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Improving The Ravens' Pass Rush Through Free Agency

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With the 2011 NFL Draft over and the the Baltimore Ravens getting better at virtually every position, one area of concern remains to be address. The Ravens pass rush was perhaps its most glaring weakness in 2010, with a lowly 27 sacks last season. The domino effect of the lack of quarterback pressure means that the secondary has to wrok harder and more importantly longer in order to cover the opposing receivers. In the NFL, someone is going to get open if you give the QB too much time to wait and pick apart a defense, regardless of who the cornerback is.

Since the Ravens felt they got better value in the guys they selected rather than reaching for the pass rusher who might have been on the board when their pick came up, they must now either hope both Paul Kruger improves by leaps and bounds and the injured Sergio Kindle recovers in time to be the pass rushing menace he was expected to be when the Ravens made him their first draft choice in 2010.

The only other option is to try to find that complement to Terrell Suggs through free agency, once the Collective Bargaining Agreement is finally settled. Let's take a look at a few pass rushers who might be able to be targeted by the Ravens.

The biggest name available out there who has been productive rushing the quarterback is former Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards. Edwards (6'5", 268 pounds) has sacked the QB at least eight times in each of the past two years and is only 26 years old, two years younger than Suggs.

Charles Johnson (6'2", 275 pounds), former defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, had 11.5 sacks in 2010, and will only be 25 years old by the time the 2011 season starts.

Former Detroit Lions DE Cliff Avril (6'3", 260 pounds) had 8.5 sacks in 2010, had at least five sacks in his three years in the league and just turned 25 years old.

New York Giants defensive end, Mathias Kiwanuka (6'5", 265 pounds) only played four game slast year due to injury, but notched four sacks and has been a steady performer in the prior four years and is 28 years old.

Perhaps one of the more interesting free agent defensive ends could be formr Tennessee Titans Jason Babin. Babin (6'3", 260 pounds) may be 30 years old but he was one of the league leaders with 12.5 sacks last year.

The problem with all of these guys might be that they all weigh in the 260 pound range, on the light side for a 3-4 defensive end, but perfect for the 4-3 defense. While the Ravens defense is hard to pin down to one scheme or the other, they like to employ four linebackers and three defensive linemen, with the fourth pass rusher coming from one of their LB positions.

However, any of these guys would be solid contributors in obvious pass rush situations and now that the draft is over and their options in undrafted free agents are limited, veteran free agency will be their next step in improving the pass rush and filling out their roster.