package.
If the Ravens were to take Bosa, the expectation would be for him to become a 3-4 outside linebacker.
"He definitely projects well," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. "I think that he projects to either spot, 4-3 [defensive end] and/or 3-4 outside backer."
The difference in positions may not seem like much, but it can be a fairly significant transition.
Defensive ends in a 4-3 system typically play with their hand in the dirt and hardly ever drop back into coverage. The Ravens expect their outside linebackers to set the edge against the run, get after quarterbacks and also drop back in coverage on some occasions. Veteran Terrell Suggs is the prototype for what the Ravens want out of a high-end player at the outside linebacker spot.
Bosa's experience with all of those job duties is limited, but the Ravens like what they have seen from him on tape and in his pre-draft workouts to project what he's capable of.
"You guys can actually see him on film dropping off on occasion – the zone drop, far zones and all of that – and he looks certainly capable of doing that," Hortiz said. "He actually, at the Pro Day workout, did a full D-line drill; did the whole thing in D-line drills and it was a longer workout and they got after it. He took a blow, got some water and then jumped in the middle of the linebacker drills once they got into drops."
The Ravens do use a defensive end on their front, but Bosa is not built to be that kind of player. He is 6-foot-5, 269 pounds, and last year's starter Chris Canty was 6-foot-7, 320 pounds.
If the Ravens wanted to bring in a defensive end for their system, Oregon's DeForset Buckner (6-7, 291 pounds) is a better match for that role.
"[Buckner is] a 3-4 defensive end," Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said. "He's a big, athletic guy who can rush the passer on the inside."