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The Next Great Ravens Linebacker?

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Fans of the Baltimore Ravens might have to be ready to see the end of an era at some point in the next couple of years when one of the best players in NFL history and certainly the best in franchise history finally hangs up his cleats. Linebacker Ray Lewis will be entering his 16th NFL season whenever the 2011 season gets underway and at 36 years old, he knows that while he continues to lay at a high level, the end is near.

When that day finally comes, who will step in to be the next leader of this defense and even more important, who will cover the middle of the field in his position? With no clear cut replacement on the Ravens current roster, will one guy step up and stake his claim or is the next great Baltimore Ravens linebacker not even on the team's roster yet?

Wes Bunting of the National Football Post wrote a story, titled, "Breaking Down The 2012 LB Class." Bunting lists a group of linebackers who could go high in the 2012 NFL Draft, which is where the Ravens might find their leader of the future. The guy who looks to be the best fit combines size, speed and even better, an allegiance to GM Ozzie Newsome's alma-mater, the University of Alabama. Here's what Bunting has to say about he Crimson Tide's Courtney Upshaw, and check out the story to see what other solid linebackers he sees in 2012.

ILB Courtney Upshaw: Alabama (6-2, 265)
A powerful inside backer who generates a lot of force on contact, can take on blocks inside and creates turnovers at the point. Has the physical skill set to get looks as a starter in both a 34 and 43 front.