The Ravens traded up to select linebacker Arthur Brown in the 2013 NFL Draft. Where does the second year linebacker fit in on a stacked depth chart?
Because Dannell Ellerbe took his talents to Miami and Ray Lewis suited up for a line...reading position at ESPN, the Ravens needed to trade up and handpick Brown, out of Kansas State. NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock instilled hope in fans with this statement on the rookie linebacker:
Really fits a need for the Ravens. I believe positional versatility is what Arthur Brown brings to the table. I think he can play inside or outside. He's very good in pass coverage.
Brown didn't start any games but saw action in 14 of them since Week 1 and the rookie produced -- finishing the seasons with 11 solo tackles, half a sack (against Cleveland), and forcing an Adrian Peterson fumble along the sidelines in the snowy afternoon game against Minnesota.
The second-year pro practiced with the Ones in Wednesday's OTAs. Listening to the coaches' instruction, Brown bulked up and gained seven pounds of muscle this offseason, and according to Ravens's writer Ryan Mink, the linebacker is close to 235 pounds.
With 14 games under his belt, Brown needs to learn more about the defensive scheme and understand his role. Coach John Harbaugh praised Matt Elam yesterday and dropped Brown's name in his spiel on the positive development (mentally and physically) of his second-year players.
Another guy who's grown as a second year player, [he] knows what he’s doing – he’s playing fast.
The looming question, or elephant in the room, might involve 32-year-old inside linebacker Daryl Smith. His contract says that he's sticking around the harbor until 2017 (same as Elvis Dumervil). Smith is also entering his 11th season -- don't speak too early -- the man, statistically, feasted on the best numbers of his career. (123 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 18 passes defensed). However, he does have a name for being often injured when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But he's not on the wrong side of 30, and those numbers bought him some serious love.
So then, who plays next to Smith?
While most fans and analysts envision C.J. Mosley starting in the Will linebacker spot, remember that credit is given where it is due. Brown won't lean back in a rocking chair and watch the Ravens' first-round pick steal the show.
"It’s a fight every day," Brown said. "It adds competition to the room. That makes me better, that makes us better and that makes him better. There’s no negative emotion at all."
No negative emotion? Almost like saying that your poker game on Friday nights is a friendly one. We'll see about that.